The Church

In 1205, there was a conflict evident between Rome and the English Crown, one of many during the medieval period that would culminate in the 1500s when Henry VIII breaks from Rome, altogether and dissoves the monasteries to feed his treasury. The struggle had begun much earlier so it is worth backtracking to the previous reign when the church and crown argued over the appointment of Hubert Walter.

Archbishop of Cantebury

The Archbishopric of Cantebury was a political post and the holder was normally expected to maintain forces as well as play a role in the politics of state. 

Hubert Walter (1193-1205)

Despite serving as Baron of the Exchequer, Hubert De Walter had evidently not got Henry II's support as he had been rejected in 1186 when put forward as a candidate for the See of York. Perhaps he was already Richard's man and that was at the back of Henry's issue. Certainly, it was Richard I who chose him for the Bishopric of Salisbury and took Hubert with him on crusade, pushing him forward on the death of Baldwin, as chaplain to the crusader hosts. Hubert was already considered to be one of the English commanders. Seemingly, he was also a fine diplomat, liasing between Richard and Sal-A-Din. He won the support of other religious leaders when he stamped out disorder and "licentuousness" amongs the ranks, supported the poorer pilgrims and represented them when pligrims were accepted into the holy sepulchre. As a soldier, he was known to have prevented the success of an attack on the French contingent by Saladin while as a diplomat, he negotiated with the muslim leader during Richard's illness and is credited with the treaty that enabled the pilgrims access to the holy places, so ending the third crusade.

Hubert was not always in harmony with the other senior churchmen and argued for some considerable time with the cantebury chapter after founding a college at Lambeth of "secular canons" for furthering learning. His taxations certainly vexed some of the bishops, notably Hugh of Lincoln. He was very successful in regaining properties, bringing the castles of Rochester and Tunbridge plus manors of Saltwood and Hythe under church control. He fought over primacy in the Welsh church with Giraldus Cambrensis , eventually confirming Cantebury's authority, which was regarded as one of few clerical successes.

Under his leadership, the English army then departed to Sicily from whence, after pausing to visit Richard in imprisonment in Durrestein, he returned hom to prevent John's sezure of the throne in 1193. He was then behind the raising of the ransom through taxes, to buy Richard's freedom. Since Baldwin's death in 1190 had left a vacancy in Cantebury, Richard now threatened the electing clergy and forced them to make Hubert Walter the Archbishop of Cantebury. He received the title in November 1193, adding Justiciar by the close of the same year and, after performing the second coronation of Richard in 1194, he took over the reins of government while his king went off to France and his wars. In 1197, he featured largely, in a treaty with Flanders and a truce between Richard and Philip of France.  After acting as Chancellor for the king and raising taxes for foreign wars, Hubert was asked by the new Pope, Innocent III, to lay aside his secular duties, a request made also, to Richard I. Hubert responded by doing so but promptly left for France to join Richard in his wars unti the king's death in 1199 when John despatched him back to England "to keep the peace". The colourful archbishop then resumed his duties as Chancellor, ignoring the original stipulations from Rome. Despite odd quarrels with John, Hubert Walter served him in various capacities until On 10 July, 1205, while journeying from Canterbury to Boxley to restore peace between the monks of Rochester and their bishop, he was attacked with fever and a carbuncle. He died three days later at his manor of Teynham.

Stephen Langton (1207-1228)

The post of Archbishop remained open during the struggle between John and Pope Innocent III. Eventualy, Stephen Langton was recognised and took up the position. Langton had met Innocent before his own election, in Paris, where Lanton lectured at the University. When Innocent became pope, he called Langton from Paris to Rome and made him Cardinal-Priest of St Chrysogenus.On the death of Hubert, the Cantebury chapter were keen to appoint the subprior, Reginald to the post. King John wanted John De Grey, Bishop of Norwich. In 1207, Innocent III announced his intention for Langton to take up the post and thus began a six year arguement over the succession during which England was placed under an interdict and John was cited for deposition with Philip of France given the task of executing that removal. John backed down and Langton arrived in England with his followers in 1213. After first supporting the barons in bringing in the Magna Carta, Langton then turned against his mentor and refused to excommunicate the barons when Innocent stepped in to declare that they could not force John to accept its terms as he now held his throne by divine right. Langton was exiled until 1218 during which time, John and Innocent III both died.

Langton seems to have been working to gain ecclesiastical independence for England. He obtained a grant from Honorious III, the new pope, that no legate should be despatched to England in his lifetime as well as gaining ground for the English church and Cantebury. Like his pre-decessor, he also continued to play a political role and in 1223, was once again amongst the barons, demanding the Magna Carta was upheld. Later, he supported the king when the barons rebelled, again.

