Fitzralph, Richard (DNB00)

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FITZRALPH, RICHARD, in Latin Ricardus films Radulphi, often referred to simply as 'Armachanus' or 'Ardmachanus' (d. 1360), archbishop of Armagh, was born probably in the last years of the thirteenth century at Dundalk in the county of Louth. The place is expressly stated by the author of the St. Albans 'Chronicon Angliæ' (p. 48, ed. E. M. Thompson) and in the 'Annales Hiberniæ' (an. 1337, 1360, in Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, ii. 381, 393, ed. J. T. Gilbert, 1884). Fitzralph has been claimed by Prince (Worthies of Devon, p. 294 et seq., Exeter, 1701) for a Devon man, solely on the grounds of his consecration at Exeter, and of the existence of a family of Fitzralphs in the county.

Fitzralph was educated at Oxford, where he is said to have been a disciple of John Baconthorpe [q. v.], and where he devoted himself with zeal and success to the scholastic studies of the day, which he afterwards came to regard as the cause of much profitless waste of time (Summa in Quæstionibus Armenorum, xix. 35, f. 161 a. col. 1). He became a fellow of Balliol College, and it was as an ex-fellow that he subscribed in 1325 his assent to a settlement of a dispute in the college as to whether members of the foundation were at liberty to follow studies in divinity. The decision was that they were not permitted to proceed beyond the study of the liberal arts (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 443).

It has been commonly stated that Fitzralph was at one time a fellow or scholar of University College ; but the assertion is part of the well-known legend about that college fabricated in 1379, when the society, desirous of ending a wearisome lawsuit, endeavoured to remove it to the hearing of the king's council. For this purpose they addressed a petition to the king, setting forth that the college was founded by his progenitor, King Alfred, and thus lay under the king's special protection. They further added, to show the services which the college had performed in the interest of religious education, 'que les nobles Seintz Joan de Beverle, Bede, Richard Armecan, et autres pluseurs famouses doctours et clercs estoient jadys escolars en meisme votre college' (printed by James Parker, Early History of Oxford, App. A. 22, p. 316, Oxford, 1885 ; cf. William Smith, Annals of University College, pp. 124-8, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1728). This audacious fiction with its wonderful inversion of chronology can scarcely be said to establish any fact about Fitzralph, except the high, if not saintly, reputation which he had acquired within twenty years of his death.

Fitzralph seems to have continued residence at Oxford for some time after the lapse of his fellowship, and about 1333 he is said to have been commissary (or vice-chancellor) of the university. It is more likely, however, that he was chancellor, although Anthony à Wood expressly states (Fasti Oxon. p. 21) that this is an error ; for when he goes on to say that the chancellor at that time was necessarily resident, and that Fitzralph could not be so since he was dean of Lichfield, it is clear that he has mistaken the date of the latter's preferment ; and one can hardly doubt his identity with 'Richard Radyn,' who appears in Wood's list as chancellor in the very year 1333, but whose name is written in another copy 'Richardus Radi' (Smith, p. 125. Radi being evidently Radi, the usual contraction for Radulphi). Fitzralph was now a doctor of divinity. On 10 July 1334 he was collated to the chancellorship of Lincoln Cathedral (Le NEve, Fasti Eccl Anglic. ii. 92, ed. Hardy), and probably soon afterwards was made archdeacon of Chester. The last preferment must have been some time after 1330 (ib. i. 561). Bale, by an error, calls him archdeacon of Lichfield (Scriptt. Brit. Cat. v. 93, p. 444) ; it was to the deanery of Lichfield thai he was advanced by the provision of Pope Benedict XII in 1337, and installed 20 April (T. Chesterfield, De Episc. Coventr. et Lichf. in Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i. 443). An express notice of William de Chambre (Cont. Hist. Dunelm. in Hist. Dunelm. Script, tres, p. 128, Surtees Soc., 1839) mentions Fitzralph in company with Thomas Bradwardine, the future primate, Walter Burley, Robert Holcot, and others, among those scholars who were entertained in the noble household of Richard of Bury, bishop of Durham, a reverence which probably belongs to a date subsequent to Bury's elevation to the see in 1333 From his deanery at Lichfield Fitzralph was advanced by provision of Clement VI to the archbishopric of Armagh, and was consecrated at Exeter by Bishop John of Grandison and three other prelates on 8 July 1347 (Stubbs, Reg. Sacr. Angl. p. 55 ; Chesterfield, 1. c. ; Sir J. Ware, De Præsul. Hibern. p. 20, Dublin, 1665).

