views updated May 18 2018

Geoffrey (c.1153–1212). Archbishop of York. A reluctant archbishop who preferred dogs and horses to books and priests. An illegitimate son of Henry II, his father secured his election as bishop of Lincoln in 1173; he had no wish to be a priest and in 1182 resigned rather than be consecrated. Henry then appointed him chancellor and Geoffrey served him faithfully, as he had during the rebellion of 1173–4, even when the king's other sons turned against him. ‘This is my true son, the others are the bastards’, the dying king is alleged to have said. Gossip suggested that Geoffrey hoped for the throne, so Richard I forced the reluctant canons of York to elect him archbishop in 1189 and later made him promise not to enter England while the king was on crusade. In 1191 he landed at Dover, taking sanctuary to avoid arrest, but was dragged from the altar. This enabled him to go to York in the heroic guise of a persecuted churchman. His archiepiscopate was filled with quarrels with his cathedral clergy and, from 1207, with King John. He spent his remaining years in exile in Normandy.

John Gillingham