Langton was a great writer and researcher. He is believed to be the man behind the division of the bible into chapters. He certainly left a great deal of writing behind him in England and in France. His tractatus on the holy relics of St Thomas is still preserved in the original, today. He also wrote a historical account of the life of Richard I.

Archbishop of York

The Archbishopric of Cantebury was a political post and the holder was normally expected to maintain forces as well as play a role in the politics of state. 

Geoffrey Plantagenet (1191-1212)

Another essentially secular placement, Geoffrey, as the name suggests, was a son of Henry II (illegitimate). He held the See of Lincoln until 1183 when he resigned and subsuquently became Chancellor for his father. Nominated by his half brother, Richard in 1189, he was consecrated as Archbishop of York in 1191. Considered a man of principles, Geoffrey is chronicled as being continually involved in disputes including with his half brothers and with his successor at the Chancellory, William Longchamp. He was still in dispute over canonical matters which had involved Pope Celestine on his death in 1212. He died in Normandy in exile, having fled England in 1207.

Walter De Le Grey (1216-55)

Nephew of John De Le Grey, Bishop of Norwich, Walter also made his mark in secular matters, serving as Chancellor to John from 1205. He was choen to be Bishop of Lichfield in 1210 but could not take up the post. However, four years later, he accepted the See of Worcester and resigned as Chancellor. He was with John at the signing of the Magna Carta, going abroad on John's business, soon after. In his absence, supported by the king and Pope Innocent, he was elected to York. On John's death, his relations with Henry III seem to have been similarly good. He was named as regent (guardian) in 1242 when Henry was in France. In his later years, he seems to have fallen out with the king and he died, attending Parliament in 1255. He was responsible for expansion of York Minster and acquisition of the village "Bishopsthorpe" as the Archbishop's residence.

Sewal De Bovil (1256-1258)

There is little available on Sewal. We know he was involved with church matters rather than state and is recorded as consecrating vicars in Nottinghamshire during his brief intendance.

Godfrey Ludham 12581265

Godfrey probably achieved the post on the basis of his brother's influence with the pope (Thomas was the pope's chaplain). we know that he had links with Rouen and that he had been Dean of York during Sewal's administration. Either way, he doesn't appear to have extended his influence any more than his predecessor.

Walter Giffard 12661279

Giffard, like Godfrey, had the advantage of a papal connection, having served as one of the pope's chaplains. He became Bishop of Bath & Wells in 1264, which was always an influential post. In 1265, he became Chancellor and was involved in the "Award of Kenilworth" under which disinherited lords could claim and recover lost estates. This certainly did not make him universally popular with the nobility. Appointed in October 1265 by Pope Clement to the See of York, he was consecrated in the Notre-Dame but this angered local barons and his manors were sacked. On his return, he excommunicated the Earl of Leicester and a number of his supporters.  He also got into a dispute with Boniface of Savoy, the Archbishop of Cantebury. In 1269, he officiated at the promotion of Edward the Confessor to sainthood and in 1270, he was appointed to tutor the sons of the future Edward III when the prince went abroad. When Henry III died in 1272, he was the first lord on the Kings Council and as such, one of the three men who ruled England until Edward III returned (with Roger Mortimer and Robert Burnell) He died in 1279. His remains were moved to the presbytery by order of John of Thoresby in the c14th.

To be documented - Cantebury

  • Richard Grant alias Wethershed (1229-1231)
  • Edmund of Abingdon (1234-1240)  
  • Boniface of Savoy (1245-70) 
  • Robert Kilwardby (1273-1278)
  • John Pecham (1279-92) 
  • Robert Winchelsey (1294-1313)
  • Walter Reynolds (1313-27)
  • Simon Meopham (or Mepeham) (1328-1333)
  • John Stratford (1333-48)
  • Thomas Bradwardine (1349)
  • Simon Islip (1349-66)
  • Simon Langham (1366-68)
  • William Whittlesey (1368-74)
  • Simon Sudbury (1375-81) 
  • William Courtenay (1381-1396)
  • Thomas Arundel (1397, 1399-1414)  
  • Roger Walden (1397-99) Died: 1406
  • Henry Chichele (Archbishop: 1414-43)
  • John Stafford (1443-52) 
  • John Kempe (1452-54)
  • Thomas Bourgchier (or Bourchier) (1454-86)

To be documented : York

  • William Wickwane 12791285
  • John Le Romeyn 12861296
  • Henry of Newark 12981299
  • Thomas of Corbridge 13001304
  • William Greenfield 13061315
  • William of Melton 13171340
  • William Zouche 13421352
  • John of Thoresby 13531373
  • Alexander Neville 13741388
  • Thomas Arundel 13881396
  • Robert Waldby 13971398
  • Richard Le Scrope 13981405
  • Henry Bowet 14071423
  • John Kempe 14261452
  • William Booth 14521464
  • George Neville 14651476

[Home] [Background] [Saga] [Characters] [Library] [Technical]