Bourgchier, Thomas (Bourchier)

views updated


Archbishop of Canterbury, cardinal; b. c. 1410; d. Knole manor, Kent, England, March 30, 1486. A younger son of William Bourgchier, count of Eu, by Anne, daughter of Thomas, duke of Gloucester, Bourgchier's high birth marked him out for rapid advancement. An M.A. from Oxford (by 1433) and chancellor of the University (143437), he was made dean of St. Martins-le-Grand, London before taking orders and held canonries in Lichfield, Wells, Lincoln, and York (142835). In 1433 Cardinal Henry beaufort and the court party pressed him on Pope Eugene IV for the See of worcester, notwithstanding Bourgchier's lack of canonical age, although the pope had already provided Thomas brouns. The dispute lasted until March 9, 1435, when Bourgchier was appointed by a reluctant pope. By 1437 Bourgchier had become a royal councilor, and he spared little attention to either Worcester or ely, to which he was translated on Dec. 20, 1443. On June 21, 1454, he succeeded Cardinal John kemp as archbishop of Canterbury. Prominent as a mediator in the party struggles between 1452 and 1458, he supported the Yorkists in 1460 and became a loyal servant of King Edward IV, who persuaded Pope Paul IV to make Bourgchier a cardinal in September of 1467. Bourgchier held high office only briefly (as chancellor of England, March 1455October 1456), but was active in the court and council of Edward IV. As archbishop he crowned Edward IV in 1461, Richard III in 1483 (albeit with reluctance), and Henry VII in 1485. He was not regarded as merely serving his time, but won his contemporaries' respect, although his busy political life made him a negligent archbishop; in 32 years as primate he performed no ordinations and relied heavily on suffragans and officials in his diocesan administration.

Bibliography: Registrum Thome Bourgchier, ed. f. r. h. du boulay, 2 v. (Canterbury and York Society 54; Oxford 1957). c.l. scofield, The Life and Reign of Edward the Fourth, 2 v. (New York 1923). a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500 (Oxford 19571959) l:230232.

[c. d. ross]