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John of Salisbury and His Brothers

  • Frank Barlow

The church of Exeter, although geographically remote from the centres of royal and ecclesiastical power in England, was in the twelfth century in no way isolated. The rule of the important royal clerk and ambassador, William de Warelwast (1107–37), destroyed its provincialism and much of its archaism; and in the second half of the century a connection with the church of Salisbury led to the influx of some interesting men. It may be that the intimate relationship with Canterbury, inaugurated by the election of Bartholomew, Archbishop Theobald'sformer clerk, to Exeter in 1161, and repaid by the final location of the Exeter clerk Baldwin on the primatial throne in 1184, was the more rewarding for both. But the seemingly largely one-way contribution of Salisbury to Exeter is just as interesting.

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1 Domesday Book, fos 100r–v; Register of St Osmund, ed. Rich-Jones, W. H. (Rolls Series 18831884), i. 381–2; ii. 79.

2 Redvers family charters, ed. Bearman, R. (Devon and Cornwall Record Society xxxvii, 1994), nos 29–30, cf. no.6.

3 English episcopal acta, XI–XII: Exeter, 1046–1257, ed. Barlow, Frank, Oxford 1995(hereinafter cited as EEA (Exeter)), no. 49.

4 C. N. L. Brooke comments on Gille and her sons — especially on John of Salisbury —in his edition of John's letters: The letters of John of Salisbury, i, ed. Millor, W. J. and Butler, H. E., rev. Brooke, C. N. L., Oxford 1955; ii, ed. W.J. Millor and C. N. L. Brooke, Oxford 1979 (hereinafter cited as J. of S. Letters, i, ii, with nos and/or page references. For John's life and family see also Poole, R. L. in the DNB; Webb, C. C. J., John of Salisbury, London 1932; Wilks, M. (ed.), The world of John of Salisbury (Studies in Church History, Subsidia iii, 1984), particularly, Brooke, C. N. L., ‘John of Salisbury and his world”, 120, and Luscombe, D., ‘John of Salisbury in recent scholarship”, 2137, with bibliography 1953–82, at pp. 445–57. For the obits of Gille Peche and her son Robert see the list of Exeter kalendar brethren in Orme, N., ‘The kalendar brethren of the city of Exeter”, Transactions of the Devonshire Association cix (1977), 153–69, at pp. 163b, 166b. It is possible that for Gille, ‘Peche” could be understood by word play as ‘Peach”.

5 Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, Various Collections, iv. 49.

6 I tried to distinguish between these two other Richards, in my Thomas Becket, London 1986, 127, 302 n. 4. For their activities refer to the index. For Mr R., cognatus meus, cf. J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 142, and for Mr Richard's death, no. 277, 594–5. Although Peccator also seems to disappear in 1168 the two are very differently described. Webb, , John of Salisbury, 23, allows John only one brother and one kinsman (i.e. the clerk) named Richard.

7 John to Peter of Celle in Dec. 1170: J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 304. He reports that she has been ill for two years, but has been assured by the Holy Spirit that she will not die before she has seen John and his brother on their return from exile. John asks (pp. 716–17) for prayers for her from Peter and the saints of Rheims. She had been at Exeter from at least the summer of 1166: ibid. ii. no. 172, pp. 128–9, 132–3. She may have died in Dec. 1170: Orme, , ‘Kalendar brethren”, 163b, and below p. 104.

8 Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission (Wells), i. 20; EEA (Exeter), no. 75, cf. 73. Ibid. no. 60.

9 Cartulary of the monastery of St Frideswide at Oxford, ed. Wigram, S. R., ii (Oxford Historical Society xxxi, 1896), 231–2, no. 989.

10 J. of S. Letters, i, no. 133, p. 244.

11 Ibid, i, no. 118, pp. 194–5.

12 Saltman, A., Theobald Archbishop of Canterbury, London 1956, charters nos 83–4, pp. 306–8.

13 EEA (Exeter), no. 87. Although the witness-list is not without problems, these do not seem to affect the Salisbury brothers.

