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Hugh
Hugh
166

monastery. This necessitated his constant communication with the outer world, so that his high character and tact came to be generally known. Henry II, king of England, had founded a small Carthusian monastery at Witham in Somerset, which, being badly managed, was on the point of collapse, when a noble of Maurienne suggested to Henry a way of saving it by procuring the services of Hugh of Avalon as prior. The king accordingly sent an influential embassy to Grenoble to solicit the grant of this famous monk. After very great difficulty the grant was obtained by the aid of the Archbishop of Grenoble. Hugh came to England at the latest in 1176, and probably in 1175; on arriving at Witham he found everything in a most miserable state. By his energy and tact he brought matters to a better condition, and was able in an interview with the king to show him the necessity of doing more for the monastery. A great friendship now sprang up between King Henry and the prior. Henry made frequent visits to the monastery in his hunting expeditions in Selwood Forest. He consulted Hugh about his affairs of state, and determined to promote him to the important see of Lincoln, which had now been two years vacant. In May 1186, at a council held at Eynsham, near Oxford, he sent for the canons of Lincoln, and desired them to elect as their bishop Hugh the Burgundian. Some of these canons, men of considerable eminence and great wealth, objected to Hugh as an obscure foreign monk, but they were forced to yield to the king. When, however, his election was notified to Hugh, he refused to accept it. He would have nothing to do with any constrained choice, nor would he consent to be made bishop save by the express permission of the head of his order, the prior of the Grande Chartreuse. The canons upon this again elected him unanimously in their chapter, and an embassy having been despatched to the Chartreuse the prior's consent was obtained.

Hugh was consecrated bishop of Lincoln in the chapel of the invalid monks at Westminster on St. Matthew's day, 21 Sept. 1186 (the Magna Vita incorrectly implies that it was in 1185; see Dimock's preface, pp. xxv-xxix). The king bore all the expenses attendant upon the consecration and the subsequent enthronisation at Lincoln, which took place 29 Sept. The new bishop ordered a large number of the deer in his well-stocked park of Stow to be slaughtered to feed the poor of his cathedral city. He also at once published certain decreta to meet some of the abuses then prevalent. Hugh's residence was at Stow, about twelve miles from Lincoln, and it is with this place that the legends of his famous swan, which displayed such extraordinary affection to the bishop, are connected. On his commencing the administration of his diocese Hugh was confronted with the tyrannical forest laws, and the vexatious demands and encroachments of the king's foresters. These he determined at once to check. He excommunicated the chief forester for some oppressive act, and thereby incurred the wrath of the king. This was much increased by the bishop's direct refusal to bestow a prebend in his church on a courtier recommended by the king. Henry, who had probably expected an obedient and accommodating prelate in Hugh, was greatly enraged. The bishop, whose courage was high, determined to have a personal interview with him to bring about an explanation. He found the king in Woodstock Chase, resting from hunting, with many courtiers about him. He was received in silence and with evidences of grave displeasure; but the cool confidence of the bishop and his jocular remarks turned the tide in his favour, and the interview ended by Henry approving the excommunication of 'his chief forester and the refusal of the prebend to his nominee. The bishop soon became conspicuous by his zealous performance of his duties, and especially by his unbounded charity. This was eminently shown by his treatment of the unhappy lepers then abounding in East Anglia. He delighted to tend these sufferers with his own hands, and did not shrink from eating out of the same dish with them. He was also remarkable for the attention which he showed and enforced on others to the due performance of the rites for the burial of the dead, then much neglected. The bishop stood singularly apart from the men of his time in his appreciation of alleged miracles. He desired neither to hear about them as attributed to others, nor would he allow them to be imputed to himself. Hugh's disciplinary proceedings against evil-doers were very severe, and his anathema was so much dreaded that it was regarded as equivalent to a sentence of death. It was the bishop's practice to retire every year at harvest-time to his old monastery at Witham, where he could practise the discipline which he so much loved, undisturbed by the affairs of his huge diocese. His character was a singular combination of keen worldly wisdom and tact with the deepest ascetic devotion. His most striking characteristic was perhaps his perfect moral courage.

In July 1188 Hugh went on an embassy