Sigeric the Serious

Archbishop of Canterbury
Appointed 990
Term ended 28 October 994
Predecessor Æthelgar
Successor Ælfric of Abingdon
Other posts Abbot of St Augustine's
Bishop of Ramsbury
Consecration c. 985
by Dunstan
Personal details
Died 28 October 994
Buried Christ Church, Canterbury

Sigeric (died 28 October 994) was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 990 to 994.

It is unclear whether the epithet "The Serious" originated from his learning, or if it derived from transliteration of his name into Latin as Serio.


Sigeric was educated at Glastonbury Abbey, where he took holy orders. He was elected Abbot of St Augustine's in about 975 to 990,[1] and consecrated by Archbishop Dunstan as Bishop of Ramsbury in 985 or 986.[2] He was transferred to the see of Canterbury in 990.[3] He may have been a disciple of Dunstan's.[4]

Sigeric made the pilgrimage to Rome following the Via Francigena to receive his pallium circa 990,[5] and contemporary records of this journey still exist.[6]

It was Sigeric who advised King Æthelred to pay a tribute to the invading Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard in 991. Æthelred presented Sweyn with 10,000 pounds of silver, in response to which Sweyn temporarily ceased his destructive advance into England, though he later returned for further tribute. Sweyn's ever-increasing demands in the following years resulted in a debilitating tax known as the Danegeld, payable by the inhabitants of Æthelred's territories.[7]

In 994, Sigeric paid tribute to the Danes to protect Canterbury Cathedral from being burned.[6][8] In the same year, a diploma granting rights to the diocese of Cornwall and Bishop Ealdred of Cornwall stated that it was written by Sigeric, but it is unlikely that the document was actually written by the archbishop.[9]

While Sigeric was an abbot, Ælfric dedicated a book of translated homilies to him.[10] He also advised King Æthelred to found Cholsey Abbey in Berkshire in honour of King Edward the Martyr, as well as having Edward memorialised at Shaftesbury Abbey.[11][12]

Sigeric died on 28 October 994.[3] He was buried in Christ Church, Canterbury.[11] His will left wall hangings to Glastonbury[6] as well as a valuable collection of books to his church at Sonning.


  1. Knowles, et al. Heads of Religious Houses pp. 35, 243
  2. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 220
  3. 1 2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 214
  4. Knowles Monastic Order p. 50
  5. Ortenberg "Anglo-Saxon Church and the Papacy" English Church and the Papacy p. 49
  6. 1 2 3 Hindley Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons pp. 294–295
  7. Brooks Early History of the Church of Canterbury p. 282
  8. Williams Æthelred the Unready p. 52
  9. Chaplais "Royal Anglo-Saxon 'Chancery'" Studies in Medieval History pp. 41–51
  10. Knowles Monastic Order in England p. 62
  11. 1 2 Mason "Sigeric" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  12. Williams Æthelred the Unready p. 36


  • Brooks, Nicholas (1984). The Early History of the Church of Canterbury: Christ Church from 597 to 1066. London: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0-7185-0041-5. 
  • Chaplais, Pierre (1985). "The Royal Anglo-Saxon 'Chancery' of the Tenth Century Revisited". In Mayr-Harting, Henry; Moore, R. I. Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. H. C. Davis. London: Hambledon Press. ISBN 0-907628-68-0. 
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Hindley, Geoffrey (2006). A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons: The Beginnings of the English Nation. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7867-1738-5. 
  • Knowles, David (1976). The Monastic Order in England: A History of its Development from the Times of St. Dunstan to the Fourth Lateran Council, 940–1216 (Second reprint ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-05479-6. 
  • Knowles, David; London, Vera C. M.; Brooke, Christopher (2001). The Heads of Religious Houses, England and Wales, 940–1216 (Second ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80452-3. 
  • Mason, Emma (2004). "Sigeric (d. 994)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25536. Retrieved 7 November 2007. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • Ortenberg, Veronica (1999) [1965]. "The Anglo-Saxon Church and the Papacy". In Lawrence, C. H. The English Church and the Papacy in the Middle Ages (Reprint ed.). Stroud, UK: Sutton Publishing. pp. 29–62. ISBN 0-7509-1947-7. 
  • Williams, Ann (2003). Aethelred the Unready: The Ill-Counselled King. London: Hambledon & London. ISBN 1-85285-382-4. 
Christian titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Ramsbury
c. 985–990
Succeeded by
Ælfric of Abingdon
Preceded by
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
Ælfric of Abingdon
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