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Thurstan, or Turstin (d. 1140), archbishop of York, was the son of a certain Anger, or Auger, prebendary of St Paul's, London, and a brother of Audoen (d. 1139), bishop of Evreux.

He himself was a prebendary of St Paul's, and was also a clerk in the service of William II and then of Henry I, who secured his election as archbishop of York in August 1114.

He now entered upon the great controversy which occupied him during a large part of his subsequent life and made him for several years an exile from England. Archbishop Ralph of Canterbury refused to consecrate him unless he made a profession of obedience to the southern see; this Thurstan refused and asked the king for permission to go to Rome to consult Pope Paschal II. Henry I declined to allow him to make the journey, while Paschal declared against Archbishop Ralph. At the Council of Salisbury in 1116 the English king ordered Thurstan to submit, but instead he resigned his archbishopric, although this did not take effect.

The new pope, Gelasius II, and also his successor, Calixtus II, espoused the cause of the stubborn archbishop, and in October 1119, in spite of promises made to Henry I, he was consecrated by Calixtus at Reims. Enraged at this the king refused to allow him to enter England, and he remained for some time in the company of the pope. At length, however, his friends succeeded in reconciling him with Henry, and, after serving the king in Normandy, he was recalled to England, which he entered early in 1121.

Refusing to recognize the new archbishop of Canterbury, William de Corbeil, as his superior, Thurstan took no part in his consecration, and on two occasions both archbishops carried their complaints in person to Rome. In 1138 he made a truce at Roxburgh between England and Scotland, and took active part in gathering together the army which defeated the Scots at the Battle of the Standard in August 1138. Early in 1140 he entered the order of the Cluniacs at Pontefract and here he died on February 6 1140. Thurstan was generous to the churches of his diocese and was the founder of several religious houses.

See his life in the Fasti eboracenses, edited by J Raine (1863).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.