Simon de Ghent
SIMON DE GHENT
English medieval scholar and bishop; b. London; d. London, April 2, 1315. He was born of Flemish merchant stock. The first record of Simon is from 1268 when Abp. walter giffard of Canterbury admitted him to the rectory of Wilford (Nottinghamshire) to help defray his educational expenses, presumably at Oxford. From 1284 to 1297 he was archdeacon of Oxford. He incepted at Oxford as doctor of theology probably c. 1290–91 and was regent master there when elected chancellor of the university (1291–93).
He was consecrated bishop of salisbury in 1297 and devoted himself with indefatigable zeal to the spiritual and temporal administration and reform of his diocese. His itineraries alone fill almost 20 pages (xxvii-xlvi) of the introduction to his Registrum. He called a synod to reform his cathedral statutes; its work covered the whole field of cathedral legislation and is still recognized (V. C.H. Wiltshire 3:172–173). He made provision for the housing and teaching of the choristers. He established a guildhall for the city of Salisbury (as bishop he held the lordship of the city) and licensed its fortification by ditch and walls. He dealt vigorously with the many abuses that were rampant within the diocese, e.g., unrepaired and unconsecrated churches, absenteeism, pluralism, etc. Outside his diocese, he was frequently called upon to act as arbitrator. He took the side of the barons in their war against King edward ii and proclaimed the "Ordinances" in St. Paul's churchyard in 1311. In the last years of his life, his health failed rapidly and his activities were much reduced.
Of his scholastic work, little has survived beyond a few notes in the Assisi MS; a sermon preached when he was chancellor, Ash Wednesday, Feb. 11, 1293 (ed. F. Pelster, Oxford Theology…, 205–215); a short Meditatio de statu praelati; and his Latin translation of the ancrene riwle (ed. F. M. Powicke). His reputation for sanctity is evidenced by pilgrimages to his tomb (in Salisbury cathedral).
Bibliography: Registrum Simonis de Gandavo, ed. c. t. flower and m. c. b. dawes, 2 v. (Canterbury and York Society 40–41; 1934) v.1, introd. The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, ed. r. b. pugh and e. crittall (London 1953) v.3. A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 2:759–760.
[t. c. crowley]