The English Church


Key theme 3 The Government of the Church in England

The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury

His relations with bishops and the Archbishop of York

The primacy debate

Administration of Church Law

Administrative structures

Key theme 4 The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Their relationship with the crown

Their relationship with the papacy

The impact of the papal reform movement in England

What did they do?

The Arch Bishop of Canterbury was in essence the chief clerical figure in England. They crowned kings and influenced religious policy within the metropolitan of Canterbury. They were the first councillor in all issues of god/ religion.

Lanfranc 1070-89 general overview

Lanfranc was nominated to the role of Archbishop as soon as Stigand (a Saxon) had been deposed on 15 August 1070 and was consecrated on 29 August 1070. He was heavily involved in government helping William to establish Norman rule. The two had an incredibly strong relationship, the like of which would never be seen again in the period. Lanfranc also brought handpicked pupils from the Abbey of Bec in Normandy e.g. his nephew Paul who became abbot of St Albans and Gundulf who became Bishop of Rochester- thus he was making the Church an important factor in the establishment of Norman rule. This reorganization of the English Church provided it with a unity and unified command that contributed to the unity of the state. The assertion of the supremacy of Canterbury over York also helped reduce the threat of Northern separatism.

Such was the relationship between the two, there was never any investiture crisis. Although

William sought to increase his authority over the Church, this period also saw the establishing of separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction through ecclesiastical courts in the writ of

1072. By bringing in such courts, William and Lanfranc were actually undermining royal authority in the longer term. William himself however did much to raise the reputation, condition and character of the Church in England and through his tenacious control he encouraged reform. He filled the sees and monasteries with abbots and bishops brought from

Normandy who were generally more learned and organised than their Saxon predecessors.

His relations with the crown and the administration of Church law

In 1070 the First Synod of Winchester threatened unchaste clergy with loss of their post. The

1075 Council of London attacked simony and passed canons to enforce papal celibacy which was softened slightly by the 1076 Council of Winchester which stated canons were to leave their wives and that deacons and priests were to be banned from taking wives in the future.

These were all attempts to bring in a degree of reform to the Church and boost its character and prestige. These actions enjoyed the full support of William, showing how the two were willing to work together for limited Church reform (crucially such reforms did not reduce the strength of William) .

William was also involved in the Accord of Winchester in 1072 where

William presided over the meeting that settled the dispute between Lanfranc and Thomas the

Archbishop of York in Lanfranc’s favour (further demonstrating the strong relations).

In addition, Southern Bishops were forced to take oaths of canonical obedience to Canterbury which resembled the fealty of a vassal. For William, this was a way of keeping control. As he trusted Lanfranc, this would keep the other southern bishops in line.

Lanfranc’s relations with the bishops

Aside from the primacy debate (see below section) there are few examples of Lanfranc having bad relations with his bishops.

Lanfranc’s ecclesiastical councils in 1072,75 and 76 led to reduced autonomy for the pre conquest diocesan bishops and also led to the reorganization of the diocese. Archdeacons were appointed, and secular cathedral chapters (canons who lived in their own houses and were not governed by monastic rule) were appointed along the Norman model. Key Saxon

Bishops like Ethelric and Ethelmer were both deposed by 1070 and by 1080 Wulfstan was the only English bishop of standing.

Lanfranc was keen to enforce canon (Church) law, and this did at times bring him into conflict with Norman prelates such as Herfast Bishop of Thetford who he told to “give up dicing.” This event was however relatively trivial.

A key change for the bishops was that they now (due to imposition of feudalism) owed knight service. The sees of Canterbury and Winchester had to provide 60 knights from their temporalities, but the Bishop of Chichester just 2. The Bishop’s position had changed and they were now far more under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan (either ABY or ABC) as shown by Lanfranc’s reforming councils. Bishops had also been absorbed into the military structure of the land, and this is something that would cause disputes later on.

The primacy debate,

One of Lanfranc’s main difficulties was with Thomas of Bayeux, Archbishop of York, who asserted that his see was independent of Canterbury and therefore claimed jurisdiction over the north and midland England. William had originally given the title ABY to Thomas in

1070 on the premise that he would get later consecration from Lanfranc. This was the beginning of the long running Canterbury- York dispute (or the primacy debate). William was interested in the primacy debate as it was better for him to rule over a kingdom that was

1 ecclesiastical province. The pope however was less keen for the Archbishop of Canterbury to emerge triumphant, as one all-powerful Archbishop threatened to reduce the influence that he could exert over the country.

Lanfranc demanded oaths of obedience from the Archbishop of York, and Lanfranc demanded that Thomas swear to obey Lanfranc as his primate before the consecration could take place. Thomas refused but then eventually gave way, and made a profession in 1070, but

the exact form that this oath took was disputed. Canterbury claimed it was without conditions, and York claiming that it was only a personal submission to Lanfranc, and did not involve the actual offices of Canterbury being superior to that of York.

Lanfranc, during a visit he paid the pope to receive his pallium in 1071 obtained an order from Pope Alexander that the disputed points should be settled by a council of the English

Church convened by the papal legate. The 1072 Accord of Winchester stated that the future

Archbishops of York must be consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral and swear allegiance to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that the Humber was to be the southern limit of the metropolitan jurisdiction of York. In addition, the AB of York would have to attend the

Synod at Canterbury and lost the claim to diocese of Worcester, Lichfield and Dorchester

(but gained authority over Scotland). York was also forced to acknowledge the primacy of


Crucially, papal confirmation of the decision never arrived so the primacy debate continued until later in the period, reaching a head in 1115 when Thurstan of York would not profess obedience to Canterbury. His argument stemmed from the oath Thomas had made in 1170, as

Thurstan claimed it was a personal recognition of Lanfranc, not of the supremacy of


The administration of church law, administrative structures.

In 1072 William empowered the Church to hold its own spiritual please separate from the hundreds court and banned lay judges from interfering in spiritual cases. This was an incredibly key development as it saw the beginning of separate ecclesiastical justice (Church

Courts). Lanfranc was quite a theocratic Archbishop, and he obtained the king's permission to deal with the affairs of the Church in synods, however he was also willing to allow to justify the trial of bishops before a lay jury, as shown by Odo of Bayeux (1082) at the Trial of

Penenden Heath). Although Lanfranc had set up Church Courts, his willingness to allow Odo,

Bishop of Bayeux to be tried before a lay jury is testimony to his extremely strong relations with William- he was willing to undermine his own legislation to give William what he wanted! Similarly, at the trial of William St Carilef (Bishop of Durham) Lanfranc had insisted that he answer William’s accusations and not shield himself behind canon law.

William had liked how Lanfranc had used the Church to help establish Norman rule, and as such generally backed Lanfranc well, as shown by the primacy debate.

Relationship with the crown (much of this has been covered in other sections)

Lanfranc accelerated the process of substituting Normans for Englishmen in all positions of importance, and on several occasions when William I was absent from England Lanfranc acted as his vicegerent. He was even appointed Justiciar (official in charge when William was out of the country) in 1070.

