Gerard, Archbishop of York
Historical Figure
Nationality: England (probably born in France)
Date of Birth: 11th century
Date of Death: 1108
Cause of Death: Disputed
Religion: Catholicism
Occupation: Clergyman, Politician, Singer (Cantor), Poet
Political Office(s): Lord Chancellor of England
Fictional Appearances:
St. Oswald's Niche
by Laura Frankos

Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct (as a skeleton)

Gerard (died 21 May 1108) was Archbishop of York, England (1100-1108), and Lord Chancellor of England (1085-1092). A Norman, he was a member of the cathedral clergy at Rouen before becoming a royal clerk under King William I of England and subsequently his son William II. Gerard was appointed Lord Chancellor by William I, and he continued in that office under William II, who rewarded him with the Bishopric of Hereford in 1096. Gerard may have been with the king's hunting party when William II was killed, as he is known to have witnessed the first charter issued by the new king, Henry I, within days of William's death.

Soon after Henry's coronation Gerard was appointed to the recently vacant see of York, and became embroiled in the long-running dispute between York and the see of Canterbury concerning which archbishopric had primacy over England. Gerard managed to secure papal recognition of York's claim to jurisdiction over the church in Scotland, but he was forced to agree to a compromise with Anselm, his counterpart at Canterbury over Canterbury's claims to authority over York, although it was not binding on his successors. In the Investiture Controversy between the king and the papacy over the right to appoint bishops, Gerard worked on reconciling the claims of the two parties; the controversy was finally resolved in 1107.

Gerard was a patron of learning, to the extent that he urged at least one of his clergy to study Hebrew, a language not commonly studied at that time. He himself was a student of astrology, which led to suggestions that he was a magician and a sorcerer. Partly because of such rumours, and his unpopular attempts to reform his cathedral clergy, Gerard was denied a burial inside York Minster after his sudden death in 1108. His successor had Gerard's remains moved into the cathedral church from their initial resting place beside the cathedral porch.

Literary comment[]

Among other things, Gerard is remembered for attempting to reform his cathedral clergy by forcing them to give up their concubines and conform to the doctrine of priestly celibacy, which had largely been ignored in 11th-century England. Harry Turtledove used this historical scandal as the basis for his story "The Seventh Chapter," where the Videssian clergy face a similar crisis.

Gerard in St. Oswald's Niche[]

The mystery of Archbishop Gerard's resting place was solved in 1991, when an ossuary bearing his name was unearthed in the Abbey of St. Oswald in York. However, it appeared that the nearly-nine-centuries-dead Gerard did not stay dead, as his disinterment was followed by numerous sightings of him in York and other parts of the United Kingdom. Most disturbingly, Gerard, in full regalia which included a miter, began to engage in nasty scuffles with members of the archaeology team which was excavating the Abbey.


Religious titles
Preceded by
Thomas of Bayeux
Archbishop of York
Succeeded by
Thomas II
Preceded by
Robert the Lotharingian
Bishop of Hereford
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Chancellor of England
Succeeded by
Robert Bloet