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Hereford, Ancient See of


One of the dioceses (Worcester was the other) erected from lands formerly under Lichfield. At some time after 675 and before 680, theodore (of Tarsus), Archbishop of Canterbury, brought the huge and unwieldly see of Lichfield under the jurisdiction of Canterbury and, as one of his major administrative reforms, subdivided it. The first bishop of Hereford was probably Putta, Bishop of Rochester (669686), who had fled to the protection of Seaxwulf, Bishop of Lichfield (i.e., Mercia), after Aethelred, King of Mercia, had devastated Kent and destroyed Rochester (676). The see of Hereford originally corresponded to the area settled by the Anglo-Saxon tribes known collectively as the Magonsaetan, but it also included areas of Celtic occupation, and its boundaries later included all of Herefordshire, southern Shropshire, and a few parishes in other counties.

The cathedral church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. ethelbert, King of East Anglia (martyred c. 793). The present cathedral dates from 10791110 and was begun by the learned Robert Losinga (107995) and continued by gerard (10961100), who became archbishop of York. The ablest bishop of Hereford in the 12th century was Gilbert foliot (114863), better known after his translation as bishop of London (116387) and adviser to henry ii, whom he supported in the quarrel with Archbishop Thomas becket. The best known 13th-century bishop of Hereford was St. Thomas of Cantelupe, chancellor of Oxford University and, briefly, royal chancellor (1265) during the baronial ascendancy under Simon de Montfort.

The "Use of Hereford," dating probably from the episcopate of Robert Losinga, was nearer to the Roman rite than the "Use of sarum." The former was abolished under henry viii. The cathedral school, one of the better educational institutions of the western Midlands, has a continuous history dating from the early 14th century or, probably, earlier. The cathedral has a large collection of MSS, incunabula, and relics.

Bibliography: w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 181730) 6.3:121017. w. w. capes, ed., Charters and Records of Hereford Cathedral (Hereford 1908). a. schmitt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, j. hofer and k. rahner, eds. (Freiburg 195765) 5:244245. Canterbury and York Society publications, passim.

[r. s. hoyt]

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