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Simon Islip


Archbishop of Canterbury; b. probably at the village of Islip, near Oxford, England; d. Mayfield, Sussex, April 26, 1366. He prepared himself in both canon and civil law at Oxford and entered into a career as a lawyer in the ecclesiastical courts. He served the court of the bishop of Lincoln and later the Court of arches, whose principal officer he became in 1344. He held canonries in Lincoln, Lichfield, and London cathedrals as well as other benefices. When both john de offord and thomas bradwardine were successively struck down in the plague of 1349 shortly after their appointments to the See of Canterbury, Islip was provided at the King's request; his consecration took place on Dec. 20, 1349. He took action to remedy the dislocations caused by the plague epidemics and earned the unpopularity of the secular clergy by keeping their salaries at the preplague level. In 1361 Islip founded Canterbury Hall at Oxford to be supervised by the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. Its charter of 1363 provided for a warden and 11 fellows, both secular and regular (including four monks of Christ Church). In 1365 Islip's statutes altered the college's nature and made it a secular college, and Master John wyclif became its new warden. Moreover, Islip settled by amicable agreement the long-standing controversy between Canterbury and York over the latter archbishop's carrying his cross in the southern province. Authorship of the Speculum regis Edwardi was at one time attributed to Islip but is now more properly attributed to Abp. simon mepham. Two years before his consecration Islip was in the King's service as keeper of his privy seal and, as archbishop, he was used on several diplomatic missions by Edward III. His body was buried before the rood in Canterbury cathedral not far front the body of his nephew, Abp. William Whittlesey.

Bibliography: w. f. hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 v. (London 186084). j. tait, "On the Date and Authorship of the Speculum Regis Edwardi, " English Historical Review 16 (1901) 110115. t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, (London 18851900) 10:511514. j. r. l highfield, "The English Hierarchy in the Reign of Edward III," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 6 (1956) 115138. A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford 195759) 2:100608. m. mckisack, The 14th Century, 13071399 (Oxford 1959).

[f. d. logan]

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