Arundel, Thomas

, archbishop of Canterbury in the reigns of Richard II. Henry IV. and Henry V. was the second son of Robert Fitz-Alan, earl of Arundel and Warren, and brother of Richard earl of Arundel, who was afterwards beheaded. He was but twenty-two years of age when, from being archdeacon of Taunton, he was promoted to the bishopric of Ely, by the pope’s provision, and consecrated April 9, 1374, at Otteford. He was a considerable benefactor to the church and palace of that see. He almost rebuilt the episcopal palace in Holborn, and, among other donations, he presented the cathedral with a very curious table of massy gold, enriched with precious stones which had been given to prince Edward by the king of Spain, and sold by the latter to bishop Arundel for three hundred marks. In the year 1386, the tenth of Richard II. he was made lord high chancellor of England but resigned it in 1389 was again appointed in 1391, and resigned it finally, upon his advancement to the see of Canterbury. After he had sat about fourteen years in the see of Ely, he was translated to the archbishopric of York, April 3, 1388, where he expended a very large | sum of money in building a palace for the archbishops, and, besides other rich ornaments, gave to the church several pieces of silver-gilt plate. In 1393, being then chancellor, he removed the courts of justice from London to York and, as a precedent for this unpopular step, he alledged the example of archbishop Corbridge, eighty years before. The see of Canterbury being vacant by the death of Dr. William Courtney, archbishop Arundel was translated thither, January 1396. The crosier was delivered into his hands by Henry Chellenden, prior of Canterbury, in the presence of the king, and a great number of the nobility, and on the 19th of February 1397, he was enthroned with great p % omp at Canterbury, the first instance of the translation of an archbishop of York to the see of Canterbury. Soon after he had a contest with the university of Oxford about the right of visitation, which was determined by King Richard, to whom the decision was referred, in favour of the archbishop. At his visitation in London, he revived an old constitution, first set on foot by Simon Niger, bishop of London, by which the inhabitants of the respective parishes were obliged to pay to their rector one halfpenny in the pound out of the rent of their houses. In the second year of his translation, a parliament was held at London, in which the commons, with the king’s leave, impeached the archbishop, together with his brother the earl of Arundel, and the duke of Gloucester, of high-treason, for compelling the king, in the tenth year of his reign, to grant them a commission to govern the kingdom. The archbishop was sentenced to be banished, and had forty days allowed him to prepare for his exile, within which time he was to depart the kingdom on pain of death. Upon this he retired first into France, and then to Rome, where pope Boniface IX. gave him a very friendly reception, and wrote a letter to king Richard, desiring him to receive the archbishop again into favour. But not meeting with success, his holiness resolved to interpose his authority in favour of Arundel. Accordingly he nominated him to the archbishopric of St. Andrews, and declared his intention of giving him several other preferments in England, by way of provision. The king, upon this, wrote an expostulatory letter to the pope, which induced him not only to withhold the intended favours from Arundel, but likewise, at the king’s request^ to promote Roger Walden dean of York and lord treasurer | of England, to the see of Canterbury. That prelate, however, was soon obliged to quit his new dignity for, next year, Arundel returned into England with the duke of Lancaster, afterwards king Henry IV. upon whose accession to the throne, the pope revoked the bull granted to Walden, and restored Arundel and among the articles of mis government brought against king Richard, one was his usage and banishment of this prelate. The throne being vacant by Richard’s resignation, and the duke of Lancaster’s title being allowed in parliament, Arundel had the honour to crown the new king and, at the coronationdinner, sat at his right hand; the archbishop of York being placed at his left. In the first year of king Henry’s reign, Arundel summoned a synod, which sat at St. Paul’s. Harpsfield, and the councils from him, have mistaken this synod for one held during the vacancy of the see. He also by his courage and resolution, preserved several of the bishops, who were in king Henry’s army, from being plundered of their equipages and money. The next year, the commons having moved, that the revenues of the church might be applied to the service of the public, Arundel opposed the motion so vigorously, that the king and lords promised him, the church should never be plundered in their time. After this, he visited the university of Cambridge, where he made several statutes, suppressed several bad customs, and punished the students for their misbehaviour. And, when the visitation was ended, at the request of the university, he reserved all