Gervase seems to have used a continuation no longer extant—together with perhaps the chronicle of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, and the ‘Historia Pontificalis’ of John of Salisbury. Afterwards his authorities are the lives of St. Thomas and the ‘Gesta regis Henrici,’ attributed to Benedict of Peterborough; and by degrees the work acquires the character of an independent chronicle, though its interest is to a great extent limited to the affairs of the author's monastery. Gervase contemplated the production of a second book of this history (i. 594); but no such work is now known to be in existence, and there is no proof that it was ever written.
In November 1189 he went with a deputation to Westminster, and accepted Richard I's proposal to arbitrate between the monastery and the archbishop (Epp. Cantuar. 315 ff.; cf. Gervase, i. 462–72). In 1193, as sacrist of the convent, he met the new archbishop, Hubert Walter, 3 Nov., at Lewisham, and delivered to him his cross, the speech which Gervase made on the occasion being duly recorded by him (i. 520–2). Before 1197 he had ceased to hold the office of sacrist (p. 544), and we possess no further notice of his life or doings. It is only from the internal evidence afforded by his ‘Gesta Regum’ that we can infer with probability that he ceased to write in 1210, in or soon after which year his death may be presumed to have taken place. The day of his death is equally uncertain, since three Gervases appear in the Canterbury necrologies under 1 Jan., 14 March, and 30 April.
Besides the ‘Chronica’ with the preliminary ‘Tractatus de Combustione et Reparatione Cantuariensis Ecclesiæ,’ and other short pieces already mentioned, Gervase was the author of a smaller chronicle known as the ‘Gesta Regum’ (ii. 1–106). This work is in its earlier portions a compilation from Geoffrey of Monmouth, William of Malmesbury, and other known sources, and in part an abridgment of the larger Chronicle. From the point where the latter ends, the death of Richard I (1199), it assumes an independent character, and is of considerable value for the first half of John's reign. The fact that the notices of the year 1210 are immediately followed by a narrative beginning with 1207 combines with other evidence to support the view that Gervase's own work ends here; the continuation runs on to 1309, with some additions down to 1328.
Further, Gervase wrote a history of the archbishops of Canterbury, ‘Actus Archiepiscoporum Cantuariensium,’ from St. Augustine to the death of Archbishop Hubert; and a topographical work, the ‘Mappa Mundi,’ containing a list of the counties of England, Wales, and part of Scotland, with the ecclesiastical foundations in each, their dedications, &c., hospitals, castles, and waters and springs; together with a list of bishoprics in the British Isles and on the continent of Europe.
Gervase is not one of the great historians of his age, but he illustrates with fidelity the tone and temper of his monastic world. Much of what he writes has the value of contemporary knowledge and observation, or at least of personal recollection; and much bears the impress of recording the local tradition of the writer's religious house. Even that which is not original has at least the value of a contemporary or nearly contemporary corroboration of the statements which it repeats.
The ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Actus Archiepiscoporum’ were first printed by Twysden in his ‘Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores decem,’ col. 1290–1683; the whole of the works were edited with prefaces by Bishop Stubbs (‘The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury,’ in two volumes, Rolls Series, 1879, 1880).
[The older bibliographers, Leland, Bale, Pits, Cave, and Tanner, add nothing to the information afforded by Gervase's works, now that they are all printed. What other scanty materials exist are collected and made use of in Bishop Stubbs's preface to his edition.]
GERVASE of Chichester (fl. 1170), commentator, was one of the band of learned young men who gathered round Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury. Although one of his party, he did not follow him into exile (Bosham). Leland and Bale say that he was brought up at Paris and was a fine preacher, statements which, though highly probable, have not perhaps any authoritative basis. He is said to have written a commentary on the Psalms, and a life of Archbishop Thomas. For this life there is some authority. One of his works, a commentary on Malachi, is extant, MS. Reg. 3 B. x. It is followed by two homilies, and is prefaced by some hexameters in which the author speaks of Thomas as affording a model of sacerdotal life, and says that he is preparing to write a life of him. On the strength of this he has been credited with the life ascribed by Giles to Roger of Pontigny, and printed by Canon Robertson in the ‘Materials for the Life of Becket,’ iv., as by an anonymous author. It is certainly not by Gervase, for the author was one of those who accompanied the archbishop. Leland says that Gervase's work is cited in a life by Helias of Evesham, but if it ever existed it is now lost.
[Herbert of Bosham, vii. c. i., Materials for Life of Becket, iii. 527, ed. Robertson; Stubbs's