Baldwin, Abbot of Bury St. Edmunds

St Edmondsbury Cathedral
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Photo © Andrew Norburn, Oct 2005

Bury St. Edmunds Abbey was among the richest Benedictine monasteries in England. During the reign of Canute monks were introduced to Bury St. Edmunds from St. Benet's Abbey. Bury's first two abbots were Ufi (d. 1044) and Leofstan (1044-65). After Leofstan's death Edward the Confessor appointed his physician Baldwin to the abbacy (1065-97), to which he also granted a mint.

It is recorded that Herfast, bishop of Thetford, who had made concerted efforts to take over Bury St Edmunds, failed in his attempts after Baldwin appealed to the pope for his support. Lanfranc intervened and the dispute was settled by the king in Baldwin's favour. Baldwin rebuilt the church and reinterred St Edmund's body there with great ceremony in 1095. The cult of St. Edmund (the Saxon boy king murdered for his faith by the Danes) made the abbey a popular destination for pilgrimages. The Abbey was much enlarged and rebuilt during the 12th century and was home to one of the richest shrines in Northern Europe.

Baldwin, who had been a monk at St. Denis, Paris, was especially famous for his skill in medicine. He was physician to Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, Archbishop Lanfranc and later to William Rufus.

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