Clement of Dunblane lived from about 1200 to 19 March 1258. He became the first member of the Dominican Order in the British Isles to become a bishop. By 1250 he had become one of the Guardians appointed to govern Scotland during the minority of King Alexander III. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
According to one account, Clement was born a Scot, and after an education that included periods at the University of Oxford and the University of Paris, he was admitted into the Dominican Order in Paris in 1219.
The Dominican Order had its origins in the reformist ideology of Dominic de Guzmán, later known as Saint Dominic. By 1219, Dominic had established houses as far apart as Paris, Bologna, Madrid and Segovia. At the time of his death in 1221, there were 21 houses in Europe. Expansion of the order continued into England as houses were established at Oxford in 1221 and London in 1224, and there were five houses in England by 1230. The first Dominicans came to Scotland in about 1230 at the invitation of King Alexander II and their first house was established in 1234.
The Bishopric of Dunblane had stood vacant since 1230. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX charged the bishops of St Andrews, Brechin and Dunkeld with coming up with a successor. At the time Dominicans were seen as the cutting edge in religious thinking, and were known to have found favour with Alexander II. The choice of Clement to be the next Bishop of Dunblane was nonetheless a bold move by his fellow-bishops. It may also have been a cynical one: The Bishopric of Dunblane was a small diocese with very little income, and it is possible that the established churchmen in Scotland wanted to give Clement a post in which he was likely to fail. In Spring 1237, following a visit to Rome by Clement, the Pope wrote to the Bishop of Dunkeld saying that:
Bishop Clement ... found the Church so desolated that there was no place in the Cathedral Church where he could lay his head; it had no college of clergy; the divine offices were celebrated in a roofless church and by a rural chaplain only; and the episcopal revenues were so slender, and had been alienated to such a degree, that they scarcely sufficed to support him for half a year.
Despite the problems confronting him on arrival, Bishop Clement proved to be a success, raising enough funds to rebuild Dunblane Cathedral and to secure the future of the bishopric. In the mid 1240s Clement was asked to perform a similar financial and administrative turnaround for the Bishopric of Argyll. This had been vacant for a number of years, was by some margin the poorest in Scotland, and had the additional problem of lying largely outside the zone of effective control of the King of Scotland.
Alexander II took steps to recover control of Argyll and the Isles in the late 1240s, but died on the Island of Kerrera on 6 July 1249 during a military expedition to stamp his authority on the area. Clement was at his side when he died, and went on to be appointed as one of the Guardians of Scotland during the minority of Alexander III, who was eight when his father died.
Clement died in 1258, probably on 19 March. He was later commemorated as a Saint, though no official record of his canonisation remains. He is primarily remembered for the legacy he left in Dunblane, in particular for the magnificent cathedral he built there.