Lanfranc had backed William in 1082 when William tried Odo of Bayeux as an Earl (and therefore in the lay courts) and Vassal rather than a bishop. His stance towards the pope was also helpful for William- Lanfranc was happy to go along with the barring of papal letters and visits to Rome without William’s permission. All appointments were ultimately made by

William- something Lanfranc didn’t oppose. It was either William, or Lanfranc (with his authority) who appointed prelates. Lanfranc remained completely loyal to William as shown in 1075, when he detected and foiled the Revolt of the Norman Earls.

Relations with the Papacy/ impact of papal reform movement

The papacy was generally keen to involve itself in English affairs for several reasons: furthering Church reform, undermining primatial authority (so it didn’t distract from theirs) and demonstrating papal power over Church/ monarch.

As time went on, relations became more strained as Pope Gregory VII wanted the Church to be freed from secular control. Lanfranc however had no desire for this (unlike later

Archbishops such as Anselm). Gregory did however refuse to confirm the primacy of


Although William had been awarded the papal banner prior to the conquest of England,

Lanfranc assisted William in maintaining the independence of the English Church from the papacy. Lanfranc did not embrace Gregory VII’s hostility to secular power over the Church and - despite Gregory's urging - largely avoided conflict with William I on this issue. Unlike

Anselm who spent time in exile bringing him into contact with Gregorian reform, Lanfranc had little contact with this, meaning the Gregorian reform movement gathered little support when he was Archbishop.

It is noticeable how Lanfranc resisted Gregory’s attempts to ensure regular attendance at

Rome, and refused Gregory’s summons to Rome in 1079. Crucially he tried to protect the

English Church from the excesses of Gregorian reform for example he was able to avoid conflicts like the investiture crisis which meant William’s authority was not undermined.

Interestingly the papal decree against lay investiture didn’t reach England until the end of the

11 th

Century. Of every English Bishop between 1070 and 87 only Ernost and Gundulf of

Rochester didn’t receive their staff from the king showing that there was no real dispute over lay investiture (although Lanfranc had gone to Rome to receive his pallium- this is probably because William needed papal support given his vulnerability early on in his reign).

In 1073 William refused to allow Papal letters to reach his bishops without going through himself, and insisted that no pope should be recognised within his dominions without his approval. William let no papal legate enter England from 1073-80, let no Bishop visit Rome without his consent. Furthermore, no ecclesiastical council could initiate legislation without his approval, and no bishop could excommunicate a tenant in chief without his leave.

Crucially, Lanfranc went along with all of these decisions.

How far did Lanfranc strengthen the Church?

His close work with William I helped to increase the power and prestige of the church and there was also the beginning of separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction in 1072. Through his reforming councils, Lanfranc also brought greater unity to the English church and brought it into closer contact with the European while avoiding the excesses of the Investiture Contest .

He also resolved the primacy problem (at least in the short term) through York’s recognition of

Lanfranc’s personal primacy which helped to give the church structure and order.

Anselm- Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093-1109

Anselm became Archbishop of Canterbury under William II (Rufus), and was exiled from

England from 1097 to 1100 (under William Rufus), and again from 1105 to 1107 under

Henry I, this time as a result of the investiture controversy, which was the most significant conflict between Church and state in Medieval Europe. He was however an incredibly respected theologian (most notably his ontological argument proving the existence of god).

This increased both his reputation and that of the English Church. After his death, the

Archbishopric was held vacant for 5 years so Henry could pocket the money!

His appointment/ general beliefs

Having originally been abbot of Le Bec (like Lanfranc), he was given title Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 when Rufus thought he was dying. The historian Frank Barlow also thinks there was a pious conspiracy to get him selected.. “The pastoral staff was thrust by force into Anselm’s clenched fist”

(Barlow) suggesting Anselm may have been something of a reluctant Archbishop.. This was the start of numerous disputes, and Anselm made numerous demands before he was willing to become

Archbishop. He stated that:


Church lands seized by Rufus must be returned to Canterbury


Rufus must acknowledge Anselm as his first counsellor in all matters that touched upon God and Christianity


Anselm must be allowed to acknowledge Urban II as Pope (this was significant as Rufus had refused to recognise either of the two claimants to the papacy- Urban II and Clement III.

This attitude was at a complete contrast to Lanfranc. Crucially Anselm was a monk (not a politician like Lanfranc), and was perhaps not particularly suited to this role.

These demands outline Anselm's policy: he was determined to maintain the status which Lanfranc had achieved for Canterbury, and he expected to acquire the supreme advisory position that Lanfranc had occupied under William the Conqueror-to be the king's chief spiritual advisor.. Finally, in asserting his right to recognize the reformer Urban II as pope, he was pressing the Gregorian principle that the pope was to exercise spiritual overlordship of the international church (a great change from Lanfranc’s time as Archbishop).

In the end, Rufus agreed only to restore the Canterbury lands, and a few days later, he sought to remove even this concession, but Anselm remained adamant, and Rufus suspended the preparations for his investiture. Public pressure, however, forced Rufus to carry out the appointment, and Anselm received all the lands of the see in late September and was enthroned immediately thereafter.

The start of disagreement 1093-7

The two quickly clashed. One of Anselm's first conflicts with William came the very month he was consecrated. William was preparing to fight his elder brother, Robert II, Duke of

Normandy, and needed funds for doing so. Anselm was among those expected to pay him, and he offered ₤500; rather less than he was expected to pay. William refused the offer, insisting on a greater sum. Later on, a group of bishops suggested that William might now settle for the original sum, but Anselm told them he had already given the money to the poor.

A more significant dispute came in 1095. Anselm continued to push for reform and his vision of a Church with its own internal authority (e.g. a Church where power did not belong to the king) countered with William's vision of royal control over both Church and state. The

Church's rule stated that metropolitans (key Bishops) could not be consecrated without receiving the pallium from the hands of the pope. Anselm insisted that he must proceed to

Rome to receive the pallium, but William would not permit it; he had not acknowledged

Urban as pope and maintained his right to prevent a pope's acknowledgment by an English subject. This was known as the investiture crisis.

When Anselm met with Rufus for permission to go abroad and collect the pallium from Urban II,

Rufus saw this as an attack on royal custom, as Rufus had not recognise him as Pope (but when in

Bec, and before he was pope, Anselm had already recognised Urban). The problem was that if

Anselm was to get the pallium, (the alternative was the Antipope Clement III) then one of the popes must be recognised. No pope had been recognised in England since Gregory’s death in 1085 as it had not been necessary to use the services of Rome and it suited the kings of England to stay neutral.

On 25 February 1095, the bishops and nobles of England held a council at Rockingham to discuss the issue of lay investiture. The bishops sided with the king, with William de St-

Calais, the bishop of Durham, even advising William to depose Anselm. The end position was an uneasy compromise. William sent secret messengers to Rome (Bishop of Hereford and the Archbishop of York) telling Urban to send a legate (Walter of Albano) to the king bearing the pallium. Rufus agreed to acknowledge Urban as pope, and in return secured the right to give permission before clerics could receive and obey papal letters. Walter, negotiating for Urban, conceded that Urban would send no legates (representatives) without

William's invitation. Further compromise was reached when Rufus tried to personally hand over the pallium to Anselm, and was refused again. He compromised, and Anselm took the pallium from the altar at Canterbury on 10 June 1095.

