Sewal de Bovill

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Archbishop, champion of the rights of the English church against the papacy; d. York, May 10, 1258. Having been a contemporary of edmund of abingdon at oxford where he studied theology and Canon Law, Sewal became chancellor of the university on May 11, 1244, archdeacon of York from 1245 to 1247, and then dean in 1247. He was elected archbishop of york in 1255 and consecrated in 1256 after obtaining papal dispensation on account of his illegitimacy. The writings attributed to him by Bishop Bale "are probably plausible creations of Bale's imagination" (A.B. Emden), while the synodal statutes attributed to him were probably those of his successor, Abp. Godfrey Ludham. He resisted the pope's intrusion of an Italian as his successor in the deanery of York and suffered papal excommunication. He thereby won the approval of the antipapal, contemporary chronicler, Matthew paris, who said that as much as he was cursed by the pope he was blessed by the people. He refused to collate the prebends of his cathedral to foreigners at the pope's will; thus, like Bp. Robert grosseteste, he set himself against what many Englishmen regarded as an abuse of papal authority (see provision). His correspondence with the Franciscan, Adam Marsh in 1256 further suggests that he belonged to the party that viewed with disfavor papal taxation and royal support for it.

Bibliography: m. paris, Chronica majora, ed. h. r. luard, 7 v. (Rolls Series 57; 187283) v.5. c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 17:1217. a.b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 1:233234. m. gibbs and j. lang, Bishops and Reform, 12151272 (London 1934; repr. 1962).

[h. mayr-harting]