Biography of Archbishop William de Corbeil 1070-1136

1127 Oath of Allegiance to Empress Matilda

1135 Coronation of King Stephen

1140 First Battle of Lincoln

Around 1070 Archbishop William de Corbeil was born.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 16 Feb 1123. William (age 53), a canon of St. Osythe, at Chiche1, was named to the archbishopric of Canterbury at Gloucester, where the king held his court at the feast of the Purification of St. Mary; and he was consecrated at Canterbury by William, bishop of Winchester, assisted by many other bishops, on the fourteenth of the calends of March [16th February]. With his approval, the bishopric of Lincoln was given to Alexander, archdeacon of Salisbury. Afterwards, archbishop William (age 53), in company with Thurstan (age 53), archbishop of York, Bernard, bishop of St. David's2, Sigefred, abbot Glastonbury, and Anselm, abbot of St. Edmund's, went to Rome to receive the pallium.

Note 1. St. Osythe, in Essex, a priory rebuilt in 1118 for canons of the Augustine order, of which there are considerable remains.

Note 2. Henry of Huntingdon includes Alexander, the new bishop of Lincoln, among the archbishop's companions to Rome, and it is probable that the historian attended his patron. See his character of bishop Alexander, p. 253, of his history in the Antiq. Lib.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 03 Jun 1123. Henry, king of England, went over sea after the feast of Whitsuntide [3rd June]. William (age 53), archbishop of Canterbury, having received the pallium from pope Calixtus, and Thurstan (age 53), archbishop of York, with their companions, on their return from Rome, paid a visit to the king, who was still in Normandy: after a short stay, archbishop William came back to England, and, on the eleventh of the calends of August [22nd July], at Canterbury, consecrated Alexander as bishop of Lincoln; and, on the seventh of the calends of September [26th August], in the church of St. Paul the Apostle, at London, consecrated Godfrey, the queen's chancellor, to the bishopric of Bath.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1124. William (age 54), archbishop of Canterbury, crossed the sea by the king's command. Pope Calixtus died, and was succeeded by Honorius, bishop of Ostia. 1125. Coiners in England, taken with counterfeit money, suffered the penalty of the king's cruel law by having their right hands struck off and their lower limbs mutilated. Afterwards, by a change in the coinage, all articles became very dear, and, in consequence, a great scarcity ensued, and numbers died of famine.1

Note 1. Henry of Huntingdon tells us that a horse-load of corn (wheat or rye?) was sold for six shillings.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 08 May 1124. Simon, the bishop-elect of Worcester, was conducted into Worcester by the clergy and people in joyful procession on the eighth of the ides [the 8th] of May2, being the day of our Lord's Ascension; and, on the tenth of the calends of June [23rd May], he was ordained priest at Canterbury by William (age 54) the archbishop.

Note 2. It fell that year on the 7th May.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1125. In this same year sent the Pope of Rome to this land a cardinal, named John of Crema. He came first to the king (age 57) in Normandy, and the king (age 57) received him with much worship. He betook himself then to the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 55); and he led him to Canterbury; and he was there received with great veneration, and in solemn procession. And he sang the high mass on Easter day at the altar of Christ. Afterwards he went over all England, to all the bishoprics and abbacies that were in this land; and in all he was received with respect. And all gave him many and rich gifts. And afterwards he held his council in London full three days, on the Nativity of St. Mary in September, with archbishops, and diocesan bishops, and abbots, the learned and the lewd;152 and enjoined there the same laws that Archbishop Anselm (age 92) had formerly enjoined, and many more, though it availed little. Thence he went over sea soon after Michaelmas, and so to Rome; and (with him) the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 55), and the Archbishop Thurstan of York (age 55), and the Bishop Alexander of Lincoln, and the Bishop J. of Lothian, and the Abbot G. of St. Alban's; and were there received by the Pope Honorius with great respect; and continued there all the winter. In this same year was so great a flood on St. Laurence's day, that many towns and men were overwhelmed, and bridges broken down, and corn and meadows spoiled withal; and hunger and qualm153 in men and in cattle; and in all fruits such unseasonableness as was not known for many years before. And this same year died the Abbot John of Peterborough, on the second day before the ides of October.

Note 152. i.e. Clergy and laity.

