Robert of Bath

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Robert of Bath
Bishop of Bath
Appointed before March 1136
Term ended 31 August 1166
Predecessor Godfrey
Successor Reginald fitz Jocelin
Other posts monk of Lewes Priory
Possibly Prior of Winchester
Consecration probably March 1136
Personal details
Born England
Died 31 August 1166
Buried Bath Cathedral

Robert or sometimes Robert of Lewes (died 1166) was a medieval English Bishop of Bath. He began his career as a monk at Lewes Priory as well as performing administrative functions for Henry of Blois. It was Henry who secured Robert's selection as bishop. While bishop, Robert built in his diocese and set up the system of archdeacons there. He may have been the author of the Gesta Stephani, a work detailing the history of King Stephen's life.


Robert was a native of England, but his ancestry was Flemish,[1] probably of noble birth.[2] His birthdate and when he became a monk are not known.[3] He was a Cluniac[1] and a monk of Lewes Priory and a protégé of Henry of Blois who employed him at Glastonbury Abbey on administrative tasks.[1][4] He may have been the prior of Winchester Cathedral but there is no certain evidence of this,[4] as it is based on an appearance of a "Robert, prior of Winchester" on the 1130 Pipe Roll, and a 15th-century historian.[2] He was named Bishop of Bath through the influence of Henry of Blois,[4][5] and was consecrated probably in March 1136.[6]

Robert was instrumental in reorganizing his diocese as well as building and restoring at Wells. He was the bishop that organized the archdeacons of the diocese on a territorial basis.[2] Contemporaries considered him pious as well as a man of business.[7] Robert also built at Bath, and gave borough status to the town of Wells.[2] He also reorganized the church at Wells, which had previously been the cathedral for the diocese prior to John of Tours moving the episcopal seat to Bath.[8]

In 1138, during Robert of Gloucester's rising against King Stephen of England, Robert was in charge of the defenses of Bath. He captured Geoffrey Talbot, who was a supporter of Robert of Gloucester's, but when he went out to parley with another group of Gloucester's supporters, the bishop was captured even though he had been offered a safe conduct for the parley. The bishop was then exchanged for Geoffrey Talbot.[9] In 1141 he was at the gathering where Henry of Blois changed allegiance to the Empress Matilda at Winchester.[10][11]

Robert died 31 August 1166[6] and was buried in Bath Cathedral before the high altar.[4] He may have been the author of the Gesta Stephani,[4][12][13] an identification first made by the historian R. H. C. Davis in 1962. While it is not certain that Robert was the author, the outlook of the work certainly fits with the known outlook of Robert.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Bartlett England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings pp. 400–401
  2. ^ a b c d e Ramsey "Lewes, Robert of" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Ramsey "Robert of Lewes" Belief and Culture p. 251
  4. ^ a b c d e Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 7: Bath and Wells: Bishops
  5. ^ Crouch Reign of King Stephen p. 46
  6. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 228
  7. ^ Barlow English Church pp. 92–93
  8. ^ Ramsey "Robert of Lewes" Belief and Culture pp. 252–253
  9. ^ Appleby Troubled Reign p. 50
  10. ^ Davis King Stephen p. 52
  11. ^ Appleby Troubled Reign p. 98
  12. ^ Huscroft Ruling England p. 200
  13. ^ Bartlett England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings p. 99


  • Appleby, John T. (1995). The Troubled Reign of King Stephen 1135–1154. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 1-56619-848-8. 
  • Barlow, Frank (1979). The English Church 1066–1154: A History of the Anglo-Norman Church. New York: Longman. ISBN 0-582-50236-5. 
  • Bartlett, Robert C. (2000). England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings: 1075–1225. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-822741-8. 
  • Crouch, David (2000). The Reign of King Stephen: 1135–1154. New York: Longman. ISBN 0-582-22657-0. 
  • Davis, R. H. C. (1990). King Stephen 1135–1154 (Third ed.). New York: Longman. ISBN 0-582-04000-0. 
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Greenway, Diana E. (2001). Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 7: Bath and Wells: Bishops. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 23 September 2007. 
  • Huscroft, Richard (2005). Ruling England 1042–1217. London: Pearson/Longman. ISBN 0-582-84882-2. 
  • Ramsey, Frances (2004). "Lewes, Robert of (d. 1166)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50341. Retrieved 15 November 2007. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • Ramsey, Frances (2001). "Robert of Lewes, Bishop of Bath, 1136–1166: A Cluniac Bishop in his Diocese". In Gameson, Richard; Leyser, Henrietta. Belief and Culture in the Middle Ages: Studies Presented to Henry Mayr-Harting. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 251–263. ISBN 0-19-820801-4. 

Further reading

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Bath
Succeeded by
Reginald fitz Jocelin

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