Geoffrey Rufus

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Geoffrey Rufus
Bishop of Durham
See Diocese of Durham
Installed 10 August 1133
Term ended 6 May 1141
Predecessor Ranulf Flambard
Successor William Cumin
Orders
Consecration 6 August 1133
Personal details
Died 6 May 1141
Buried Durham Cathedral in the chapter house
Denomination Catholic

Geoffrey Rufus (died 1141) was a medieval Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England.

Life[edit]

Rufus' parentage and upbringing is unknown. The circumstances around his acquisition of the nickname "Rufus" have not been discovered either.[1] He was a royal clerk[2] before being named the tenth Lord Chancellor and Lord Keeper of England, from 1123 to 1133.[3] Geoffrey had also worked for the previous chancellor Ranulf.[4] He may have started his career as a clerk for Roger of Salisbury, King Henry I of England's chief minister,[5] for he first appears as a witness to a charter of Roger's in 1114.[6] From charter evidence, it appears that Rufus was often in England, even when King Henry was in Normandy.[7] In the Pipe Roll of 1130, he had custody of more royal land than any other official.[1] After Geoffrey became a bishop, the king chose to keep the office of chancellor vacant until the king's death.[7] The functions of the office were performed by the head of the scriptorium, Robert de Sigello.[8]

Rufus was nominated to the see of Durham about 14 May 1133, and consecrated on 6 August 1133.[9] He was enthroned on 10 August 1133.[2] The see had been vacant since 1128. Geoffrey at first quarrelled with his cathedral chapter, but peace was restored when the bishop allowed the monks their privileges.[4] Geoffrey also was a benefactor to Newminster Abbey.[1] During Rufus' episcopate the chapterhouse at Durham was completed. Rufus also employed as a clerk William Cumin, who after Rufus' death conspired with King David I of Scotland to seize the see of Durham.[4]

When King Stephen took the thone at the death of King Henry, Rufus acknowledged Stephen as king, but did not attend the royal court often. In 1136, a peace treaty between King David and King Stephen was signed at Durham, but in 1138 Rufus' castle of Norham surrendered to King David, an act that brought condemnation to the bishop for failing to defend the castle adequately. Geoffrey, however, refused David's offer to return Norham to Geoffrey in return for repudiating Stephen. In retaliation, Norham was destroyed. Geoffrey does not seem to have supported either side at the Battle of the Standard in August of 1138.[1] At the end of Rufus' life, because of King David's invasion of northern England in support of the Empress Matilda, most of the diocese was under the control of the Scottish king.[10]

Rufus died on 6 May 1141.[9] Rufus was married, and had at least one daughter,[4] who married Robert of Amundeville.[1] His son Geoffrey seems not to have been involved in politics, although he held an estate in Dorset of 18 and a half hides.[11] His grave was identified and excavated in the 19th century inside Durham Chapter House.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Dalton "Geoffrey Rufus (d. 1141)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b British History Online Bishops of Durham
  3. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 83
  4. ^ a b c d Barlow English Church 1066–1154 pp. 88–89
  5. ^ Green Government of England Under Henry I p. 167
  6. ^ Green Government of England Under Henry I pp. 255–256
  7. ^ a b Hollister Henry I pp. 361–363
  8. ^ Green Government of England Under Henry I p. 27
  9. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 241
  10. ^ Huscroft Ruling England p. 134
  11. ^ Mooers "Familial Clout and Financial Gain" Albion p. 280
  12. ^ Carver "Early Medieval Durham" Medieval Art and Architecture at Durham Cathedral p. 13

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ranulf, Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
1123–1133
Succeeded by
Robert de Sigello
(Keeper of the Great Seal)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Ranulf Flambard
Bishop of Durham
1133–1141
Succeeded by
William Cumin