Robert Grosseteste’s Ghost

A very interesting context for the Grossetete’s reception and posthumous reputation.



Over the past year, I’ve been working mainly on episcopal emotions, in particular the ways in which displays of emotion influenced popular perceptions of late medieval English bishops. I’ve assembled quite a collection of emotional bishops, most of them either tearful or angry.[1] Amongst my favourites is undoubtedly the story of Bishop Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln (1235-53), as told by the St Alban’s chronicler Matthew Paris. [2] Grosseteste was a staunch defender of the liberties of the English Church, and consequently his episcopate was characterised by frequent clashes with both King Henry III and the Papacy. When Grosseteste died, Pope Innocent IV spied a chance for revenge:  

One day, the pope, in an excessive fit of anger, wished, despite the opposition of all the cardinals, to throw the bones of Robert, bishop of Lincoln, out of the church, and to hurl him to such infamy and degradation that…

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