The fact that Fitzralph owed both his highest preferments to papal influence renders it probable that he was held in favour at the court of Avignon, though it is certain that he was never made, as has been stated, a cardinal. It has not, however, been noticed that he was frequently in Avignon previously to his well-known visit in 1357. Among his collected sermons (of which, either in full or in reports, the Bodleian MS. 144 contains no less than eighty-eight) there are some which were delivered before the pope on 7 July 1335, in November 1338, in December 1341, in September and December 1342, and in December 1344, dates which may possibly even point to a continuous residence at Avignon, taken in connection with the circumstance that his sermons preached in England begin in 1345. He was cnce more in Avignon in August 1349, having been sent thither by the king of England on business connected with the jubilee announced for 1350. A memorial of this remains in the manuscript already referred to (f. 246 b), and in other copies, containing under this date Fitzralph's 'Propositio exparte illustris principis domini regis Edwardi III in consistorio pro gratia jubilea eiusdem domini regis populo obtinenda.' It is highly probable that it was this opportunity which brought Fitzralph into connection with the negotiations then going on between the Armenian church and the pope. The Armenians had sought help from Boniface XII against the advance of the Mussulman, and the pope had required them as an antecedent condition to abjure their heresies, which were set out in 117 articles (enumerated at length in Raynald. Ann. an. 1341, xlix et seq. ; summarised by Gieseler, Eccl. Hist. iii. 157 n. 2, Engl. trans., Philadelphia, 1843) . The Armenians held a council in 1342 (see the text in Martène and Durand, Vet. Scriptt. Ampliss. Coll. vii. 312 et seq.) ; the pope sent them legates, and a correspondence followed, which led to the visit of two of their body — Nerses, archbishop of Melasgerd (Manasgardensis), and John, elect of Khilát (Clatensis) — to Avignon for further consultation. Fitzralph took part in the interviews which were arranged with them, and at their request wrote an elaborate treatise in nineteen books, examining and refuting the doctrines in which the Armenians differed from catholic Christians. The book is called on the title-page 'Richardi Radulphi Summa in Quæstionibus Armenorum,' but the first book is headed 'Summa de Erroribus Armenorum.' It was edited by Johannes Sudoris, and printed by Jean Petit at Paris in 1511. The facts that Fitzralph dwells upon his personal intercourse with Nerses and John, and that he mentions Clement VI as living, seem to expose an error in Raynaldus, who says (an. 1353, xxv. vol. vi. 588) that it was Innocent VI who invited them in 1353. If this correction is accepted, there is no reason to doubt that the meetings with the Armenians, described at the opening of Fitzralph's treatise, took place during his visit to Avignon in 1349. On the other hand, the concluding chapter of the last book, which alludes to the troubles he had suffered from opponents, looks as though it were added at a later date, if, indeed (which is questionable on internal grounds), it is the work of Fitzralph at all.

