Monastic Wales.

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Geoffrey of Henlaw , prior of Llanthony; bishop of St David's

Died: 1214   

Geoffrey presided as prior of Llanthony from 1189 until 1203 when he was elevated to the see of St David's. He died in office in 1214.

Geoffrey was renowned for his medical skill and tended his prior at Llanthony, Roger, who subsequently made Geoffrey his companion and named him his successor. Geoffrey presided as the seventh prior of Llanthony and was in office by March 1189; he officiated until 1203 when he was appointed to the see of St David's. Gerald of Wales, who had himself hoped to secure the see, was scathing about Geoffrey's suitability. He claimed that Geoffrey was motivated by worldly ambition alone and that it was his friendship with the archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, which had ensured his appointment - Geoffrey had tended the archbishop when sick. As far as Gerald was concerned Geoffrey was a poor choice since he neither spoke Welsh nor was familiar with the native customs. In his typically acerbic style he remarked:
We seek a physician of our souls, not a conductor of funerals, nor do we wish to have a dumb dog or tongueless shepherd set over us. [Gerald of Wales Symbolum Electorum, trans. H. E. Butler, The Autobiography of Gerald of Wales (rev. edn. Woodbridge, 1995), p. 145

Sites associated with this person

Llanthony Prima Priory, Monmouthshire (prior)

Bibliographical sources

Printed sources

The Heads of Religious Houses in England and Wales, I, 940-1216, ed. D. Knowles, C. Brooke and V. London (London, 1972; 2001) pp. 172-3

The Autobiography of Gerald of Wales, ed. H. E. Butler (Boydell and Brewer: Woodbridge, 2005) p. 145

Cowley, F. G., The Monastic Order in South Wales 1066-1349 (Cardiff, 1977) pp. 151, 206

Williams, David H., 'Llanthony Prima Priory', The Monmouthshire Antiquary, 25-26 (2009-2010) p. 20