Henry Eudes de Blois-Champagne, Bishop Of Winchester (c.1101 - 1171) MP

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Nicknames: "Henry of Blois' 'Henry of Winchester'"
Birthplace: Blois, La Charente, France
Death: Died in Winchester, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Bishop of Winchester Monk of Cluny, Bishop of /Winchester, monk, Bishop of Winchester
Managed by: William John O'Brien
Last Updated:

About Henry Eudes de Blois-Champagne, Bishop Of Winchester

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_of_Blois

Henry of Blois, often known as Henry of Winchester;[1] (1101–1171) was Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey from 1126 and Bishop of Winchester from 1129 to his death.

Early life and education

Henry was one of five sons of Stephen, Count of Blois by Adela of Normandy (daughter of William the Conqueror) and therefore brother of King Stephen.[2] Henry's father died in 1102 while on crusade during the Second Battle of Ramla, leaving an estate with more than 350 castles and large properties in France including Chartres.

Henry was educated at Cluny and adhered to the principles of Cluniac reform, which included a sense of intellectual freedom and humanism, as well as a high standard of devotion and discipline.

Abbot and bishop

Henry was brought to England by King Henry I, to be Abbot of Glastonbury. On 4 October 1129, he was given the bishopric of Winchester[3] and allowed to keep his beloved Glastonbury Abbey. He was consecrated bishop on 17 November 1129.[3] He had ambitions to become Archbishop of Canterbury, but refused to abandon his work and obligations to Glastonbury. Soon after his appointment to the see of Winchester, Henry came to resent his subservience to Canterbury. He therefore set about building a power base to persuade the king to create a third, West Country archdiocese with himself at the head[4]. This scheme was unsuccessful. However, on 1 March 1139, during the reign of his brother Stephen, Henry obtained a commission as papal legate, which gave him higher rank than Theobald of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, making him the most powerful figure in the English Church during the troubled times of the so-called "Anarchy". Thus, when his brother was unavailable, Henry of Blois was the most powerful and possibly the wealthiest, man in England.

Stephen of Blois was crowned King of England in 1135, but the relations between the two brothers were not always peaceful. After the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, Henry found it more advantageous to support Empress Matilda; but later found her arrogant and greedy. Later that year, Henry rejoined his brother's side and, with the help of Queen Matilda and an army commanded by William of Ypres, his successful defence of Winchester against the Empress was the turning point of the civil war. As Abbot of Glastonbury, Henry remained in contact with Peter the Venerable at Cluny and was made aware of most of the controversies on the continent, specifically the persecution of Peter Abelard and Peter's translation of the Koran from Arabic to Latin.

[edit] Architecture

Before and after his elevation to Bishop, Henry of Blois was an advisor to his brother Stephen and survived him. Henry of Blois engineered hundreds of projects, including villages and canals, abbeys and smaller churches. He was most proud of his contributions to the greatest developments at Glastonbury Abbey long before the destructive fire of 1185. Unlike most bishops of his age, Henry had a passion for architecture. He built the final additions to Winchester Cathedral and Winchester Palace, including a tourist tunnel under the cathedral to make it easier for pilgrims to view relics. He also designed and built additions to many palaces and large houses including the castle of Farnham, Surrey[5] and began the construction of the hospital of St Cross at Winchester.

[edit] Literature

Bishop Henry was also enamored of books and their distribution. He wrote or sponsored several books including the Antiquities of Glastonbury, by William of Malmsbury, his close personal friend. He sponsored the Winchester Bible, the largest illustrated Bible ever produced. It is a huge folio edition standing nearly three feet in height. This Bible is still on display at Winchester, although it was never fully finished. His production of the Winchester Psalter, also known as the Blois Psalter, is on display in the British Museum and is considered a British National Treasure.

Hank Harrison in the Crown of Stars claims Henry of Blois is the anonymous author of the famed book Perlesvaux, known in English as the High History of the Holy Grail. [6]

[edit] Later years and death

The expiration of his legatine commission on 23 September 1143[2] deprived him of much of his power. His efforts to renew the commission were unsuccessful, but he made a personal visit to Rome and secured several favors for Glastonbury and the Benedictine order in general. Shortly after his brother's death and the accession of Henry II, the bishop retired to Cluny for three years to mourn his mentor Peter the Venerable, who died on Christmas Day, 1156.

In his later years Henry of Blois was appointed to preside over the trial of Thomas Becket and secretly supported Becket's family before and after his assassination.

He died on 8 August 1171.[3] Among his gifts to Cluny, was a pyx set with gems in the choir.[7] Henry of Blois is now buried at Winchester in a plain stone crypt in the choir, but there is a controversy because some sources claim he was also buried at Cluny. During his lifetime he was occasionally referred to as a king without a throne, and the power behind the throne. In the Antiquities, William of Malmsbury who knew the bishop well, described him, saying, "Yet, in spite of his noble birth he blushes when praised."

[edit] Naming of Gosport

According to a local legend, Henry was commanding a ship that sailed through stormy weather before becoming becalmed at Gosport, whereupon Henry dubbed the town "God's Port, our haven". The phrase remains the official town motto.

[edit] Fictional portrayals

Henry was portrayed by actor Patrick Carter in the 1978 BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown.

Henry of Blois (1111-1171) was bishop of Winchester from 1129 to his death. Henry was son of Stephen, Count of Blois, by Adela of Normandy daughter of William the Conqueror, and therefore brother of King Stephen.

Henry was educated at Cluny and promptly adhered to the principles of Cluniac reform, which included high claims of independence and power for the Church, as well as a high standard of devotion and discipline. Henry was brought to England by king Henry I, to be abbot of Glastonbury. In 1129 he was given the bishopric of Winchester and allowed to hold his abbey in conjunction with it but this was no more than a blow on Henry’s ambitions to become Archbishop of Canterbury. However, in 1139, during the reign of his brother Stephen, Henry obtained a legatine commission which gave him higher rank than the primate of Canterbury, meaning that in fact as well as in theory he became the master of the Church in England during the troubled times of the Anarchy.

Henry crowned his brother as king of England in 1135, but the relations between the two were not peaceful. After the battle of Lincoln (1141), he declared for Empress Maud; but finding his advice treated with contempt, rejoined his brothers side, and his successful defence of Winchester against the empress was the turning-point of the civil war. The expiration of his legatine commission of 1144 deprived him of much of his power. He spent the rest of Stephen’s reign in trying to procure its renewal. His efforts were unsuccessful, but he made a personal visit to Rome. At the accession of Henry II he retired from the world and spent the rest of his life in works of charity and penitence. Like most bishops of his age he had a passion for architecture. He built, among others, the castle of Farnham, Surrey and began the construction of the hospital of St Cross at Winchester.

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Henry Eudes de Blois-Champagne, Bishop Of Winchester's Timeline

1101
1101
Blois, La Charente, France
1171
August 8, 1171
Age 70
Winchester, Hampshire, England
August, 1171
Age 70
Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, England
????
????
- present
Winchester Cathedral
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