If his efforts to promote a reconciliation with the Armenian church redounded to Fitzralph's fame abroad as a champion of catholic orthodoxy, in England he had already won a position of high eminence as a divine, both by solid performances as a teacher and writer on school theology, and by sermons, many of which are extant, preached at various places in England and Ireland. These, though preserved or reported in Latin, are generally stated to have been delivered in English ('in vulgari'). One of them was preached 'in processione Londoniæ facta pro rege,' after the French campaign of 1346. He appears to have been popular on all hands, and in great request as a preacher. His visit to Avignon, however, in 1349, brought him, so far as is known, for the first time into that conflict with the mendicant orders which lasted until the end of his life, and left his posthumous reputation to be agitated between the opposed parties in the church. Previously he had often preached in the friars' convents at Avignon. Thus we possess his sermon at the general chapter of the Dominicans there, 8 Sept. 1342 (Bodl. MS. 144, f. 141), and another in the Franciscan church on St. Francis's day in this very year 1349. He was charged, however, on this visit, with a petition from the English clergy reciting certain well-known complaints against the friars. This memorial, 'Propositio ex parte prælatorum et omnium curatorum totius Ecclesiæ coram papa in pleno consistorio . . . adversus ordines mendicantes' (Bodl. MS. 144, f. 251 b he presented on 5 July 1350. Before this, not later than the beginning of May, Pope Clement had appointed a commission, consisting of Fitzralph and two other doctors, to inquire into the main points at issue ; but after long deliberation they seem to have come to no positive decision, and Fitzralph was urged by certain of the cardinals to write an independent treatise on the subject. This work, as he completed it some years later, is the treatise 'De Pauperie Salvatoris' mentioned below (see the dedication to that work). In the meantime some complaints appear to have been laid against him before the king in respect of his behaviour in Ireland, where he was said to have presumed upon the favour he enjoyed at the pope's hands. The king's decision went against him. First, 20 Nov. 1349, the archbishop's license to have his cross borne before him in Ireland was revoked (Rymer, Fœdera, iii. pt. i. 190 seq., ed. 1825), and next, 18 Feb. 1349-50, the king wrote to the Cardinal of St. Anastasia to procure the disallowal of Fitzralph's claim of supremacy over the see of Dublin, and to the archbishop commanding his return to his diocese (ib. 192; the two letters of 18 Feb. appear, in this edition of the Fœdera only, also under date 1347-8, at pp. 154 seq.) But down to the end of the year at least we find Fitzralph's claims supported by riots which called for active measures on the part of the government (ib. pp. 211 seq.)

At Avignon, as has been seen, Fitzralph had thus appeared as the official spokesman of the secular clergy, and this attitude he maintained after his return to Ireland. How matters reached a crisis six years later not uite certain. Wadding, speaking for the Franciscans, asserts that he had attempted to possess himself of an ornament from one of their churches, and, being foiled in this, proceeded to a general attack upon the order, for which he was summoned, at the instance of the warden of Armagh, to make his defence at the papal court (Ann. Min. vii. 127, ed. 1733). He does not, however, name his authority. Fitzralph's own account, in the 'Defensio Curatorum,' is that in 1356 he visited London on business connected with his diocese, and there found a controversy raging about the question of 'evangelical poverty.' On this subject he at once preached a number of sermons, laying down nine propositions, which centred in the assertion that poverty was neither of apostolic observance nor of present obligation, and that mendicancy was without warrant in scripture or primitive tradition. Out of these 'seven or eight' sermons four were printed by Johannes Sudoris at the end of his edition of the 'Summa in Quæstionibus Armenorum.' They were all preached in English at St. Paul's Cross, and range in date from the fourth Sunday in Advent to the third Sunday in Lent 1356-7. The dean of St. Paul's, Richard Kilmington (or Kilwington), his old friend from the time when they were together in Bishop Bury's household, stood by him (W. Rede, Vitæ Pontif. ap. Tanner, Bibl. Brit. p. 197) ; but the anger of the English friars was hotly excited, and the Franciscan, Roger Conway [q. v.], wrote a set reply to the archbishop's positions. It was then, and in consequence of this discussion, Fitzralph asserts (Defensio Curatorum, ad init.), that his opponents succeeded in procuring his citation to defend his opinions before the pope, Innocent VI, at Avignon. The king forbade him, 1 April 1357, to quit the country without special leave (Rymer, iii. pt. i. 352) ; but the prohibition seems to have been withdrawn, since he was at the papal court before 8 Nov., on which day he preached a sermon in support of his position, which has been frequently published, and exists in numerous manuscripts, under the title of 'Defensio Curatorum contra eos qui privilegiatos se dicunt' (printed by John Trechsel, Lyons, 1496 ; also in Goldast's 'Monarchia,' ii. 1392 et seq., Frankfurt, 1614; Brown's 'Fasciculus Rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum,' ii. 466 et seq., and elsewhere).