those matters and causes, which had been laid before him, to his own cognizance and jurisdiction. In the year 1408, Arundel began to exert himself with vigour against the Lollards or Wickliffites. To this end, he summoned the bishops and clergy at Oxford, to check the progress of this new sect, and prevent that university’s being farther tinctured with their opinions. But the doctrines of Wickliff still gaining ground, the archbishop resolved to visit the university, attended by the earl of Arundel, his nephew, and a splendid retinue. When he came near the town, he was met by the principal members of the university, who told him, that, if he came only to see the town, he was very welcome, but if he came in the character of a visitor, they refused to acknowledge his jurisdiction. The archbishop, resenting this treatment, left Oxford in a day or two, and wrote to the king on accpunt of his disappointment. After | a warm contest between the university and the archbishop, both parties agreed to refer the dispute to the king’s decision who, governing himself by the example of his predecessors, gave sentence in favour of the archbishop. Soon after this controversy was ended, a convocation being held at St. Paul’s in London, the bishops and clergy complained of the growth of Wicklevitism at Oxford, and pressed the archbishop to visit that university. He accordingly wrote to the chancellor and others, giving them notice, that he intended to hold a visitation in St. Mary’s church. His delegates for this purpose were sent down soon after, and admitted by the university, who, to make some satisfaction for their backwardness in censuring Wickliff’s opinions, “wrote to the archbishop, and asked his pardon: after which they appointed a committee of twelve persons, to examine heretical books, particularly those of Wicklitf. These inquisitors into heretical pravity, having censured some conclusions extracted out o’f WicklitPs books, sent an account of their proceedings to the archbishop, who confirmed their censures, and sent an authority in writing to some eminent members of the university, empowering them to inquire into persons suspected of heterodoxy, and oblige them to declare their opinions. These rigorous proceedings made Arundel extremely hated by the Wickliffites, and certainly form the deepest stain on his character. However he went on with the prosecution, and not only solicited the pope to condemn the abovementioned conclusions, but desired likewise a bull for the digging up Wickliff’s bones. The pope granted the first of these requests, but refused the other, not thinking it any useful part of discipline to disturb the ashes of the dead. Arundel’s warm zeal for suppressing the Lollards, or Wickliffites, carried him to several unjustifiable severities against the heads of that sect, particularly against sir John Oldcastle, lord Cobham and induced him to procure a synodical constitution, which forbad the translation of the scriptures into the vulgar tongue. This prelate died at Canterbury, after having sat seventeen years, the 20th of February, 1413. The Lollardsofthose times asserted the immediate hand of heaven in the manner of his death. He died of an inflammation in his throat, and it is said that he was struck with this disease, as he was pronouncing sentence of excommunication and condemnation on the lord Cobham; and | from that time, notwithstanding all the assistance of medicine, he could swallow neither meat nor drink, and was starved to death. The Lollards imputed this lamentable end to the just judgment of God upon him, both for his severity towards that sect, and forbidding the scriptures to be translated into English; and bishop Godwin seems to lean to the same opinion. He was buried in the cathedral of Canterbury, near the west end, under a monument erected by himself in his life-time. He was a considerable benefactor to that church, having built the Lanthorn Tower, and great part of the Nave and he gave a ring of five bells, called from himArundel’s Ring," several rich vestments, a mitre enchased with jewels, a silver gilt crosier, a golden chalice for the high altar, and another to be used only on St. Thomas Becket’s day. He bestowed also the church of Godmersham, out of the income of which, he ordered six shillings and eight pence to be given annually to every monk of the convent, on the aforesaid festival. Lastly, he gave several valuable books, particularly two Missals, and a collection in one volume of St. Gregory’s works, with anathema to any person who should remove it out of the church. He appears to have possessed a great natural capacity, and was a splendid benefactor to many of our ecclesiastical structures. As a politician, he took a very active share in the principal measures of very turbulent times, and it is perhaps now difficult to appreciate his character in any other particulars than what are most prominent, his zeal for the catholic religion, and his munificence in the various offices he held. 1

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Biog. Brit. Some corrections and additions to that account are given in Bentham’s History of Ely.