John Stratford

views updated


Archbishop of Canterbury, chancellor of England; b. Stratford-on-Avon; d. Mayfield, Sussex, Aug. 23, 1348. He was educated at Oxford, where by 1312 he was doctor of civil law. The demand for his legal skill gained him many benefices in the Church as well as civil offices, including that of royal envoy at the papal Curia in avi gnon, where King edward ii charged him to secure the election of robert baldok as bishop of winchester in 1323. Instead John secured his own appointment to Winchester by papal provision, much to the king's indignation. Though he was later readmitted to the king's favor, it was Stratford who drafted the six articles giving reasons for Edward II's deposition in 1327, and he was one of the bishops who obtained the king's consent to abdication. For the next decade Stratford was a leading actor on the political scene, serving as chancellor (133034, 133537, 1340) and in 1333 becoming archbishop of Canterbury. But in late 1340 he strongly objected to the foreign policy of edward iii, who returned from Flanders, removed Stratford's brother, robert stratford, from the chancellorship, and initiated a propaganda war upon Archbishop Stratford throughout England. Stratford replied on December 29 by comparing himself to the persecuted Thomas becket. When the king attempted to try Stratford in the court of exchequer, the archbishop insisted on taking his place in Parliament, thus vindicating the right of peers not to be tried outside of Parliament. Within a year (October 1341) Stratford was reconciled to the king, whom he continued to advise until his own death. He was always more a politician than a pastor.

Bibliography: t. f. tout, Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England, 6 v. (New York 192033) v. 3. m. mckisack, The Fourteenth Century, 13071399 (Oxford 1959). a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 3:179698.

[d. nicholl]