This allowed good relations at least for the next year. This set of events shows that although relation s between the two were often tense, the two could cooperate.

After the agreements of 1095, problems arose again in 1097 when Rufus attempted to invade

Wales. He informed Anselm that the Canterbury Knights he had provided were so badly trained that he must answer for it in royal court, and that he had given him insufficient in number. Anselm resolved togo to Rome and seek the counsel of the pope because William had supposedly refused to fulfill his promise of Church reform, most notably regarding celibacy . Rufus responded that Anselm could not leave the country without royal assent.

Although in October Anselm was given leave to go, Rufus took the temporalities of the see from him (the secular land he was given to make money from). In essence, Anselm was exiled, as if he was to stay, William would fine him and force him to swear never again to appeal to Rome: "Anselm was given the choice of exile or total submission” (Vaughn).

First exile

October 1097 Anselm set out for Rome. William immediately seized the revenues of the see and retained them until his death, though Anselm retained the archbishopric. In 1099 Urban renewed the ban on lay investiture. That year Anselm moved to Lyon.

In 1100 Henry I became king and quickly begged Anselm to return. It is important to know that this period in exile weakened Anselm’s control over the Church until his return. Following this he was even keener to uphold the Church’s rights and independence.


William was killed on 2 August 1100. His successor, Henry I invited Anselm to return, although this was partly because Henry needed his support to help his claim to the throne;

Anselm could have given his support to Henry's elder brother Robert instead (this shows good early relations between Henry and Anselm).

When he returned from exile he had been fully exposed to the papal reform movement and returned desperate to invoke this- especially with regards to investiture. He returned on 23 rd

September and was received cordially by Henry, yet almost immediately, conflict broke out.

The key cause was the controversy over lay investiture (this was a little contradictory by

Anselm, as he had previously been invested by Rufus in 1093!) Rome was strongly against

Lay Investiture, as it recognised the political superiority of the laity and tied in with the theocratic view of kingship (that Kings should appoint Bishops). At the Councils of Bari

(1098) and Rome (1099) lay investiture was condemned more rigorously than ever before

(shows the increased power of the papal reform movement). Anselm had been at these councils as they tied in with his period in exile, so when Henry required him to receive investiture from him and to pay homage for his Canterbury estates (which had also been banned by the Church). Anselm refused, thus starting the conflict. Furthermore he then also refused to consecrate the prelates who Henry had already invested in his absence.

To try and solve this problem, two embassies were sent to Pope Paschal II, but Paschal refused to back down. In the meantime, Anselm did work with Henry (a key point). Henry was threatened with invasion by his brother, Robert Curthose, and Anselm publicly supported

Henry, wooing the wavering barons and threatening Curthose with excommunication.

1103 Exile- Relations with the king and the pope

However, because Paschal had reaffirmed the papal rules on lay investiture and homage,

Henry turned once more against Anselm. In 1103 Anselm was exiled again. In March 1105

Paschal excommunicated Henry's chief advisor (Robert of Meulan) for urging Henry to continue lay investiture, In April Anselm threatened to excommunicate Henry himself, probably to force Henry's hand in their negotiations. In response Henry arranged a meeting with Anselm, and they managed a compromise at Laigle on 22 July 1105. It was agreed that

Robert's (and his associates) excommunication would be lifted. In return, Henry agreed to abandon lay investiture if clerics agreed to do homage for their nobles. These compromises on Henry's part strengthened the rights of the Church against the king. Anselm returned to

England following this. These actions were also crucial as they show how the two could cooperate.

In 1107 as part of the compromise of Bec Henry also agreed to waive investiture with ring and staff . This helped to increase the rights and independence of the church and prevented the investiture dispute causing further problem for the English church a major turning point - as a result the investiture crisis had been solved and again showed they could work together. By 1107, the long dispute regarding investiture was finally settled. The Concordat of London announced the compromises that Anselm and Henry had made at the earlier

Compromise of Bec (abandoning investiture with the ring and staff etc). The two then had amicable relations until Anselm’s death in 1109, with the compromise increasing the independence of the Church. Henry’s commitment to Church reform must however be questioned given the money he pocketed by leaving ABC vacant until 1114.

Relations with the King

See much of the above.

Anselm and the Papal Reform Movement

The papal reform movement led to advances in papal power which resulted in increased papal intervention in English affairs. Under William I and Lanfranc, papal reform had made no headway in England due in a large part to Lanfranc’s attitude. Anselm’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury marks a turning point in several ways with regards to the impact of the papal reform movement. His quarrel with William II led to his exile which brought him into contact with the fullest expression of Gregorian Reform (he was for example present at the councils of Bari and Rome) and on his return, England was embroiled for the first time in the

Investiture Contest. Here the pope (Paschal) had supported Anselm against Rufus resulting in him bringing the investiture debate back to England and reducing the King’s power slightly.

Anselm found it impossible to accept the old notions of relations between Church and State, which severely strained his relations with Henry I until the compromise of Bec in 1107. It is clear that the pope (Paschal) backed Anselm against Rufus, and Anselm’s strong relationship with the pope (rather than the king) certainly contrasts to the relationship between Rufus and

Lanfranc. The Compromise of Bec of 1107, which led to Henry I surrendering the right to invest with the ring and staff, marked a new stage in freedom of the church from royal control giving it increased independence IT WAS ALSO SOMETHING OF A TP IN TERMS OF

THE GROWING IMPACT OF THE PAPAL REFORM MOVEMENT. Although the question of investiture itself ceased to be an issue after 1107, it was the first of several clashes of principle between archbishops keen to uphold ecclesiastical rights and independence, prompted by the papal reform movement, and monarchs determined to defend their traditional rights. Anselm’s archiepiscopacy also marks a turning point in terms of successful papal intervention in English affairs.

During Henry's reign Anselm tried to advance another part of the Gregorian reform (which

Henry actually supported): clerical celibacy. In 1102, Anselm held a council in London in which he prohibited marriage and concubinage to those in holy orders (as well as condemning simony) In the previous two centuries, attempts at enforcing clerical celibacy had been made, but with little success. Anselm's council was disobeyed en masse as well-

Bishop Nigel of Ely was a married man!

The primacy debate under Anselm

This was certainly far less of an issue than under Lanfranc. When Anselm was appointed to

Canterbury, after a long vacancy that lasted from 1089 to 1093, the only flareup of the dispute was in 1102, when Anselm held a council at Westminster, which was attended by the

Gerard, the new archbishop of York. According to Hugh the Chanter, when the seats for the bishops were arranged, Anselm's was set higher than the Gerard's, which led Gerard to kick over chairs and refuse to be seated until his own chair was exactly as high as Anselm's. In late in 1102, the pope wrote to Gerard, admonishing him and ordering him to make the oath to


Relations with bishops

Anselm’s relations with the bishops were not particularly strong, as shown in 1095 at the

Council of Rockingham, where the bishops sided with the king and pressured Anselm to drop his recognition of the pope William de St-Calais, the Bishop of Durham, even advising

William to depose Anselm

How far did Anselm strengthen the Church?

