William Walcher

Last updated
William Walcher
Bishop of Durham
Appointed c. 1071
Installedprobably 3 April 1071
Term ended14 May 1080
Predecessor Æthelwine
Successor William de St-Calais
Orders
Consecration1071
Personal details
Died14 May 1080
Gateshead
DenominationCatholic

William Walcher [lower-alpha 1] (died 14 May 1080) was the bishop of Durham from 1071, [1] a Lotharingian, the first non-Englishman to hold that see and an appointee of William the Conqueror following the Harrying of the North. [2] He was murdered in 1080, which led William to send an army into Northumbria to harry the region again.

Bishop of Durham Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Durham is the Anglican bishop responsible for the Diocese of Durham in the Province of York. The diocese is one of the oldest in England and its bishop is a member of the House of Lords. Paul Butler has been the Bishop of Durham since his election was confirmed at York Minster on 20 January 2014. The previous bishop was Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop is one of two who escort the sovereign at the coronation.

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. A descendant of Rollo, he was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

Harrying of the North Military campaign waged by William the Conqueror in Northern England during 1069–1070

The Harrying of the North was a number of campaigns waged by William the Conqueror in the winter of 1069–70 to subjugate northern England, where the presence of the last Wessex claimant, Edgar Atheling, had encouraged Anglo-Danish rebellions. William paid the Danes to go home, but the remaining rebels refused to meet him in battle, and he decided to starve them out by laying waste to the northern shires using scorched earth tactics, especially in the city of York, before relieving the Anglish aristocracy of the positions, and installing Norman aristocrats throughout the region.

Contents

Career

Walcher was a priest in Lotharingia from Liege and a secular clerk. [2] He was invited by William I to fill the post of Bishop of Durham, and he was consecrated bishop in 1071 and probably enthroned on 3 April 1071. [3] During the first part of his term as bishop, he was on friendly terms with Waltheof earl of Northumbria, so much so that Waltheof sat with the clergy when Walcher held synods. [4] After Waltheof rebelled and lost his earldom, Walcher was allowed to buy the earldom. [5] Walcher planned to introduce monks into his cathedral chapter, and was remembered as encouraging monasticism in his diocese. [6] Particularly, he was known as the patron of Aldwine, who attempted to re-establish monasticism at Whitby. [2] Eventually, the group settled at Durham under Walcher's successor William de St-Calais. [7] The medieval chronicler Symeon of Durham stated that Walcher had begun construction of monastic buildings at Durham as part of his plan to introduce monks into Durham. [8]

Lotharingia former medieval kingdom (855-959)

Lotharingia was a medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire, comprising the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), Saarland (Germany), and Lorraine (France). It was named after King Lothair II who received this territory after the kingdom of Middle Francia of his father Lothair I was divided among his sons in 855.

Earl of Northumbria was a title in the Anglo-Danish, late Anglo-Saxon, and early Anglo-Norman period in England. The earldom of Northumbria was the successor of the earldom of Bamburgh. In the seventh century, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira were united in the kingdom of Northumbria, but this was destroyed by the Vikings in 867. Southern Northumbria, the former Deira, then became the Viking kingdom of York, while English earls ruled the former northern kingdom of Bernicia from their base at Bamburgh. The northern part of Bernicia was lost to the Scots, probably in the late tenth century. In 1006 Uhtred the Bold was earl of Bamburgh, and Æthelred the Unready appointed him earl of York as well, re-uniting the area of Northumbria still under English control into a single earldom. Uhtred was murdered in 1016, and Cnut then appointed Eric of Hlathir earl of Northumbria at York, but Uhtred's dynasty held onto Bernicia until 1041, when the earldom was again united. A descendant of Uhtred, Gospatric, was appointed earl by William the Conqueror in 1067, but William expelled him in 1072. Gospatric was then given lands in Scotland, and his descendants became earls of Dunbar. The earldom of Northumbria was broken up in the early Norman period and dissolved into the earldoms of York and Northumberland, with much land going to the prince-bishopric of Durham.

Aldwine was a medieval Bishop of Lichfield and Bishop of Leicester.

One of Walcher's councellors was Ligulf of Lumley, who was connected by birth to the old Northumbrian line and was married to the daughter of Ealdred, Earl of Bernicia. [9] Ligulf's presence in the bishop's council provided a link with the local aristocracy. There was a Scottish invasion in 1079, which Walcher was unable or unwilling to deal with effectively. [10] The Scots, under Malcolm III, were able to plunder Northumberland for about three weeks unopposed before returning to Scotland with slaves and booty. [11] Ligulf was very critical of Walcher's conduct. A feud ensued between Ligulf and two of Walcher's henchmen, his chaplain Leobwin and his kinsman Gilbert. Gilbert attacked Ligulf's hall in the middle of the night and Ligulf and most of his household were killed. [11]

Ligulf was an Anglo-Danish nobleman with landholdings in the north of England.

