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Thomas Arundel
Archbishop of Canterbury

Medieval tapestry showing Thomas Arundel reading a bull to his flock
Province Canterbury
Diocese Canterbury
Enthroned unknown
Reign ended 19 February 1414
Predecessor William Courtenay
Successor Henry Chichele
Consecration Translated in 1396
Personal details
Born 1353
Died 19 February 1414
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic

Thomas Arundel (1353 – 19 February 1414) was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death, an outspoken opponent of the Lollards.

Contents

Ecclesiastical career

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Bishop of Ely

A younger son of Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel, he was papally provided as Bishop of Ely on 13 August 1373 entirely by reason of his father's status and financial leverage with the Crown during the dotage of Edward III, happily abandoning his student days at Oxford, from which he gained little pleasure.[1] A hugely wealthy near-sinecure, Ely seems to have captured the young bishop's genuine interest until his brother's political opposition to Richard II's policies both at home and towards France grew rancorous and dragged him in. In an extremely grave crisis, teetering towards civil war, 1386-8, the bishop found himself, at least in formal terms, right at the front of the dangerous attempts by five leading temporal lords to purge the king's advisors and control future policy.

Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor

On 3 April 1388, he was elevated to the position of Archbishop of York at a time when Richard II was, in effect, suspended from rule. Given Ely's wealth and ease, this promotion was clearly as much to do with status and consolidating the conspirators' control in the north as with remuneration.[2]

Arundel served twice as Lord Chancellor, during the reign of King Richard II, first, entirely against the king's wishes, from 1386 to 1389, and again from 1391 to 1396.[3] For whatever reason, the king, working his way astutely back into real authority, contrived to assure Arundel of his confidence right until the 'counter-coup' of 1397, when the archbishop was deceived into bringing his brother out of hiding under a royal safe conduct—to his death. Throughout his life Arundel was more trustful than was good for him. Despite his political preoccupations, which certainly led to him being largely absent from York, he has been credited with sponsoring a lively revival of personal religious piety in the northern province. Besides, as was to prove the case at Canterbury too, he was also a very good spotter of administrative talent.

Archbishop of Canterbury, period of exile, return to Canterbury and Lord Chancellorship

On 25 September 1396, he was made Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England[4] The king's nomination seemed to wish him nothing but success. Yet, within a year, he was exiled by the king during Richard's fierce counter-attack against his enemies of ten years earlier, and was replaced by Roger Walden.[4]

He spent his exile in Florence, where in 1398, at Richard II's request, the Roman Pope Boniface IX translated him to become Bishop of St. Andrews, a cruel, empty fate because Scotland during the Great Schism recognized the Pope in Avignon, already had a bishop in place and would probably never have accepted him anyway, even in peaceful times. However, shortly afterwards, he joined up with his fellow-exile Henry Bolingbroke. Although not soul-mates, they invaded England together and forced Richard to yield the crown to Henry IV. Arundel played a hugely prominent part in the usurpation and may have been the most hawkishly determined of all that the king should be removed entirely: whether he actually lied on oath to Richard II to lure him out of Conway remains altogether open to debate. The new regime of course secured the reversal of several of Richard's acts, including the pope's installation of Walden at Canterbury. Arundel returned to his primacy[4], while Walden—actually with the support of Arundel—was eventually translated to the important see of London.

As the king collapsed into ill-health from 1405, Arundel returned to the front of government. At one point, he even took the sick king into Lambeth Palace itself for care. In 1405–06 he had to deal with the crisis with the papacy provoked by the king's decision to execute Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York who had participated in the Percy rebellion. Formally, under Henry IV, Arundel served twice as Lord Chancellor, first in 1399 and again from 1407 to 1410.[3] When Henry IV's son succeeded as Henry V, Arundel's influence at court decreased.

Thomas Arundel died on 19 February 1414.[4]

Opposition to the Lollards

Arundel was a vehement opponent of the Lollards, the followers of John Wycliffe, who in his 1379 treatise De Eucharistia had opposed the dogma of Transubstantiation.

King Henry IV passed the De Heretico Comburendo statute in 1401, which recited in its preamble that it was directed against a certain new sect "who thought damnably of the sacraments and usurped the office of preaching." (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia} It empowered the bishops to arrest, imprison, and examine offenders and to hand over to the secular authorities such as had relapsed or refused to abjure. The condemned were to be burnt "in an high place" before the people. This act was probably pushed through by the authoritative Arundel. Its passing was immediately followed by the burning of William Sawtrey, a London priest. He had previously abjured but had relapsed, and he now refused to declare his belief in transubstantiation or to recognize the authority of the Church.[5]

In 1407, Arundel presided at a synod at Oxford, which passed a number of constitutions to regulate preaching, the translation and use of the Scriptures, and the theological education at schools and the university.[5] In 1410, a body of Oxford censors condemned 267 propositions collected out of Wyclif's writings. These different measures seem to have been successful at least as far as the clergy were concerned, and Lollardy came to be more and more a lay movement, often connected with political discontent.[5]

The death penalty was seldom carried out. Until 1410, no further Lollards were executed. The 1414 Oldcastle Revolt saw a minority of the seventy or so who were hanged also burned. Thereafter, executions were again few until the Tudor period. Arundel had a stroke which left him unable to speak shortly afterwards. Henry V, who had had uneasy relations with Arundel, installed Henry Chichele in his place.