Superficially, Anselm’s pontificate possibly achieved less than Lanfranc’s as he had disputes with his bishops, and was in exile half of the time. Although he increased the power of the pope over England, real power remained with the king and after Anselm’s death in 1109 and no ABC was appointed until 1114. On the other hand, it could be argued that Anselm did a huge amount to strengthen the Church. Although he embroiled the church in the investiture dispute he eventually managed to achieve a compromise with Henry I, which went some way to increasing the independence of the church, since Henry surrendered investiture with the ring and staff. Anselm’s reputation as a theologian also enhanced the prestige of the church.

Ralph d’Escures 1108-22 (Henry I)

NB You don’t need to know too much about him as he is not one of the named Archbishops in the specification.

Ralph was not chosen by the chapter of Canterbury alone, his election involved an assembly of the magnates and bishops meeting with the king. Ralph had his pallium sent from the pope, rather than traveling to Rome to retrieve it. It was only with difficulty, however, that Pope

Paschal II was persuaded to grant the pallium, as the papacy was attempting to again assert papal jurisdiction over the English Church. It was Anselm of St Saba who brought the pallium to England, along with letters from Paschal complaining that the English Church was translating bishops from see to see without papal permission, that legates from the papacy were being refused entry to England and that the king was allowing no appeals to be made to the pope over ecclesiastical issues. In 1116 the pope even demanded the payment of Peter's

Pence, a payment direct to the papacy of a penny from every household in England. Ralph, when he took the pallium, professed "fidelity and canonical obedience" to the pope, but did not submit to the papal demands and, in fact, supported King Henry in opposing the pope's demands. This shows how Ralph had far stronger relations with the king than the papacy, and shows how in spite of increased pressure from Rome for England to conform to the papal reform movement, Ralph had little interest (thus questioning the impact of Anselm’s archiepiscopacy). Although he refused to consecrate Bernard as Bishop of St David's in the royal chapel in 1115 (disobeying Henry) this is the only real example of anything approaching strained relations between the two. His lack of commitment to papal reform is further shown by the fact that of the 9 legates sent to England under Henry I, only 1 John of

Crema in 1125 was allowed to preside over a synod, weakening the papal reform movement.

Primacy dispute with Thurstan (and relations with other bishops)

Shortly after Thurstan's election as Archbishop of York in 1114, Ralph refused to consecrate the ABY (Thurstan) unless he received a written, not just oral, profession of obedience.

Thurstan refused to do so. York based its claim on the fact that no metropolitan bishop or archbishop could swear allegiance to anyone but the pope, a position guaranteed to gain support from the papacy. King Henry, however, refused permission for Thurstan to appeal to the papacy.

Both Ralph and Thurstan attended the Council of Reims in 1119, convened by Pope Calixtus

II in October. Although Henry allowed English Bishops to attend they were explicitly told not to bring back any new ideas (limit the papal reform movement). Pope Calixtus promptly consecrated Thurstan at the start of the council, which angered Henry and led the king to exile Thurstan from England and Normandy. After some diplomatic efforts, Thurstan was allowed back into the king's favour and his office returned to him.

Theobald of Bec- Archbishop of Canterbury 1139-61 (Stephen and Henry II)

Stephen’s assent to the throne

It is impossible to understand Theobald’s Archiepiscopacy without understanding the unique position that the country was in at the time, following Stephen taking the throne in 1135.

Henry I had named his daughter Matilda heir (as his son Henry had died in 1120) and although Henry's barons had sworn allegiance to his daughter Matilda as their queen, her gender and her remarriage into the House of Anjou (an enemy of the Normans) allowed

Henry's nephew Stephen of Blois to come to England and claim the throne with baronial support.

When news of Henry’s death broke, Matilda was in Anjou in the south of France. Stephen, however, was in Boulogne (northern France), and when news reached him he left for

England. Henry of Blois (Stephen’s younger brother and the Bishop of Winchester) played a key role, as he delivered the support of the church to Stephen. As a result Stephen was able to advance to Winchester, where Roger, (Bishop of Salisbury and the Lord Chancellor) instructed the royal treasury to be handed over to Stephen.

As the Church (in particular Henry of Blois) had played a key part in helping Stephen come to power, they expected rewards- most notably greater independence for the Church (and undo the attempts by previous kings to increase authority over the Church). In 1136 Henry agreed to the Charter of Liberties which agreed to grant extensive freedoms and liberties to the church (he agreed to remove all customs to which the Church objected) in exchange for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Papal Legate supporting his succession to the throne.

The papal legate Alberic was also allowed entry in1138 and able to hold a legatine council.

As such when Matilda took her case to the pope the next year, it was inevitable that he would say no!

Matilda however refused to back down, and this resulted in a long civil war known as the

Anarchy. As a result of this, the authority of the crown was reduced further, allowing even greater independence for the English Church.

General overview of Theobald

Theobald was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1139 to 1161. One of the biggest challenges

Theobald faced was the threat to his authority from a subordinate bishop, Henry of Blois,

Bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen. Although initially Theobald’s relations with Stephen were positive, they later became increasingly turbulent. In 1148 Theobald attended a papal council (Council of Rheims), against Stephen’s wishes, which resulted in the confiscation of his property and temporary exile. He was also exiled again in 1052 for refusing to crown Stephen’s son, Eustace as young king. Theobald did however do much to promote canon law which helped strengthen both the English Church and his own authority over it. Although Theobald’s relations with Stephen deteriorated somewhat, Theobald was named regent of the kingdom after Stephen's death.

His appointment

In 1138 Stephen chose Theobald over his own brother Henry, the Bishop of Winchester out of fear that Henry would be too powerful as archbishop, and would attempt to control the king. Theobald went to Rome to receive his pallium and took part in the Second Lateran

Council. Significantly, Henry of Blois was appointed a papal legate on 1 March 1139. This gave him the power to call church councils in England and meant he had power equal to or exceeding that of Theobald. Theobald swore fealty to Stephen upon his election to

Canterbury, recognising Stephen as the king of England. Relations therefore started positively, although deteriorated somewhat. Theobald was keen to espouse Canon law (the idea that laws for the Church should be made by the Church) as shown by his Council of

London (1151), which decreed 8 canons including condemning the pillaging of church properties and the imposition of financial levies on the clergy.

Theobald’s actions during the Civil war

After the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, when Stephen was captured, Theobald secured permission from Stephen to recognise Matilda as queen. She was however never crowned as she didn’t hold London. Theobald then took a leading part in the negotiations that saw

Stephen released (in exchange for Robert of Gloucester- Matilda’s half brother and chief supporter), which happened in November 1141. In 1141 Theobald ceremonially crowned

Stephen at Canterbury during the Christmas court held there.

