Michael de Northburgh

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Bishop of London, minister of King Edward III; d. Copford, Essex, England, Sept. 9, 1361. He studied at Oxford and had received the M.A. and doctorate of civil law by 1336. He amassed innumerable benefices and, soon after becoming a canon of Lichfield and Hereford, entered the royal service, being sent in 1345 on an unsuccessful mission to the pope to obtain a dispensation for the Black Prince's marriage to a daughter of the Duke of Brabant. By 1346 he was a counselor and confessor to the king, whom he accompanied on his expedition against the French. The two letters Michael wrote describing the campaign from Saint-Vaast to Caen and from Poissy via Crécy to the siege of Calais are preserved in Robert of Avesbury's chronicle (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 43; 1889). By 1350 he was the king's secretary and keeper of the Privy Seal and thus in charge of war and foreign affairs. In 1354 he was appointed bishop of London by papal provision. Soon afterward he conducted fruitless peace negotiations with the French at the papal court at Avignon, and he was sent again in 1355 to treat with them at Guisnes. Impressed by the French carthusians, he became co-founder of the london charterhouse. He died of the plague. He had compiled a Concordancia of laws and canons, since lost; he left £2,000 to the Charterhouse, £1,000 to St. Paul's cathedral, and scholarships for law students at Oxford.

Bibliography: a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 2:136870. c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 190809, 192122, 1938; suppl. 1901) 14: 632633.

[b. s. smith]

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Michael de Northburgh

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