Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Philip of Poitiers

PHILIP of Poitiers (d. 1208?), bishop of Durham, was a favourite clerk of Richard I. He accompanied the latter on his crusade of 1189, and was present at his marriage with Berengaria of Navarre at Cyprus in 1191 (Walter of Coventry, ii. 184, Rolls Ser.) When he returned to England is not clear; but Richard, during his captivity in 1193, is said to have procured for him the archdeaconry of Canterbury, but whether he held it is uncertain (Rog. Hov. iii. 221, Rolls Ser.) In the same year, at the king's wish, he was presented to the deanery of York by Archbishop Geoffrey (d. 1212) [q. v.] in defiance of the wish of the canons (ib. p. 222). The latter, however, succeeded in getting the papal confirmation for the election of their candidate, Simon of Apulia, and Philip was probably never installed. In November or December 1195, again by royal favour, he was elected to the bishopric of Durham at Northallerton in Yorkshire, in the presence of Archbishop Hubert of Canterbury. Hoveden says Philip was ordained to the priesthood on 15 June 1196 by Henry, bishop of Llandaff, but this is not clear (loc. cit. iv. 9). He was abroad part of that year with the king, and was sent to England by the latter on financial business. The king about the same time gave him permission to re-establish the mint at Durham, and he secured for his nephew, Aimeric de Tailbois, the archdeaconry of Carlisle, to which he added that of Durham (ib. pp. 13-14). At the end of the year he was in Normandy with Richard, and was sent by him to Rome to plead his cause against the archbishop of Rouen, who had laid Normandy under interdict because of the building of Château Gaillard. There Philip succeeded in arranging the terms of a compromise with the archbishop of Rouen, and was at last consecrated to the see of Durham by Celestine III on 20 April 1197 (Geoffrey of Coldingham in Hist. Dunelm. Script. tres, Surtees Soc. p. 18).

In 1198 Philip was one of Richard's representatives at the election of his nephew, the emperor Otto IV, at Cologne. On his return to England he obtained through royal influence the restoration and enlargement of certain Durham properties; a portion, however, he lost the same year in a lawsuit with Robert of Turnham (Rog. Hov. iv. 55, 68-9). In September King Richard wrote him an extant letter, giving an account of his war in France (ib. pp. 58-9). He made fruitless efforts at mediation between the king and Archbishop Geoffrey of York, and was himself engaged in a serious quarrel with his cathedral clergy with regard to certain rights of presentation to benefices. During the progress of this dispute, Philip's nephew, the archdeacon of Durham, besieged the monks in St. Oswald's church, but ultimately Philip yielded the point at issue (Geoffrey of Coldingham, loc. cit. p. 19; Rog. Hov. loc. cit. pp. 69-70).

On 23 May 1199 Philip assisted in consecrating William de Ste. Mère l'Eglise to the see of London, and on the 27th was present at the coronation of King John, though he protested against its taking place in the absence of Archbishop Geoffrey of York. John showed favour to Philip, and employed him in 1199 on a mission to induce the king of Scots to do homage. Next year Philip brought about a meeting between the two kings, and was one of the witnesses of the act of homage performed at Lincoln on 22 Nov. 1200 (Rog. Hov. iv. 140-1). In the latter year he obtained the royal license for holding fairs at Northallerton and Howden, and in 1201 set out on a pilgrimage to Compostella. He was at Chinon in May, and there witnessed to the claim of Richard's queen, Berengaria, to her dower. He came home in 1202.

Philip was one of the papal agents in the famous suit of Giraldus Cambrensis [q. v.] concerning the status of the see of St. David's, and in 1203 received letters from Innocent III on the subject (Gir. Cambr. iii. 70, 282, &c., Rolls Ser.) In the great quarrel with Innocent III (1205-13) he is mentioned as one of John's evil counsellors. He died apparently in 1208, in the midst of the strife. His body is said to have been contemptuously buried by laymen outside the precincts of his church.

Philip's character is painted darkly by Geoffrey of Coldingham (loc. cit.) as that of an unscrupulous and violent man. Over his will there was strife between the archdeacon of Durham and the prior and chapter, and Innocent III interfered in 1211.

[Richard of Coldingham in Hist. Dunelm. Script. tres, pp. 17 sq. and Append. lxvii.; Regist. Palat. Dunelm. vols. i. ii. and iii.; Roger of Hoveden, vol. iii., Walter of Coventry, vol. ii., Giraldus Cambrensis, vol. iii., Matt. Paris's Chron. Majora, vol. ii., Gervase of Canterbury, i. 530 (all in Rolls Ser.); Rad. de Diceto, ii. 152; Ralph of Coggeshall, Chron. Angl. p. 70; Rotulus Cancellarii, p. 60, Rotuli de Liberate, &c., ed. Hardy, pp. 7, 101 (both Record Comm.); Rotuli Curiæ Regis, i. 433, ii. 259, ed. Palgrave; Rymer's Fœdera, i. 96, 134-5, ed. 1704; Le Neve's Fasti Eccles. Angl. iii. 284, ed. Hardy; Stubbs's Regist. Sacr. Angl. p. 35.]

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