Relations with other Archbishops

Theobald’s major problem was not so much with the Archbishop of York, but rather the

Bishop of Winchester given the fact as well as being the king’s brother, Henry of Blois had been made a papal legate. Henry of Blois supported the appointment of William FitzHerbert as Archbishop of York in 1141, which Theobald opposed (publicly speaking out against the manner of the election). Fortunately for Theobald, in September 1143, Henry's legatine powers lapsed when Pope Innocent II, who had appointed him papal legate, died. After this,

Theobald was not concerned with reopening the dispute with York, as demonstrated when he consecrated Roger de Pont L'Evêque as Archbishop of York in 1154. Aside from this however, Theobald generally had good relations with his bishops. Theobald also secured the subordination of the Welsh bishoprics to Canterbury, consecrating Meurig as Bishop of

Bangor in 1140, during which Meurig made a profession of obedience.

Relations with Stephen

Relations between Theobald and Stephen started relatively positively, but when Pope Eugene summoned the English bishops to the Council of Rheims in April 1148 (which Stephen forbade) Theobald was exiled, causing England to temporarily be put under interdict.

Furthermore, in 1152 Theobald refused to crown Eustace (Stephen’s son) and was again exiled by Stephen. In January 1153 Henry of Anjou (who would become Henry II), Matilda's son, invaded England in pursuit of his claim to the throne, and with the death of Eustace in

August 1153, Stephen gave up. Theobald was instrumental in the negotiations between Henry and Stephen that ended the anarchy (civil war), and resulted in the Treaty of Wallingford, securing Henry's succession to the throne. In addition, Theobald was present at Stephen's

deathbed in October 1154, and Stephen named him as regent until Henry could take up the crown

Relations with the pope/ power of the Papal Reform Movement

Theobald generally had had reasonable relations with the pope, as shown when he went to

Rheims (getting exiled in the process). Furthermore, Stephen also needed good relations with the Pope, so he didn’t back Matilda’s claim. This is shown in 1138 when he allowed Alberic the papal legate into England.

However after the death of Pope Innocent, Stephen (rather than Theobald) turned against the papacy as the new pope Celestine II was in favour of the Angevins (Matilda’s side). Thus, in

1150 Stephen refused safe conduct through England to the Pope’s legate who was visiting

Ireland. In turn in 1152 the pope banned Theobald crowning Eustace (showing the good relations between Theobald and the Pope). Generally speaking though, the weakness of

Stephen’s position meant that the Papal Reform Movement was able to grow in power somewhat.

How far did Theobald strengthen the Church?

Theobald’s archiepiscopacy certainly strengthened the Church, however was in a large part due to Stephen’s weaknesses and the anarchy (civil war). As government authority collapsed, the Church were able to exert a degree of independence that had been impossible during the stronger reigns of William I, Rufus and Henry I. This is particularly well illustrated by the

Council of London in 1151 (during the height of the Civil War) decreed 8 canons (Church laws).

Furthermore, the concessions that Stephen was forced to agree to in 1136 (albeit before

Theobald became Archbishop) had further increased the strength and authority of the English

Church over the king- something that Theobald inherited.

Becket 1162-70 (Henry II)

Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170 (however he was in exile for 6 of the 8 years of his archiepiscopacy). Before appointed Archbishop of

Canterbury Becket had held the position of Chancellor. He had been incredibly obedient to

Henry in this role and had worked successfully with Henry to asset royal authority over the clergy. This was shown in 1157 during the dispute between Hilary Bishop of Chichester and

Walter Abbot of Battle. Hilary had obtained a letter from the pope to defend his argument, but Becket told Hilary he owed fealty to the king, and as such his letter from the pope was meaningless.

As Chancellor, Becket enforced the king’s traditional sources of revenue that were exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics, and Henry now had an Archbishop who he thought would serve him just as faithfully. Henry thought he had selected somebody who would let him restore the Church to his more submissive position (the Church had grown in power somewhat during Stephen’s weak rule which saw improved links with Rome and development of cannon law under Theobald). Henry hoped that royal supremacy over the

English Church would be reasserted and royal rights over the Church would return to what they had been in the days of Henry I.

Becket’s appointment/ relations with Henry II

Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. His election was confirmed on 23 May 1162 by a royal council of bishops and noblemen. Henry may have hoped that Becket would continue to put the royal government first, rather than that of the church. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic

(abstinence from worldly pleasures) occurred at this time. Becket was ordained a priest on 2

June 1162 at Canterbury, and on 3 June 1162 was consecrated as archbishop by Henry of

Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and the other suffragan bishops of Canterbury and on 10 th

August he received his palium (brought to him). Yet he immediately resigned his chancellorship to devote his attentions solely to being Archbishop of Canterbury.

Henry’s key grievances with ecclesiastical authorities

The root cause of problems between Henry II and Becket were their contrasting attitudes regarding royal control over the Church. Henry wanted to extend this, however Becket wanted to maintain the independence of the Church as much as possible. Henry was particularly keen to end the Church Courts that had been set up by William I. Henry’s key grievances with these separate ecclesiastical courts were:

1) Anger at how they shielded clerical criminals from their “proper” punishment. This was an issue as it covered those who had taken minor orders- in total 1/5 of the male population!

Church courts also could not order a “blood” punishment and rarely imprisoned- mostly gave penance punishments.

2) Anger that the ecclesiastical tribunal were “poaching” cases concerning land from the royal and feudal courts.

The issue came to a head in 1163, when a canon of Bedford murdered a knight at Dunstable and was acquitted by the Bishop of Lincoln’s court. When Henry appealed to Becket he

refused to move. Henry felt this deprived him of the ability to govern effectively, and also undercut law and order in England.

Additional grievances

Another disagreement involved Henry's attempts to collect sheriff's aid in 1163. Becket argued that the aid was a free will offering from the sheriffs, and could not be compelled.

This culminated in a heated argument at Woodstock in July 1163. As a result, Henry took his heir (Henry the Young King) out of Becket's custody.

The Constitutions of Clarendon and Becket’s Exile

In Jan 1164 issues came to a head at Clarendon. In late January 1164, the king summoned his major barons as well as the bishops to Clarendon Palace for a council, demanding that the bishops and Becket swear to uphold the customs of the church as they had been in his grandfather's reign (Henry I). At first, Becket refused, but threats and other arguments eventually persuaded him to support the customs, ordering the remaining bishops to agree also. Henry II then proposed to have these customs compiled into a written document, which subsequently became known as the Constitutions of Clarendon which included 16 different articles. This was a clear attempt to try and limit the power of the Church and the extent of papal authority. The pope (Alexander III) could however do little as he didn’t want to push

Henry into the hands of the antipope. Although the Constitutions claimed to restore the judicial customs observed during the reign of Henry I (1100–35), in fact they were a part of

Henry II's larger expansion of royal jurisdiction into the Church, which was the defining aspect of his reign .The Constitutions' primary goal was to deal with the controversial issue of

"criminous clerks."

