Saturday, 9 February 2013


Clarembald [Clarembaldus/Clarembertus], a Norman secular priest, with the reputation of being a hugely dissolute person, and previously Prior of Montacute and St. Mary's, Thetford, in 1161, was foisted upon the monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, by King Henry II as their abbot. They did not want him. St. Augustine's was perhaps the oldest and most famous monastic establishment in the whole of the country, having been founded by St. Augustine himself.  It was also one of the richest institutions in the country. Its head was one of the few "Mitred Abbots" of England, an appointment equivalent in rank to a bishop, a baron, with the right to be summoned and sit in the king's Concilium Magnum, as a Lord Spiritual, to give him counsel in the matters of import in regard to the running of the kingdom. Clarembald wanted the riches of the Abbey for his own personal use and profit. The monks of St. Augustine's were very angry with the king about this, and refused to allow Clarembald to enter their chapter-house, celebrate mass, or undertake any other sacred function in their church. But he still managed to have control of the whole temporalities  of the monastery and its land and produce, having obtained the custody of the monastery's common seal.

Clarembald claimed and asserted, as some of his predecessors had also done before him, that the post of Abbot of  St. Augustine's was exempt from archiepiscopal jurisdiction. He demanded that Becket should therefore come to grant him the customary pastoral benediction and blessing for the appointment within the precincts his own monastery, and not for him to have to go to the cathedral, and also without the need to profer any oath of canonical obedience to the archbishop. Becket refused to do this. It was said that the king had encouraged Clarembald in this matter in revenge for Becket's opposition to him. And this has been recorded in the-then contemporary mansucripts as one of the first major causes of dissension between the king and Becket. 

Later on, at the time of Becket's murder Clarembald had offered accommodation to the four knights, on the night before the murder.

Clarembald was never made full abbot, never confirmed in his position and for the next 15 years remained only as abbot-elect, during which time it was said that he wasted the property of the community. In 1168 there had been a major, and the abbey had burned down. According to one account Clarembald had fathered no less than seventeen bastards on one of the monastery’s manors, contrary to the principle of clerical celibacy. In 1173 he was formally deposed, following an investigation that had been set up by the pope at the behest of the monks of the abbey.

Footnote and Aftermath [Link]

Abbot Clarembald appears neither to have received benediction nor to have made profession, his own peculiar position and the strained relations between the king and Becket doubtless accounting for this; His successor, Roger, however, practically secured the victory. The archbishop rejected his claim to be blessed in the abbey with only a modified form of the oath of profession, and the matter was decided by Pope Alexander III, before whom Roger appeared in person. The forged privilegium of Augustine and other documents were produced and declared to be genuine by the pope, who ruled that the archbishops should give benediction in the abbey without any profession of obedience, and that failing this the abbots should go to receive benediction from the pope. He himself blessed Roger in 1179, and moreover granted him permission to wear the mitre and other insignia, a right which the abbots since Egelsin had dropped on account of the opposition of the archbishops. There is no doubt about the matter, for it is admitted by the cathedral party, Gervase bitterly lamenting that not even lavish expenditure of money had availed to prevent it. A formal agreement was made between the abbot and the archbishop in 1182,  and in 1185 Archbishop Baldwin was amicably and respectfully received at the abbey. 


Editor W.
A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2 (pp. 126-133).
Houses of Benedictine monks - The abbey of St Augustine, Canterbury

James CRAIGIE ROBERSTON (1859). Becket, archbishop of Canterbury: A. Biography. John Murray. pp. 94–.
James CRAIGIE ROBERSTON (1859). Becket, archbishop of Canterbury: A. Biography. John Murray. pp. 332–4.
Other links

John Morris (1859). The life and martyrdom of saint Thomas Becket archb. of Canterbury. Longman, Brown. pp. 235–.

James J. Spigelman (1 June 2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 122–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.
James J. Spigelman (1 June 2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 287–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3

William E. Phipps (10 September 2004). Clerical Celibacy: The Heritage. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-0-8264-1617-9.

Henry Charles Lea (1 August 2003). History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 234–. ISBN 978-0-7661-7337-8

St Augustine's Abbey - Wikipedia

House of Lords - Wikipedia

Edward Churton (1840). The early English church. J. Burns.

David Knowles; C. N. L. Brooke; Vera C. M. London (9 August 2001). The Heads of Religious Houses: England and Wales, I 940-1216. Cambridge University Press. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-1-139-43074-6.

William Thorne; Thomas Sprott (1934). William Thorne's Chronicle of Saint Augustine's abbey, Canterbury. B. Blackwell.
Translation of William Thorne's Chronicle of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury [specimen Pages.]. s.n., 193. (1652). Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores X. Siméon monachus Dunelmensis, Johannes Prior Hagustaldensis, Ricardus Prior Hagustaldensis, Ailredus Abbas Rievallensis, Radulphus de Diceto Londoniensis, Johannes Brompton Jornallensis, Gervasius Monachus Dorobornensis, Thomas Stubbs Dominicanus, Guilielmus Thorn Cantuariensis, Henricus Knighton Leicestrensis Ex vetustis manuscriptis, nunc primum in lucem editi, adjectis variis lectionibus glossario indiceque copioso. typis Jacobi Flesher, sumptibus Cornelii Bee. pp. 1835–.

