Skip to main content

Foliot, Gilbert


English abbot and bishop; b. c. 1110 of a well-connected Anglo-Norman family; d. Feb. 18, 1187. Trained in Roman and Canon Law and theology, he taught in the schools before becoming a monk at Cluny c. 1132 and, subsequently, was prior of Abbeville. Chosen by King Stephen in 1139 to be abbot of Gloucester, he won the friendship of Archbishop Theobald, who in 1148 secured his election to the See of Hereford, where he speedily became the most respected bishop in England. Disappointed in his expectation of succeeding Theobald at Canterbury by the election of Thomas becket, whom he disliked, and unappeased by his translation to London in 1163, Foliot, after quarrelling with Becket at Clarendon and Northampton, became the leading spirit of the opposition to the exiled Archbishop, though by no means entirely the King's man. In a war of pamphlets his letter Multiplicem stands out as a rhetorical masterpiece and bitter summary of charges against Becket. Twice excommunicated, Foliot was unreconciled when Becket was murdered, but accepted the Archbishop's canonization with good grace. As bishop, Foliot was frequently a papal judgedelegate and helped to establish the personnel of his cathedral. He owes his celebrity to his share in the great controversy between henry ii and St. Thomas, and while his action is comprehensible, he does not emerge as an attractive or saintly figure. He remains an enigma. Although upright, austere, energetic, and influential, his character contained elements of ambition, rigidity, harshness, and, possibly, even duplicity. His correspondence with many of the leading men of his time is an important source for the political history of England in the mid-12th century.

Bibliography: Works. g. foliot, Epistolae Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 187890) 190:7391068. Literature. g.g. perry, Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 7:358360. m. d. knowles, The Episcopal Colleagues of Archbishop Thomas Becket (Cambridge, Eng. 1951). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the English Church (London 1957) 511512. a. morey and c. n. l. brooke, Gilbert Foliot and His Letters (Cambridge 1965).

[m. d. knowles]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Foliot, Gilbert." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 22 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Foliot, Gilbert." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (January 22, 2019).

"Foliot, Gilbert." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.