Note 153. This word is still in use, but in a sense somewhat different; as qualms of conscience, etc.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1125. The same cardinal, after quitting England, went to Normandy, and at length returned to Rome. William (age 55), the archbishop, also considering that the church of England had received grievous offence in the humiliation of the see of Canterbury, crossed the channel himself on his way to Rome, to procure the best support he could in the disordered state of affairs, and prevent their growing worse. He therefore proceeded to Rome, and was received with honour by pope Honorius, who had succeeded Calixtus, and who made the archbishop his vicar-general in England and Scotland, and appointed him legate of the apostolic see.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1125. Simon, the queen's chancellor, and Sigefred, abbot of Glastonbury, both men of distinguished worth and piety, were chosen bishops while they were in Normandy; Simon being appointed to the see of Worcester, and Sigefred to the see of Chichester. Hugh, a man of great prudence, archdeacon successively to Samson and Theowulf, bishops of Worcester, died on the twelfth of the calends of April [21st March). After Easter [29th March], the bishops-elect, Simon and Sigefred, with the archbishops William (age 55) and Thurstan (age 55), and a cardinal of Rome named John, came to England,

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 12 Apr 1125. ... and Sigefred was consecrated as bishop of Chichester at Lambeth by archbishop William (age 55) on the second of the ides [the 12th] of April; there being present at this consecration the Roman cardinal, Thurstan (age 55), archbishop of York, Everard, bishop of Norwich, Richard of Hereford, Bernard of St. David's, David of Bangor, Urban of Glamorgan (age 49), and John, bishop-elect of Rochester.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 09 Sep 1125. A synod held at London. A synod was held at London, in the church of the blessed prince of the apostles at Westminster, on the ninth of September, that is, on the fifth of the ides of that month, in which, after the discussion of various matters, the following canons, seventeen in number, were published with unanimous consent. John, of Crema1, a cardinal priest of the holy and apostolic church, with the title of St. Chrysogonus, and legate in England of the lord pope Honorius, presided at this synod; and it was attended by William (age 55), archbishop of Canterbury, and Thurstan (age 55), archbishop of York, and the bishops of different dioceses, to the number of twenty; with about forty abbots, and a great concourse of the clergy and people. These are the canons:-

THE FIRST CANON. Following in the steps of the holy fathers, we forbid, by apostolic authority, any ecclesiastical ordination being conferred for money.

II. We also prohibit the exaction of any fee for chrism, for oil, for baptism, for penance, for the visitation or unction of the sick, for the communion of the body of Christ, or for burial.

III. Moreover, we ordain and decree, by apostolic authority, that at the consecration of bishops, or the benediction of abbots, or the dedication of churches, no cope, or tippet, or maniple, or ewer, or any other thing shall be exacted by violence, but they are to be voluntary offerings.

IV. No abbot or prior, monk or clerk, shall accept any ehurch, tythe, or ecclesiastical benefice, by the gift of a layman, without the authority and consent of his own bishop. If he shall so presume, the gift shall be void, and he shall be subject to canonical censure.

V. Moreover, we decree that no person shall claim the patronage of a church or prebend by right of inheritance, or bequeath to a successor any ecclesiastical benefice; which, if he shall presume to do, we declare that it shall have no effect, saying, with the Psalmist, "O my God, make them like unto a wheel;" while they said, "Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession."2

VI. Furthermore, we decree that clerks holding churches or ecclesiastical benefices, who avoid being ordained in order to live with greater freedom, and continue to treat holy orders with contempt, after being invited thereto by the bishop, shall be deprived of their churches and benefices.

VII. No one but a priest shall be promoted to the office of dean or prior; no one but a deacon to an archdeaconry.

VIII. No person shall be ordained priest without a regular title. Whoever is ordained independently shall forfeit the degree he has obtained.

IX. No abbot, or clerk, or layman shall presume to eject any person ecclesiastically ordained to a church, without the sentence of his own bishop. Whoever presumes to do otherwise shall be subject to excommunication.

X. No bishop shall presume to ordain or judge a person belonging to another diocese, for every one stands or falls to his own master; nor shall any one be bound by a sentence which is not pronounced by his own judge.

XI. No one shall presume to receive into communion one who has been excommunicated by another. If he shall have done this knowingly he himself shall be deprived of Christian communion.

