Warham, William

views updated May 14 2018


Archbishop of Canterbury and lord chancellor of England; b. Church Oakley, Hampshire, England, 1450; d. Hackington, near Canterbury, Aug. 22, 1532. Warham was educated at Winchester and Oxford. After a variety of services to the crown, he was appointed bishop of London in 1501; two years later he was translated to Canterbury. In 1504 he became lord chancellor, and for the next 11 years he, together with Bishop Richard Fox, was one

of the two most powerful men in the kingdom headed by Henry VII and his son henry viii. In late 1515, Warham terminated his chancellorship and virtually retired, but despite the buffeting he received from Cardinal Thomas wolsey, his successor, Warham lived on; it was Wolsey who predeceased Warham. By 1530 the old archbishop had been recalled to the forefront of affairs by Henry's divorce and the first stages of the English Reformation.

Initially Warham supported Henry. For reasons unknown he had always been uneasy about the legitimacy of the King's marriage, and Henry now pinned much hope on him, but with remarkable courage Warham later turned against the King and condemned, at least, his methods. Furthermore (in early 1532), he denounced all that had recently been done against Rome and his see. The King replied to this double offense with a praemunire chargefor having consecrated the bishop of St. Asaph's without royal permission 14 years previously. Warham braced himself to fight, as a magnificent speech in selfdefense, still extant, shows. Then suddenly, it seems, he broke.

In May 1532 he acquiesced in the English clergy's surrender of their legislative independence to the King. Three months after Henry had won this victory, Warham died a natural death. He was a slow, forthright man, a generous friend of erasmus, and the subject of a masterpiece by Holbein. He was an upright archbishop who was jealous of his authority and remarkably devoted to St. Thomas becket.

Bibliography: j. gairdner, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 20:835840. p. hughes, The Reformation in England (New York 1963). h. m. smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (New York 1962). w. f. hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 v. (London 186084) 6:155421.

[j. j. scarisbrick]

Warham, William

views updated May 29 2018

Warham, William (c.1450–1532). Archbishop of Canterbury. Born in Hampshire and educated in law at New College, Oxford, Warham frequently served as a diplomat (1491–1502) and negotiated Prince Arthur's marriage to Catherine of Aragon (1496). He was successively master of the rolls (1494), bishop of London (1502), archbishop (1504), and lord chancellor (1504–15). A patron of the New Learning, he was chancellor of Oxford University (1506). From 1515 Wolsey, as cardinal, lord chancellor, and papal legate, constantly overshadowed Warham. Though originally disapproving of Henry and Catherine's marriage, he had crowned them, but was Wolsey's assessor in the secret inquiry of 1527. Under pressure he signed the petition requesting papal consent for a divorce. Though he led convocation's offer to buy off penalties of Praemunire (1531), conscience provoked him to protest formally (1532) against the anti-papal Acts passed since 1529. Described as ‘morose and inflexible’, he was nevertheless competent and conscientious.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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