Gisa (bishop of Wells)

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Gisa
Bishop of Wells
Gisetomb.JPG
See Diocese of Wells
Elected January 1060 or January 1061
Term ended 1088
Predecessor Duduc
Successor John of Tours
Other posts royal chaplain
Orders
Consecration 15 April 1061
by Pope Nicholas II
Personal details
Born Lorraine
Died 1088
Denomination Catholic

Gisa (also spelt Giso; died 1088) was Bishop of Wells from 1060 to 1088.

Life[edit]

Gisa was born in Lorraine,[1] probably the village of St Trond in modern Belgium,[2] and was among a number of foreign churchmen brought to England by Edward the Confessor. At first he held the position of king's chaplain,[3] but in January 1060[4] or possibly January 1061[2] he was elected to become Bishop of Wells. Pope Nicholas II consecrated him on 15 April 1061 in Rome.[3] He went to Rome for consecration because the current Archbishop of Canterbury was Stigand, who successive popes had excommunicated for various irregularities,[5] and traveled in company with another bishop Walter of Lorraine, the Bishop of Hereford-elect and Tostig Godwinson.[6] The Vita Edwardi says that he was "most suitably and excellently trained."[7]

On Gisa's arrival in the see he found the church there quite poor.[8] He constructed cloisters to the north of Wells Cathedral and communal buildings to the south for the canons. He ordered the canons to live together under a rule, but exactly which rule it was is unknown. After the Conquest, he introduced the veneration of new saints into his cathedral, as well as setting up an archdeacon in the diocese for the first time[2] He also wrote a history of the church.[8] He worked to restore lands formerly held by the bishop or cathedral that had been unjustly acquired by others.[9][10]

Gisa obtained land grants for the upkeep of the church and canons from King Edward the Confessor and later king's Harold Godwinson and William I of England. He is mentioned many times in the Domesday Book as the holder of land for the see, and was notorious for acquiring land throughout his bishopric.[2] The only surviving writ of Harold's issued while Harold was king dealt with Giso's rights as bishop, and was addressed to Abbot Æthelnoth of Glastonbury, the sheriff of Somerset, and the thegns of Somerset.[11]

After the Norman conquest of England, Gisa supported William.[12] He helped consecrate Lanfranc as archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and attended the Council of Windsor in 1072 and the Council of London in 1075. At a later church council, Giso asserted his authority over the abbots of Muchelney and Athelney, but failed to do the same to Thurstan, Abbot of Glastonbury. Previously, he was credited as the author of Historiola de primordiis episcopatus Somersetensis, a history of the bishops of Wells, but he is no longer considered the author of that work.[2]

Gisa died in 1088[4] and was buried at Wells Cathedral.[3] When he died, he, along with Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, were the only remaining bishops still remaining from Edward the Confessor's appointments.[13] His tomb was opened in 1979,[2] and a cross with verses from the Mass for the Dead inscribed on it was found in his tomb.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Barlow Edward the Confessor p. 245
  2. ^ a b c d e f Barrow "Giso (d. 1088)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ a b c British History Online Bishops of Bath and Wells accessed on 23 September 2007
  4. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 222
  5. ^ Huscroft Ruling England p. 51
  6. ^ Smith "Court and Piety" Catholic Historical Review p. 574
  7. ^ Quoted in Huscroft Ruling England p. 48
  8. ^ a b Barlow English Church 1000–1066 pp. 82–83
  9. ^ Barlow English Church 1000–1066 p. 149
  10. ^ Barlow English Church 1000–1066 p. 224
  11. ^ Walker Harold p. 139
  12. ^ Douglas William the Conqueror p. 215
  13. ^ Stenton Anglo Saxon England p. 680
  14. ^ Bartlett England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings p. 597

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Keynes, S. "Giso, bishop of Wells (1061–88)", Anglo-Norman Studies, 19 (1996), 203–71
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Duduc
Bishop of Wells
c. 1060–1088
Succeeded by
John of Tours