It was probably in connection with this sermon that Fitzralph completed and put forth his treatise 'De Pauperie Salvatoris,' in seven books, of which the first four will shortly be published for the first time as an appendix to Wycliffe's book 'De Dominio Divino' (edited by R. L. Poole for the Wyclif Society). The interest of this work is partly that it resumes the catholic contention against the mendicant orders which had been accepted by the council of Vienne and by Pope John XXII, and links this to a general view of human relations towards God which was taken up in its entirety by Wycliffe, and made by him the basis of a doctrinal theory which was soon discovered to be, if not heretical, at least dangerous. Fitzralph, however, suffered no actual condemnation ; it is hard to see how he could have been made to suffer for maintaining a position which had been upheld in recent years, though in different circumstances, by the highest ecclesiastical authority ; and it is likely that he died at Avignon before judgment was pronounced, or perhaps even contemplated. A notarial instrument of the case, of which, there is a copy in the Bodleian MS. 158, f. 174, contains the information that Fitzralph's case was entrusted by the pope to four cardinals for examination, 14 Nov., and gives the particulars on which this should proceed. But unfortunately we have no record of the conclusion arrived at. Wadding (Ann. Min. viii. 127 et seqq., ed. 1733) states that while the inquiry was going on the pope wrote letters, 1 Oct. 1358, to the English bishops restraining them for the time from any interference with the practices of the friars to which Fitzralph had made objections ; and that in the end silence was imposed upon the archbishop, and the friars were confirmed in their privileges. This last fact is not disputed ; the friars gained their point (cf. Walsingham, Hist. Anglic. i. 285, ed. H. T. Riley) : but whether they succeeded in obtaining Fitzralph's condemnation is more than doubtful. Hermann Corner {in Eccard, Corp. Hist. Med. Ævi, iii. 1097) goes so far as to say that he was arrested at Avignon and there perished miserably. But Wadding himself admits in his margin that he died 're infecta,' and the common account as that he died in peace at an advanced age before any formal decision upon his propositions had been reached (F. Bosquet, Pontif. Rom. Gall. Hist. p. 131, Paris, 1632). It is significant that some time before this a subsidy had been levied upon the clergy of the diocese of Lincoln, where he had formerly been chancellor, to contribute towards his expenses during his stay at the papal court (Reg. Gynewell. ap. Tanner, 284 note c), and Wycliffe implies that a collection of a more general kind was made for his support (Fascic. Zizan. p. 284 ; Trialogus, iv. 36, p. 375, ed. G. V. Lechler) ; while a Benedictine chronicler asserts roundly, under the year 1368, that it was in consequence of the default of the English clergy and the abundant resources of the friars that the latter received a confirmation of their privileges, 'adhuc pendente lite' (Chron. Angl. p. 38 ; Walsingham, Hist. Anglic. i. 285).