XII. We also ordain that two archdeaconries or dignities of another class shall not be held by one person.

XIII. We prohibit, by apostolic authority, priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and canons from living with wives, concubines, and women generally, except a mother, a sister, an aunt, or other females free from all suspicion. Whoever violates this canon shall, on confession or conviction, suffer the loss of his order.

XIV. We utterly prohibit usury and filthy lucre to clerks of every degree. Whoever shall have pleaded guilty to such a charge, or been convicted of it, is to be degraded from the rank he holds.

XV. We decree that sorcerers, fortune-tellers, and those who deal in divination of any kind, shall be excommunicated, and we brand them with perpetual infamy. XVI. We prohibit marriages being contracted between persons connected by blood or affinity, as far as the generation. If any persons thus connected have married, let them be separated.

XVII. We forbid men's being allowed to allege consanguinity against their own wives, and the witnesses they bring forward are not to be admitted; but let the authority of the fathers be maintained. "Are you content ?" "Be it so.' "Are you content ?" "Be it so. Are you content ?" "Be it so."3

Note 1. See Henry of Huntingdon, p. 252, Antiq. Lib., for a scandalous and well-known story of this cardinal. Crema, his native place, is a town in the Bolognese.

Note 2. Ps. lxxxiii. 12, 13.

Note 3. The question seems to have been put thrice, in the form still used in convocation: Placetne vobis? - Placet.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1126. King Henry returned to England at Christmas, and held his court at Windsor Castle [Map] with great magnificence, having summoned all the nobles of the realm to attend him there. On this occasion, when the bishop of York (age 56), claiming equality with the archbishop of Canterbury (age 56), offered to place the crown on the king's head2, as his predecessors had done, his claim was rejected by the decision of all who were present, and it was unanimously agreed that nothing pertaining to the royal crown belonged to him. Moreover, the bearer of the cross which he caused to be borne before him into the king's chapel, was thrust out of the chapel, with the cross he carried; for, by the judgment of the bishops and some learned men skilled in ecclesiastical law, it was established and settled that it was not lawful for a metropolitan to have his cross carried before him out of his own province.

Note 2. It will be understood that this was not the ceremony of coronation; the kings of England wore their crowns, when they kept court at the three great church festivals.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1127. A synod held at Westminster. William (age 57), archbishop of Canterbury, convened a general synod of all the bishops and abbots, and some men of religion from all parts of England, at the monastery of St. Peter, situated in the western part of London. At this synod he himself presided as archbishop of Canterbury and legate of the apostolic see; assisted by William, bishop of Winchester, Roger of Salisbury, William of Exeter, Hervey of Ely, Alexander of Lincoln, Everard of Norwich, Sigefrid of Chichester, Richard of Hereford, Geoffrey of Bath, John of Rochester, Bernard of St. David's in Wales, Urban of Glamorgan of Llandaff (age 51), and David of Bangor. Richard, bishop of London, and Robert, bishop of Chester1, were then dead, and no successors had yet been appointed to their sees. But Thurstan (age 57), archbishop of York, sent messengers with letters assigning reasonable cause for his non-appearance at the convocation. Ralph (age 67), bishop of Durham, fell sick on the road, and was not able to complete the journey, as the prior of his church and the clerks whom he sent forward solemnly attested. Simon, bishop of Worcester, had gone to visit his relations beyond seas, and was not yet returned. Great multitudes, also, of the clergy and laity, both rich and poor, flocked together, and there was a numerous and important meeting. The council sat for three days, namely, the third of the ides [the 13th] of May, the following day, and the third day afterwards, being the seventeenth of the calends of June [16th May]. There were some proceedings with respect to secular affairs; some were determined, some adjourned, and some withdrawn from the hearing of the judges, on account of the disorderly conduct of the immense crowd. But the decrees and statutes made in this synod by common consent of the bishops we have thought it desirable to record in this work, as they were there publicly declared and accepted. They are these:-

I. We wholly prohibit, by the authority of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and our own, the buying and selling of any ecclesiastical benefices, or any ecclesiastical dignities whatever. Whoever shall be convicted of having violated this decree, if he be a clerk, or even a regular canon, or a monk, let him be degraded from his order; if a layman, let him be held outlawed and excommunicated, and be deprived of his patronage of the church or benefice.

II. We totally interdict, by the authority of the apostolic see, the ordination or promotion of any person in the church of God, for the sake of lucre.

