Biography of Bishop Ranulph Flambard 1060-1128

Around 1060 Bishop Ranulph Flambard was born.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1099. This year was the King William (age 43) at midwinter in Normandy, and at Easter came hither to land, and at Pentecost held his court the first time in his new building at Westminster; and there he gave the bishopric of Durham to Ranulf (age 39) his chaplain, who had long directed and governed his councils over all England. And soon after this he went over sea, and drove the Earl Elias out of Maine, which he reduced under his power, and so by Michaelmas returned to this land. This year also, on the festival of St. Martin, the sea-flood sprung up to such a height, and did so much harm, as no man remembered that it ever did before. And this was the first day of the new moon. And Osmond, Bishop of Salisbury, died in Advent.

Coronation of Henry I

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1100. And after this the Bishop of London, Maurice, consecrated him king (age 32); and all in this land submitted to him, and swore oaths, and became his men. And the king (age 32), soon after this, by the advice of those that were about him, allowed men to take the Bishop Ranulf of Durham (age 40), and bring him into the Tower of London [Map], and hold him there.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1101. This year also the Bishop Ranulf (age 41) at Candlemas burst out of the Tower of London [Map] by night, where he was in confinement, and went into Normandy; through whose contrivance and instigation mostly the Earl Robert (age 50) this year sought this land with hostility.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 20 Oct 1119. A Council held at Rheims. Pope Calixtus held a general council at Rheims, on Sunday, the thirteenth of the calends of November (20th October), at which there was a great concourse of archbishops, bishops, abbots, and lords of various provinces, and immense multitudes of the clergy and people. The English bishops who were at that time at the court of Henry in Normandy, namely, William of Exeter, Ralph of Durham (age 59), Bernard of St. David's, and Urban of Glamorgan (age 43) [Landaff], and also the bishops and abbots of Normandy, were sent by the king himself to the council. Ralph, archbishop of Canterbury, was prevented from being present by sickness. Thurstan (age 49), archbishop-elect of York, having requested the king's license for attending it, obtained it with some difficulty, upon pledging his word that he would on no account accept consecration from the pope. Bound by this pledge, he pursued his journey, and presented himself to the pope; but forthwith, regardless of his engagement, he gained over the Romans by bribes to espouse his cause, and through them prevailed on the pope to consecrate him bishop with his own hands. He was thus ordained to the see of York, and by the pope's command many of the bishops from France assisted at the ceremony. The English bishops had not yet come to the council; but when they learnt what had been done, they informed the king, who being very indignant, forbade Thurstan (age 49) and his followers from returning to England or Normandy, or any place in his dominions.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1127. A synod held at Westminster. William (age 57), archbishop of Canterbury, convened a general synod of all the bishops and abbots, and some men of religion from all parts of England, at the monastery of St. Peter, situated in the western part of London. At this synod he himself presided as archbishop of Canterbury and legate of the apostolic see; assisted by William, bishop of Winchester, Roger of Salisbury, William of Exeter, Hervey of Ely, Alexander of Lincoln, Everard of Norwich, Sigefrid of Chichester, Richard of Hereford, Geoffrey of Bath, John of Rochester, Bernard of St. David's in Wales, Urban of Glamorgan of Llandaff (age 51), and David of Bangor. Richard, bishop of London, and Robert, bishop of Chester1, were then dead, and no successors had yet been appointed to their sees. But Thurstan (age 57), archbishop of York, sent messengers with letters assigning reasonable cause for his non-appearance at the convocation. Ralph (age 67), bishop of Durham, fell sick on the road, and was not able to complete the journey, as the prior of his church and the clerks whom he sent forward solemnly attested. Simon, bishop of Worcester, had gone to visit his relations beyond seas, and was not yet returned. Great multitudes, also, of the clergy and laity, both rich and poor, flocked together, and there was a numerous and important meeting. The council sat for three days, namely, the third of the ides [the 13th] of May, the following day, and the third day afterwards, being the seventeenth of the calends of June [16th May]. There were some proceedings with respect to secular affairs; some were determined, some adjourned, and some withdrawn from the hearing of the judges, on account of the disorderly conduct of the immense crowd. But the decrees and statutes made in this synod by common consent of the bishops we have thought it desirable to record in this work, as they were there publicly declared and accepted. They are these:-

I. We wholly prohibit, by the authority of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and our own, the buying and selling of any ecclesiastical benefices, or any ecclesiastical dignities whatever. Whoever shall be convicted of having violated this decree, if he be a clerk, or even a regular canon, or a monk, let him be degraded from his order; if a layman, let him be held outlawed and excommunicated, and be deprived of his patronage of the church or benefice.

