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Simon Mepham


Archbishop of Canterbury; b. Mepham, Kent, England; d. Mayfield, Sussex, Oct. 12, 1333. He studied at Oxford, acquiring his M.A. by 1295 and becoming a doctor of theology by 1315. Consecrated archbishop of Canterbury in June 1328, he held provincial councils at St. Paul's, London, January-February 1329 (where he proclaimed the Feast of the immaculate conception); at Winchester March 11, 1330, and at Mayfield, Sussex, July 27, 1332. In 1329 he refused to install Annibale da Ceccano, Archbishop of Naples, as rector of Maidstone, was subsequently cited to the Curia, and was suspended by Pope john xxii. A visitation of his own diocese in 1329 led to a conflict with the Abbey of saint augus tine, Canterbury. The nuncio adjudicated the case in favor of the abbey after Mepham refused to comply with the citation of the nuncio. As a result, Mepham was suspended from office in 1330 and excommunicated. Politically, Mepham had been one of the key figures in 132829 when King Edward III attempted to assert his independence at the court still dominated by Mortimer. His own appointment as archbishop, engineered by Henry, Earl of Lancaster, had been directed against Bp. Henry Burghersh of Lincoln, who was Mortimer's choice. Mepham was instrumental in bringing about Lancaster's submission to the young King's grace at Bedford, in January 1329. Mepham died excommunicate, but his body received absolution Oct. 26, 1333, and was buried in Canterbury cathedral, in St. Peter's chapel in the south ambulatory of the choir.

Bibliography: j. tait, "On the Date and Authorship of the Speculum Regis Edwardi, " English Historical Review 16 (1901) 110115, work of Mepham? t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 13:260263; Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England, 6 v. (New York 192033). a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 2:1261.

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