Gerard la Pucelle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gerard la Pucelle
Bishop of Coventry
Appointed January 1183
Term ended 1184
Predecessor Richard Peche
Successor Hugh Nonant
Personal details
Born c. 1117
Died 13 January 1184
Buried Coventry Cathedral
Denomination Catholic

Gerard la Pucelle (sometimes Gerard Pucelle;[1] c. 1117 – 13 January 1184) was a peripatetic Anglo-French scholar of canon law, clerk, and Bishop of Coventry.


Gerard was possibly born in England, taught canon law[a] at the University of Paris in the 1150s, when the study of the discipline of the Church was first differentiated from theology, spurred by the collections of church decretals that began with the Decretum Gratiani assembled by a monk at the University of Bologna. Among his surviving texts are glosses on the Decretum manuscripts to be found among the manuscripts of Durham Cathedral[b] and glosses in the Summa Lipsiensis,[c] in the Summa Parisiensis,[d] and elsewhere. Gerard added to the standard collection from which he taught. Among his pupils were Lucas of Hungary, Ralph Niger, master Richard, a certain Gervase who retired to Durham, and the English scholar Walter Map.[2]

Gerard was a member of Thomas Becket's entourage, his extended familia,[3] and a close friend of John of Salisbury.[4] After Becket went into exile, Gerard taught for a while in Paris before he undertook a mission to the Empire[5] in 1165/66 even though Frederick Barbarossa was under a ban of excommunication.[6] Between 1165 and 1168 he taught at Cologne, and held a prebend at that city.[1] In 1168 Gerard returned to England and took the oath of fealty to Henry II, which Becket had rejected.[7]

From about 1174 Gerard was once again in England, serving as a principal clerk to Becket's successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard of Dover. He was also with Peter of Blois for a time in Rome, where he represented Archbishop Richard before the Curia. In 1179, Gerard attended the Third Lateran Council as the archbishop's representative. From there, he may have returned to Cologne to teach for a bit, but by 1181 Gerard had returned to England.[6]

Perhaps already a canon,[citation needed] in January 1183, Gerard was appointed Bishop of Coventry,[8][e] which made him the vassal of Henry II of England,[f] but he died the following year on 13 January 1184[8] at Coventry. Some suspected that Gerard was poisoned. He was buried in Coventry Cathedral.[6]


  1. ^ leges et decreta according to John of Salisbury
  2. ^ Manuscript (MS) C.III.1 marked with the siglum "Ger."
  3. ^ The collection of decretals with commentary, as used in Leipzig marked with the siglum "Magister G. Coventris Episcopus" ("Doctor G. Bishop of Coventry")
  4. ^ The decretals and commentaries collected at the University of Paris.
  5. ^ The diocese was combined with that of Lichfield, 1121–1188.
  6. ^ Throughout the latter part of the twelfth and early part of the thirteenth century, the bishop owed the service of fifteen knights.[9]


  1. ^ a b Weigand "Transmontane Decretists" History of Medieval Canon Law pp. 182-183
  2. ^ Knowles Monastic Order p. 674 footnote 3
  3. ^ Barlow Thomas Becket p. 78
  4. ^ Barlow Thomas Becket p. 135
  5. ^ Barlow Thomas Becket p. 127
  6. ^ a b c Donahue "Pucelle, Gerard (d. 1184)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  7. ^ Barlow Thomas Becket p. 176
  8. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 253
  9. ^ Page "Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Coventry" History of the County of Warwick


  • Barlow, Frank (1986). Thomas Becket. Berkeley, C A: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07175-1. 
  • Donahue, Charles (2004). "Pucelle, Gerard (d. 1184)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49666. Retrieved 14 January 2008. 
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Knowles, David (1976). The Monastic Order in England: A History of its Development from the Times of St. Dunstan to the Fourth Lateran Council, 940–1216 (Second reprint ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-05479-6. 
  • Page, William, ed. (1908). "Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Coventry". A History of the County of Warwick. 2. pp. 52–59. Retrieved 13 May 2006. 
  • Weigand, Rudolf (2008). "The Transmontane Decretists". In Hartmann, Wilfried; Pennington, Kenneth. The History of Medieval Canon Law in the Classical Period, 1140-1234: From Gratian to the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. pp. 174–210. ISBN 978-0-8132-1491-7. 

Further reading[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Richard Peche
Bishop of Coventry
Succeeded by
Hugh Nonant