Fitzherbert) of York (d.1154. Archbishop of York. Of noble birth, he was a chaplain of King Stephen of England, and by 1114 had become treasurer and canon of York Cathedral. As Stephen's candidate he was elected archbishop in 1142. He was opposed, however, by the Yorkshire Cistercians, whose candidate was the strict Cistercian, Henry Murdac. They attributed his election to simony and royal pressure, and Theobald,* archbishop of Canterbury, refused William consecration. Both sides appealed to Rome. Despite the opposition of * and his whole Cistercian Order, Innocent II cleared the way for William's consecration at Winchester (1143) by Henry, bishop of Winchester, who was the king's brother as well as papal legate. Complaints were renewed against William at the accession of a Cistercian to the papacy. Influenced by Bernard, suspended William from office in 1147. He was deposed by the Council of Reims (1147) after his supporters burned the Cistercian Fountains Abbey where Murdac was now abbot. Murdac was elected to York in his place, and William, who found refuge with his friend, the bishop of Winchester, devoted himself to prayer and study.
When Bernard, Eugenius, and Murdac died (1153), William's appeal for restoration was granted by Pope Anastasius IV (1154). William's death, one month after his return, was said to have been caused by poisoning. Considered a martyr and revered for his sanctity as well as for miracles alleged in connection with his return and after his death, William was canonized in 1226. The events of his career constitute a notorious example of twelfth- century ecclesiastical politics.