III. We condemn certain payments of money exacted for the admission of canons, monks, and nuns.

IV. No one shall be appointed a dean but a priest, and no one but a deacon, archdeacon. If any one in minor orders be named to these dignities he shall be enjoined by the bishop to take the orders required. But if he disobey the bishop's monition to take such orders, he shall lose his appointment to the dignity.

V. We utterly interdict all illicit intercourse with women, as well by priests, deacons, and sub-deacons, as by all canons. If, however, they will retain their concubines (which God forbid), or their wives, they are to be deprived of their ecclesiastical orders, their dignity, and benefice. If there be any such among parish priests, we expel them from the chancel, and declare them infamous. Moreover, we command, by the authority of God and our own, all archdeacons and officials, whose duty it is, to use the utmost care and diligence in eradicating this deadly evil from the church of God. If they be found negligent in this, or (which God forbid) consenting thereto, they are for the first and second offence to be duly corrected by the bishops, and for the third to be punished more severely, according to the canons.

VI. The concubines of priests and canons shall be expelled from the parish, unless they shall have contracted a lawful marriage there. If they are found afterwards offending, they shall be arrested by the officers of the church, in whatever lordship they may be; and we command, under pain of excommunication, that they be not sheltered by any jurisdiction, either inferior or superior, but truly delivered up to the officer of the church, to be subjected to ecclesiastical discipline, or reduced to bondage, according to the sentence of the bishop.

VII. We prohibit, under pain of excommunication, any archdeacon from holding several archdeaconriesin different dioceses; let him retain that only to which he was first appointed.

VIII. Bishops are to prohibit all priests, abbots, monks, and priors, subject to their jurisdiction, from holding farms.

IX. We command that tithes be honestly paid, for they are the sovereign right of the most high God.

X. We forbid, by canonical authority, any person from giving or receiving churches or tithes, or other ecclesiastical benefices, without the consent and authority of the bishop. R2

XI. No abbess or nun is to use garments of richer material than lamb's-wool or cat-skin.

Note 1. The bishopric of Lichfield was removed to Chester in 1075, but again restored to its former seat. The present bishopric of Chester is one of the new sees founded after the Reformation.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1127. King Henry, who remained at London during these proceedings, being informed of the acts of the council, assented to them, and ratified and confirmed by his royal authority the decrees of the synod held at Westminster by William (age 57), archbishop of Canterbury and legate of the holy Roman church. One Hugh, of the diocese of Rochester, being appointed abbot, was advanced, with deserved honour, to the dignity for which he was designated, that of abbot of St. Augustine's, by William (age 57), archbishop of Canterbury, on Sunday, the second of the ides [the 12th] of June, at Chichester.

1127 Oath of Allegiance to Empress Matilda

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1127. Fealty sworn to the empress Matilda. As soon as the feast days [of Christmas] were over, the king (age 59) went to London, attended by all the men of rank in the realm who had flocked to his court, and there, by the king's command, William (age 57), the archbishop and legate of the see of Rome, and all the other bishops of England, and the nobles of the land, swore fealty to the king's daughter (age 24); engaging to defend her right to the crown of England, if she should survive her father, against all opposers, unless he should yet before his death beget a son in lawful wedlock, to become his successor. On the death of the emperor Henry, who had lived in marriage with her many years, without leaving children, she had returned to her father's court, where she was surrounded with all the honours becoming her station. The king, therefore, having lost his son William in the manner already described, and there being as yet no other direct heir to the kingdom, for that reason made over the right to the crown to his daughter, under the provisoe just mentioned.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1129. Soon after, by the king's (age 61) counsel, and by his leave, sent the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 59) over all England, and bade bishops, and abbots, and archdeacons, and all the priors, monks, and canons, that were in all the cells in England, and all who had the care and superintendence of christianity, that they should all come to London at Michaelmas, and there should speak of all God's rights. When they came thither, then began the moot on Monday, and continued without intermission to the Friday. When it all came forth, then was it all found to be about archdeacons' wives, and about priests' wives; that they should forgo them by St. Andrew's mass; and he who would not do that, should forgo his church, and his house, and his home, and never more have any calling thereto. This bade the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 59), and all the diocesan bishops that were then in England, but the king (age 61) gave them all leave to go home. And so they went home; and all the ordinances amounted to nothing. All held their wives by the king's (age 61) leave as they did before.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 25 Jan 1129. This same year died the Bishop William Giffard of Winchester; and was there buried, on the eighth day before the calends of February. And the King Henry (age 61) gave the bishopric after Michaelmas to the Abbot Henry of Glastonbury, his nephew, and he was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 59) on the fifteenth day before the calends of December.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. Jul 1129. In the month of July, Henry, king of England, returned from Normandy to England. His nephew, Henry, abbot of Glastonbury, elected to the see of Winton in the month of October, was consecrated bishop by William (age 59), archbishop of Canterbury, on Sunday, the fifteenth of the calends of December (17th November). Roger, archdeacon of Buckingham, and nephew of Geoffrey de Clinton, having been elected to the see of Chester, was ordained priest on the twelfth of the calends of January (21st December), and the next day was consecrated bishop at Canterbury by the archbishop. He was afterwards enthroned, by the archbishop's mandate, in the episcopal chair at Coventry1, by Simon, bishop of Worcester, on Monday, the sixth of the calends of February [27th January].

