Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blund, John le

BLUND or BLUNT, JOHN le (d. 1248) chancellor of York, was one of the leaders of the movement for the restoration of the university of Oxford to its ancient position as a seat of learning, in which the Franciscan friars, Edmund Rich, Adam de Marisco, and Robert Grosseteste, took a chief part. Having received his earlier education at Oxford, Blund, like Edmund Rich, transferred himself to the university of Paris. He was studying there in 1229 when the violent reprisals taken on the students by the order of the queen, for a brawl in which some tavern-keepers had been roughly handled, caused the dispersion of the whole body, scholars and teachers (Matt. Paris, iii. 168. ed. Luard). Blund, with other 'famosi Angli,' returned to his native country, where he resumed his residence at Oxford as a teacher, and rendered important assistance to Edmund Rich in his introduction of the Aristotelian philosophy. His celebrity as a theologian marked out Blond for preferment in the church. He was already canon of Chichester and chancellor of York (Gervas. Cantuar. Gesta Regum, ii. 129; Le Neve (ed. Hardy), iii. 163), when the sudden death of Archbishop Richard Grant (1 Aug. 1231) left the primatial throne vacant. The election first of Ralph Neville, bishop of Chichester, and then of John, the prior of Canterbury, had been successively annulled by the pope. The powerful Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, was Blund's patron. His influence with the monks of Canterbury assured the election of his nominee, to whom on his departure for Rome, he gave one thousand marks as a present, and a second thousand as a loan, by the judicious use of which he might win the favour of the papal curia. He was elected 26 Aug. 1232. The royal assent was given without delay, and he started on his journey to Rome, accompanied by a number of the monks by whom he had been elected. Blund carried with him an assurance from the university of which he was a distinguished ornament — 'studens ac legens theologiam' — that his appointment would be popular. One of the body, Michael of Cornwall, addressed a copy of verses to the pope, in which he called on the whole of the university and men of every rank from the king to the commonalty to bear witness to the honesty of Blund's life, and the futility of any charges that might be brought against him (Mich. Cornub, Poemata; Hook, Lives of the Archbishops, iii. 167). All, however, was in vain. The well-deserved unpopularity of Des Roches in his adopted country rendered it impolitic for the pope to accept his nominee as archbishop. A colourable pretext for his rejection was suggested by his enemy, Simon Langton, archdeacon of Canterbury, brother of Archbishop Stephen Langton — that the archbishop elect by his own confession held two benefices with cure of souls, without a papal dispensation. This was in direct violation of the canons. Des Roches had written to the emperor, Frederick II., urging him to interpose in Blund's behalf. But the relations of pope and emperor were not such as to render such mediation hopeful. The choice of the electors was for a third time in succession quashed, and Blund returned home (1233) to end his days a simple presbyter (Matt. Paris, iii. 223; Rog. Wendover, Floret Histor. iv. 248, 267). A pleasing letter of Grosseteste's, after he had become bishop of Lincoln, excusing himself for not admitting to a benefice one of Blund's relatives, on the ground of his almost total illiteracy, bears witness to their long-standing friendship (Grosseteste, Epistolæ. Luard, p. 68, ep. 19). Blund died chancellor of York, the same year as his old opponent, Simon Langton, 1248.

[Matt. Paris (ed. Luard), iii. 168, 223, 243, v. 41; Rog. Wendover (Eng. Hist. Soc.), iv. 248. 267; Gerras. Cantuar. Gesta Regum, ii. 129; Annal. Monast. Osn. iv. 73; Dunstap. iii. 132; Grosseteste, Epist. (ed. Luard), p. 68.]

E. V.