views updated May 14 2018

Theobald (d. 1161). Archbishop of Canterbury. Theobald's long tenure of the archbishopric was in an exceptionally turbulent period. He became abbot of Bec in Normandy in 1137 and was appointed to Canterbury by King Stephen in 1138. In the civil war which raged Theobald managed to keep some balance between Stephen and his rival Matilda. But much of his time was devoted to beating off attacks on his authority. He suffered from the prominence of Stephen's brother Henry of Blois, who was bishop of Winchester, a papal legate, and an ambitious cleric. In 1148 he incurred Stephen's wrath by attending a papal council at Rheims and retorted with an interdict which was little regarded. There was a further dispute in 1152 when Theobald refused to crown Stephen's son Eustace, and another resort to interdict. He fought a long-running battle against St Augustine's monastery at Canterbury, clashed with the rival archbishop of York, and resisted the claims of the archbishop of Armagh to the primacy of Ireland. After Henry II succeeded in 1154, life was easier, with John of Salisbury to advise and assist him. But much of his archiepiscopate looks like a dress rehearsal for the even greater convulsions under his successor Thomas Becket.

J. A. Cannon