One of the key articles stated that once the ecclesiastical courts had tried and defrocked clergymen, the Church could no longer protect the individual. This hinted that if convicted, former clergy could be further punished by the secular courts. The constitutions also stated that if a case was to be tried in the ecclesiastic courts then an officer of the King's Court was to be present. It was therefore presumed that if the accused was found guilty, the officer would conduct him back to the King's Court where he would be dealt with as an ordinary criminal. This went against the canons (rules) of the church and moved the pope towards

Becket. This change angered Becket as it nullified a clerk’s right to be tried using only Canon law and threatened to lead to double trial. In addition to undermining these separate Church courts, articles 4 and 8 restricted right of appeal to the pope and exit from England (in order to reduce power of Pope).

Becket refused to confirm this with his seal. This caused Henry to announce his intention to put Becket on trial for secular offences in the royal court allegedly committed when he was

Chancellor, at which point Becket appealed to the pope. This went against what had been agreed at Clarendon giving Henry the excuse he needed to exile Becket. At this point Becket fled to Flanders.

Becket’s return

In 1166 Becket was appointed by Alexander as legate, and in exile he continued to condemn the Constitutions of Clarendon. Furthermore his aggressive behaviour in exile (threatening excommunication of royal clerks involved in the case against him) made it difficult to end the dispute between Becket and Henry (the hostility between Archbishop and monarch was far more marked than that experienced by both Anselm and Theobald).

By 1169 a peace between Henry and Becket had been agreed at Freteval (Thomas should do for Henry whatever an Archbishop should perform, and Henry restore all of his offices and possessions), but Becket kept calling off his return-contrast this to Anselm who was willing to work with Henry I. By this time Henry was becoming impatient- he wanted to go on crusade, and so wanted/ needed his youngest son crowned. In June 1170, he persuaded the

Archbishop of York and Bishop Foliot (Bishop of London) to conduct the ceremony in a move supported by the pope.

When Becket returned to England he excommunicated both Foliot and the Archbishop of

York (Roger de Pont L'Évêque). Roger of York and others crossed the channel to complain to

Henry who instructed that De Madeville should be sent to issue Becket with a summons and arrest him if necessary. It was at this point that 4 of Henry’s knights (unbeknown to Henry) crossed into England and killed him at Canterbury.

The effects of Becket’s murder (sees an increase in power of the Papal Reform

Movement within England)

As punishment, Pope Alexander ordered Henry to fund 200 knights for 1 year to defend the

Holy Land and to go on crusade within the next 3 years. For the ten years that the dispute ran,

Henry was unable to appoint any new bishops in England to replace those that had died. It was only in 1173 that new bishops were finally appointed. In May 1172, Henry negotiated a settlement with the papacy, the Compromise of Avranches, in which the king swore to go on crusade as well as allow appeals to the papacy in Rome. He also agreed to eliminate all customs to which the Church objected. These all increased the powers of the papacy/ papal reform movement. In return, the king managed to secure good relations with the papacy at a time when he faced rebellions from his sons (the Young Henry rebelled in 1173).

Furthermore, he was able to gain the concession that legates could not enter England without his permission. The lack of success of papal reform in the longer term is however shown by the fact that although in 1176 he promised not to keep churches vacant for more than a year, by 1184 7 had been void for over 2 years!

Relations with Bishops/ Primacy debate

Becket had amicable relations with his bishops whilst in England, however his relations with his Bishops and with the Archbishop of York deteriorated after his exile, as shown by the excommunication of the Bishop of Salisbury in 1166, and the excommunications of both

Foliot and the Archbishop of York in 1170 (for crowning the Young Henry).

The primacy debate was not an issue in the conventional sense during Becket’s archiepiscopacy, although the involvement of the Archbishop of York in the crowning of the

Young Henry in 1170 severely damaged relations between the two.

Becket’s relationship with the papacy/ the impact of the papal reform movement in England

It is important not to overstate Becket’s relations with the pope, as although he had negative relations with Henry II, this didn’t automatically mean positive relations with the pope. This is demonstrated particularly well in 1166 where Pope Alexander refused Becket’s request to excommunicate Foliot, and instead sent a papal legate to England to try and bring about a peaceful solution.

Whilst Becket did for example insist on appealing to Rome in 1164, this was not out of a desire to increase the power of Rome, but rather was an attempt by Becket to use Rome in order to maintain the independence of the English Church. It was perhaps the death of Becket which did most to increase the power of the Papal Reform Movement (as Becket was in exile for much of his reign he couldn’t really do much to draw England closer to Rome!), as shown by the concessions that Henry II made to the pope in the aftermath of this. It is however important to remember that Henry II later went against several of these.

How far did Becket strengthen the Church?

This greatly weakened the power of the Church ( although on the other hand, Becket had previously helped to strengthen the church by supporting the rights of criminous clerks and the independence of church courts and his martyrdom and canonisation helped to increase the reputation of the church vis a vis royal authority).

Hubert Walter 1193-1205 (Richard I and John)

Soon after his appointment as Bishop of Salisbury, Walter accompanied Richard the

Lionheart on the Third Crusade, acting as Richard’s principal negotiator with Saladin for a peace treaty (note the similarities with Becket in that the two enjoyed positive relations before Walter became Archbishop). In April 1193 Walter returned to England to raise

Richard’s ransom. Richard wrote to his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, that Walter should be chosen for the see of Canterbury/ He received his pallium in 1193. Unlike Becket however

(who gave up his role of chancellor when appointed Archbishop of Canterbury) Walter was more interested in government than Church and generally got on very well with his monarchs.

In late 1193 Walter was also appointed justiciar (notice the link to Lanfranc), a role made all the more important given that Richard was in captivity. When combined with Walter's position as archbishop, Walter wielded a power unseen in England since the days of


Relations with the papacy/ administration of Church law/ relations with the king

Walter held some reforming ecclesiastical councils to improve stability within the Church including one held at London in 1200 which ruled that the clergy, when saying Mass, should speak clearly and not speed up or slow down their speech. At the request of the papacy,

Walter also led inquiries into the canonizations of Gilbert of Sempringham and Wulfstan of

Worcester, showing generally amicable relations with the papacy.

Walter also had particularly strong relations with Richard, has shown by the prominent role he played in his second coronation in 1194.

Under John

Under John, Walter continued to be active in ecclesiastical affairs, and in September 1200 held a provincial church council at London. This council put forward 14 canons (Church laws) dealing with subjects such as financial affairs, and the duties of the clergy. Walter also started negotiations with Pope Innocent III in 1200, mediating between the pope and the king over a royal dispute with the Cistercians (a monastic group). Walter's involvement prevented the dispute from escalating, and kept the pope from imposing sanctions on the king for his threats to the Cistercians.

Stephen Langton 1207-28 (John)

Langton studied at the University of Paris and lectured there on theology until 1206, when

Pope Innocent III, with whom he had formed a friendship at Paris, called him to Rome, making him cardinal-priest of San Crisogono. Langton was recognized as the foremost

English churchman, and had done significant work re-ordering the books of the bible.