The date of Fitzralph's death was probably 16 Nov. 1360 (Ware, De Præsul. Hib. p. 21 ; Cotton, Fast. Eccl. Hib. iii. 15) ; but the 'Chronicon Angliæ,' p. 48, and, among modern writers, Bale (l. c.) give the day as that of St. Edmund the king or 20 Nov. The former date, '16 Kal. Dec.,' has been sometimes misread as 16 Dec. (Ann. Hib. an. 1360, p. 393 ; Wadding, viii. 129), and Wadding hesitates whether the year was 1360 or 1359, the latter year being given by Leland (Comm. de Scriptt. Brit. p. 373). That Fitzralph's death took place at Avignon may be accepted as certain. The discordant account is in fact obviously derived from the statement in Camden's edition of the 'Annales Hiberniæ' (Britannia, p. 830, ed. 1607) that he died 'in Hannonia,' which was pointed out by Ware (l. c.) two hundred and fifty years ago as a mistake for 'Avinione' (see J. T. Gilbert, introduction to the Chart. of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, ii. pp. cxviii, cxix, where he prints 'Aviniona'). Hannonia then becomes localised in 'Montes Hannoniæ' or Mons in Hainault, and Wadding (l. c. p. 129) conjectures that his death took place in the course of his homeward journey. In this identification of the place he is followed by Mansi (note to Raynald. Ann. vii. 33).

About ten years after Fitzralph's death his bones are said to have been taken by Stephen de Valle, bishop of Meath (1369-1379), and removed to the church of St. Nicholas at Dundalk ; but some doubted whether the bones were his or another's (Ann. Hib. l. c. ; Ware, p. 21). The monument was still shown in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Ussher wrote to Camden (30 Oct. 1606) that it 'was not long ago by the rude soldiers defaced' (Camden, Epist. p. 86, 1691). However this may be, the statement that miracles were wrought at the tomb in which his remains were laid rests upon early testimony. The first continuator of Higden, whose manuscript is of the first part of the fifteenth century, asserts of the year 1377 that 'about this time God, declaring the righteousness wrought by master Richard whiles that he lived on the earth, that that might be fulfilled in him which is said in the psalm, "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance," through the merits of the same Richard worketh daily at his tomb at Dundalk in Ireland many and great miracles, whereat it is said that the friars are ill-pleased' (Polychron. viii. 392, ed. J. R. Lumby ; Chron. Angl. p. 400). A like statement occurs in the 'Chronicon Angliæ' (an. 1360, p. 48). In consequence of these miracles Ware says that Boniface IX caused a commission, consisting of John Colton, archbishop of Armagh, and Richard Yong, abbot of Osney, and elect of Bangor (therefore between 1400 and 1404), to inquire into his claims to canonisation ; but the inquiry led to no positive action in the matter. Still, popular usage seems to have placed its own interpretation upon the miracles, and as late as the seventeenth century a Roman catholic priest, Paul Harris, speaks of Fitzralph as 'called . . . by the inhabitants of this countrey S. Richard of Dundalke' (Admonition to the Fryars of Ireland, pp. 15, 34, 1634). Ussher had used almost the same words in his letter already quoted. Wood states that there was an effigy of Fitzralph in Lichfield Cathedral, but it had been destroyed before the time at which he wrote (Fasti Oxon. p. 21).

Besides his chief works already enume- rated Fitzralph was the author of a number of minor tracts in the mendicant controversy (among them a reply to Conway), sermons (one collection entitled 'De Laudibus Mariæ Avenioni'), 'Lectura Sententiarum,' 'Quæstiones Sententiarum,' 'Lectura Theologiæ,' 'De Statu universalis Ecclesiæ,' 'De Peccato Ignorantiæ,' 'De Vafritiis Judæorum,' 'Dialogus de Rebus ad S. Scripturam pertinentibus,' 'Vita S. Manchini Abbatis,' and 'Epistolæ ad Diversos,' most of which are still extant in manuscript. For fuller particulars see Tanner's 'Bibl. Brit.,' p. 284 et seq. The statement that Fitzralph translated the Bible or parts of the Bible into Irish, though often repeated, rests simply upon a guess — given merely as a guess — of Foxe (Acts and Monuments, ii. 766, ed. 1854).

[Authorities cited above.]

R. L. P.