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Samson

(1135—1211) abbot of Bury St Edmunds


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Thomas Carlyle (1795—1881) author, biographer, and historian

 

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(1135–1211). Abbot of Bury St Edmunds. A Norfolk man, educated in Paris, Samson taught at the abbey, took vows (1166) and was elected abbot in 1182. A shrewd, hard-headed businessman typical of his age, he speedily restored abbey finances after years of mismanagement. Not a great spiritual leader, still less a saint, he was an upright, God-fearing, just, and enthusiastic administrator with qualities essential for running a 13th-cent. abbey with its numerous estates and buildings; he rebuilt part of the abbey and founded a hospital and a school. Though previously unknown to the papacy, he was drawn into public service by being appointed papal judge-delegate. He led his knights in the siege of Windsor (1193) and travelled to Germany to visit the imprisoned Richard. His powerful local influence, if unpopular, was beneficial in a turbulent age. A man of affairs, he nevertheless wrote an account of the miracles associated with St Edmund's shrine. The abbot was one of Carlyle's ‘heroes’ in Past and Present.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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