Lyfing of Winchester

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Lyfing of Winchester
Bishop of Crediton
Province Province of Canterbury
Appointed 1027
Term ended 1046
Predecessor Eadnoth
Successor Leofric
Other posts
Consecration 1027
Personal details
Died 20, 23 or 25 March 1046
Nationality English
Denomination Christian
Previous post Abbot of Tavistock

Lyfing of Winchester[a] (died March 1046) was an Anglo-Saxon prelate who served as Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of Crediton and Bishop of Cornwall.


Lyfing's uncle was Burhweald, Bishop of Cornwall,[1] according to the medieval chronicler William of Malmesbury.[2] He was probably a monk either at Winchester Abbey[3] or at Glastonbury Abbey. In 1009, he became Abbot of Tavistock,[4] and that was always his favourite of the offices he held.[citation needed] In 1027, he became the Bishop of Crediton, and about the same time he became Bishop of Cornwall on the death of his uncle Brihtwold, so he united those two sees, with the seat at Crediton.[5][6] His elevation probably was due both to his family and to his assistance to Cnut in Rome.[7] There is also some indication he may have been a protégé of Godwin, Earl of Wessex.[3]

In 1038 or 1039, Lyfing also became Bishop of Worcester, but was deprived of the see in 1040.[8] King Harold Harefoot gave Worcester to Lyfing because of Lyfing's support of Harold.[1] His deprivation was due to King Harthacnut's belief that Lyfing was involved in the death of Harthacnut's half brother Alfred Atheling.[9] Lyfing was accused by Aelfric Puttoc, the archbishop of York, who briefly replaced Lyfing at Worcester.[10] Lyfing seems to have claimed that he was merely following the orders of Harold Harefoot.[11] However, he was restored to Worcester in 1041 and held the three sees until his death on either March 20, March 23 or March 25, 1046.[8]

Lyfing was a close friend and trusted counsellor of King Canute the Great[3] and accompanied him on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1027.[4] Florence of Worcester, the medieval chronicler, claims that Lyfing, along with Godwin, was instrumental in securing the succession of Edward the Confessor to the throne of England on Harthacnut's death.[12] A tradition at Worcester also recorded that it was Lyfing, along with Archbishop Eadsige of Canterbury, who forced Sweyn Godwinson to release Eadgifu, the abbess of Leominster who Sweyn had kidnapped.[13] In revenge, Sweyn raided the lands of the diocese of Worcester.[14]

Before Lyfing's death, Aldred, who succeeded him at Worcester, had probably been acting as his suffragan or co-bishop.[15] When Lyfing died, he chose to be buried at Tavistock Abbey.[3] Lyfing was a pluralist and never enjoyed a good reputation. However, the D version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes him as "the eloquent bishop", which may imply that he was noted as an important preacher.[16] Tavistock monks also remembered him as a great benefactor to their monastery.[17]


  1. ^ Also known as Livingus or Lifing


  1. ^ a b Lawson Cnut pp. 116–117
  2. ^ King "Ealdred" Anglo-Norman Studies XVIII p. 124
  3. ^ a b c d Barlow "Lyfing (d. 1046)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. ^ a b Knowles Heads of Religious Houses pp. 72, 255
  5. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 215
  6. ^ Barlow English Church 1000–1066 p. 73
  7. ^ Lawson Cnut p. 137
  8. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 224
  9. ^ Stenton Anglo-Saxon England p. 422-423
  10. ^ Stafford Unification and Conquest p. 80
  11. ^ Mason House of Godwine p. 41
  12. ^ Stafford Unification and Conquest p. 86
  13. ^ Barlow Godwins p. 53
  14. ^ Barlow English Church 1000–1066 p. 58
  15. ^ Barlow Edward the Confessor p. 86
  16. ^ Lawson Cnut p. 66
  17. ^ Barlow English Church 1000–1066 p. 74


  • Barlow, Frank (1970). Edward the Confessor. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-01671-8.
  • Barlow, Frank (1979). The English Church 1000–1066: A History of the Later Anglo-Saxon Church (Second ed.). New York: Longman. ISBN 0-582-49049-9.
  • Barlow, Frank (2004). "Lyfing (d. 1046)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  • Barlow, Frank (2003). The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty. London: Pearson/Longman. ISBN 0-582-78440-9.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • King, Vanessa (1996). "Ealdred, Archbishop of York: The Worcester Years". In Harper-Bill, Christopher. Anglo-Norman Studies XVIII: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1995. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell. pp. 124–137. ISBN 0-85115-666-5.
  • Knowles, David; London, Vera C. M.; Brooke, Christopher (2001). The Heads of Religious Houses, England and Wales, 940–1216 (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80452-3.
  • Lawson, M. K. (2000). Cnut: England's Viking King. Stroud: Tempus Publishing, Limited. ISBN 0-7524-2964-7.
  • Mason, Emma (2004). House of Godwine: The History of Dynasty. London: Hambledon & London. ISBN 1-85285-389-1.
  • Stafford, Pauline (1989). Unification and Conquest: A Political and Social History of England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries. London: Edward Arnold. ISBN 0-7131-6532-4.
  • Stenton, F. M. (1971). Anglo-Saxon England (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280139-5.

Further reading

  • Conner, Patrick W. (1993) Anglo-Saxon Exeter: a Tenth-century Cultural History Woodbridge : Boydell ISBN 0-85115-307-0

External links

Christian titles
Preceded by
Abbot of Tavistock
c. 1009–1027
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of Crediton
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of Cornwall
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of Worcester
1038 or 1039 – deprived 1040
Succeeded by
Aelfric Puttoc
Preceded by
Aelfric Puttoc
Bishop of Worcester
restored 1041–1046
Succeeded by

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