Thomas Merks – the loyal bishop.

This is one of those posts without a picture.  I may track one down eventually.  Thomas Merks or Merke died in 1409.  He was Bishop of Carlisle for three years between 1397 and 1400.  His duties were not terribly onerous.  After all, Richard II could not really do without one of his principle advisors.  It was Merks who helped negotiate the King’s marriage to Anne of Bohemia.  The Westminster monk did much to make himself indispensable to Richard II.  He helped to negotiate the dowry of Isabella of Valois and he went with Richard to Ireland.  Some chronicles accused the bishop of enjoying evenings of carousing rather than prayer but these were Lancastrian chronicles and they had no love for the king’s bishop.

 In 1400 Merks found himself in the Tower.  He had remained loyal to his king even when Richard no longer had his throne.  Only one other bishop was deprived of his see by Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster who took on the title King Henry IV.  Merks  stood up in court to defend his master and paid a significant price.  He ended his days deputising for the Bishop of Winchester.  The family had links to the area – Merks nephew is buried in a local church.

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