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William of Turbeville


Bishop of Norwich, loyal partisan of Thomas becket; b. c. 1095; d. Norwich, Jan. 1174. William was educated in the Benedictine cathedral priory of norwich, where he was subsequently teacher and prior. In 1144, credulously accepting the unsubstantiated charges of the "ritual murder" of 12-year-old william of norwich by the Norwich Jewish community, he became the promoter of the "boy martyr's" cult. When he was elected bishop in 1146, he urged the monk Thomas of Monmouth to set down in writing the unreliable details of William's legend, thus instigating the first of an infamous series of ritual murder accusations against the Jews of Europe. Moreover, Bishop William moved the body of the boy to a place of high honor in Norwich cathedral and made his tomb a pilgrim attraction. Throughout the Becket controversy William gave the archbishop a unique and unfaltering loyalty.

Bibliography: thomas of monmouth, The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich, ed. and tr. a. jessopp and m. r. james (Cambridge, Eng. 1896). d. knowles, Abp. Thomas Becket: A Character Study (British Academy, London Proceedings, 1949, v.35; London 1952); The Episcopal Colleagues of Archbishop Thomas Becket (Cambridge, Eng. 1951). c. roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1941) 9, 13.

[a. r. hogue]

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