On the death of Hugh's mother, his father retired with him to a monastery, where the boy was educated and brought up to enter the religious life. He began as a member of an order of canons, but then joined the much stricter Carthusians. He became a Carthusian monk and in 1175 took charge of the Carthusian house at Witham in Somerset.
Hugh was well known and respected by three Kings of England, King Henry II, Richard the Lion Heart and King John. King Henry appointed him bishop of Lincoln in 1186, which he was forced by the other canons to accept, as Lincoln has been 18 years without a Bishop. His appointment did not deter him from criticism of the king. He vigorously upheld the rights of the common people against the king's foresters, who had been entitled to torture and kill any trespassers they found in the vast royal hunting-grounds, near Lincoln. King Henry would often visit Hugh because the charterhouse lay near the border of Selwood Forest, a favorite hunting ground. He revived schools in the diocese and restored and enlarged the cathedral.
Later, when King Richard demanded taxes to pay for his war in France, Hugh took a leading part in refusing payment, upholding the rights of the poor, even against the king when necessary.
Hugh was renowned for his humility, tact and strength of character. Hugh was also famous for his delight in playing with children and in visiting the poor or the isolated. He built a hospital for lepers, helping to nurse them at times. Hugh was also prominent in trying to protect the Jews, great numbers of whom lived in Lincoln. Riots against the Jews broke out in England at the time of the Third Crusade and he put down popular violence against them in several places. All his life Hugh loved birds and at Lincoln he was famous for his pets, amongst them a tame swan, which became one of his emblems. He was returning from a diplomatic visit to France on behalf of the King in 1200, when he contracted a fever and passed on to his reward. Such was the King's respect for Hugh, that King John himself was a pall-bearer at his funeral which was also attended by ALL the Jews of Lincoln, bewailing the loss of a "true servant of the Great God."
BORN: 1140, chateau of Avalon, Burgundy.
DIED: 16 November 1200, London, England.