William Wareham left Oxford in 1488 to follow a career in the ecclesiastical courts. His reputation was such that he was soon being sent abroad on diplomatic missions. In 1502 he became Bishop of London, then in 1503 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. The following year Henry VII made Wareham his chancellor.
In his capacity of Archbishop of Canterbury he crown Henry VIII and his new bride Katherine of Aragon. Initially he maintained his role of king’s advisor but Henry became increasingly reliant upon Wolsey who received his cardinal’s hat from Wareham in 1515. That same year Wareham resigned in part because he disagreed with Henry VIII’s anti-French policy but in 1520 he was part of the Field of Cloth of Gold where Henry and Francis I of France declared undying friendship.
Wareham was loyal to Henry even though he didn’t always agree with him. At the time of the King’s Great Matter in 1527 it was Wareham who was appointed to represent Katherine, which was not particularly helpful to the queen as he refused to give her any advice based on the principal that the king’s wishes should not be opposed. In fact he signed a petition to the Pope Clement VII requesting that the divorce should be granted. It was even suggested that as Archbishop of Canterbury he should try the case but fortunately for him this idea fizzled out. He was doing his best to maintain the Church in the face of Henry’s growing hostility towards it and the Pope.
In 1531 he was in charge of the Convocation that handed £100,000 over to Henry in order to avoid the charge of praemunire (obeying a foreign authority). He also accepted Henry VIII as the supreme head of the church with the caveat that allowed most men to accept the oath “so far as the law of Christ allows.” Perhaps he realised that Henry would never be satisfied and tried to pursue the rights of the Church but it was too late – he was old and tired. He died on 22 August 1532.
The painting of Wareham is after the style of Hans Holbein – a sketch of Wareham’s head by Holbein is in the Royal Collection which was executed (okay perhaps not a good word to use in the context of anyone alive during the reign of Henry VIII) during Holbein’s first visit to England in 1526-28.
I watched the new programme about the year in the life of the York Minster last night and was fascinated to discover that King William the Conqueror was illiterate – not even able to sign his name. The Accord of Winchester which was signed on the 27th of May 1072 making the Archbishop of Canterbury more important than the Archbishop of York has the king’s cross next to his name. But why was there a need for an accord?
William the Conqueror might have thought that the Battle of Hastings was it so far as his hostile takeover bid for England was concerned. However there were rebellions throughout his new realm from Exeter where King Harold’s mother encouraged the locals to express their resentment to the border between England and Wales where Wild Edric was …well…just wild. In East Anglia, Hereward the Wake proved himself to be intransigent and in the north they were just plain stroppy.
In addition to the headache of governing a belligerent population there was also the small question of the church in England. Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury who had been King Canute’s chaplain and who had become a key political player in the power struggles between Edward the Confessor and Earl Godwin was initially kept on but by 1070 William had decided enough was enough. The archbishop was removed and imprisoned in Winchester (he was also Bishop of Winchester) and replaced by Lanfranc.
In York Archbishop Ealdred who’d been in place since 1060 having previously been Bishop of Worcester and who’d been one of the principal men sent to bring Edward the Exile home to England from Hungary on King Edward’s orders now backed the wrong men. He crowned King Harold and supported Edgar the Atheling’s claim to the throne but ultimately made his submission to William and crowned him in Westminster on Christmas Day 1066. Ealdred went to Normandy as a hostage along with Edgar the Atheling in 1067. Perhaps conveniently for William the archbishop died a couple of years later enabling the Norman king to shoehorn Thomas of Bayeaux into post in 1070.
Presumably William thought that he’d got supportive clerics at hand. What he hadn’t bargained for was that each man wanted to be the most important cleric in the kingdom and each argued that his diocese should take precedence over the other. Eventually William arrived at his conclusions and the Accord of Winchester was signed in 1072 – it was briefly reversed in 1127.