Richard of Canterbury

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Or Richard of Dover, Benedictine monk, successor to Abp. Thomas becket; d. Feb. 16, 1184. Richard, a Norman by birth, was of considerable importance in the development of Canon Law in England (see canon law, history of, 4). Educated at Christ Church, Canterbury, where he became a monk, he was later chaplain to Abp. theobald of canterbury. From 1157 he was prior of St. Martin's, Dover. His election to the See of Canterbury on June 3, 1173, though canonical, was contested; after a successful appeal, he was consecrated by Pope Alexander III on April 7, 1174, and appointed legate in his own province. Though he believed in cooperation with the lay power and was never extreme in his defense of the liberties of the Church, he was efficient and active in ecclesiastical administration and resolutely upheld the rights of his see. At Westminster in 1175 he presided over one of the earliest English provincial councils and promulgated some important canons. As judge delegate, legislator, and promoter of an influential decretal collection, he helped to build up a corpus of decretal law of permanent value.

Bibliography: Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, ed. j. c. robertson, 7 v. (Rerum Brittanicarum medii aevi scriptores 67; 187585) 7:561564. w. hunt, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 16:107780. r. foreville, L'Église et la royauté en Angleterre sous Henri II Plantagenet (Paris 1943) 371387, 517524. c. r. cheney, From Becket to Langton (Manchester, Eng.1956). c. n. l. brooke, "Canons of English Church Councils in the Early Decretal Collections," Traditio 13 (1957) 471479. c. duggan, Twelfth-Century Decretal Collections and Their Importance in English History (London 1963).

[m. chibnall]