Athelm

Last updated
Athelm
Archbishop of Canterbury
Appointedbetween 923 and 925
Term ended8 January 926
Predecessor Plegmund
Successor Wulfhelm
Other post(s) Bishop of Wells
Personal details
Died8 January 926
Buriedfirst church of St John the Baptist in Canterbury, later Canterbury Cathedral
Sainthood
Feast day8 January
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized Pre-Congregation

Athelm (or Æthelhelm; died 926) was an English churchman, who was the first Bishop of Wells, and later Archbishop of Canterbury. His translation, or moving from one bishopric to another, was a precedent for later translations of ecclesiastics, because prior to this time period such movements were considered illegal. While archbishop, Athelm crowned King Æthelstan, and perhaps wrote the coronation service for the event. An older relative of Dunstan, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, Athelm helped promote Dunstan's early career. After Athelm's death, he was considered a saint.

Contents

Background

Athelm was a monk of Glastonbury Abbey [1] before his elevation in 909 to the see of Wells, of which he was the first occupant. [2] The see was founded to divide up the diocese of Sherborne, which was very large, by creating a bishopric for the county of Somerset. Wells was likely chosen as the seat because it was the center of the county. [3] Some scholarly works suggest that Athelm may be the same person as Æthelhelm, son of King Æthelred of Wessex, [4] but this is not accepted by most historians. [5] A few sources state that Athelm was Abbot of Glastonbury before he became bishop, [6] but other sources disagree and do not give him that office. [1] This traces to later medieval chroniclers, not to contemporary accounts. His brother was Heorstan, who held land near Glastonbury. [7]

Archbishopric

Between August 923 and September 925 he became archbishop. [8] [lower-alpha 1] His translation from the see of Wells set a precedent for the future, and marks a break with historical practice. Previously the moving of a bishop from one see to another had been held to be against canon, or ecclesiastical, law. Recently, however, the popes had themselves been translated, and this practice was to become common in England after Athelm's time. [10] He was West Saxon, unlike his predecessor, Plegmund, who was Mercian, reflecting the shift in power to Wessex. [11] Athelm was a paternal uncle of Dunstan, [1] who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. It was Athelm who brought Dunstan to the king's court. [12]

Athelm presided at the coronation of King Athelstan of England on 4 September 925, and probably composed or organised the new Ordo (order of service) in which for the first time the king wore a crown instead of a helmet. He also attested the king's first grant to St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. [11] It is unclear if the reason that no coins were minted with his name was his short term of office or a change in policy towards the Archbishop of Canterbury minting coins in his own name. Nothing else is known of Athelm's brief time as archbishop. [10]

Death and burial

Athelm died on 8 January 926. [1] [8] He was later considered a saint, with a feast day of 8 January. [13] He was buried at first the church of St John the Baptist near the Saxon-era Canterbury Cathedral. When a new cathedral was constructed under Archbishop Lanfranc after the Norman Conquest of England, the earlier archbishops of Canterbury were moved to the north transept of the new cathedral. Later, Athelm and his successor as archbishop Wulfhelm were moved to a chapel dedicated to St Benedict, which later was incorporated into the Lady Chapel constructed by Prior Thomas Goldstone (d. 1468). [14]

Notes

  1. Janet Nelson states that he became archbishop in 923. [9]

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 4 Mason "Athelm" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 222
  3. Robinson Saxon Bishops of Wells p. 5
  4. Dolley "Important Group" British Museum Quarterly p. 75
  5. Miller "Æthelred I" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  6. Delaney Dictionary of Saints p. 65
  7. Robinson Saxon Bishops of Wells p. 6
  8. 1 2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 214
  9. Nelson "First Use" Myth, Rulership, Church and Charters p. 126
  10. 1 2 Brooks Early History of the Church of Canterbury pp. 214–216
  11. 1 2 Nelson "First Use" Myth, Rulership, Church and Charters pp. 124–126
  12. Stenton Anglo-Saxon England p. 446
  13. Catholic Online "St Athelm" Catholic Online
  14. Robinson Saxon Bishops of Wells pp. 58–59

Related Research Articles

Ælfheah, more commonly known today as Alphege, was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His reputation for piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate and, eventually, to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of Dunstan and also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 during the siege of Canterbury and killed by them the following year after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. Ælfheah was canonised as a saint in 1078. Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

Dunstan 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury and saint

Dunstan was an English bishop. He was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury, later canonised as a saint. His work restored monastic life in England and reformed the English Church. His 11th-century biographer Osbern, himself an artist and scribe, states that Dunstan was skilled in "making a picture and forming letters", as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank. Dunstan served as an important minister of state to several English kings. He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.

Eadwig 10th-century English king

Eadwig, also spelled Edwy or Eadwige (c. 940 – October 959), sometimes called the All-Fair, was King of the English from 955 until his death in 959.

Edward the Martyr King of the English

Edward, often referred to by his epithet Edward the Martyr was King of the English from 975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar the Peaceful but was not his father's acknowledged heir. On Edgar's death, the leadership of England was contested, with some supporting Edward's claim to be king and others supporting his younger half-brother Æthelred the Unready, recognised as a legitimate son of Edgar. Edward was chosen as king and was crowned by his main clerical supporters, the archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York.

