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Ralph de Diceto

Ralph de Diceto was perhaps a Frenchman by birth, and probably born between 11 20 and 11 30 Dr. Stubbs thinks that he may have been a kinsman of Richaid de Belmeis, bishop of London, from 1108 to 1127, or of Richard de Belmeis II. , also bishop of London (1152-1162), and nephew of his namesake. This latter prelate appointed Ralph de Diceto to the archdeaconry of Middlesex as soon as he himself became bishop. At that time he was styled " magister," and had probably studied at Paris, a city which he visited at later periods of his life. In the great Becket quarrel he appears to have sided with the king, and in 1180 was made dean of St. Paul's. In this capacity he caused the Domesday of St. Paul's, or survey of the estates of the chapter of his cathedral to be drawn up (1 181 a.d.) He was a great collector of saints' relics, and gave not a few books to the capitular library. Dr. Stubbs considers that he died between March, 1202 (the date when the Imagines ends) and 25 March, 1204, on which day Alan was already dean of St. Paul's ” most probably on 22 Nov., 1202.

Ralph's two chief historical works are (1) Abbreviationes Chronicorum, a series of chronological jottings ranging from the birth of Christ to 1 147 A.D., and (2) Imagines Historiarum, a chronicle of (mainly) English history from 1148-1202.

As the friend of Richard de Belmeis, Gilbert Foliot, and "William Longchamp, Ralph de Diceto must have had abundant opportunities for acquiring the knowledge of contemporary events he was afterwards to weave into his Imagines Historiarum. The earlier part of this book is based on Robert de Monte, whose chronological blunders Ralph has carefully followed. But this indebtedness is very slight indeed. Ralph's account of the third Crusade would doubtless be checked by, if not founded on, the reports brought home from the Holy Land by his chaplain, William de Hauteville, of whose piety and devotion to the poor we read in the text.

Bibliography:


Gillingham (J.), "Historians without hindsight: Coggeshall, Diceto and Howden on the early years of John's reign." In King John: New interpretations, ed. S.D. Church. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1999.

Julian(H.), "The English reception of Hugh of Saint-Victor's Chronicle." The Electronic British Library Journal (2002).

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