Bishop, statesman, and humanist; d. Portsmouth, Jan. 9, 1450. Moleyns, who played an important role in the development of English humanism, was the son of Sir Richard Moleyns. He was educated at Oxford, where he secured degrees in civil and canon law in 1435. By 1434 he was already a papal chamberlain and member of the papal household, where he befriended the humanist poggio bracciolini and cultivated the humanities. In 1435 he became king's proctor in Rome, went to the Council of basel, and then returned home, where he was made clerk of the council in 1436. Under Henry VI he served as envoy to Aachen and Cologne in 1438, to the Frankfurt Diet in 1441, and to the pope in 1442. Meanwhile, he collected an impressive number of ecclesiastical benefices. As keeper of the Privy Seal from 1444 to 1449 and bishop of chichester (1445) he held, together with the Duke of Suffolk, a key position in English politics. He was killed by a mob of mutinous sailors. Moleyns's correspondence with Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (later Pope pius II) displays his mastery of humanist Latin. His authorship of the Libelle of Englysche Polycie (ed. G. Warner, 1926) is by no means certain.
Bibliography: w. hunt, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900) 13:578–580. r. weiss, Humanism in England during the Fifteenth Century (2d ed. Oxford 1957) 80–83. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to a.d. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 1957–59) 2:1289–1291. w. f. schirmer, Der englische Frühhumanismus (2d ed. Tübingen 1963) 95–97.