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Simon Langham

Simon Langham (d. 1376), archbishop of Canterbury and cardinal, was born at Langham in Rutland, becoming a monk in the abbey of St Peter at Westminster, and later prior and then abbot of this house.

In 1360 he was made treasurer of England and in 1361 he became bishop of Ely; he was appointed chancellor of England in 1363 and was chosen archbishop of Canterbury in 1366.

Perhaps the most interesting incident in his primacy was when he drove the secular clergy from their college of Canterbury Hall, Oxford, and filled their places with monks. The expelled head of the seculars was a certain John de Wiclif, who has been identified with the great reformer Wycliffe.

Notwithstanding the part Langham as chancellor had taken in the anti-papal measures of 1365 and 1366 he was made a cardinal by Pope Urban V in 1368. This step lost him the favour of Edward III, and two months later he resigned his archbishopric and went to Avignon. He was soon allowed to hold other although less exalted positions in England, and in 1374 he was elected archbishop of Canterbury for the second time; but he withdrew his claim and died at Avignon on July 22 1376. Langham’s tomb is the oldest monument to an ecclesiastic in Westminster Abbey; he left the residue of his estate--a large sum of money--to the abbey, and has been called its second founder.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.