Ralph de Diceto (c. 1120 –c. 1202) was archdeacon of Middlesex, dean of St Paul's Cathedral (from c. 1180), and author of two chronicles, the Abbreviationes chronicorum and the Ymagines historiarum.
The Archdeacon of Middlesex is a senior ecclesiastical officer in the Church of England. S/he is responsible for the Archdeaconry of Middlesex, which makes up the Kensington episcopal area of the Diocese of London – that episcopal area is overseen by the Area Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin.
The Dean of St Paul's is a member of, and chairman of the Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral in London in the Church of England. The Dean of St Paul's is also Dean of the Order of the British Empire.
Ralph is first mentioned in 1152, when he received the archdeaconry of Middlesex. He was probably born between 1120 and 1130; of his parentage and nationality we know nothing. The common statement that he derived his surname from Diss in Norfolk is a mere conjecture. Dicetum may equally well be a Latinized form of Dissai, Dicy, or Dizy, place names in Maine, Picardy, Burgundy, and Champagne.
Middlesex is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is now almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and includes the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, was the second smallest by area in 1831.
Diss is an English market town and electoral ward in the East Anglian county of Norfolk, near the border with Suffolk. It had a population of 7,572 in 2011. Diss railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Norwich. The town lies in the valley of the River Waveney, round a mere covering 6 acres (2.4 ha) and up to 18 feet (5.5 m) deep, although there is another 51 feet (16 m) of mud.
Dicy is a former commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Charny-Orée-de-Puisaye.
In 1152 Ralph was already a master of arts and, presumably, he had studied at Paris. His reputation for learning and integrity stood high. He was regarded with respect and favor by Arnulf of Lisieux and Gilbert Foliot, two of the most eminent bishops of their time. Quite naturally, the archdeacon took in the Becket controversy the same side as his friends.
Arnulf of Lisieux was a medieval French bishop who figured prominently as a conservative figure during the Renaissance of the 12th century, built the Cathedral of Lisieux, which introduced Gothic architecture to Normandy, and implemented the reforms of Bernard of Clairvaux.
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.
The Becket controversy or Becket dispute was the quarrel between Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket and King Henry II of England from 1163 to 1170. The controversy culminated with Becket's murder in 1170, and was followed by Becket's canonization in 1173 and Henry's public penance at Canterbury in July 1174.
By 1164 Ralph had acquired the livings of Aynho, Northamptonshire, and Finchingfield, Essex, and served them both by vicars.
Although Ralph's narrative is colourless and although he was one of those who showed some sympathy for Becket at the council of Northampton in 1164, his correspondence shows that he regarded the archbishop's conduct as ill-considered and that he gave advice to those whom Becket regarded as his chief enemies.
Ralph was selected in 1166 as the envoy of the English bishops when they protested against the excommunications launched by Becket. But, apart from this episode, which he characteristically neglects to record, he remained in the background. The natural impartiality of his intellect was accentuated by a certain timidity, which is apparent in his writings no less than in his life.
About 1180 Ralph became dean of St Paul's. In this office, he distinguished himself by careful management of the estates, by restoring the discipline of the chapter, and by building at his own expense a deanery house. A scholar and a man of considerable erudition, he showed a strong preference for historical studies; and about the time when he was preferred to the deanery he began to collect materials for the history of his own times.
Ralph's friendships with Richard Fitz Nigel, who succeeded Foliot in the see of London, with William Longchamp, the chancellor of Richard I, and with Walter de Coutances, the Archbishop of Rouen, gave him excellent opportunities of collecting information.
Ralph's two chief works, the Abbreviationes chronicorum and the Ymagines historiarum, cover the history of the world from the birth of Christ to the year 1202. The former, which ends in 1147, is a work of learning and industry, but is almost entirely based upon extant sources. The latter, beginning as a compilation from Robert de Monte and the letters of Foliot, becomes an original authority c. 1172 and a contemporary record c. 1181. In precision and fullness of detail the Ymagines are inferior to the chronicles of Roger of Hoveden.
