Robert de Gloucester, chancellor/historian, fl. c. 1260–c. 1300

In the traditional structure of a secular cathedral church’s chapter, four key dignitaries alongside the canons were the dean, the precentor, the chancellor, and the treasurer, known collectively as the quatuor majores personae, each holding a corner stall in the choir. The dean, responsible for the overall leadership and liturgical functions, evolved from a role overseeing monks, transitioning into pivotal church management and holding the primary right-hand stall in the choir. Next in the hierarchy, the precentor managed the cathedral’s music, typically seated opposite the dean, though arrangements like St. Paul’s in London could vary with local customs. The chancellor, not to be mistaken for the diocesan counterpart, focused on educational duties and scholarly activities within the church, taking a seat near the dean. Lastly, the treasurer oversaw the cathedral’s physical assets and liturgical provisions, situated across from the chancellor, ensuring the maintenance and decorum of the sacred space.[1]

About Robert de Gloucester

Robert de Gloucester (Robert of Gloucester) was a chancellor of the Church of Hereford during the early 14th century.[2] His position is responsible for the administration of the church’s affairs, education, the oversight of its legal documents and library, and possibly contributing to the intellectual and theological discourse of the time. He was involved in financial dealings, such as receiving eleven and a half marks in part payment for the prosecution of the canonization of Thomas de Cantilupe, a former bishop of Hereford (RBLR 0701). He was acknowledged for receiving fifty marks loaned by Dominus Hugh de Brehusa for the church, which was to be repaid (HCM 2051). This transaction also included the agreement to perform obit services. In 1319, Robert’s house was mentioned in the context of a royal license granted charter involving the transfer of properties in Hereford, including lands and annual rents in Hereford (HCM 2100). His activities also included receiving payments for annual pensions (HCM 1210) and granting a rent of twenty shillings payable annually for houses in Hereford.

Grants and legal transactions (e.g., HCM 2874, 2059, 2051) illustrate his involvement in the financial and legal affairs of the cathedral, particularly in managing properties and endowments. His presence in significant ecclesiastical events (e.g., RBLR 0701) and involvement in the canonization inquiry of Thomas Cantilupe reflect his integral role within the cathedral’s ceremonial and legal processes. Notarial instruments (e.g., HCM 758) and receipts (e.g., HCM 1438) demonstrate his administrative acumen and his role in the day-to-day management of the cathedral’s finances and legal obligations. Robert had passed away before 1321[3].

HCM 2874: Robert de Gloucester’s involvement in the financial and legal affairs of the cathedral.

Comparison with Other Chancellors

In our quest to comprehend the intricacies of medieval life, we turn our gaze to the chancellors of the Cathedral, contemporaries of Robert, whose lives and actions are encapsulated within our Gephi network visualization. This meticulous selection of ecclesiastical administrators, akin to Robert in status and function, reveals a microcosm of medieval society’s organizational and interpersonal dynamics. Through the nodes and edges of this network, we decipher patterns of influence, educational endeavors, and the bureaucratic system that underpinned the church’s authority. Each chancellor’s connections shed light on the roles they played in both religious and secular realms, illustrating their involvement in the dissemination of knowledge, the management of church affairs, and their broader societal interactions. This Gephi visualization not only maps out a network of relationships but also serves as a window into the social structure of the time, offering us tangible insights into the fabric of medieval life as shaped by its scholarly and clerical figures.

I list individuals who have held the position of chancellor, similar to Robert de Gloucester, and includes details about documents related to their tenure. This list would be instrumental in understanding the role and activities of chancellors within the ecclesiastical hierarchy, giving insights into their administrative, legal, and educational functions, much like those of Robert. This could help to position Robert within a wider historical context, compare his activities and influence with his peers, and potentially trace the evolution of the chancellor’s role over time.

Graph 1; All Chancellors

Alumni Oxonienses

Robert de Gloucester, also known as Robert le Wyse, is listed in Oxford University’s records,[4] indicating his academic background complemented his church duties. His entry in the Alumni Oxonienses confirms his scholarly ability and places him in his era’s intellectual context, showing his roles as a chancellor and the possibility of historian.

According to “Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300”, he was recorded “M. Robert of Gloucester,” with “M” indicating he earned a master’s degree, significant in the medieval period.[5] This degree reflected his deep scholarly involvement and established his expertise and authority. As a master, Robert was known for his knowledge and contributions to academia, influencing his work in the Church of Hereford.[6]

His education helped him handle various tasks, such as managing the cathedral’s library and educational programs and participating in theological and legal discussions. His Oxford affiliation highlights his dedication to scholarship and excellence, impacting his church and administrative roles. Moreover, being an Oxford alumnus linked him to a network of scholars, enhancing his reputation and the Church of Hereford’s scholarly stature during a time of intellectual and theological growth.

