Frank Barlow (historian)

Last updated

Frank Barlow CBE FBA FRSL (19 April 1911 – 27 June 2009 [1] ) was an English historian, known particularly for biographies of medieval figures. His subjects included Edward the Confessor, Thomas Becket and William Rufus.


Academic life

Barlow studied at St John's College, Oxford.

He was Professor of History at the University of Exeter from 1953 until he retired in 1976 and became Emeritus Professor. [2] He was a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, [3] and was appointed commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to the study of English medieval history". [4]


Related Research Articles

Edward the Confessor 11th-century Anglo-Saxon King of England

Edward the Confessor was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.

Lyfing of Winchester was an Anglo-Saxon prelate who served as Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of Crediton and Bishop of Cornwall.

Leofric was a medieval Bishop of Exeter. Probably a native of Cornwall, he was educated on the continent. At the time Edward the Confessor was in exile before his succession to the English throne, Leofric joined his service and returned to England with him. After he became king, Edward rewarded Leofric with lands. Although a 12th-century source claims Leofric held the office of chancellor, modern historians agree he never did so.

David Bates is a historian of Britain and France during the period from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries. He has written many books and articles during his career, including Normandy before 1066 (1982), Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum: The Acta of William I, 1066–1087 (1998), The Normans and Empire (2013), William the Conqueror (2016) in the Yale English Monarchs series and La Tapisserie de Bayeux (2019).

Robert of Melun was an English scholastic Christian theologian who taught in France, and later became Bishop of Hereford in England. He studied under Peter Abelard in Paris before teaching there and at Melun, which gave him his surname. His students included John of Salisbury, Roger of Worcester, William of Tyre, and possibly Thomas Becket. Robert was involved in the Council of Reims in 1148, which condemned the teachings of Gilbert de la Porrée. Three of his theological works survive, and show him to have been strictly orthodox.

Roger de Pont LÉvêque 12th-century Norman Archbishop of York

Roger de Pont L'Évêque was Archbishop of York from 1154 to 1181. Born in Normandy, he preceded Thomas Becket as Archdeacon of Canterbury, and together with Becket served Theobald of Bec while Theobald was Archbishop of Canterbury. While in Theobald's service, Roger was alleged to have committed a crime which Becket helped to cover up. Roger succeeded William FitzHerbert as archbishop in 1154, and while at York rebuilt York Minster, which had been damaged by fire.

Ælfric Puttoc was a medieval Archbishop of York and Bishop of Worcester.

Baldwin of Forde 12th-century abbot and Archbishop of Canterbury

Baldwin of Forde or Ford was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1185 and 1190. The son of a clergyman, he studied canon law and theology at Bologna and was tutor to Pope Eugene III's nephew before returning to England to serve successive bishops of Exeter. After becoming a Cistercian monk he was named abbot of his monastery at Forde and subsequently elected to the episcopate at Worcester. Before becoming a bishop, he wrote theological works and sermons, some of which have survived.

Hervey le Breton 12th-century Bishop of Ely and Bangor

Hervey le Breton was a Breton cleric who became Bishop of Bangor in Wales and later Bishop of Ely in England. Appointed to Bangor by King William II of England, when the Normans were advancing into Wales, Hervey was unable to remain in his diocese when the Welsh began to drive the Normans back from their recent conquests. Hervey's behaviour towards the Welsh seems to have contributed to his expulsion from his see. Although the new king, Henry I wished to translate Hervey to the see of Lisieux in Normandy, it was unsuccessful.

Gilbert Foliot 12th-century English monk and bishop

Gilbert Foliot was a medieval English monk and prelate, successively Abbot of Gloucester, Bishop of Hereford and Bishop of London. Born to an ecclesiastical family, he became a monk at Cluny Abbey in France at about the age of twenty. After holding two posts as prior in the Cluniac order he was appointed Abbot of Gloucester Abbey in 1139, a promotion influenced by his kinsman Miles of Gloucester. During his tenure as abbot he acquired additional land for the abbey, and may have helped to fabricate some charters—legal deeds attesting property ownership—to gain advantage in a dispute with the Archbishops of York. Although Foliot recognised Stephen as the King of England, he may have also sympathised with the Empress Matilda's claim to the throne. He joined Matilda's supporters after her forces captured Stephen, and continued to write letters in support of Matilda even after Stephen's release.

