Henry of Blois

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry von Blois (* around 1100 - 8 August 1171 ) was Abbot of Glastonbury from 1126 and Bishop of Winchester from 1129 until his death. He was one of five sons of Count Stephan II of Blois and Adela of Normandy , a daughter of Wilhelm the Conqueror , and thus a brother of the English King Stephen .

Heinrich was brought up in the spirit of the principles of the Cluniac reform in Cluny , where Petrus Venerabilis was one of his teachers. His uncle, the English King Henry I , made him abbot of Glastonbury when he was around 25, and three years later made him Bishop of Winchester, where he was allowed to continue running the abbey. He had ambitions for the title of Archbishop of Canterbury , but refused to give up the abbey for it. In 1139, during the reign of his brother Stephen, he was ranked higher than the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Pope , so at that time he was considered the chief cleric of England and, in the absence of his brother, was the most powerful man in England.

Relations between Heinrich and Stephan, who became king in 1135, were not always free of tension. After the Battle of Lincoln (1141), Heinrich thought it more sensible to support Stephen's opponent, Matilda , whose personality he could not cope with. The following year, he was back on the side of his brother and his successful defense of Winchester in the Battle of Winchester against Matilda was the turning point in the conflict between the two parties.

Heinrich von Blois was responsible for hundreds of projects, including the extensive development of Glastonbury before it was destroyed by fire in 1185. Unlike most of the bishops of his day, he was interested in architecture. He completed Winchester Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace, and had the tunnel built under the cathedral, which made it easier for pilgrims to see the relics . The castle of Farnham (Surrey) and the Hospital Saint Cross in Winchester go back to him.

The expiration of papal classification in 1144 robbed him of much of his power. His attempts to obtain an extension failed, as did his visit to Rome , but on that occasion he obtained great perks for Glastonbury and the Benedictine order in general.

Shortly after Stephen's death and the accession to the throne of Matilda's son Heinrich II , he retired to Cluny for three years to his mentor Peter Venerabilis, who died on Christmas Day 1156.

Heinrich von Blois financed among other works also the writings of William of Malmesbury , who was one of his close friends. He also suggested the largest Bible illumination ever attempted , an edition nearly three feet high. This never-finished Bible is on display in Winchester.

In his later years Heinrich von Blois was appointed chairman of the proceedings against Thomas Becket , but at the same time secretly supported Becket's family before and after his murder.

Heinrich von Blois was buried in a ground-level stone crypt in the choir in Winchester.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Powicke & Fryde: Handbook of British Chronology. Second Edition, London, 1961, p. 258


predecessor Office successor
William Giffard Bishop of Winchester
Richard of Ilchester