Chronicler (Hypothetical)

In 1271, “Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle” was printed.[7] However, it is unclear whether Robert of Gloucester was the actual author. If he was indeed the chronicler, he would belong to a lineage of ecclesiastical scholars who documented church events and broader historical narratives. These scholars played a crucial role in conserving knowledge and offering future generations a window into the religious, social, and political landscapes of their era.

Graph 2: Robert de Gloucester’s network

In the network graph of Robert, we delve into the lattice of his historical interactions, seeking to unravel the intricacies of his personal and professional engagements. Each node in this visualization is a testament to a person that Robert communicated with, and the edges – the lines that connect these nodes – represent the documented interactions between Robert and these individuals. The edges in Graph 2 are color-coded to reveal the nature of Robert’s interactions: pink for Principal roles, constituting 63.16% of the edges, and green for Witness roles, making up the remaining 36.84%. The dominant pink edges represent scenarios where Robert was the main actor. These principal interactions might include official decisions, major financial transactions, critical communications, or other actions where Robert was at the helm. The extent of pink in the network is indicative of Robert’s proactive engagement and influence in his dealings. It shows that he was not just a bystander in events but a key figure, driving decisions and actions. The green edges, denoting the Witness role, illuminate a different yet equally significant facet of Robert’s place in history. These edges map out instances where Robert’s role was to observe, to attest, and to bear witness. Although less in proportion compared to the principal interactions, the substantial share of green edges signifies the trust placed in Robert to verify and validate the events and decisions of his time.

Graph 2 depicts a series of nodes and edges centered around Robert de Gloucester. Each node represents a person associated with him, while the edges indicate a connection or relationship to Robert, including grants, letters, provisions, receipts, quittances, notarial instruments, and lists of witnesses. The network is laid out using the Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm.

Comparison with Adam Murimuth, a Chronicler

In juxtaposing the network graphs of Robert and Adam Murimuth, the visualizations reveal not just the network of connections each person cultivated but also invite us to compare their societal roles, influence, and the nature of their engagements. Adam Murimuth was a notable English ecclesiastic and chronicler who served as a canon at Hereford, although he was not a resident there. “Murimuth’s chronicles” are particularly valuable because of the detail they offer about the political and ecclesiastical developments of the 14th century, especially during the reigns of Edward II and Edward III.[8] Adam Murimuth’s connections to Hereford and his active role as a chronicler suggest that he engaged with many documents from a slightly later period than those associated with Robert de Gloucester. The edges in Graph 3 are color-coded to reveal the nature of Adam’s interactions: pink for Principal roles, constituting 73.49% of the edges, and green for Witness roles, making up the remaining 26.51%.

Graph 3: Comparison with Adam Murimuth’s network

Through the lens of Graph 2 and Graph 3, the networks of these historians are meticulously unfolded. By tracing the nodes and the color-coded connections—indicative of their varying roles within their networks—we gain a comprehensive view of their respective influences and interactions. The graphs thus act as critical tools for historical analysis, illuminating the multifaceted relationships that shaped the medieval ecclesiastical and political milieu in which these individuals were embedded.

[1] Wikipedia Contributors, “Cathedral Chapter,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, last modified 2024, February 19,

[2] “Chancellors,” in *Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541: Volume 2, Hereford Diocese*, (London: Institute of Historical Research, 1962), 12-14, accessed March 22, 2024,

[3] ‘Liber albus I: Fols. 141-60’, in Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Dean and Chapter of Wells: Volume 1, (London, 1907), pp. 178-201. British History Online, accessed March 22, 2024,

[4] “Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714,” originally published by University of Oxford, Oxford, 1891, accessed March 22, 2024,

[5] “Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 8, Hereford,” originally published by the Institute of Historical Research, London, 2002, accessed March 22, 2024,

[6] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Robert Of Gloucester,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed March 23, 2024,

[7] Cooper, Charles Purton. An Account Of The Most Important Public Records Of Great Britain, And The Publications Of The Record Commissioners. Vol. 2. London: Baldwin and Cradock, 1832. Accessed [2024/3/22].

[8] Werronen, Stephen. “Ripon and the Scottish raids, 1318–1322.” Northern History 49, no. 2 (2012): 174-184.