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Walter Reynolds


Archbishop of Canterbury; b. Windsor, Berkshire; d. Mortlake, Surrey, England, Nov. 16, 1327. The son of a baker, Reynolds played a prominent role in affairs of state in the early years of the reign of King Edward II. Very early in life he found his way into the royal service and, doubtless, was trained in a royal department. His rise in ecclesiastical and secular offices can be traced to his close association, during the reign of Edward I, with the Prince of Wales, becoming keeper of his wardrobe in 1301. When the Prince acceded to the throne as Edward II in 1307, Reynolds soon found himself bishop of worcester and treasurer of England. In 1310 Edward made him his chancellor, which office he held almost uninterruptedly until 1314, when he surrendered it in the changes following the English defeat at Bannockburn. When the See of Canterbury fell vacant at the death of the saintly robert of winchelsea in 1313, the king securedby suitable subventions, it was rumoredReynolds appointment by Pope Clement V, who quashed the election of thomas of cobham by the Canterbury monks. Weak in character and limited in intelligence, Reynolds must be numbered among the least qualified archbishops of Canterbury. Politically, he exerted no effective force in the waning years of Edward II's reign and, at length and tardily, gave his support to the Queen and the revolution that culminated in the crowning of Edward III. His body rests in the south choir aisle of Canterbury cathedral.

Bibliography: His register as bishop of Worcester has been pub. by the Dugdale Society, v.9, and by the Worcestershire Historical Society, v.39, ed. r. a. wilson. w. f. hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 v. (London 186084) v.3. t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 16:963966. w. e. l. smith, Episcopal Appointments and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II (Chicago 1938). k. edwards, "The Political Importance of the English Bishops during the Reign of Edward II," English Historical Review 59 311347.

[f. d. logan]

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