Malcolm III was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore". Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age. Henry I of England and Eustace III of Boulogne were his sons-in-law, making him the maternal grandfather of Empress Matilda, William Adelin and Matilda of Boulogne. All three of them were prominent in English politics during the 12th century.

The Northumbrians were enraged at the murder of one of their leaders and there was a real threat of rebellion. In order to calm the situation Walcher agreed to travel from Durham and meet Ligulf's kinsmen at Gateshead. He travelled with at least one hundred retainers for safety. At Gateshead, he met Eadulf Rus the leader of the kinsmen and was presented with a petition of wrongs committed. Walcher rejected these and the enraged Northumbrians attacked the Norman party. Walcher and his men sought refuge in a nearby church but the Northumbrians set fire to it. Leobwin died in the blaze and when Walcher, Gilbert and the rest of his party were forced out by the flames they were killed. [9] on 14 May 1080 [3] at Gateshead. [12]

Gateshead town in Tyne and Wear, England

Gateshead is a large town in Tyne and Wear, England, on the southern bank of the River Tyne opposite Newcastle upon Tyne. Gateshead and Newcastle are joined by seven bridges across the Tyne, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The town is known for its architecture, including the Sage Gateshead, the Angel of the North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Residents of Gateshead, like the rest of Tyneside, are referred to as Geordies. Gateshead's population in 2011 was 120,046.

Eadulf Rus was an 11th-century Northumbrian noble. He was either the son or grandson of Gospatric, possibly the man who soon after Christmas 1064 was allegedly killed on behalf of Tostig, Earl of Northumbria. This murder by Tostig led to a great northern revolt against Edward the Confessor, a revolt that turned both King Edward and Harold Godwinson against Tostig and led to the appointment of the Mercian, Morcar, as Earl of northern England.

Character

Walcher was a saintly man [13] but an incompetent leader. According to Symeon of Durham, Walcher's household knights were allowed to plunder and occasionally kill natives without punishment. [14]

Symeonof Durham was an English chronicler and a monk of Durham Priory.

Walcher was considered a well-educated bishop, and had a reputation as a pious man. [6] Symeon of Durham portrayed him as an honest, upright man who diligently performed his episcopal duties. [15] Walcher's successor as Earl of Northumbria was Aubrey de Coucy. [16] William of Saint Carilef was the next bishop, though not earl. [17]

Aubrey de Coucy was the earl of Northumbria from 1080 until about 1086.

Aftermath of his death

Following the killing of Walcher, the rebels attacked Walcher’s castle at Durham and besieged it for four days, before returning to their homes. The result of their rising and the killing of William’s appointed bishop, led William to send his half brother Odo of Bayeux with an army to harry the Northumbrian countryside. Many of the native nobility were driven into exile and the power of the Anglo-Saxon nobility in Northumbria was broken. [18]

Notes

  1. Or just Walcher, sometimes Walchere or Walker

Citations

  1. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 241
  2. 1 2 3 Williams English and the Norman Conquest p. 66
  3. 1 2 Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Durham: Bishops
  4. Barlow English Church p. 152
  5. Douglas William the Conqueror p. 240
  6. 1 2 Barlow English Church p. 62
  7. Douglas William the Conqueror p. 328
  8. Snape "Documentary Evidence" Medieval Art and Architecture at Durham Cathedral p. 22
  9. 1 2 Sadler Battle for Northumbria p. 51
  10. Barlow Feudal Kingdom of England p. 94
  11. 1 2 Kapelle Norman Conquest of the North p. 139
  12. Stafford Unification and Conquest p. 123
  13. Douglas William the Conqueror p. 327
  14. Kapelle Norman Conquest of the North p. 138
  15. Kapelle Norman Conquest of the North p. 137
  16. Powell and Wallis House of Lords p. 32
  17. Powell and Wallis House of Lords p. 36
  18. Kapelle Norman Conquest of the North p. 141

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References

Further reading

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Æthelwine
Bishop of Durham
1071–1080
Succeeded by
William de St-Calais
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Waltheof
Earl of Northumbria
1075–1080
Succeeded by
Aubrey de Coucy