II. We totally interdict, by the authority of the apostolic see, the ordination or promotion of any person in the church of God, for the sake of lucre.

III. We condemn certain payments of money exacted for the admission of canons, monks, and nuns.

IV. No one shall be appointed a dean but a priest, and no one but a deacon, archdeacon. If any one in minor orders be named to these dignities he shall be enjoined by the bishop to take the orders required. But if he disobey the bishop's monition to take such orders, he shall lose his appointment to the dignity.

V. We utterly interdict all illicit intercourse with women, as well by priests, deacons, and sub-deacons, as by all canons. If, however, they will retain their concubines (which God forbid), or their wives, they are to be deprived of their ecclesiastical orders, their dignity, and benefice. If there be any such among parish priests, we expel them from the chancel, and declare them infamous. Moreover, we command, by the authority of God and our own, all archdeacons and officials, whose duty it is, to use the utmost care and diligence in eradicating this deadly evil from the church of God. If they be found negligent in this, or (which God forbid) consenting thereto, they are for the first and second offence to be duly corrected by the bishops, and for the third to be punished more severely, according to the canons.

VI. The concubines of priests and canons shall be expelled from the parish, unless they shall have contracted a lawful marriage there. If they are found afterwards offending, they shall be arrested by the officers of the church, in whatever lordship they may be; and we command, under pain of excommunication, that they be not sheltered by any jurisdiction, either inferior or superior, but truly delivered up to the officer of the church, to be subjected to ecclesiastical discipline, or reduced to bondage, according to the sentence of the bishop.

VII. We prohibit, under pain of excommunication, any archdeacon from holding several archdeaconriesin different dioceses; let him retain that only to which he was first appointed.

VIII. Bishops are to prohibit all priests, abbots, monks, and priors, subject to their jurisdiction, from holding farms.

IX. We command that tithes be honestly paid, for they are the sovereign right of the most high God.

X. We forbid, by canonical authority, any person from giving or receiving churches or tithes, or other ecclesiastical benefices, without the consent and authority of the bishop. R2

XI. No abbess or nun is to use garments of richer material than lamb's-wool or cat-skin.

Note 1. The bishopric of Lichfield was removed to Chester in 1075, but again restored to its former seat. The present bishopric of Chester is one of the new sees founded after the Reformation.

1127. Over the River Wear. Commissioned in 1127 by Bishop Ranulph Flambard (age 67). The bridge was damaged by floods in the fifteenth century and rebuilt by the then Bishop Langley. The current bridge is of two shallow arches, each with several reinforcing ribs. There may have been a further arch as indicated in a watercolor by Thomas Girtin.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1128. Thurstan (age 58), the archbishop, consecrated at York [Map], Robert, who had been intruded by Alexander, king of Scots, on the petition of David, his brother and successor, into the see of St. Andrew's. The archbishop had called in Ralph (age 68), bishop of Durham, and one Ralph, formerly ordained bishop of the Orkney islands, to be his coadjutors in the ceremony. This Ralph (age 68) having been ordained without the election or consent of the lord of the land, or of the clergy and people, was rejected by all of them, and acknowledged as bishop by no one. Being bishop of no city, he attached himself sometimes to the archbishop of York, sometimes to the bishop of Durham; he was supported by them, and employed by both as coadjutor in the performance of their episcopal functions.2 Robert, being consecrated by these bishops, was not permitted by the Scots, as it is reported, to make any profession of submission or obedience to the church of York or its bishop, although he was a canon of that church.

Note 2. This accounts for this Ralph's being called "bishop of Durham,' by Henry of Huntingdon and Roger of Wendover, who seem to have lost sight of his original and proper designation. The ubiquitous bishop forms a distinguished figure in the group sketched by the former author before the battle of the Standard, A.D. 1138, in which we are informed he was commissioned by the archbishop of York to supply his place. Henry of Huntingdon represents him as standing on a hillock, and addressing the army before the battle in a florid discourse, which the historian has preserved. See pp. 267—269, in the Antiq. Lib.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 05 Sep 1128. This same year died the Bishop Randulph Passeflambard of Durham (age 68); and was there buried on the nones of September.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 05 Sep 1128. Ralph (age 68)Ralph, bishop of Durham, died on the nones [the 5th] of September;