Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
127
CHICHELEY

In 1406 renewed efforts were made to stop the schism, and Chicheley was one of the envoys sent to the new pope Gregory XII. Here he utilized his opportunities. On the 31st of August 1407 Guy Mone (he is always so spelt and not Mohun, and was probably from one of the Hampshire Meons; there was a John Mone of Havant admitted a Winchester scholar in 1397), bishop of St David’s, died, and on the 12th of October 1407 Chicheley was by the pope provided to the bishopric of St David’s. Another bull the same day gave him the right to hold all his benefices with the bishopric.

At Siena in July 1408 he and Sir John Cheyne, as English envoys, were received by Gregory XII. with special honour, and Bishop Repingdon of Lincoln, ex-Wycliffite, was one of the new batch of cardinals created on the 18th of September 1408, most of Gregory’s cardinals having deserted him. These, together with Benedict’s revolting cardinals, summoned a general council at Pisa. In November 1408 Chicheley was back at Westminster, when Henry IV. received the cardinal archbishop of Bordeaux and determined to support the cardinals at Pisa against both popes. In January 1409 Chicheley was named with Bishop Hallum of Salisbury and the prior of Canterbury to represent the Southern Convocation at the council, which opened on the 25th of March 1409, arriving on the 24th of April. Obedience was withdrawn from both the existing popes, and on the 26th of June a new pope elected instead of them. Chicheley and the other envoys were received on their return as saviours of the world; though the result was summed up by a contemporary as trischism instead of schism, and the Church as giving three husbands instead of two. Chicheley now became the subject of a leading case, the court of king’s bench deciding, after arguments reheard in three successive terms, that he could not hold his previous benefices with the bishopric, and that, spite of the maxim Papa potest omnia, a papal bull could not supersede the law of the land (Year-book ii. H. iv. 37, 59, 79). Accordingly he had to resign livings and canonries wholesale (April 28, 1410). As, however, he had obtained a bull (August 20, 1409) enabling him to appoint his successors to the vacated preferments, including his nephew William, though still an undergraduate and not in orders, to the chancellorship of Salisbury, and a prebend at Lichfield, he did not go empty away. In May 1410 he went again on an embassy to France; on the 11th of September 1411 he headed a mission to discuss Henry V.’s marriage with a daughter of the duke of Burgundy; and he was again there in November. In the interval Chicheley found time to visit his diocese for the first time and be enthroned at St David’s on the 11th of May 1411. He was with the English force under the earl of Arundel which accompanied the duke of Burgundy to Paris in October 1411 and there defeated the Armagnacs, an exploit which revealed to England the weakness of the French. On the 30th of November 1411 Chicheley, with two other bishops and three earls and the prince of Wales, knelt to the king to receive public thanks for their administration. That he was in high favour with Henry V. is shown by his being sent with the earl of Warwick to France in July 1413 to conclude peace. Immediately after the death of archbishop Arundel he was nominated by the king to the archbishopric, elected on the 4th of March, translated by papal bull on the 28th of April, and received the pall without going to Rome for it on the 24th of July.

These dates are important as they help to save Chicheley from the charge, versified by Shakespeare (Henry V. act i. sc. 2) from Hall’s Chronicle, of having tempted Henry V. into the conquest of France for the sake of diverting parliament from the disendowment of the Church. There is no contemporary authority for the charge, which seems to appear first in Redman’s rhetorical history of Henry V., written in 1540 with an eye to the political situation at that time. As a matter of fact, the parliament at Leicester, in which the speeches were supposed to have been made, began on the 30th of April 1414 before Chicheley was archbishop. The rolls of parliament show that he was not present in the parliament at all. Moreover parliament was so far from pressing disendowment that on the petition of the Commons it passed a savage act against the heresies “commonly called Lollardry” which “aimed at the destruction of the king and all temporal estates,” making Lollards felons and ordering every justice of the peace to hunt down their schools, conventicles, congregations and confederacies.

In his capacity of archbishop, Chicheley remained what he had always been chiefly, the lawyer and diplomatist. He was present at the siege of Rouen, and the king committed to him personally the negotiations for the surrender of the city in January 1419 and for the marriage of Katherine. He crowned Katherine at Westminster (20th February 1421), and on the 6th of December baptized her child Henry VI. He was of course a persecutor of heretics. No one could have attained or kept the position of archbishop at the time without being so. So he presided at the trial of John Claydon, Skinner and citizen of London, who after five years’ imprisonment at various times had made public abjuration before the late archbishop, Arundel, but now was found in possession of a book in English called The Lanterne of Light, which contained the heinous heresy that the principal cause of the persecution of Christians was the illegal retention by priests of the goods of this world, and that archbishops and bishops were the special seats of antichrist. As a relapsed heretic, he was “left to the secular arm” by Chicheley. On the 1st of July 1416 Chicheley directed a half-yearly inquisition by archdeacons to hunt out heretics. On the 12th of February 1420 proceedings were begun before him against William Taylor, priest, who had been for fourteen years excommunicated for heresy, and was now degraded and burnt for saying that prayers ought not to be addressed to saints, but only to God. A striking contrast was exhibited in October 1424, when a Stamford friar, John Russell, who had preached that any religious potest concumbere cum muliere and not mortally sin, was sentenced only to retract his doctrine. Further persecutions of a whole batch of Lollards took place in 1428. The records of convocation in Chicheley’s time are a curious mixture of persecutions for heresy, which largely consisted in attacks on clerical endowments, with negotiations with the ministers of the crown for the object of cutting down to the lowest level the clerical contributions to the public revenues in respect of their endowments. Chicheley was tenacious of the privileges of his see, and this involved him in a constant struggle with Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester. In 1418, while Henry V. was alive, he successfully protested against Beaufort’s being made a cardinal and legate a latere to supersede the legatine jurisdiction of Canterbury. But during the regency, after Henry VI.’s accession, Beaufort was successful, and in 1426 became cardinal and legate. This brought Chicheley into collision with Martin V. The struggle between them has been represented as one of a patriotic archbishop resisting the encroachments of the papacy on the Church of England. In point of fact it was almost wholly personal, and was rather an incident in the rivalry between the duke of Gloucester and his half-brother, Cardinal Beaufort, than one involving any principle. Chicheley, by appointing a jubilee to be held at Canterbury in 1420, “after the manner of the Jubilee ordained by the Popes,” threatened to divert the profits from pilgrims from Rome to Canterbury. A ferocious letter from the pope to the papal nuncios, on the 19th of March 1423, denounced the proceeding as calculated “to ensnare simple souls and extort from them a profane reward, thereby setting up themselves against the apostolic see and the Roman pontiff, to whom alone so great a faculty has been granted by God” (Cal. Pap. Reg. vii. 12). Chicheley also incurred the papal wrath by opposing the system of papal provision which diverted patronage from English to Italian hands, but the immediate occasion was to prevent the introduction of the bulls making Beaufort a cardinal. Chicheley had been careful enough to obtain “Papal provisions” for himself, his pluralities, his bishopric and archbishopric.

But, after all, it is not as archbishop or statesman, persecutor, papalist or antipapalist that Chicheley is remembered, but for his educational foundations. He endowed a hutch, i.e. chest or loan-fund for poor scholars at New College, and another for the