Controversial election as Archbishopric- an expression of papal power!

On the death of Hubert Walter, in 1205, there was division over who to appoint. The Monks of Canterbury wanted their own candidate, however the Bishops of the province and John all had their preferred candidates (John wanted John Grey the Bishop of Norwich who was very much one of John’s men) and the monks wanted the sub prior Reginald. Both elections were quashed on appeal to Rome, including John’s preferred candidate (shows growing power of


Crucially in line with the principle of Church Reform, Pope Innocent wanted a canonically acceptable election. The sixteen monks of Christ Church, who had gone to Rome were ordered to proceed to a new election in presence of the Pope, however Innocent then suggested Langton, who was consecrated by the Pope on 17 June 1207 (Innocent claimed

John’s consent wasn’t required as the pope had plenary authority over Canterbury). This was significant, as never before had the king been unable to obtain an archbishop of his choice. It is however important to remember that at this stage, John’s grievance was with the pope, and not Langton.

As the kings were permitted some control over election of bishops, this was a grey area. John protested on 2 levels- that Langton was unacceptable as he had lived under the protection of his enemy Philip of France, and that John’s right of patronage had been set aside. John quickly barred Langton from entering England, and seized Canterbury’s estates. His appointment did however show the power of the papal reform movement. The fact Langton couldn’t enter England did however reduce Langton’s power over the Church.

Continued dispute between John and the pope

There followed a major political struggle between John and Pope Innocent III with the

Bishops and Barons generally siding with John. The King proclaimed anyone who recognized Langton as Archbishop as a public enemy, and. on 15 July 1207, John expelled the Canterbury monks. In response, Pope Innocent III told the Bishops of London, Ely and

Worcester to persuade John to accept the appointment, and put England under interdict

( excommunicated in 1209 ). Because of John’s dispute with the pope he generally had amicable relations with most of his bishops. This whole period did however reduce the power and authority of Rome, as it meant that no appeals could go to Rome.

John’s power over the Church

This whole situation increased John’s power over the Church to a level before the growth of the Papal Reform Movment. During the interdict elections for 5 vacant bishoprics were held.

In 3 of these, the king’s candidate won. At Coventry and Lichfield, John’s knights even locked the electors into a room to get the right election.

Eventual Resolution

Although John was excommunicated in 1209, Langton was no great papalist, and never appealed to the English Barons to remove John. John was also keen to come to an understanding, and in July 1209 his councillors and the 3 papal commissioners met. An agreement was reached in principle (Langton to be accepted and John would take his fealty, and confiscated Church land to be returned). John’s drawn out negotiations proved financially lucrative, with the 7 vacant Bishoprics and 17 abbacies providing good cash injections. At the close of 1212, after repeated negotiations had failed, Pope Innocent passed sentence of deposition against John. This worried John as he thought Innocent may release

John’s subject of their fealty to him, and support an invasion by Phillip of France.

In 1212, John sent an embassy to Rome, and in July, Langton and his fellow exiled clerics.

John summoned the papal legate Pandulf and paid an annual tribute of 1000 marks (3 times that of Peter’s Pence). Crucially he made England a papal fief (this however gave him protection), ensuring he was then absolved from excommunication. There was now a strange alliance between John and the Pope- John essentially needed the pope’s support in his forthcoming conflict with Philip of France (prevented him gaining Philip papal blessing for an invasion of England), as well as making sure the pope supported him over the Barons. The pope now backed John more than Langton!

Relations between John and Langton

There were several disagreements between Langton and John over appointments. As John disliked Langton he looked to make his own appointments, something which angered

Langton. In autumn 1213 John agreed to pay 10,000 marks towards a proposed crusade, further endearing himself to innocent. After 1213 John got his way on all 6 episcopal elections, including vetoing Langton’s choice of making his brother Archbishop of York.

(however he was willing to go along with Langton’s choice of appointment for the post of

Bishop of Rochester) - Innocent refused to undermine such appointments, angering Langton as free elections had been the purpose of his long conflict with John, yet this was been sacrificed for papal expediency.

Langton as a conciliatory/ stabilising force- The Barons’ War

Since King John now held his kingdom as a fief of the Holy See the Pope espoused his cause and excommunicated the barons. For refusing to publish the excommunication of the Barons

Langton was suspended, and on 4th November this sentence was confirmed by the Pope (this made it most difficult for Langton to strengthen the Church, but it does show the power of the pope! It was however for political rather than religious reasons). His suspension certainly undermined the independence of the English Church in relation to the papacy. Innocent was keen to reduce primatial control and increase the power of the papacy. Taking advantage of the existing situation in order to reduce Langton’s power allowed the papacy

to maximise their own authority over the Church.

Langton was released from suspension the following spring on condition that he keep out of England until peace was restored, and he remained abroad untill

May 1218.

During the struggle between John and the barons, the mark scheme suggests Langton tried to mediate (and maintain political stability). The best example is his hope that he would be

elected as one of the 25 barons for the security clause (as he was a moderate), but the rebels went for radicals.

My own view is that Langton was more of a destabilising force, as he became something of a leader in the struggle against King John. At a council of churchmen and Barons at

Westminster on 25 August 1213, he read the text of the charter of Henry I and called for its renewal. He also refused to cooperate when John tried to impose his own man as Constable of Rochester Castle (which was in perpetual custody of ABC). As Archbishop of Canterbury

Langton also refused Innocent’s demands to excommunicate the rebels post signing of the

Magna Carta in 1215.

In May 1215 the barons met in Northampton and repudiated their feudal ties with John. They then marched on London, and took Lincoln, and Exeter too. Langton was sent to mediate between John and the barons, and drew up the document that become known as Magna

Charta, which the barons forced John to sign at Runnymead in 1215.

Did Langton strengthen the Church?

Langton’s suspension certainly made it difficult for him to strengthen the Church, as did the fact that he was barred from entering the country until 1212! Furthermore his suspension by the pope both reduced the power and independence of the English Church, whilst at the same time greatly increasing the power of the pope.

Relations with Bishops/ the Primacy debate

Langton had largely positive relations with his bishops, and there was no major flare up in the primacy debate. As Langton’s relations first with John and then with the pope strained, it is little surprise that he opted not to re open the primacy debate.

Relations with the papacy/ impact/ power of the Papal Reform Movement

Innocent is generally seen as having lots of power over England at this time (put England under interdict, imposed an Archbishop, excommunicated John, got John to offer England as a papal fief and suspended Langton). This would certainly suggest that the impact of the

Papal Reform Movement had reached its peak, although the situation is slightly less straightforward.

The suspension of Langton in 1215 certainly suggests that relations between pope and

Archbishop were not particularly strong (even though the pope had appointed Langton in the first place!) It is however important to remember that the suspension was for political rather than religious reasons- Langton’s support for the barons.

