William of Longchamp

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Longchamp, William (d. 1197). Bishop and statesman. Longchamp was born in Normandy and was taken up by Richard, heir to Henry II, who appointed him chancellor of Aquitaine. When Richard succeeded in 1189, Longchamp was made chancellor of England, given the see of Ely, and became a papal legate. In the long absences of Richard, he was the most powerful man in the kingdom. With the bishop of Durham, he was appointed joint justiciar in 1189 and sole justiciar the following year. A recent arrival, with little or no English and a domineering manner, he was far from popular. Richard's brother John acted as a rallying-point for opposition to Longchamp; his seizure of Geoffrey, archbishop of York, scandalized many; and in 1191 he was besieged in the Tower and forced into exile on the continent. Richard continued to employ him on diplomatic and financial matters and he made two more brief visits to England in 1193 and 1194. He died at Poitiers on a mission to Rome. The hatred of most chroniclers, particularly Gerald of Wales, makes it hard to know the truth, but Longchamp was said to be stunted, lame, and uncouth.

J. A. Cannon

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