Gervase of Canterbury

Gervase Of Canterbury, a mediaeval English chronicler, was born about 1150, and died in the early part of the 13th century. We know but little of his history. It appears that he was a monk of the priory of Christ's Church, Canterbury, and held the office of sacristan. was present at the burning in 1174 of Canterbury Cathedral, and watched the erection of the new cathedral, until the election of Baldwin as archbishop in 1184, where he wrote his account of the destruction and rebhuffding thereof, entitled Tractatus de combustione Doroborensis ecclesiae. Another work, Imaginationes de discordiis inter monachos Cantuarienses et archiepiscopum Baldewin, written, perhaps, after Hubert became archbishop in 1193, gives a full account of the dissensions between Baldwin and his monks. His next work, Vitae Dorobornensium archiepiscaporum, contains lives of the archbishops of Canterbury, ending soon after Hubert's accession. His most valuable work, Canonica de tempore regum Angliae Stephani, Hen. II, et Ricardi II, chronicles the reigns of these sovereigns, ands contains in the conclusion an announcement of a second part, to be devoted to the reign of John, which was probably never written. In the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (No. 438), there is a MS. treatise of Gervase, entitled Mappa

Mundi, the first part of which gives a topographical description of England by counties, with lists of the bishops sees and monasteries in each, and the second part lists of the archbishops of the whole world and their suffragans, and added thereto a chronicle of England from the fabulous times to the death of Richard T. Bishop Nicolson (Eng. Hist. Library) characterizes Gervase as a diligent and judicious historian; and Wright (Biog. Brit. Lit.) says "his writings show great care in collecting information, and discrimination in using it; and his chronicle of the reigns of Stephen, Henry, and Richard is one of the most valuable of the historical memorials of the 12th century." His works, except the Mappa Mundi, were published in Twysden's Historiae Anglicans Scriptores Decem (Londoni. 1652, fol., Coll. 1285-1684), and an English translation of his Tractatus de Combustione, etc., is given in the Report of the Proceedings of the British Archaeological Association, at the first General Meeting, held at Canterbury in the Month of September, 1844, ed. by Alfred John Dunkin (Lond. 1845, 8vo), pages 194-240. — Wright, Biographia Britannica Literaria (Anglo-Norman period, pages 419-421); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gen. 20:326, 327; Rose, New Genesis Biog. Dictionary, 8:12. (J.W.M.)

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