Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/147

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

bishopric of York. This nomination had been Henry's last earthly desire; and in later days Geoffrey seems to have confessed to Richard that while the seal remained in his possession after Henry's death, he had used it—possibly in accordance with Henry's intentions—for the purpose of sealing collations to three vacant stalls in York minster. On 10 Aug. Geoffrey was elected by a majority of the York chapter. The minority, headed by the dean, Hubert Walter, appealed against the election as invalidated by the absence of Hubert, and of the one existing suffragan of the province, Bishop Hugh of Durham; and this appeal, coupled with the inconsistent behaviour of Geoffrey himself, who desired the offered preferment, but still shrank from undertaking its responsibilities, caused Richard's formal confirmation of his appointment to be delayed till 16 Sept. On the 23rd Geoffrey was ordained priest at Southwell by a newly consecrated suffragan of his own, John, bishop of Whithern, in defiance of Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury, who, by an unwarrantable stretch of his authority as metropolitan of all Britain, claimed for himself the exclusive right of ordaining and consecrating the elect of York. Shortly afterwards Richard commissioned his half-brother to escort the king of Scots on his journey to Canterbury, where he was to do homage to the new English king. Geoffrey on his way northward stopped at York; there his refusal, on grounds of ecclesiastical etiquette, to install some new members of the chapter who had been appointed by Richard during the vacancy of the see, revived the irritation both of the canons and of the king; his lay estates were confiscated, the messengers whom he had commissioned to fetch his pall from Rome were forbidden to cross the sea, and on his return to court he was confronted by all his opponents at once, all, on various grounds, renewing their appeal against his election. He succeeded, nevertheless, in getting it confirmed by the papal legate, John of Anagni, and in buying back Richard's favour by a promise of 3,000l. Owing, however, to the violence of party feeling in his chapter, and to the continued hostility of Hugh Pudsey, bishop of Durham, whom Richard left as justiciar in England during his own absence on crusade, there was no possibility of raising the money; and when Geoffrey appeared in Normandy in March 1190 with empty hands, Richard again seized his estates, sent envoys to Rome to hinder if possible his final confirmation by the pope, and made him take an oath not to set foot in England for three years. Geoffrey followed the king as far as Vézelay, and there managed to purchase restitution by a payment of eight hundred marks down and a promise of twelve hundred more. He then withdrew to Tours, where he remained more than a year; for, although Clement III had issued a brief confirming his election as early as 7 March 1190, no mandate for his consecration followed till May 1191, when it seems to have been obtained by the diplomacy of Queen Eleanor. Richard, now at Messina, apparently began to think that in his own prolonged absence and that of the Archbishop of Canterbury—also bound on crusade—an archbishop of York might be useful as a check upon William of Longchamp, who, as chancellor of England and legate of the Roman see, was now virtually supreme alike in church and state. He therefore charged his mother to intercede with the pope in Geoffrey's behalf. The result was a mandate from Celestine III to Archbishop Bartholomew of Tours authorising him to consecrate Geoffrey. This was fulfilled on 18 Aug., and the new archbishop* received his pall on the same day through the abbot of Marmoutier. Geoffrey now asserted that Richard, before they parted at Vézelay, had released him from his promise of absence from England; but William of Longchamp, doubting the truth of his story, had ordered his arrest as soon as he should touch the English shore. On 14 Sept. he landed at Dover in disguise, was recognised, and nearly captured, but made his escape to the neighbouring priory of St. Martin's; thence, after a five days' blockade, the chancellor's representatives dragged him by main force to prison in the castle. This outrage brought to a head the indignation which had long been rising on all sides against the chancellor; the pressure of the barons, with John as their leader, procured Geoffrey's release on parole; and in the struggle which followed Geoffrey and John made common cause against Longchamp. His fall in October left the Archbishop of York the highest ecclesiastical authority in England. On All Saints' day he was enthroned at York, and the strife with his chapter and his chief suffragan was at once renewed. On his last visit to York, at Epiphany 1190, he had excommunicated two of the chief dignitaries of the cathedral church for a gross violation of ecclesiastical decency (they had begun vespers without waiting for the archbishop-elect, and when he silenced them and recommenced the service himself, had put out the lights and left him to finish it alone in the dark). He also excommunicated Bishop Hugh of Durham, who refused him his profession of canonical obedience, and the prioress of St. Clement's (or Clementhorpe), who withstood his scheme for