Peter des Roches

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Peter des Roches (dā rōsh), d. 1238, English churchman and statesman, b. Poitou. A chamberlain under Richard I of England, then entered the service of King John, who gave him rich estates and made him (1205) bishop of Winchester. In John's struggle with Pope Innocent III, Peter took the part of the king as far as he could without endangering his office. He was made justiciar in 1214, but unpopular with the barons, Peter was replaced in 1215 by Hubert de Burgh. On the accession (1216) of Henry III, Peter became the young king's guardian, and after the death (1219) of the regent, William Marshall, 1st earl of Pembroke, he struggled for power with Hubert de Burgh. Hubert prevailed, and in 1227 Peter left to join a crusade under Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. He returned to England in 1231, secured the fall (1232) of Hubert, and placed his nephew (or possibly his son), Peter des Rivaux, in charge of the royal household. The rule of the two Peters soon provoked a baronial revolt (1233–34), and Henry was forced to dismiss them. In 1235 Peter des Roches left England and entered the service of the pope. He returned in 1236 and eventually was reconciled with Hubert de Burgh.

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Roches, Peter des (c.1175–1238). A cleric from the Touraine, he entered royal service in the 1190s and was rewarded with the bishopric of Winchester in 1205. He remained loyal to the king throughout John's quarrel with the papacy and was appointed justiciar in 1213 and then guardian of the young Henry III in 1216. He was a key figure in the minority government, his military skill helping to win the 1217 battle of Lincoln. Ousted by his rival Hubert de Burgh in 1227, he went on crusade—and did much to enhance his reputation—before returning to England and, for a while (1232–4), regaining his dominant position at court. Although certainly not indifferent to religion, his career priorities laid him open to criticism—‘sharp at accounting, slack at scripture’ said one satirist. The most prominent of the foreigners active in English politics, labelled ‘the Poitevins’ by their opponents, Peter was an easy target.

John Gillingham