Gautier De Coutances

Gautier De Coutances (Lat. de Coustantiis or de Coustantia), a prelate of Normandy, was born about 1140. Little is known of his life prior to 1173, when he was vice- chancellor of England and canon of Rouen. He was regarded with favor by the king of England, who, in 1177, confided to him a mission to the count of Flanders, and in 1180 sent him with an embassy to the court of the young king, Philip Augustus. Gautier, who added to his other ecclesiastical honors the canonship of Lincoln and the archdeaconship of Oxford, greatly desired the bishopric of Lisieux, but did not obtain it. A vacancy, however, occurring, he was made bishop of Lincoln, and soon after passed to the metropolitan see of Rouen. From this time the name of the archbishop of Rouen is continually mingled with the politics of the day. In 1188 he agreed to accompany king Henry II on the crusade. In return for services rendered to prince Richard, Gautier was invested with the regency of the kingdom, October 8, 1191. After an absence from his diocese of four years, in which time he had obtained the liberty of the king, who had been a prisoner in Germany, he had to appease some difficulties between the canons and citizens of Rouen. In 1194 the churches of Normandy suffered greatly from the war between the kings of France and England. Gautier defended vigorously the ecclesiastical rights, and sent an interdict to Normandy, which, however, he was unable to sustain. In 1200 he had charge of promulgating, conjointly with the bishop of Poitiers, the interdict sent by Peter of Capua against the king of France. In 1204, Philip Augustus becoming master of Normandy, Gautier solemnly delivered to him the attributes of the ducal crown. He died November 6, 1207. There remain to us only a few letters of Gautier, scattered among the contemporary annalists. It was said that he also wrote a history of the crusade of Richard, but nothing remains of it. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.

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