Hugh De Puiset
HUGH DE PUISET (c. 1125-1195), bishop of Durham^ was the nephew of Stephen and Henry of Blois; the latter brought him to England and made him an archdeacon of the see of Winchester. Hugh afterwards became archdeacon and treasurer of York. In 1153 he was chosen bishop of Durham, in spite of the opposition of the archbishop of York; but he only obtained consecration by making a personal visit to Rome. Hugh took little part in politics in the reign of Henry II., remaining in the north, immersed in the affairs of his see. He was, however, present with Roger, archbishop of York, at the coronation of young Henry (i 170), and was in consequence suspended by Alexander III. He remained neutral, as far as he could, in the quarrel between Henry and Becket, but he at least connived at the rebellion of 1173 and William the Lion's invasion of England in that year. After the failure of the rebellion the bishop was compelled to surrender Durham, Norham and Northallerton to the king. In 1179 he attended the Lateran Council at Rome, and in 1181 by the pope's order he laid Scotland under an interdict. In 1184 he took the cross. At the general sale of offices with which Richard began his reign (1189) Hugh bought the earldom of Northumberland. The archbishopric of York had been vacant since 1181. This vacancy increased Hugh's power vastly, and when the vacancy was filled by the appointment of Geoffrey he naturally raised objections. This quarrel with Geoffrey lasted till the end of his life. Hugh was nominated justiciar jointly with William Longchamp when Richard left the kingdom. But Longchamp soon deprived the bishop of his place (1191), even going so far as to imprison Hugh and make him surrender his castle, his earldom and hostages. Hugh's chief object in politics was to avoid acknowledging Geoffrey of York as his ecclesiastical superior, but this he was compelled to do in 1195. On Richard's return Hugh joined the king and tried to buy back his earldom. He seemed on the point of doing so when he died. Hugh was one of the most important men of his day, and left a mark upon the north of England which has never been effaced. Combining in his own hands the palatinate of Durham and the earldom of Northumberland, he held a position not much dissimilar to that of the great German princes, a local sovereign in all but name.
See Kate Norgate's England under the Angevin Kings (1887); Stubbs's preface to Hoveden, iii.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)