14 Brooke (J. of S. Letters, i. 195 n. 8), decided that the magister and Peccator were one and the same man, i.e. John's brother Richard of ibid, nos 19, 34. I would make this one into a trinity.

15 Ibid, ii, nos 147–8 (pp. 46–7), 153. The boy was possibly a godson of one of the Salisbury Richards.

16 See below p. 101.

17 EEA (Exeter), nos 49, 58, 87, 104 (1168).

18 Robert, archdeacon of Totnes, is entered under January in the list of Exeter kalendar brethren: Orme, Kalendar brethren. Obits for this month are missing from the Martyrology: Exeter, Dean and Chapter MS 3518. His three brothers, however, unlike him and his mother, do not seem to have been members of the fraternity.

19 J. of S. Letters, ii, nos 145–8. These, as Brooke remarked (ibid, ii, pp. xxv–xxvi and n. 3), are difficult to date exactly. However, as Richard is at Exeter and John elsewhere, we are limited to two periods, either c. 1158 to Dec. 1163 or ? spring 1165 to summer 1166. That Richard was in trouble is not decisive. But John wrote no. 146 from exile, and in no. 147, which links with, and is after, no. 145, states that he was finding kinship among foreigners. It is, therefore, likely that all three can be attributed to 1165 x 6, a period when John was naturally even more than usually concerned about Richard's welfare.

20 Ibid, ii, no. 147, p. 43.

21 Ibid. ii. 38–9, 42–5.

22 See below p. 109.

23 EEA (Exeter), nos 60, 82 (1164), 87, 104 (1168), 116 (1169), 122, 128.

24 Ibid, nos 94–9, 101, 106, in, 118, 134.

25 The archdeaconry was in royal hands, sede vacante, at Michaelmas 1186: Pipe Roll 32 Henry II, 157–8, and he had died in January: n. 18 above.

26 Plymouth obituary printed below p. 109. Prior Martin of Plymouth, at Robert's petition, granted one great acre of land outside the South Gate of Exeter, to theeast of the Leper Hospital (St Mary Magdalene), to the Hospital of St John the Baptist in return for an annual rent of 6s. 8d. Bishop Bartholomew was among the witnesses: St John's Cartulary, Exeter DRO Municipal Book 53A, fo. 3r.

27 J. of s. Letters, ii, no. 140, and editor's note.

28 Abbot of Montier-la-Celle (near Troyes, Aube), 1144x5–62; abbot of Saintat Réims, 1162–81; bishop of Chartres, 1181–3.

29 Peter of Celle, Letters, no. 161, col. 605. (The letters of Peter of Celle are in PL ccii. 397–1146.)

30 Brooke (J. of S. Letters, i. 195, n. 8), thought that he was.

31 Ibid, ii, nos 136, 139, 143, 152 (pp. 52–3), 159–60, 178 (Norwich), 304 (Kent).

32 Ibid, ii, no. 150. For his movements in Nov. 1170, see below pp. 103–4.

33 J. of S. Letters, i, nos 19 (p. 32), 31 (p. 51). For John's disgrace, Brooke, ibid. 257–8.

34 Ibid, i, no. 34, p. 62.

35 See n. 8 above.

36 Barlow, , Thomas Becket, 107.

37 J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 136, pp. 12–13.

38 See above n. 31. He probably alludes to the poverty they both sufferedat this time in J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 170. John calculated his years of proscription from roughly one year after the start of his exile: ibid. ii. 262.

39 Ibid, ii, no. 140.

40 Peter of Celle, Letters, no. 73, cols 519–20. As the valediction is in the plural, the letter was probably intended for both brothers.

