John of Oxford

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Bishop of Norwich, jurist; d. June 2, 1200. The son of Henry of Oxford, sheriff in 115455, John began his early career c. 115456 within the framework of family influence in Oxford, and c. 1160 he became rural dean of Oxford. It is clear that by 116364 John was engaged in royal administration. He was deeply involved in negotiations resulting from the archbishop Thomas becket dispute and perhaps presided at Clarendon in January 1164 (see clarendon, constitutions of). He was ubiquitous in the service of King henry ii in the years 1164 to 1170: on missions to Pope alexander iii (in 1164, 1166, and 116970), to King louis vii of France, to Philip of Flanders, and to Emperor frederick i; in dealings with the papal legates in 1169; and in Becket's company on the latter's return from exile in 1170. His intrusion as dean of Salisbury in 1165 at Henry's wish but against the commands of both pope and archbishop (in November 1166 he was finally appointed by papal collatio), together with his participation at the schismatical council of Würzburg on May 23, 1165, resulted in his excommunication by Becket at Vézelay on Whitsunday 1166. And, despite his subsequent reconciliation with the pope, John remained for the Becket party the former usurper dean and notorious jurator. Before and after his elevation to the bishopric of Norwich in 1175 (elected Nov. 26; consecrated Dec. 14) he was among the most active executants of Henry II's policies: in the Saxon and Sicilian marriage affairs of 1166 and 1176; in judicial business; as an archjusticiar of the realm in 1179; and as participant at many royal councils. His work as bishop is recorded in his acta and charters and in the decretals and commissions he received as a papal judge delegate. He was present at the Third lateran council of 1179 and set out on crusade with King richard i in 1190 but was absolved by the pope from his crusading oath on reaching Italy. Various writings have been, without clear evidence, attributed to him, and Daniel de Morley's Liber de naturis was dedicated to him.

Bibliography: r. w. eyton, Court, Household and Itinerary of King Henry II (London 1878). w. h. hutton, The Dictionary of National Biography From the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 15:1517. r. foreville, L'Église et la royauté en Angleterre sous Henri II Plantagenet (Paris 1943), passim. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 2:1414.

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