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His repairs and One of his benefactions to Lincoln, chSrch* after ^a according to contemporary Lincoln fire.' history handed down by Giraldus and
John de Schalby, was the restoration of the church after a fire, and giving it a stone vault. It has been supposed that this was done in the early years of his episcopate, after a destructive fire, about 1124, which is mentioned however by no one except our Infra, 25, untrustworthy friend Giraldus. There is good evim n'2' dence, from very far better authorities than Giraldus, that the church suffered no injury at all from fire anywhere about this time. At all events it seems certain, if it suffered at all, that it did not suffer to anything like the extent that Giraldus represents, such as would call for Alexander's repairs and stone vault. But there was a fire, and a well authenticated one, towards the end of Alexanders episcopate. The Spalding, and a Peterborough chronicle1—one probably merely following the other, or perhaps both drawing from a common source—place it under the year 1141, two or three years perhaps too early, as with others of their dates about this time. Henry of Huntingdon—the conclusive authority at this time on any Lincoln matter he mentions—assures us certainly, that a fire had occurred shortly before 1146, and that Alexander nobly repaired the damages in the last year or two of his life. He tells us that in 1145 Alexander went to Rome, and returned the next year; when finding that his church had been injured by a fire, he restored, it with such subtle workmanship, that it came forth more beautiful than when
1 By the Spalding Chron. I mean the Chron. Ang. Petriburg.oiSparke and Giles. There is abundant internal evidence that it was written in Spalding abbey; and it ought to be known by the name I give it. It says, under 1141, "Combusta est
"ecclesia Lincolniensis in festo "S. Albani." The Peterborough Chronicle is the Chron. Petroburg. of the Camden Society; it simply says, under the same year, " Com"busta est ecclesia Lincolnia;."
newly built, and second to no structure within the bounds of England.1 It is, therefore, quite certain, that Alexander restored the church, after a fire, in the last year or two of his episcopate. It is possible that there may have been a previous fire during his episcopate, and consequent restoration by him; but the only evidence for such a fire is Giraldus's worthless talk about the fire of 1124, and there is no evidence whatever for any such earlier works of restoration by bishop Alexander. It is only by modern expositors of Lincoln history, that Giraldus's 1124 fire has been connected with Alexander's restorations; Giraldus describes the first under his very dubious legend of the miracles of Infra, 25 bishop Remigius, and the latter, many chapters after-an 33' wards, under his authentic history of bishop Alexander, without a hint of the one having anything to do with the other.
Alexander died in the early spring of 1148, and it may seem that the time since his return from Rome— two good years at the very utmost, perhaps little more than one year—is insufficient for the restorations after the fire, which are attributed to him. But the injury to the actual fabric by this fire was very little, if any at all; Henry of Huntingdon only says that the church was badly disfigured (" deturpata ") by it. Moreover, he has not a word about the vaulting of the church by Alexander, as recorded by the Lincoln history. This vault must have been a vault over the body of the church, for the aisles would certainly be vaulted by Remigius. The Lincoln history—contemporary we must
1 "Decimo anno (regis Stephani), ". ... episcopus Lincolliensis "Alexander iterum Romam pcr"gens, munificentissime se ut prius "habuit. Itaque honorificentissimc "susceptus est ab Eugenio papa. ". . . . Rediens autem sequent! "anno, cum gumma ipsius papae "totiueque curia- gratia, a snis cum
"summa reverentia et gaudio sus-
consider it, though we now only have it in the pages of Giraldus and John de Schalby—is an authority that we cannot well doubt. Probably Alexander intended this vault, and prepared for it, and possibly made some small beginning, of it, and therefore was not unnaturally spoken of as its builder, though perhaps it was not finished for many years after his death. That it was completed by him, or even largely begun, I cannot believe. A stone vault over the body of a large church was a thing, so far as we know, not attempted in England before 1148; and if Alexander had built, or even largely begun such a novelty, it seems scarcely possible to imagine that Henry of Huntingdon, when recording his restorations, would not have noticed it.
The day of his Huntingdon tells us that bishop Alexdeath- ander was buried on Ash Wednesday
(Feb. 24), 1148 j1 but of the exact day of his death Infra, 155, no record hitherto has been known. This day, Feb. 20, "2. *' is now ascertained, from the twelfth century Lincoln obituary, printed amongst the appendices of the present volume.
Infra, 34, Robert de Ches- Giraldus's account of bishop Chesney
and 198.' ney, 1M8-H66. is funer than that of John de Schalby;
agreeing, however, closely with him, so far as the later writer goes. The main historical addition in Giraldus is the loss of episcopal jurisdiction over St. Alban's abbey during Chesney's episcopate. He is perfectly right as
Infra, 34, to this fact; there is long history about it in the St.
