Flambard (or Passeflabere), Ranulph (or Ralph)
Flambard (Or Passeflabere), Ranulph (Or Ralph)
an English prelate, and justiciar under William Rufus, was a Norman of low birth, who came to England in the train of William the Conqueror, in 1066. He took holy orders, obtained several Church preferments, was appointed chaplain to the bishop of London, and made prebendary of St. Paul's. He afterwards entered the service of William II, who made him his chaplain. By his unscrupulous artifices with the king he raised himself to the highest places in Church and State. He seems to have been the first man to apply feudalism to the estates of the Church. He suggested that they should be considered as fiefs or benefices held of the king, which at every vacancy should devolve to the crown till the vacancy was supplied. After the death of Lanfranc the king gave himself up unreservedly to Flambard. The justiciar obtained for himself the custody of the vacant abbeys of Winchester and Chertsey, the bishopric of Lincoln, and the archbishopric of Canterbury. His oppressive measures brought him into such odium that an attempt was made in 1099 to murder him at sea, which, however, proved unsuccessful. He was then rewarded with the see of Durham, for which he was obliged to pay the king £1000. On the death of William II, in 1100, he was imprisoned in the Tower, "the first man," says Freeman, "recorded to have dwelled as a prisoner in the Conqueror's fortress." In February of the following year he managed to escape from his prison, and fled to Normandy. There he joined duke Robert, instigated him to invade England, whither he returned with him. He was afterwards restored to his see, and appears to have attended to his duties faithfully the rest of his life. He completed his cathedral, built Norham castle, and fortified Durham. He endowed the college of Christ-church, and founded the priory of Motitsford. He died September 5, 1128. See Encyclop. Brit. 9th ed. s.v.