Contested Consecrations and the Pursuit of Ecclesiastical Independence in Scotland and Ireland in the Early 1120s

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This article investigates two comparable crises of leadership in Gaelic Christendom which occurred around the same time, in 1120–1121; these culminated in failed episcopal appointments for St. Andrews and Dublin. The article is based on accounts from Scotland and Ireland which shed light on the developments in both countries and on Historia nouorum in Anglia ‘History of recent events in England’ by Eadmer, who was biographer and confidant of Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109. Eadmer was the principal contemporary first-hand witness to events in this period, but his evidence is somewhat problematic. There are few substantial comparative discussions of Scottish and Irish ecclesiastical developments in the 1120s; in addition, the work of Eadmer needs fuller consideration regarding Canterbury's relationships with Gaelic churches. Eadmer's depiction of the St. Andrews situation is especially significant because he himself was the bishop-elect. I assess how these crises arose and how they caused the relationships between Gaelic churches and Canterbury to become highly strained. I aim to show that leaders in Scotland and Ireland undertook the pursuit of ecclesiastical independence in very different ways and that both failed appointments, though eventually prompting a degree of independence, resulted in short-term stagnation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)155-178
Number of pages24
JournalNorth American Journal of Celtic Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018


  • Canterbury
  • Dublin
  • Eadmer
  • episcopal consecration
  • Gregorian reform
  • St Andrews


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