Kemp, John (Kempe)

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Cardinal, archbishop of Canterbury; b. near Ashford, Kent, c. 1377; d. Canterbury, March 22, 1454. He attended Merton College, specializing in Canon Law. He was appointed a member of the ecclesiastical courts, and in 1415 became dean of the Court of arches, having been made vicar-general of Abp. Henry chichele of Canterbury the year before. Henry V made him chancellor of Normandy and keeper of the privy seal in 1418. martin v provided him with the bishopric of Rochester on June 21, 1419. He was translated to Chichester, Feb. 28, 1421, only to accept papal provision for his translation to the bishopric of London the same year. He became archbishop of York, July 20, 1425. The king employed him on numerous diplomatic missions abroad, e.g., at the Council of basel and at Arras, and found him a strong supporter at home, for, as chancellor (142632), Kemp sided with Henry beaufort against Duke Humphrey of Gloucester. eugene iv recognized Kemp's abilities by creating him a cardinal priest in 1439. This caused a conflict with Abp. Chichele of Canterbury, for a cardinal of whatever rank had precedence over an archbishop. On July 21, 1452, Kemp became archbishop of Canterbury after having been continuously in the king's service during his 27 years at York. He is buried at Canterbury. There are no extant writings of Kemp. Although his diplomatic activity cannot have been conducive to exercising ecclesiastical influence, there is no evidence to suggest that he neglected his pastoral or episcopal duties. His career reflects the multifarious responsibilities of a competent higher ecclesiastic in the later Middle Ages.

Bibliography: w. f. hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 v. (London 186084) v.5. r. f. williams, Lives of the English Cardinals 2 v. (London 1868) 2:110123. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 2: 103132. w. ullmann, "Eugenius IV, Cardinal Kemp, and Archbishop Chichele," Medieval Studies, Presented to Aubrey Gwynn, S.J. (Dublin 1961).

[w. ullmann]