Bishop Brice Douglas
Also referred to as Bricius de Douglas
Bricius (sometimes anglicized as Brice, d. 1222) was prior of
Lesmahagow and afterwards bishop of Moray (Gaelic epscop Muireb; Latin
In this period, the name Bricius is more often a Latinization of the
Gaelic names Máel Brigte ("tonsured devotee of St. Brigit") and Gilla
Brigte ("devotee of St. Brigit") than a real name, although it is still
possible that Bricius was indeed the bishop's real name. He is called
Bricius Douglas by John Wilkins' Concilia magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae,
and this is supported by two men who used this name, "Arkenbald and
Henric" (Archibald and Henry), being called his brothers. Bricius
appears to have been a son of William de
Duglas, and had five brothers, four of whom also became clerics, all
in the Moray diocese. The fifth and presumably eldest brother,
of Douglas, succeeded to the Barony of Douglas in Lanarkshire.
Bricius became bishop of Moray in 1203, although the exact details of
this accession (i.e. election, consecration, etc) are unknown. On April
7, 1206, Bishop Bricius received papal permission to move the seat
(Latin: cathedra) of the see of Moray from Birnie to Spynie. The move
was probably complete by June 1208. It would not be until the episcopate
of his successor, Andreas de Moravia, that the bishopric would settle at
Elgin Cathedral, Elgin.
Bricius was one of the most important clerics in the Scotland of his
time, that is, during the later part of the reign of William the Lion
(r. 1165-1214) and early part of the reign of Alexander II (1214-49).
For instance, in 1207, Pope Innocent III appointed him judge-delegate of
a dispute between Melrose Abbey and the Earl of Dunbar, two of the most
important landownders in what for Moray-based Bricius was the remote
English-speaking south-east of Scotland. In 1215, Bricius was one of
three Scottish bishops to attend the Fourth Lateran Council at Rome (the
other two were William de Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews and Walter,
bishop of Glasgow). He returned to Rome in 1218, as part of a delegation
of three Scottish bishops, including Walter of Glasgow, and Adam, bishop
of Caithness, in order to obtain absolution from Pope Honorius III for
the sentence of excommunication imposed on King Alexander II and the
whole Kingdom of Scotland. This second visit to Rome is mentioned in
Scottish sources, and confirmed by Papal records. The latter record that
Bricius had solemny denied practicing divine offices during the
Bricius, however, found his episcopate in disrepute. Church records
indicate that the Archdeacon and Chancellor of Moray reported Bricius'
corrupt behaviour, including over-taxing his flock, dissolving lawful
marriages for payment, tolerating unlawful ones for payment and taking
procurations without the appropriate visitations, and spending a good
deal of the proceeds on the services of women*. On 30 January 1219, Pope
Honorius III instructed the abbots of Cupar Angus, Scone and Dunfermline
to investigate these claims. The results are not known.
He died in the year in the year 1222, and was succeeded by Andreas de
Certain histories refer to "St Brice" in reference to this bishop.
This however is almost certainly a case of misidentification with St
Brice, Archbishop of Tours, a Gallo-Roman cleric and protegé of Saint
Martin of Tours
Brice had brothers who held senior appointments in Moray:
Alexander (Canon of Moray, Canon of Spynie and Vicar of Elgin) - involved in
various land transactions.
- Henry (Canon of Spynie and Clerk
- Hugh (Archdeacon of Moray)
- Freskin (Dean of Moray)
* Some reports show he had a least one child.
Note: A later Bishop of Moray was Alexander, (fl. 1528), and George, d1589, and Alexander, d1623.
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