Edgar the Peaceful Anglo-Saxon king of England from 959 to 975

Edgar, known as the Peaceful or the Peaceable, was King of the English from 959 until his death in 975. The younger son of King Edmund I and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury, he came to the throne as a teenager following the death of his older brother, King Eadwig. As king, Edgar further consolidated the political unity achieved by his predecessors, with his reign being noted for its relative stability. His most trusted advisor was Dunstan, whom he recalled from exile and made Archbishop of Canterbury. The pinnacle of Edgar's reign was his coronation at Bath in 973, which was organised by Dunstan and forms the basis for the current coronation ceremony. After his death he was succeeded by his son Edward, although the succession was disputed.

Lyfing was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Wells and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Æthelnoth was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1020 until his death. Descended from an earlier English king, Æthelnoth became a monk prior to becoming archbishop. While archbishop, he travelled to Rome and brought back saint's relics. He consecrated a number of other bishops who came from outside his archdiocese, leading to some friction with other archbishops. Although he was regarded as a saint after his death, there is little evidence of his veneration or of a cult in Canterbury or elsewhere.

Oda, called the Good or the Severe, was a 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The son of a Danish invader, Oda became Bishop of Ramsbury before 928. A number of stories were told about his actions both prior to becoming and while a bishop, but few of these incidents are recorded in contemporary accounts. After being named to Canterbury in 941, Oda was instrumental in crafting royal legislation as well as involved in providing rules for his clergy. Oda was also involved in the efforts to reform religious life in England. He died in 958 and legendary tales afterwards were ascribed to him. Later he came to be regarded as a saint, and a hagiography was written in the late 11th or early 12th century.

Berhtwald was the ninth Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Documentary evidence names Berhtwald as abbot at Reculver before his election as archbishop. Berhtwald begins the first continuous series of native-born Archbishops of Canterbury, although there had been previous Anglo-Saxon archbishops, they had not succeeded each other until Berhtwald's reign.

Sigeric was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 990 to 994.

Gisa (bishop of Wells) 11th-century Bishop of Wells

Gisa was Bishop of Wells from 1060 to 1088. A native of Lorraine, Gisa came to England as a chaplain to King Edward the Confessor. After his appointment to Wells, he travelled to Rome rather than be consecrated by Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury. As bishop, Gisa added buildings to his cathedral, introduced new saints to his diocese, and instituted the office of archdeacon in his diocese. After the Norman Conquest, Gisa took part in the consecration of Lanfranc, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and attended Lanfranc's church councils. His tomb in Wells Cathedral was opened in the 20th century and a cross was discovered in his tomb.

Æthelgar was Archbishop of Canterbury, and previously Bishop of Selsey.

Oswald of Worcester 10th-century Archbishop of York and saint

Oswald of Worcester was Archbishop of York from 972 to his death in 992. He was of Danish ancestry, but brought up by his uncle, Oda, who sent him to France to the abbey of Fleury to become a monk. After a number of years at Fleury, Oswald returned to England at the request of his uncle, who died before Oswald returned. With his uncle's death, Oswald needed a patron and turned to another kinsman, Oskytel, who had recently become Archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Archbishop Dunstan who had Oswald consecrated as Bishop of Worcester in 961. In 972, Oswald was promoted to the see of York, although he continued to hold Worcester also.

Cynesige 11th-century Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury

Cynesige was a medieval English Archbishop of York between 1051 and 1060. Prior to his appointment to York, he was a royal clerk and perhaps a monk at Peterborough. As archbishop, he built and adorned his cathedral as well as other churches, and was active in consecrating bishops. After his death in 1060, the bequests he had made to a monastery were confiscated by the queen.

Æthelred (archbishop) 9th-century Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury

Æthelred was an Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in medieval England. Although one source states that he was Bishop of Wiltshire prior to his elevation to Canterbury, this has been shown to be false. Much of Æthelred's time in office was spent dealing with the dislocations caused by the invasion of England by Vikings. There were also conflicts with King Alfred the Great over ecclesiastical matters as well as the desire of the papacy to reform the English clergy.

Plegmund 9th and 10th-century Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury and saint

Plegmund was a medieval English Archbishop of Canterbury. He may have been a hermit before he became archbishop in 890. As archbishop, he reorganised the Diocese of Winchester, creating four new sees, and worked with other scholars in translating religious works. He was canonised after his death.

Wulfhelm was Bishop of Wells before being promoted to the Archbishopric of Canterbury about 926. Nothing is known about his time at Wells, but as archbishop he helped codify royal law codes and gave lands to monasteries. He went to Rome soon after his selection as archbishop. Two religious books that he gave to his cathedral are still extant.

Ælfric of Abingdon was a late 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury. He previously held the offices of abbot of St Albans Abbey and Bishop of Ramsbury, as well as likely being the abbot of Abingdon Abbey. After his election to Canterbury, he continued to hold the bishopric of Ramsbury along with the archbishopric of Canterbury until his death in 1005. Ælfric may have altered the composition of Canterbury's cathedral chapter by changing the clergy serving in the cathedral from secular clergy to monks. In his will he left a ship to King Æthelred II of England as well as more ships to other legatees.

Byrhthelm was the Bishop of Wells and briefly the archbishop of Canterbury. A monk from Glastonbury Abbey, he served as Bishop of Wells beginning in 956, then was translated to Canterbury in 959, only to be translated back to Wells in the same year.

Events from the 10th century in the Kingdom of England.

References

Christian titles
New diocese Bishop of Wells
909–c. 923
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Canterbury
c. 923–926
Succeeded by