Gervase, Abbot of Westminster
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Gervase, Abbot of Westminster

Gervase of Blois was the Abbot of Westminster in England between 1138 and around 1157. Historically, Gervase has a bad reputation for mismanaging the abbey, although modern historians have re-evaluated his performance as abbot.


Gervase of Blois was the illegitimate son of King Stephen and his mistress, Damette.[1] His father ensured that he was appointed as the Abbot of Westminster Abbey in the second half of 1138; the abbey would have hoped to receive additional royal funding as a result.[2] Gervase was very young to be appointed abbot, but despite this probably attended the Second Lateran Council the following year.[3] Working with the Prior Osbert of Clare, Gervase unsuccessfully attempted to have King Edward the Confessor canonized; the abbey held the remains of the king which would have brought in valuable pilgrims had he been canonised.[4]

Pope Innocent II ordered Gervase to reform the estate management of the abbey; historians have disagreed over the years about whether the Pope was referring to long-standing issues of malpractice, or ones that had appeared during his term of office.[5]Pope Eugene III appears to have thought Gervase a reasonable abbot, granting the abbey privileges in the 1140s, and Gervase got on well with his fellow senior clergy.[6]

In 1154, however, Stephen died, being replaced by his former rival, King Henry II, putting Gervase's position at risk.[7] Gervase was accused by Henry of mishandling the abbey's estates and he was dismissed from post in 1157, albeit without trial, dying shortly afterwards.[8] He was replaced by Master Laurence from Durham, a supporter of the new king.[9]


  1. ^ Mason, pp.37, 58.
  2. ^ Mason, p.37.
  3. ^ Mason, p.38.
  4. ^ Mason, p.38.
  5. ^ Mason, p.40.
  6. ^ Mason, pp.45-6.
  7. ^ Mason, p.49.
  8. ^ Mason, p.51.
  9. ^ Barlow, p.277.


  • Barlow, Frank. (1970) Edward the Confessor. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-01671-2
  • Mason, Emma. (1996) Westminster Abbey and its people, c.1050-c.1216. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0-85115-396-4
Gervase of Blois
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Abbot of Westminster
1138 - c. 1157
Succeeded by

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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