Historiae anglicanae scriptores X. Simeon monac...

Joseph Berington (1790). The history of the reign of Henry the Second, and of Richard and John, his sons: with the events of the period, from 1154-1216. In which the character of Thomas a Becket is vindicated from the attacks of George, lord Lyttelton ...
. Printed by M. Swinney. pp. 232–.Becket letters

Diceto Clarembald, abbot of, i. 308, 354 ; ii. 279. 
38 Herb i  31 Gervase 1382 

Letter 67. Archbishop Theobald to  Pope Adrian IV
Begging Pope Adrian to command that  the Abbot of St. Augustine's to make a profession of obedience to him.


In a letter dated from Montpelier July 10, 1165, Alexander III ordered Clarembald to make his profession
of obedience to Thomas

Jaffé Regesta 11217
Antecessorum nostrorum

Jacques-Paul Migne (1855). Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Latina:  Volume 200 Epistola CCCLIX: excudebat Migne. col. 383.


11392 (7604) Henrico, Anglorum regi, significat, litteras eius a Clarembaldo electo S. Augustini, Reginaldo archidiacono Sarisberiensi, Simone de Carcere, Henrico de Northamtune redditas sibi esse. Thomae, archiepiscopo Cantuariensi, interdictum esse, "ne in regem aut in terram eius vel in personas regni eius, interdicti seu excom- municationis sententiam, donec rex eum in gratiam reciperet, proferre ulla ratione attentaret, aut in aliquo gravare praesumeret" quoniam inquit "litteras illas, quas anno praeterito per nuncios tuos ultimo destinavimus (ep. 11302 d. d. 20. Dec. 1166), viribus de cetero constat carere, si archiepiscopus interim te aut terram tuam vel personas regni in aliquo gravare praesumpserit, praesentes litteras poteris in argumentum nostrae voluntatis ostendere". Quam rex "in scriptis suis vel legatis varietatem invenerit", excusat. (Mense Maio a. 1168 datam esse epistolam hanc, probat Reuter U. 620 sq.) Epist. S. Thomae ed. Lupus p. 630, ed. Giles II. 128, Migne 200 p. 464. "Excellentiae tuae nuncios".


Clarembald was removed by Alexander III in 1176.
See John of Salisbury  Giles Letter 310

John (of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres) (1848). Joannis Saresberiensis opera omnia. Nunc primum in unum collegit et cum codicibus manuscriptis: Epistolae.  Epistola CCCX: J. H. Parker. pp. 268–.

Letter 326/310 Bishops Bartholomew of Exeter and Roger of Worcester to Pope Alexander III
late 1175 - early 1176

Other Jaffé Regesta references


12707 (8440) Monachos S. Augustini Cantuarienses hortatur, ut dejecto Clarembaldo,
alium sibi abbatem sumant. Hist. mon. S. Aug. Cant. p. 413. (Chron. W. Thom ap.
Twysden H. A. SS. H. 1818, Migne 200 p. 1080). "Auditis olim".

12708 (8441) Capitulo S. Augustini Cantuariensi petente, "quidquid Clarembaldus, quon-
dam electus, de bonis ecclesiae absque consilio et assensu totius capituli in ejus
praeiudicium fecerit", rescindit. Hist. mon. S. Aug. Cant. p. 415. (Chron. W. Thom
ap. Twysden H. A. SS. H. 1818, Migne 200 p. 1080). "Nostrae sollicitudinis est".

12709 Capitulo S. Augustini Cantuariensi concedit, "ne quisquam, abbas sive praelatus,
ecclesiae eorum pueros infra XV. annos in monachili habitu suscipiat". Hist. mon.
S. Aug. Cant. p. 427. "Nostrae sollicitudinis est".

12710 Capitulo S. Augustini Cantuariensi petente, domui eorum eleemosynariae asserit
ecclesiam S. Augustini Northbumensem. Hist. mon. S. Aug. Cant. p. 448. "Iustis
petentium desideriis".

12711 Capitulo S. Aug. Cantuariensi petente, ecclesiae eomm "combustae et omnino
fere destructae ad reparationem ipsius ecclesiae" asserit ecclesiam Faureshamensem.
Hist. mon. S. Aug. Cant. p. 429. "Cum ecclesia vestra"

12712 Capitulo S. Augustini Cantuariensi concedit, "ne quisquam, abbas sire praelatus,
ecclesiae eorum segrestaniam (sacristaniam) vel camerariam absque consensu totius
capituli ad firmam dare vel sibi usurpare praesumat". Hist. mon. S. Aug. Cant. p. 426.
"Nostrae sollicitudinis est".

12179 (8377) B(artholomaeo) Exoniensi et R(ogero) Wigomiensi episcopis et (Clarem-
baldo) abbati Faureshamensi mandat, ut monasterium S. Augustini Cantuariense, 
"quod non solum in temporalibus, sed et in spiritualibus ad ultimum venisse de-
fectum videatur", reformare studeant, utque, si cognoverint, quod absque amotione
electi (Clarembaldi) et quorundam monachomm reformari non possit, eos amoveant
aliasque idoneas personas substituant. Liverani Spicil. Liber. p. 546, (Chronica
W. Thom ap. Twysden H. A. SS. IL 1817). "Cum ex suscepti".

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