Nigel - Encyclopedia

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NIGEL (d. 1169), bishop of Ely, head of the exchequer in the reigns of Henry I. and Henry II., was brought into the exchequer in early life (1130). Soon after his uncle Roger of Salisbury secured him the bishopric of Ely, much to the disgust of the monks. Nigel was at first retained in Stephen's service; but, like his uncle and his brothers, incurred the suspicion of leaning towards the Angevin interest, when Roger of Salisbury and Alexander of Lincoln were arrested by Stephen (January 1139). Nigel attempted to maintain himself in his see by force of arms, but he was forced to fly to the empress at Gloucester. He was reconciled to Stephen in 1142 and restored to his see; but he now became involved in a quarrel with the powerful Henry of Winchester. Ranulph, his first treasurer and representative at Ely, had been extortionate and dishonest, and the monks accused Nigel, probably with some justification, of spending the estates and treasures of the see in maintaining knights and gaining court influence. Henry of Winchester, who can have had little sympathy with bishops of Nigel's type, took up their quarrel, and Nigel was forced to go to Rome. Fortunately, both in these quarrels and in all his difficulties with Stephen, he secured the strong and uniform support of the Roman Curia. At the accession of Henry II. (1154) Nigel was summoned to reorganize the exchequer. He was the only surviving minister of Henry I., and his knowledge of the exchequer business was unrivalled. This was the great work of his life. It is to the work of his son Richard, the Dialogus de Scaccario, that we are indebted for our knowledge of the procedure of the exchequer as it was left by Nigel. The bishop took little part in politics, except as an administrator. In 1166 his health was broken by a paralytic seizure. Except for another quarrel with his monks, who accused him of despoiling their church and gained the ear of Pope Adrian, the last part of his life was laborious and uneventful.

See Dr Liebermann's Einleitung in den Dialogus de Scaccario; J. H. Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville.

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