Though an annalist, Ralph is careless in his chronology. The documents which he incorporates, while often important, are selected on no principle. He has little sense of style but displays considerable insight when he ventures to discuss a political situation. For this reason, and on account of the details with which they supplement the more important chronicles of the period, the Ymagines are a valuable though a secondary source.
Thomas Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.
The Flores Historiarum is the name of two different Latin chronicles by medieval English historians that were created in the 13th century, associated originally with the Abbey of St Albans.
Geoffrey Ridel was the nineteenth Lord Chancellor of England, from 1162 to 1173.
Historians of England in the Middle Ages helped to lay the groundwork for modern historical historiography, providing vital accounts of the early history of England, Wales and Normandy, its cultures, and revelations about the historians themselves.
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 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.
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.
Reginald fitz Jocelin was a medieval Bishop of Bath and an Archbishop of Canterbury-elect in England. A member of an Anglo-Norman noble family, he was the son of a bishop, and was educated in Italy. He was a household clerk for Thomas Becket, but by 1167 he was serving King Henry II of England. He was also a favourite of King Louis VII of France, who had him appointed abbot of the Abbey of Corbeil. After Reginald angered Becket while attempting to help negotiate a settlement between Becket and the king, Becket called him "that offspring of fornication, that enemy to the peace of the Church, that traitor." When he was elected as a bishop, the election was challenged by King Henry's eldest son, Henry the Young King, and Reginald was forced to go to Rome to be confirmed by Pope Alexander III. He attended the Third Lateran Council in 1179, and spent much of his time administering his diocese. He was elected Archbishop of Canterbury in 1191, but died before he could be installed.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in the 12th century.
Ralph of Caen was a Norman chaplain and author of the Gesta Tancredi.
Hilary (c. 1110–1169) 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.
Robert Foliot was a medieval Bishop of Hereford in England. He was a relative of a number of English ecclesiastics, including Gilbert Foliot, one of his predecessors at Hereford. After serving Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln as a clerk, he became a clerk of Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen of England. He attended the Council of Reims in 1148, where another relative, Robert de Chesney, was elected as Bishop of Hereford. Chesney then secured the office of Archdeacon of Oxford for Foliot.
Robert de Chesney was a medieval English Bishop of Lincoln. He was the brother of an important royal official, William de Chesney, and the uncle of Gilbert Foliot, successively Bishop of Hereford and Bishop of London. Educated at Oxford or Paris, Chesney was Archdeacon of Leicester before his election as bishop in December 1148.
Events from the 1180s in England.
Richard Barre was a medieval English justice, clergyman and scholar. He was educated at the law school of Bologna and entered royal service under King Henry II of England, later working for Henry's son and successor Richard I. He was also briefly in the household of Henry's son Henry the Young King. Barre served the elder Henry as a diplomat and was involved in a minor way with the king's quarrel with Thomas Becket, which earned Barre a condemnation from Becket. After King Henry's death, Barre became a royal justice during Richard's reign and was one of the main judges in the period from 1194 to 1199. After disagreeing with him earlier in his career, Barre was discharged from his judgeship during John's reign as king. Barre was also archdeacon of Ely and the author of a work of biblical extracts dedicated to one of his patrons, William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of England.
Ralph Foliot was a medieval English clergyman and royal justice.
Ranulf de Broc was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and royal official during the reign of King Henry II of England. He held two offices in the royal household as well as performing other administrative duties for the king. During the Becket controversy between King Henry and Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, de Broc supported the king and was granted the administration of the exiled archbishop's lands during the later half of the 1160s. This earned de Broc three sentences of excommunication from the archbishop because of de Broc's financial exactions from the estates. De Broc was with the four men who murdered Becket in December 1170, although he did not take part in the actual murder. At de Broc's death around 1179, he left behind a widow and five daughters, who were his co-heiresses.
Gervase of Chichester was an English clergyman and writer active in the late 12th century.