Bishop; b. c. 1381; d. Harfleur, France, Sept. 15, 1415. Richard was the son and heir of Sir Philip Courtenay of Powderham, Devon, a grandson of the earl of Devon, nephew of Abp. William courtenay of Canterbury, and related by marrage to Henry IV. He studied law at Oxford and in 1406 was elected chancellor of the university. Although his uncle the archbishop had suppressed the teachings of wyclif at Oxford in 1382, Richard attempted to block the visitation of Abp. Thomas arundel, which had been prompted by the presence of Lollard sympathizers at the university. Henry IV supported Arundel, forcing Richard to resign (1411), although he was soon reelected. In recognition of his work in completing the university library and in increasing its collection of books, he was granted the privilege of free access. Most important of the many ecclesiastical preferments which Richard's influential connections assured him was Norwich, of which he was consecrated bishop in 1413 (see norwich, ancient see of). Political interests, however, continued to hold his attention. He became a member of the royal council, treasurer of the royal household, and in 1414 led a peace embassy to France. Its failure led to hostilities, and Richard died at the siege of Harfleur in the presence of Henry V, who ordered his body buried in Westminster.
Bibliography: t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938; suppl. 1901–) 4:1265–67. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 1957–59) 1:500–502.