Free Online Bible Library | Robert of Winchelsea

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Robert of Winchelsea

c.1240-1313. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1293/4. Born probably at Winchelsea, Sussex, he studied at Paris, where he became rector (1267), and at Oxford, where he was made chancellor (1288). In 1283 he was appointed archdeacon of Essex, and in 1293 was elected archbishop of Canterbury, but a vacancy in the papacy delayed his consecration until 1294. As champion of ecclesiastical rights and papal authority, he resisted Edward I's demands for clerical subsidies for war with France, but delayed for a year publishing Boniface VIII's bull Clericis laicos (1296) forbidding clergy to pay taxes to lay rulers. Accommodation was finally reached; but when Edward's vassal became Pope Clement V, Winchelsea was suspended (1306-8) until Edward's death. Recalled by Edward II, he was soon at odds again, joining the barons in their struggle with the king. Winchelsea was a capable administrator; he loved power, was jealous of his dignity, and was constantly involved in political and religious quarrels in which he used the power of excommunication.