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Courtenay, William

Courtenay, William (c.1342–96). Archbishop of Canterbury. Courtenay's aristocratic connections carried him rapidly up the ladder of preferment. Of the noble Devon family, he graduated in law at Oxford and was chancellor in 1367. In 1370, at the age of 28 or thereabouts, he became bishop of Hereford, transferring to London in 1375. His tenure there saw the Peasants' Revolt, in which Simon Sudbury, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered. Courtenay replaced him and for a short while held the great seal as chancellor. He opened Parliament with a sermon in English. Hostile to Wyclif and John of Gaunt's faction, Courtenay helped to force Wyclif into retirement at Lutterworth. His relations with the young king, Richard II, were turbulent. In 1385 they quarrelled violently when Courtenay attempted to rebuke him for his wild way of life, yet the archbishop supported the statute of Praemunire (1393), which curbed papal authority.

J. A. Cannon

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Courtenay, William

William Courtenay (kôrt´nē), c.1342–1396, English prelate, archbishop of Canterbury (1381–96). He was important for his condemnation of the doctrines of Wyclif and for suppressing the Lollards.

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