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Carlisle, Ancient See of

CARLISLE, ANCIENT SEE OF

The Ancient See of Carlisle was an English bishopric established by Henry I in 1133 with its seat at Carlisle, county Cumberland (Latin, Carleolensis ). Originally the area was part of the kingdom of Strathclyde, having been Christianized by St. ninian and other Celtic missionaries from Glasgow. Later it was placed under the jurisdiction of the bishops of lindisfarne. Considerably impoverished during the Scandinavian invasions, it was then captured by King william ii (rufus) in 1092 and placed under the archbishopric of york. This aroused opposition from the bishops of both Glasgow and durham, which may have prompted Henry I to establish Carlisle as a separate diocese. Henry's visit to Carlisle in 1122 was followed by a series of royal endowments for the priory of canons regular, which he had founded there in 1102; in 1133 the priory was raised to cathedral status, the king's confessor, Aethelwulf, being consecrated as its first bishop.

As a frontier see between England and Scotland Carlisle had a later history that was frequently turbulent, its bishops often being called upon to settle border disputes. Nevertheless, much construction work was carried on under great bishops such as John de Halton (12921324) and Thomas Appleby (136395), as their diocesan constitutions show. Among the religious orders introduced into the diocese were the Benedictines at Wetheral (110612) and St. Bees (1120), the Cistercians at Calder (1134) and Holmcultram (1150), another house for the canons regular of St. Augustine at Lanercost (1169), and the Premonstratensians at Preston, Kendal, c. 1180. As for the Mendicants, both the Franciscans and Dominicans arrived in Carlisle in 1233; the Carmelites, in Appleby in 1281; and the Augustinian friars, in Penrith by 1300. There were also six hospitals and two colleges in the diocese.

The Wars of the Roses, and later the Anglo-Scottish wars, contributed considerably to the spiritual decline of the diocese. The dissolution of its monasteries was completed with some difficulty between 1536 and 1540, but in general neither the religious nor the secular clergy offered much resistance to the ecclesiastical reforms of henry viii, who refounded the see in 1541. Its present cathedral is one of the smallest in England.

Bibliography: The Victoria History of the County of Cumberland, ed. j. wilson (London 1901) v.2, basic. j. c. dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons and Their Introduction into England (London 1950) 245251. d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953) 132. f. powicke and e. b. fryde, Handbook of British Chronology (2d ed. London 1961) 212214. a. penn and e. mallett, Carlisle Cathedral: The Stained Glass and the Carved Capitals (Much Wenlock, England 1996).

[l. macfarlane]

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