From Becket to Langton: English Church Government, 1170- 1213

By C. R. Cheney | Go to book overview

I
INTRODUCTION

THE jubilee of St. Thomas Becket was celebrated on 7 July 1220 by his successor, Stephen Langton, in the cathedral church which was the scene of Becket's murder fifty years before. Becket had suffered exile for six years, and then martyrdom, for the sake of clerical immunity from lay control; Langton, before he reached his see of Canterbury in 1213, suffered exile for six years in what was essentially the same cause. Not surprisingly, Langton (who was probably old enough in 1170 to be shocked by the assassination) looked back to Becket to give himself courage in his undertakings. His fortitude and misfortunes made at least one contemporary, Gerald of Wales, compare the two archbishops and see in Langton the first true successor of St. Thomas.

The eminence of the two archbishops and the dramatic episodes in which they were involved have led recent historians of the Church to look at the intervening period-- between 1170 and 1213--from one or other of its terminal points. Some scholars, it is true, recognize that it should not be treated simply as epilogue or prologue. The recent general works of Dr. Poole and Dr. Barlow examine briefly the church history of this period for its own sake, so to speak, free from preoccupation with past or future. But this has not been the usual tendency.1

On the one hand, we are shown the end of an age. Little conspicuous advance is made in adjusting the claims of Church and State beyond the settlement of 1172; the bishops have not the same sort of distinction as Becket's

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1
Dom Adrian Morey observed in 1937: 'The history of the English Church during the twelfth century has been approached almost exclusively from the Political side' ( Bartholomew of Exeter, p. 79).

-1-

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From Becket to Langton: English Church Government, 1170- 1213
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations ix
  • I - Introduction 1
  • II - The Bishops 19
  • III - England and Rome 42
  • IV - Church and State 87
  • V - The Diocese 119
  • VI - The Laity 155
  • Appendix I - Providees and Italians in English Benefices 178
  • Appendix II - Early Vicarages in the Diocese of Lincoln 182
  • Appendix III - Selected Documents 186
  • Index 201
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