Francis Aidan Gasquet

Francis Aidan Cardinal Gasquet OSB (born Francis Neil Gasquet;[1] 5 October 1846 – 5 April 1929) was an English Benedictine monk and historical scholar.[2] He was created Cardinal in 1914.

Francis Aidan Gasquet

Vatican Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church
Cardinal Gasquet in 1916.jpg
Ordination19 December 1874 (Priest)
Created cardinalCardinal deacon 25 May 1914; elevated to Cardinal priest 18 December 1924
RankCardinal deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro (1914–1915); Cardinal deacon, later Cardinal priest, of Santa Maria in Portico (1915–1929)
Personal details
Francis Neil Gasquet

(1846-10-05)5 October 1846
26 Euston Place, Somers Town, London, England
Died5 April 1929(1929-04-05) (aged 82)
Palazzo San Callisto, Rome, Italy
BuriedDownside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, England
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
EducationDownside School


Gasquet was the third of six children of Raymond Gasquet, a physician whose French naval officer father had emigrated to England during the British evacuation of Toulon in 1793. His mother was a Yorkshirewoman. He was born at 26 Euston Place, Somers Town, London.[3][4][5]

Educated at Downside School, he entered the Benedictines in 1865 at Belmont Priory. He moved to Downside Abbey where he was professed and, on 19 December 1871, ordained a priest. From 1878 to 1885 he was prior of Downside Abbey, resigning because of ill health.

Upon his recovery he became a member of the Pontifical Commission to study the validity of the Anglican ordinations (1896) leading to Apostolicae curae, to which his historical contribution was major. In 1900, he became abbot president of the English Benedictines. He was President of the Pontifical Commission for Revision of the Vulgate, 1907. He also authored the major history of the Venerable English College at Rome.[citation needed]

He was created Cardinal-deacon in 1914 with the titular church of San Giorgio in Velabro. He was conferred the titular church of Santa Maria in Portico in 1915. In 1917, he was appointed Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives. In 1924, he was appointed Librarian of the Vatican Library. He died in Rome.[citation needed]

As a historianEdit

Gasquet's historical work has been attacked by later writers. Geoffrey Elton wrote of "the falsehoods purveyed by Cardinal Gasquet and Hilaire Belloc".[6] His collaboration with Edmund Bishop has been described as "an alliance between scholarship exquisite and deplorable".[7] A polemical campaign by G. G. Coulton against Gasquet was largely successful in discrediting his works in academic eyes.[8] One of his books contained an appendix "A Rough List of Misstatements and Blunders in Cardinal Gasquet's Writings.[9]

David Knowles wrote a reasoned piece of apologetics on Gasquet's history in 1956, Cardinal Gasquet as an Historian.[10] In it he speaks of Gasquet's "many errors and failings", and notes that he "was not an intellectually humble man and he showed little insight into his own limitations of knowledge and training". Coulton, though, he felt was in error, through over-simplifying the case.[11]

Eamon Duffy said in an interview:

...Cardinal Francis Aidan Gasquet, a great Benedictine historian, was both a bad workman and not entirely scrupulous about what he said. So you can be a churchman and a lousy historian.[12]

A biography, Cardinal Gasquet: a Memoir, (Burns & Oates 1953), was written by Shane Leslie, who knew him personally.





  1. ^ "Francis Gasquet - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Gasquet, Right Rev. Francis Aidan". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. pp. 662–663.
  3. ^ "Gasquet, Raymond (1789 - 1856)". Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online. Royal College of Surgeons of England. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  4. ^ Knowles, Dom David (1963). "Cardinal Gasquet as an Historian". The Historian and Character: And Other Essays. Cambridge University Press. p. 249. ISBN 9780521088411. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  5. ^ Roberts, Sir Howard; Godfrey, Walter H, eds. (1952). Survey of London: King's Cross Neighbourhood - The Parish of St. Pancras Part IV (PDF). London County Council. p. 90. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  6. ^ Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph (2002). The Practice of History. Oxford; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 96.
  7. ^ Christopher Nugent Lawrence Brooke et al. A History of the University of Cambridge: University to 1546 (1988), p. 420.
  8. ^ Nicholson, Ernest Wilson (2003). A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 172.
  9. ^ Coulton, G.G. (1915). "A Rough List of Misstatements and Blunders in Cardinal Gasquet's Writings." In: Medieval Studies. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co.
  10. ^ Reprinted in David Knowles, The Historian and Character, and Other Essays. Cambridge University Press, 1963, pp. 240–263.
  11. ^ Knowles (1963), pp. 261–2.
  12. ^ "Confronting the Church's Past: An Interview with Eamon Duffy," Commonweal, Vol. 127, No. 1, January 2000.
  13. ^ "Review: The Greater Abbeys of England by Abbot Gasquet". The Athenaeum. No. 4208. 20 June 1908. pp. 767–768.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archivist of the Holy Roman Church
28 November 1917 – 5 April 1929
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vatican Librarian
9 May 1919 – 5 April 1929
Succeeded by