Osbern FitzOsbern was a Norman churchman. He was a relative of King Edward the Confessor as well as being a royal chaplain. During Edward's reign he received the church at Bosham, near Chichester. He was one of those present at the consecration of Westminster Abbey at Christmas 1065. He was a steward for King William I of England during his reign, as well as being a friend of the king. The story that he became William's chancellor is based entirely on a charter that modern historians have declared mostly spurious. He became Bishop of Exeter in 1072, and was consecrated at St. Paul's in London on 27 May 1072 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc.

William Warelwast, was a medieval Norman cleric and Bishop of Exeter in England. Warelwast was a native of Normandy, but little is known about his background before 1087, when he appears as a royal clerk for King William II. Most of his royal service to William was as a diplomatic envoy, as he was heavily involved in the king's dispute with Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which constituted the English theatre of the Investiture Controversy. He went several times to Rome as an emissary to the papacy on business related to Anselm, one of whose supporters, the medieval chronicler Eadmer, alleged that Warelwast bribed the pope and the papal officials to secure favourable outcomes for King William.

Hilary of Chichester 12th century Bishop of Chichester

Hilary was a medieval Bishop of Chichester in England. English by birth, he studied canon law and worked in Rome as a papal clerk. During his time there, he became acquainted with a number of ecclesiastics, including the future Pope Adrian IV, and the writer John of Salisbury. In England, he served as a clerk for Henry of Blois, who was the Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen of England. After Hilary's unsuccessful nomination to become Archbishop of York, Pope Eugene III compensated him by promoting him to the bishopric of Chichester in 1147.

Richard Peche was a medieval Bishop of Lichfield.

Bartholomew Iscanus 12th-century Bishop of Exeter

Bartholomew Iscanus was a medieval Bishop of Exeter. He came from Normandy and after being a clerk of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was made Archdeacon of Exeter in 1155. He became bishop of Exeter in 1161. He was known as having excellence in canon law and theology and during his time as bishop visited all the parishes in the diocese to investigate how well-managed they were.

John the Chanter was a medieval Bishop of Exeter.

Brian Oliver Murdoch is a British philologist who is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Stirling. He specializes in the study of early Germanic and Celtic literature, on which he has authored and edited several influential works.

Clarembald was a medieval Benedictine monk and abbot-elect of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury, Kent.

Baldwin was a French monk and royal physician. He became a monk in France before coming to England to serve as King Edward the Confessor's doctor. He served as a prior before becoming abbot of Bury St Edmunds in 1065. As abbot he promoted the cult of Edmund the Martyr and secured the abbey's independence from the bishops of Thetford. He continued to serve as royal physician to two more kings of England and also rebuilt parts of the abbey before dying around 1097.

Vincent Gillespie, FEA is Emeritus J. R. R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford. He is editor of the Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies Series, and the Honorary Director of the Early English Text Society, having previously served as its executive secretary. His major research area is late medieval English literature. He has published over sixty articles and book chapters ranging from medieval book history, through Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland, to the medieval mystics such as Richard Rolle and, most recently, Julian of Norwich. He has a special interest in the medieval English Carthusians, and in Syon Abbey, the only English house of the Birgittine order. In 2001, he published Syon Abbey, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 9, an edition and analysis of the late-medieval library registrum of the Birgittine brethren of Syon Abbey. He is the author of Looking in Holy Books, and the forthcoming A Short History of Medieval English Mysticism. He is the co-editor, with Kantik Ghosh, of After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England, with Susan Powell of A Companion to the Early Printed Book in Britain, 1476-1558, with Samuel Fanous of The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism, and with Anne Hudson of Probable Truth: Editing Medieval Texts from Britain in the Twenty-First Century.


  1. "Frank Barlow (1911–2009)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/101439.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. The University of Exeter – Calendar 2007/2008 – Emeritus Professors Archived 2 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. RSL Fellows Archived 7 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "No. 51772". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 1989. p. 7.