Note 1. See note before, p. 242.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1130. Hugh, abbot of Reading, was elected archbishop of Rouen. Christ church, at Canterbury, was dedicated with great pomp, by William, archbishop of that city, on the fourth of the nones [the 4th] of May. The following bishops were present at the consecration:- John, bishop of Rochester, Gilbert of London, Henry of Winchester (age 32), Simon of Worcester, Alexander of Lincoln, Roger of Salisbury, Godfrey of Bath, Everard of Norwich, Sigefrid of Chichester, Bernard of St. David's; with Owen, bishop of Evreux, and John, bishop of Séez, from beyond sea. On the fourth day afterwards——that is, on the nones [the 7th] of May—the city of Rochester, Kent [Map] was destroyed by fire, while the king was there; and on the day following, being the feast of our Lord's Ascension, the new church of St. Andrew was consecrated by William the archbishop, some of the beforementioned bishops assisting him in the service. [Ansger], the excellent prior of Lewes, was elected at Winchester abbot of Reading, and afterwards ordained; also Ingulph, prior of Winchester, having been elected at Woodstock abbot of Abingdon, was ordained by RogerRoger, bishop of Salisbury. William, abbot of Gloucester, having voluntarily resigned his pastoral charge by reason of age, chose, with the consent of the brethren, a pious monk, of the same house, named Walter, who was ordained abbot by Simon, bishop of Worcester, on Sunday, the nones [the 3rd] of August. Serlo, also, a canon of Salisbury, was ordained abbot by the same bishop, at Blockley, an episcopal vill, and appointed to govern the abbey of Cirencester. Robert, prior of the church of Llanthony, being elected to the see of Hereford, was consecrated at Oxford, by William (age 60), archbishop of Canterbury. Henry, king of England, went over the sea.

Coronation of King Stephen

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 20 Dec 1135. ... and Stephen (age 41), his sister's son, being elected to the kingdom of England, was consecrated king, by William (age 65), archbishop of Canterbury, on the thirteenth of the calends of January [20th December], at London, where he held his court, at Christmas, surrounded by the nobles of England, with great courtesy and royal pomp.

Note 1. Wikipedia states 22 Dec 1135 although doesn't provide a source?

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 20 Nov 1136. William (age 66), archbishop of Canterbury, died at one of his vills1, on the twelfth of the calends of December [20th November], in the fifteenth year of his patriarchate, and was buried at Canterbury.

Note 1. Probably at his "vill of Westminster," where Henry of Huntingdon tells us (Hist. p. 254) that this William Curboil (age 66), archbishop of Canterbury, sometimes resided. Huntingdon draws no favourable character of this prelate, either in his History, p. 262, or in the "Letter to Warin," pp. 315 and 326.

First Battle of Lincoln

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1140. Thereafter died William, Archbishop of Canterbury; and the king (age 46) made Theobald (age 50) archbishop, who was Abbot of Bec. After this waxed a very great war betwixt the king (age 46) and Randolph, Earl of Chester (age 41); not because he did not give him all that he could ask him, as he did to all others; but ever the more he gave them, the worse they were to him. The Earl held Lincoln against the king (age 46), and took away from him all that he ought to have. And the king (age 46) went thither, and beset him and his brother William de Romare in the castle.