Relations between ABY and ABC

Lanfranc (and Anselm) with Thomas of Bayeux

Thomas was Archbishop of York from 1070 until 1100. After his election, Lanfranc, , demanded an oath from Thomas to obey him and any future Archbishops of Canterbury; this was part of Lanfranc's claim that Canterbury was the primary bishopric, and its holder the head of the English Church. Lanfranc demanded that Thomas provide a written oath swearing to obey both Lanfranc and any future Archbishops of Canterbury. Thomas declined to make such a written promise, so Lanfranc refused to consecrate him.

In 1071 both archbishops traveled to Rome for their palliums, where Thomas took advantage of the opportunity to ask Pope Alexander II to state that the sees of Canterbury and York were equal (it was in the interests of the Pope to prevent ABC getting too powerful so that the pope could exert his own power over England). Thomas also asked the pope to declare that the midland sees of Worcester and Lichfield were part of the Archdiocese of York rather than

Canterbury. The pope referred the dispute to a council of English prelates (Bishops), which met at Windsor in 1072. The council decided that the Archbishop of Canterbury was the superior of the Archbishop of York and further ruled that York had no rights south of the

Humber River. This probably had the support of the King, who aimed to prevent the separation of the north from the rest of England and potential separatism/ recognition of other potential kings.

Royal pressure forced Thomas to submit to Lanfranc and Thomas was consecrated, but his profession of obedience was made orally to Lanfranc personally and not in writing-as such he was not formally acknowledging the superiority of Canterbury over York. Although this temporarily settled the issue between Thomas and Lanfranc, it was the beginning of the longrunning Canterbury–York dispute. This was exacerbated by the fact that papal approval of these decisions made at Windsor never arrived

In 1093 (

Anselm’s archiepiscopacy

) the dispute with Canterbury resurfaced, in a more moderate sense when Thomas complained about what he felt were infringements of York's rights. Thomas refused to be involved in the consecration of Anselm if Anselm was referred to as Primate of England (as this suggested Anselm was of greater importance). The issue was finally resolved by naming Anselm the Metropolitan of Canterbury. This is a good example of showing how they could work together.


Soon after his appointment to the role of Archbishop of York, Gerard began a long dispute with Anselm, claiming equal primacy with the Archbishop of Canterbury and refusing to make a profession of canonical obedience to Anselm. At the 1102 Council of Westminster,

Gerard reportedly kicked over the smaller chair provided for him as Archbishop of York, and refused to be seated until he was provided with one as large as Anselm's.

Gerard agreed to a compromise on the matter of obedience to Anselm. King Henry proposed that Anselm accept a witnessed oath from Gerard that he would remain bound by the profession he made to Anselm on his consecration as Bishop of Hereford. Gerard made this oath at the Council of Westminster in 1107. It was a victory for Canterbury, but not a complete one, as Gerard avoided making a written profession, and it was specific to Gerard, not to his office so the problem was not completely dealt with.

Thurstan 1119-40

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Ralph d'Escures, refused to consecrate Thurstan unless the he made a profession of obedience. Thurstan refused to make such a profession, and asked the king for permission to go to Rome to consult Pope Paschal II. Henry I refused, but even without a personal appeal from Thurstan, Paschal decided against Canterbury. At the Council of Salisbury in 1116 the English king ordered Thurstan to submit to Canterbury, but instead

Thurstan publicly resigned the archibishopric.

Over the next three years, the new popes, Gelasius II and Calixtus II supported Thurstan's case, and on 19 October 1119 he was consecrated by Calixtus at Reims. Enraged at this, the king refused to allow the newly consecrated archbishop to enter England. Calixtus then issued two bulls in Thurstan's favor: one released York from Canterbury's supremacy forever, and the other demanded the king allow Thurstan to return to York. The pope threatened an interdict on England as a punishment if the papal bull was not obeyed.

Roger de Pont L'Évêque


Roger got drawn into the controversy with Becket because Henry II wanted to have his eldest living son crowned as king during Henry's lifetime. Henry II insisted that his son, Henry be crowned at Westminster Abbey on 14 June 1170 by Archbishop Roger of York, with Gilbert

Foliot also present. This overstepped a long tradition which reserved coronations to the

Archbishop of Canterbury. Before Becket returned to England, on 1 December 1170, he excommunicated Roger, as well as Gilbert Foliot and Josceline de Bohon the Bishop of


Geoffrey Plantaganent 1189-1212

Hubert Walter's decision to have his episcopal cross carried before him in the diocese of York in March 1194 symbolised his claim to primacy over York and all of England, and angered the Archbishop of York. Geoffrey responded by having his own cross carried before him in the diocese of Canterbury the following month as it implied that his diocese was superior or at least equal to Canterbury in rank. In pursuit of this rivalry between York and Canterbury,

Geoffrey was the first archbishop of York to style himself "primate of England", in opposition to the Canterbury title of "primate of all England".

Phases in the Canterbury-York dispute

Phase 1. 1066- 1127

At the start, the grievances originated with disagreements over oaths of obedience, and

York’s reluctance to swear an oath of obedience to Canterbury and recognise their primatial authority. The dispute began under Lanfranc, the first Norman Archbishop of Canterbury, and ended up becoming a never ending dispute between the two sees over prestige and status.

The dispute weakened rather than strengthened church discipline and the unity of the kingdom. At times, kings supported Canterbury's claims in order to keep the north of England from revolting (as we see under Lanfranc) but this was balanced by the times that the kings were in quarrels with Canterbury (for example under Becket). The popes, who were often called upon to decide the issue, had their own concerns with granting a primacy, and did not wish to actually rule in Canterbury's favour. Both Lanfranc and Anselm enjoyed immense prestige in the church and thus it was not easy for the papacy to rule against them or their position. Once Anselm was out of office, however, the popes began to side more often with

York, and generally strive to avoid making any decisive decision.

In 1127, Pope Honorius II made a compromise in the primacy dispute. William of Corbeil the

Archbishop of Canterbury received a papal legateship, which effectively gave him the powers of the primacy without the papacy actually having to concede a primacy to Canterbury. This legateship covered not only England, but Scotland as well.

Phase 2

After the settlement of the profession issue, the dispute turned to other (often more trivial) matters such as the right of either to carry their episcopal cross in the others' province

(Geoffrey Plantaganet).

Archbishops of Canterbury were also generally keen not to re-open the debate. In 1154

Theobald consecrated Roger as the papal legate (and not the ABC) as it meant Roger did not have to admit to the superiority of Theobald as ABC.

Under Henry II, the dispute took a new form, concerning the right of either archbishop to carry their archiepiscopal cross throughout the kingdom, not just in their own province.

During the vacancy between the death of Theobald of Bec and the appointment of Becket,

Roger had secured papal permission to carry his cross anywhere in England. As the Becket controversy grew, however, Alexander asked Roger to stop. The dispute continued between

Hubert Walter and Geoffrey, during King Richard I's reign, when both archbishops had their archiepiscopal crosses carried before themselves in the others diocese. Eventually, both attempted to secure a settlement from Richard in their favour, but Richard declined, stating that the this was an issue that needed to be settled by the papacy.