Ralph of Diceto

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Angevin historian, theologian, outstanding 12th-century dean of St. Paul's; b. c. 1120 to 1130; d. Nov. 22, 1202. Most probably Ralph was of French origin and connected with the Belmeis family. He spent two periods of study at Paris, one in his youth and another after he was made archdeacon of London in 1152. In 1180 he became dean of saint paul's cathedral, where he initiated a complete overhaul of the administration of the chapter's churches and manors, a reform of the statutes, and a vigorous building program.

Between 1180 and 1202 he composed his historical works, of which the most important are the Abbreviationes chronicorum (to 1147) and the Ymagines historiarum (from the knighting of Henry of Anjou in 1149 to 1201). Up to 1162 he relied principally on the history of robert of torigny; thereafter his work becomes an important original source. In spite of his Angevin leanings, he gave a very fair and balanced account of the becket controversy, and from c. 1180 the Ymagines is a contemporary chronicle with its value enhanced by Ralph's shrewd political insight and careful choice of documents. He also composed a number of scriptural commentaries.

Bibliography: Opera Historica, ed. w. stubbs, 2 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 68; 1876). The Domesday of St. Paul's, ed. w. h. hale (Camden Society; London 1858). m. gibbs, Early Charters of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London (Camden 3d Ser. 58; London 1939). f. barlow, The Letters of Arnulf of Lisieux (Camden 3d Ser. 61; London 1939) xvii, 3536. c. n. l. brooke, "The Composition of the Chapter of St. Paul's, 10861163," Cambridge Historical Journal 10 (1951) 111132.

[m. m. chibnall]