41 J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 137, cf. 138–9.

42 He was with Robert fitzGille, Archdeacon Baldwin and Roger of Sidbury at Exeter probably in 1165: ibid, ii, no. 145.

43 Ibid, ii, nos 159–60, cf. 162.

44 Ibid, ii, nos 153, 145–6, 148 (ad fin.).

45 Ibid, ii, no. 164; Barlow, , Thomas Becket, 140–1.

46 J. of S. Letters, ii, no. 170.

47 Ibid, ii, nos 169, 172.

48 Ibid, ii, no. 174 (ad init.). Peter of Celle offered the bishop asylum at Rheims, where he would find a new house, gold and silver, books, and time to study them: Letters, no. 127.

49 J. of S. Letters, ii. no. 178.

50 Barlow, , Thomas Becket, 211–21. John indicates that Richard is still with him in J. of S. Letters, ii, nos 174, 178, 180, 184, 189, 274.

51 Ibid, ii, no. 304.

52 Barlow, , Thomas Becket, 245, 247.

53 After c. 1171 Bartholomew appointed to the cathedral treasurership in succession three men named John. John of Salisbury comes in the middle, and seems to have been appointed before May 1173 (EEA (Exeter), no. 141) and to have held the office until his departure for Chartres in 1176.

54 E E A (Exeter), nos 78, 81, 142 A (1171 x 3), 103 (1171 x 3), 125 (1173), 130 (1171), 114 (1171 x 6), 139 (173 x 6).

55 English episcopal acta, VIII: Winchester 1070–1204, ed. Franklin, M. J., Oxford 1993, nos 141, 171. See also below n. 72.

56 Peter of Celle, Letters, no. 121.

57 J. of S. Letters, ii. no. 305. See Brooke's notes for the addressees. The letter, in its present form, was written after miracles had started (pp. 736–7), perhaps in April 1171. Peter answers his question whether Thomas can be included in the catalogue of saints without papal authority.

58 Peter of Celle, Letters, no. 121, cols 570–1: ‘Ecce, mi dulcissime Richarde, proruo in osculis faciei tuae, non sine affectu viscerali attendens mutatum habitum, nescio si melioratum animum.”

59 Ibid. no. 164; ‘tanquam cervos et capreas in clauso, ut ita dicam, parco”, col. 1101. ‘Capreolos” (roebucks) would have been more emollient. Peter comes close to ‘sheep and goats”.

60 Cf. his remark in letter no. 122 about a member of his church, Hervey,who had left them, possibly to visit John or both brothers: ‘Ivit viam suam; utinam non post Satanam!”

61 Barlow, , Thomas Becket, 18; J. of S. Letters, ii, nos 151, 156.

62 Ralph de Diceto, Opera historica, ed. Stubbs, W. (Rolls Series i, 1876), 349. This may be the occasion when Exeter obtained the relics, ‘from the head and blood of St Thomas the Martyr, and a large part of his hair-shirt and the greater part of his shirt stained with his blood”. List printed by Conner, Patrick W., Anglo-Saxon Exeter: a tenth-century cultural history, Woodbridge 1993, 203, no. 78. Alternatively, they had already been supplied by John of Salisbury.

63 Peter of Celle, Letters, nos 128, 124.

64 Ibid. 149.

65 Ibid. no. 150.

66 Ibid. no. 122.

67 Ibid. no. 162.

68 Ibid. no. 164.

69 Ibid. no. 165.

70 Ibid. no. 166. Cf. also nos 162 (twice), 163.

71 Printed ibid, cols 1097–1146.

72 A large dossier (nos 311–21) is preserved in John's correspondence: J. of S. Letters, ii, p. xlv. John could have drafted all the letters.

73 ‘Quia me sanctae Cantuariensis ecclesiae membrum, licet modicum, esse constat”: ibid. no. 314, pp. 770–1.

74 Ibid. no. 323.

75 Ibid. no. 310, pp. 758–9.

76 See above n. 53.

77 Peter of Celle, Letters, no. 151 (the prior is not named in the address). See also aboven. 29.

78 Peter of Celle, Letters, nos 118–20.

79 When abbot of Celle, he had dedicated his Liber de panibus scripturae divinae to John: ibid, cols 927–8.

80 Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley James 23 (extracts from the lost Plympton priory cartulary), p. 169.

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