31'''' Alban's chronicles; and no doubt he found what he tells us in Lincoln history, though the after compiler is silent on the subject
These compilers tells us, in large part, all that we are told about bishop Chesney. From Henry of Huntingdon, in one of the last of his pages, we learn that he was archdeacon of Leicester when elected, a "juvenis
1 "Anno 13 regis Stephani mor- "sepultus apud Lincolliam in ca"tuus est Alexandtr episcopus, et "pitc jejunii." (Savife, 226.)
"omni laude dignus," and that his being made bishop of Lincoln was hailed with glad assent by king and clergy. and people.1 According to our Lincoln history of him, he did not prove the good bishop that might have been expected from one of so high repute and glad acceptation. But his foundation of the Sempringham house of St. Catherine, close by Lincoln, and his appropriation to it of four churches, and of one prebend, would be a foul blot on him in Lincoln cathedral eyes, that no excellencies as a bishop would wipe away. There are also charges against him of alienating lands of the church, for purposes not mentioned, and of bestowing other lands on his relations; the loss of St. Alban's again, though no doing or fault of his, was another objection against him. It would seem that he was not at all a model bishop in all ways, but perhaps the Lincoln history gives a somewhat worse account of him than he really deserved.
After what Henry of Huntingdon tells us of Chesney and his election to Lincoln, no trustworthy notice of him is to be found in other general history. The years of Chesney's episcopate are years of all others, where English history especially fails us. The latter years of Stephen, and the first years of Henry II., have no eontemporary English annalist or historian,2 and what the
1 "Eodem anno (1148), appro- "jor advcntu, a clero et populo
"pinquante Natali, Robertus, cujus | " cum devotione susceptus est.
"cognomen est de Querceto, archi- "Prosperet ei Deus tempora prava,
"diaconus Leicestrensis, juvenis "et juventutem ejus foveat rorc
"omni laude dignus, elcctus est "sapientia;, et exhilaret faciem ejus
"in episcopum Lincolniensem. "jocunditate spiritual!." Ibid.
"A cunctis igitur honore tanto "dignus est habitus. Rege, et "clero, et populo cum summo "gaudio annuente, l,enedictionem "pontificalem ab archiepiscopo "Cantuariensi suscepit; et apud "Lincolliam cum summo tripu"dio, magnus cxpectatione, ma
2 Robert de Monte is invaluable for the Norman, &c. events of the reign of Henry II.; but his notices of English affairs are few and brief. These brief notices, however, form no small part of what authentic history we have of English matter* iu the early years of Henry II.
nearest writers, — Hoveden, Newburgh, Diceto, &c.,— meagrely tell us of the events of this period, is very unsatisfactory, and not seldom plainly untrue.1 The exact chronology of this period is, of course, especially a difficult and doubtful puzzle; as to be seen in the several Infra, 36, contradictory dates, all wrong, given to the day of Chesney's death. The early Lincoln obituary, however, Infra, 164. now gives us certainly the right day of the right month, the 27th of December; and it is from no English writer, but from Robert de Monte, that we gather the assurance that it was December 27, 1166.2
Geoffrey, Elect; After a vacancy of the see of more 1173-1182.' than six years, at length, in 1173, Geof
frey, an illegitimate son of Henry II. already archdeacon of Lincoln, was elected bishop of Lincoln. He was, however, never actually bishop of Lincoln, as he was never consecrated: His benefactions,8 I suppose, procured him a place in Lincoln history amongst the bishops.
The first part of Giraldus's account of Geoffrey agrees closely with that of John de Schalby: both were no doubt, taken from the contemporary Lincoln records.
1 See Professor Stubb's Preface to vol. i. of Hoveden (p. xl. &c.). He says, "The latter years of Ste"phen, and the early ones of*Henry "II., are more scantily illustrated "by contemporary historians than "any portion of our national his"tory. It is more difficult to as"certain the exact chronology of "these years, than that of any "period of equal length since the "ninth century."
J See infra, 36, n. 2. Robert de Monte says, under 1167, "Ante "quadragesimam venit rex Kotho"magum; et mortuo Eotgerio ab"bate S. Audoeni, viro summa; "religionis, eandem abbatiam dedit "Haimerico cellerario Becci. Paulo
"ante obierant in Anglia Robertus "Herefordensis et Bobertus Lin"colniensis episcopi." (Migne,clx. 502.) Kobert, bishop of Hereford, died Feb. 27, 1167.
3 Amongst other benefactions, he gave to the church two grand and sonorous bells (infra, 37,198). This gift very probably tells us of the completion of the late Norman work, in one or other of the western towers, shortly before or during the time when he was bishop elect. We have not an atom of actual history, as to when or by whom the late Norman work of the west front was erected. A gift of bells very often followed upon the completion of a tower ready to receive them.