05. Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester: A Patron of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

05. Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester: A Patron of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance
Hampshire Papers 5: Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester: A patron of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance
by Nicholas Riall (1994)

Bishop, politician, and patron of art and architecture, Henry of Blois was a leading figure in mid-twelfth century England. Following the coronation of his brother Stephen in 1135, he played an active role in the politics and warfare of the reign. Created abbot of Glastonbury in 1126 and bishop of Winchester in 1129, both of which appointments he held until his death in 1171, he was a leading churchman of his day. He was also one of the richest men in England at the time, deriving a considerable income from his ecclesiastical estates which he used to finance the building of palaces and castles, and to commission works of art. Indeed, he is generally regarded as one of the foremost patrons of the twelfth-century renaissance in art and architecture.

This paper explores the many aspects of Bishop Henry's life: his role during the Anarchy of his brother's reign; his life in later years when he was denied an active role in the government of the kingdom; the building work carried out at his sites in Hampshire and beyond; and his patronage of arts as diverse as stone and ivory carving, book binding and the illumination of manuscripts. Illustrated with many examples of the art and architecture commissioned by him, the paper provides an introduction to the life of Henry of Blois and to his contribution to the twelfth-century renaissance.

Physical description 295mm x 210mm; softback; 32 pages.
Published in 1994 by Hampshire County Council.

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