Giffard, William (DNB00)
GIFFARD, WILLIAM (d. 1129), bishop of Winchester, probably of the same family as Walter Giffard, earl of Buckingham, was canon and subsequently dean of the cathedral of Rouen, and chancellor of William Rufus. Giffard was appointed by Henry I to the see of Winchester, which had been vacant since the death of Bishop Walkelin more than two years before, immediately on his accession to the throne and before his coronation, and was put in possession by him of the temporalities of the bishopric (Henry of Huntingdon, p. 232). Malmesbury tells us that the episcopal office was violently forced upon Giffard by Henry, and that he accepted it with the greatest reluctance, assailing his electors, the monks of Winchester, with threats and reproaches (Will. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pont. p. 110). But if the charge that he purchased the see of Henry for a large sum of money, implied in Matthew Paris's word ‘remuneratus,’ is to be accepted as historical, this reluctance was entirely feigned, and merely assumed to hide the real nature of the transaction (Matt. Paris, Hist. Angl. ii. 181). After Henry's coronation, Giffard was one of the bishops who witnessed the king's letter to Anselm excusing himself for being crowned in the archbishop's absence, and begging him to return without delay (Anselm, Epist. iii. 41). On Anselm's return to England he recognised Giffard's election, inducted him to his office, and invested him with the ring and pastoral staff. The dispute which immediately arose between Anselm and Henry respecting homage caused a long delay in his consecration. However, as a bishop-elect who had received induction and the insignia of office, his episcopal position was fully acknowledged. In common with other prelates he witnessed Henry's charter of liberties, issued immediately after his coronation, and took part in the council of Westminster, 20 Sept. 1102. On the persistent refusal of Anselm to consecrate bishops as long as the king maintained his demand that they should do homage to him for their benefices and become his ‘men,’ Henry ordered Gerard [q. v.], the newly appointed archbishop of York, to act as consecrator. Giffard at first manifested no reluctance to be consecrated by him, but at the last moment, when the ceremony had already commenced in St. Paul's, Giffard interrupted the service by a refusal to accept consecration at Gerard's hands. A scene of violent confusion arose. The populace loudly applauded Giffard's courage. The king, however, viewed his conduct with great indignation, and sentenced him to banishment and confiscation. Anselm's intercession was, as might be expected, fruitless (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. lib. iii. p. 64).
Anselm did all in his power to mitigate the severity of Giffard's exile. He wrote numerous letters on his behalf to the leading personages in Normandy, Duke Robert, the Archbishop of Rouen, and others, entreating them to protect his friend (Anselm, Epist. iii. 70, iv. 24, 25, 26). But Anselm's appeal to Robert proved of little use. The injuries Giffard received at Duke Robert's hands led him to consult Anselm whether he could lawfully transfer a castle he held of the duke to the duke's brother, Henry I. Anselm's reply was a firm negative. He was not yet consecrated, and if he were to make over what he held of Robert to the king of England, his enemy, he would be liable to the charge of having done it to buy his consecration (ib. iii. 98). Anselm subsequently wrote to Giffard exhorting him not to recede from his good resolution (ib. iii. 105). The relations between Giffard and Anselm grew closer, and on Anselm's leaving England in 1103, Giffard accompanied him across Europe to Rome (Matt. Paris, Hist. Angl. ii. 192; Hoveden, i. 161). Henry's anger must have sufficiently abated to allow of Giffard's early return to England, for we find him signing the letter of the bishops to Anselm in 1105 entreating him to come back to his distressed church (Anselm, Epist. iii. 121). On Anselm's return and the final settlement of the dispute concerning investitures, 1 Aug. 1107, the way was opened for Giffard's long-deferred consecration. Giffard was still only in deacon's orders. Anselm suggested that he should come to him in the approaching Ember season for priest's orders, with the view of being consecrated the next day (ib. iv. 7). On Sunday, 11 Aug., the solemn ceremony took place at Canterbury, and seven years after his election Giffard with four others, Roger of Salisbury, Reinhelm of Hereford, William of Warelwast of Exeter, and Urban of Llandaff, was consecrated by Anselm, Gerard, and six assistant bishops.
Giffard settled down in his diocese, and devoted himself to his episcopal duties. In July 1108 he assisted Anselm in the consecration of Richard de Beames, bishop of London, and in August of the same year of Ralph d'Escures, bishop of Rochester, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. In the following year, 27 June 1109, two months after Anselm's death, he was one of the assistants of the Bishop of London at St. Paul's Cathedral in the consecration of Thomas as successor to Gerard in the archbishopric of York, and in 1123 he assisted the same bishop of London in consecrating William de Corbeil to the archbishopric of Canterbury. In 1111, according to the ‘Annals of Winchester,’ he deposed Geoffrey the Prior, and in the same year gave the enormous sum of eight hundred marks to Henry I (Annal. Monast. ii. 43, 44), probably to purchase the royal consent for the removal of the so-called ‘new minster’ at Winchester, which stood in very inconvenient proximity to the cathedral on the north, to a new site outside the city under the name of Hyde Abbey. Feuds between the two monastic bodies had been of constant occurrence (Annal. Waverl. ib. p. 214; Hoveden, i. 168). In 1121 Giffard was deputed by the palsied Archbishop Ralph to celebrate the espousals of Henry I and Adela of Louvain (Will. of Malmesbury, ii. 132). In 1122 a very fierce quarrel broke out between Giffard and the monks of Winchester, who complained that he had alienated their revenues, and appropriated to himself nine of their manorial churches. At the end of two years their feud was healed by the intervention of the king, who had supported the convent in the quarrel. The monks threw themselves at the feet of the bishop, confessing their fault and promising satisfaction; and the bishop prostrated himself at their feet in turn, promising to give back all they asked for, and confirming the grant by a charter (Annal. Winton. p. 47). So complete was the reconciliation that Giffard himself assumed the habit of a monk, as being one of their body, loving to take his midday sleep with the brethren in the dormitory, and to sup with them in the refectory, and then always taking the lowest place with the novices. When stricken for death he was carried in the conventual habit to the infirmary, where he breathed his last (ib. p. 49). Giffard first introduced the Cistercian reform into England, being the founder, 24 Nov. 1128, of the earliest house of that order at Waverley, near Farnham in Surrey. This took place only a few weeks before his death, 25 Jan. 1128–9. He was also the founder of a house of Austin canons on the episcopal manor of Taunton, and was a considerable benefactor to St. Mary Overies in Southwark, in the immediate proximity of which he erected a palace as the London residence of the bishops of Winchester. He was buried in the nave of his cathedral church, close to his predecessor Walkelin. Contemporary historians give Giffard a high character, which he appears to have well deserved. Henry of Huntingdon calls him ‘vir nobilissimus,’ while the Winchester annalist describes his patience, piety, and gentleness. He was not calculated to be a leader of men, but he could follow faithfully and courageously such a leader as Anselm.[Will. of Malmesbury's Gesta Pont. pp. 109, 110, 117, 132; Matt. Paris's Chron. Maj. ii. 118, 123, 124, 134, 136, 151, 156; Annal. Monast. ii. 42, 44, 46, 47, 214, 221; Henry of Huntingdon, pp. 233, 315; Sym. Dunelm. ii. 235, 236, 239, 240, 245, 283; Eadmer's Hist. Nov. pp. 64, 69; Hoveden, i. 161, 164, 168, all in Rolls Ser.; Flor. Wig. (Engl. Hist. Soc.), p. 1103; Anselm's Epist. ll. cc.; Freeman's Norman Conquest, v. 225; Freeman's William Rufus, ii. 349; Cassan's Bishops of Winchester.]