Peter des Roches

views updated


Bishop of Winchester; b. Poitiers, France, late 12th century; d. Farnham, England, June 9, 1238. Peter was a royal knight and chamberlain of King richard i and trusted counselor of King john. When he was elected bishop of winchester in 1205, the election was disputed, but he was consecrated by Pope innocent iii in person on Sept. 25, 1205. Peter was among the king's most faithful adherents during the Interdict of 1208 to 1213 and the struggle leading to magna carta in 1215, and he was justiciar from 1213 to 1215. His influence continued into the minority of Henry III, whom he crowned in 1216 and whose tutor he was for a while, but his power began to decline after 1219, and especially after 1223 when he came into competition with Hubert de Burgh (d.1243). Dismissed from office in 1227, he went on crusade with Emperor frederick ii and returned to England in 1231. A reversal of fortune led to the eclipse of De Burgh and the supremacy of Peter's adherents in 1232 to 1234, but he again fell out of favor, this time through the hostility of Abp. edmund of abingdon, and went into exile in 1235. He supported Pope gregory ix in his campaigns against the Romans and returned to England in 1236; after his death he was buried at Winchester.

Peter's work as bishop is reflected in the papal letters he received and in his synodal statutes, dating probably from 1224, implementing the canons of the Fourth lateran council of 1215, which he did not attend, and of stephen langton's synod of Oxford in 1222. He was the founder of many churches and religious houses and a distinguished manager of his episcopal properties as is shown from the earliest pipe rolls of the bishopric of Winchester, which survive from his time and record an exceptional maturity of estate administration. A great and magnificent prelate, both hated and respected, at once bishop, statesman, warrior, and diplomat, Peter transcended the merely regional interests of the kingdom and was a European figure in Church and State alike.

Bibliography: w. e. rhodes, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900. (London 18851900) 15:938942. m. gibbs and j. lang, Bishops and Reform, 12151272 (London 1934; repr. 1962). f. m. powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward, 2 v. (New York 1947); The Thirteenth Century (Oxford History of England 4; 2d ed. 1962); Councils and Synods, ed. f. m. powicke and c. r. cheney, 2 v. (Oxford 1964) 2:125137. Selected Letters of Pope Innocent III concerning England, ed. c. r. cheney and w. h. semple (London 1953). The Pipe Roll of the Bishopric of Winchester, 12101211, ed. n. r. holt (Manchester, Eng. 1964).

[c. duggan]