HUGH of Lincoln (c11401200) was described by John Ruskin as “the most beautiful sacerdotal figure known to me in history”.
Peppery in temperament, Hugh showed little patience for the miracle stories so beloved of his contemporaries. Rather, he combined fierce ascetic discipline with strong practical acumen, invariably exercised on behalf of the poor. He possessed both the moral courage to stand up to Henry II, Richard I, and John, and the charm to turn aside the consequent royal wrath.
Hugh was born at Avalon in Burgundy, and became a monk at La Grande Char treuse. In 1175 Henry II, hearing of his scholarship and virtue, appointed him prior of the Carthusian monastery at Witham in Somerset.
In 1186 Hugh became Bishop of Lincoln, the largest diocese in the country, and rebuilt the cathedral after the earthquake of 1185. He excommunicated the King’s chief forester for his depredations; defended the Jews; ate with lepers; and was the first person to dare to refuse a money grant directly demanded by the Crown.
In 1199 Hugh revisited the Grande Chartreuse, but took ill on his return journey, and died in the Temple.