Modern public opinion

In 2005/2006, BBC History Magazine chose Thomas Arundel as the 15th century's entry for their Ten Worst Britons poll,[6][7] in which he tied in 9th place with Hugh le Despenser.[8]

Ancestry

References

  1. ^ Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 244.
  2. ^ Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 286.
  3. ^ a b Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 87.
  4. ^ a b c d Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 233.
  5. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg "Lollards" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  6. ^ 'Worst' historical Britons list, BBC 27 December 2005.
  7. ^ Are these the 10 Worst Britons?, Independent 27 December 2005.
  8. ^ Jack the Ripper is 'worst Briton', BBC 31 January 2006.

Sources

  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.  ; ME Aston, Thomas Arundel; R.G. Davies, 'Thomas Arundel as archbishop of Canterbury', Journal of Ecclesiastical History 1972; J. Hughes, Pastors and Visionaries.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Suffolk
Lord Chancellor
1386–1389
Succeeded by
William of Wykeham
Preceded by
William of Wykeham
Lord Chancellor
1391–1396
Succeeded by
Edmund Stafford
Preceded by
Edmund Stafford
Lord Chancellor
1399
Succeeded by
John Scarle
Preceded by
Thomas Langley
Lord Chancellor
1407–1410
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Beaufort
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Beaufort
Lord Chancellor
1412–1413
Succeeded by
Henry Beaufort
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Barnet
Bishop of Ely
1373–1388
Succeeded by
John Fordham
Preceded by
Alexander Neville
Archbishop of York
1388–1397
Succeeded by
Robert Waldby
Preceded by
William Courtenay
Archbishop of Canterbury
1397–1398
Succeeded by
Roger Walden
Preceded by
Alexander Neville
Anti-Bishop of St Andrews
1398–1399
Succeeded by
John Trevaur
Preceded by
Roger Walden
Archbishop of Canterbury
1399–1414
Succeeded by
Henry Chichele

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THOMAS ARUNDEL (1353-1414), archbishop of Canterbury, was the third son of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel and Warenne, by his second wife, Eleanor, daughter of Henry Plantagenet, earl of Lancaster. His family was an old and influential one, and when Thomas entered the church his prefer ment was rapid. In 1373 he became archdeacon of Taunton, and in April 1374 was consecrated bishop of Ely. During the early years of the reign of King Richard II. he was associated with the party led by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, Henry, earl of Derby, afterwards King Henry IV., and his own brother Richard, earl of Arundel, and in 1386 he was sent with Gloucester to Eltham to persuade Richard to return to parliament. This mission was successful, and Arundel was made lord chancellor in place of Michael de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, and assisted to make peace between the king and the supporters of the commission of regency. In April 1388 he was made archbishop of York, and, when Richard declared himself of age in 1389, he gave up the office of chancellor, to which, however, he returned in 1391. During his second tenure of this office he removed the courts of justice from London to York, but they were soon brought back to the metropolis. In September 13 9 6 he was translated from York to Canterbury, and again resigned the office of chancellor. He began his new rule by a vigorous attempt to assert his rights, warned the citizens of London not to withhold tithes, and decided appeals from the judgments of his suffragans during a thorough visitation of his province. In November 1396 he had officiated at the marriage of Richard and Isabella, daughter of Charles VI., king of France, and his fall was the sequel of the king's sudden attack upon the lords appellant in 1397. After the arrest of Gloucester, Warwick and Arundel, the archbishop was impeached by the Commons with the king's consent, although Richard, who had not yet revealed his hostility, held out hopes of safety to him. He was charged with assisting to procure the commission of regency in derogation of the royal authority, and sentence of banishment was passed, forty days being given him during which to leave the realm. Towards the end of 1397 he started for Rome, and Pope Boniface IX., at the urgent request of the king, translated him to the see of St Andrews, a step which the pope afterwards confessed he repented bitterly. This translation virtually deprived Arundel of all authority, as St Andrews did not acknowledge Boniface. He then became associated with Henry of Lancaster, but did not return to England before 1399, and the account which Froissart gives telling how he was sent by the Londoners to urge Henry to come and assume the crown is thought to refer to his nephew and namesake, Thomas, earl of Arundel. Landing with Henry at Ravenspur, he accompanied him to the west. He took his place at once as archbishop of Canterbury, witnessed the abdication of Richard in the Tower of London, led the new king, Henry IV., to his throne in presence of the peers, and crowned him on the 13th of October 1399.

The main work of his later years was the defence of the church, and the suppression of heresy. To put down the Lollards, he called a meeting of the clergy, pressed on the statute de haeretico comburendo, and passed sentence of degradation upon William Sawtrey. He resisted the attempt of the parliament of 1404 to disendow the church, but failed to induce Henry to pardon Archbishop Scrope in 1405. In 1407 he became chancellor for the fourth time, and in 1408 summoned a council at Oxford, which drew up constitutions against the Lollards. These he published in January 1409, and among them was one forbidding the translation of the Bible into English without the consent of the bishop of the diocese, or of a provincial synod. In 1411 he went on an embassy abroad, and in 1412 became chancellor again, his return to power being accompanied by a change in the foreign policy of Henry IV. In 1397 he had sought to vindicate his right of visitation over the university of Oxford, but the dispute remained unsettled until 1411 when a bull was issued by Pope John XXIII. recalling one issued by Pope Boniface IX., which had exempted the university from the archbishop's authority. In 1413 he took a leading part in the proceedings against Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, and in the following year he died on the 19th of February, and was buried at Canterbury. A legend of a later age tells how, just before his death, he was struck dumb for preventing the preaching of the word of God.

The chief authorities are T. Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. by H. T. Riley (London, 1863-1864); Eulogium historiarum sive temporis, ed. by F. S. Haydon (London, 1858-1863); the Monk of Evesham, Historia vitae et regni Ricardi II., ed. by T. Hearne (Oxford, 1729); W. F. Hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, vol. iv. (London, 1860-1876).


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