Zouche, William la (DNB00)

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ZOUCHE or ZOUCH, WILLIAM la or de la (d. 1352), archbishop of York, seems from his close connections with Northamptonshire to have belonged to the Harringworth branch of the Zouche family, and he is generally said to have been a younger son of William la Zouche, first Baron Zouche (1276?–1352) of Harringworth (Raine, Fasti Eboracenses, p. 437); he alludes to his parents as alive in 1349. He graduated M.A. and B.C.L. at some university (Cal. Papal Letters, ii. 520). At the beginning of Edward III's reign he appears as one of the king's clerks or chaplains (Fœdera, iii. 210). Perhaps he was the William la Zouche who, with other clerks, was accused before January 1328 of breaking into the house and stealing the sheep of the prior of Charley, Leicestershire (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1327–30, p. 275). On 14 May 1329 he received protection on going abroad with the king (ib. p. 390). On 16 Sept. 1330 he was appointed clerk and purveyor of the great wardrobe (ib. 1330–4, p. 5). A little later he is called keeper of the wardrobe (ib. p. 53). His successor in that office was appointed on 15 July 1334 (ib. p. 569). In 1335 he was keeper of the privy seal (Cal. Papal Letters, ii. 524). On 24 March 1337 he was appointed treasurer of the exchequer during pleasure (ib. 1334–1338, p. 409), and on 21 Aug. of the same year was joined with William la Zouche of Harringworth, possibly his father, to lay before the shires of Northampton and Rutland the decision of king and council as to the defences of the realm (ib. p. 503). On 10 March 1338 he was succeeded by Robert de Wodehouse [q. v.] as treasurer of the exchequer (ib. 1338–40, p. 195), but on 16 Dec. he was appointed treasurer of England (ib. p. 195). In July 1339 he was sent beyond Trent to bear news to the north of the dangers besetting the realm, and then or a little later he was summoned to follow the king to Brabant, so that he had to discharge the office of treasurer by deputy (ib. pp. 271, 387). On 19 Jan. 1340 he was back in England and a commissioner for opening parliament (ib. p. 347). In April, however, a deputy treasurer was again appointed, and on 2 May 1340 he was definitely relieved of his office.

Ecclesiastical preferments had been pouring thickly on William. On 6 Jan. 1328 he was presented by the king to the rectory of Titchmarsh, near Thrapston, Northamptonshire (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1327–30, p. 343), and 29 Aug. in the same year also received from the crown the living of Chesterton, near Warwick (ib. p. 318). Before this he was also rector of Clipsham, Rutland (Cal. Papal Letters, ii. 276). On 4 July 1328 John XXII, at the king's request, appointed him by provision to a canonry at Exeter on condition of his resigning Clipsham (ib. ii. 276). In Exeter he was also collated to the archdeaconry of Barnstaple on 10 Dec. 1329 (Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy, i. 406), which he resigned before 17 Dec. 1330. Between 12 July 1330 and 10 June 1331 he was archdeacon of Exeter (ib. i. 393). Before 1333 he was also rector of Yaxley, Huntingdonshire (Cal. Papal Letters, ii. 376). In that year Benedict XII, at the king's request, gave him a canonry of Southwell by provision, renewed on 31 May 1335 (ib. pp. 375, 520). On 30 Nov. of the same year Benedict provided him to the prebend of Laughton en le Morthen in York Cathedral. On 12 Nov. 1336 he was admitted dean of York (Le Neve, iii. 123). On 9 April 1340 he was collated to the prebend of Ufton in Lichfield Cathedral (ib. i. 633). He also held a canonry at Ripon (Cal. Papal Petitions, i. 2).

On 2 May 1340, the day on which he resigned the treasury, Zouche was elected by twelve votes to five archbishop of York in succession to William de Melton [q. v.] His rival, William de Kildesby, was a royal chaplain, and was now king's secretary and keeper of the privy seal. Edward wished for Kildesby's election, though ecclesiastical opinion was unfavourable to him (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1338–40, pp. 463, 519). A fierce contest broke out between the two competitors. Zouche got himself installed on the day of election, and both parties appealed to Avignon. Efforts were made to prevent Zouche from going to the pope to urge his claims in person, but on 13 Aug. Benedict XII ordered the archbishop of Canterbury to excommunicate all who sought to detain him in England (Cal. Papal Letters, ii. 549). At last Zouche started. He seems to have travelled to Avignon by way of the Low Countries and Germany, avoiding French territory because of the war. He got safely as far as Geneva, and had just crossed the bridge over the Arve beyond the town, when he was set upon by a band of brigands headed by three Vaudois knights and two citizens of Geneva. He and his followers were overpowered, their possessions were seized, and they themselves were dragged to a lonely place in the diocese of Lausanne, north of the lake of Geneva. They were kept in confinement for some time. At last they were released on payment of two hundred florins ransom and on taking an oath not to reveal the names of the brigands. It seems to have been another organised attempt to prevent Zouch getting to Avignon to lay his claims before the pope (ib. ii. 547, 579, cf. p. 549). However, Benedict showed vigour in defending Zouche against the marauders. On 25 Nov. he released him from his involuntary oath, and ordered the bishop of Geneva to seek out and punish the offenders. Early in March 1341 the brigands were compelled by excommunication to submit and undergo a humiliating penance at the scene of their crime (ib. p. 550).

A long delay ensued after Zouche's arrival at the curia. Edward III wrote urgently in March 1341 urging Kildesby's claims (Fœdera, ii. 1118). Benedict XII hesitated to decide between the nominee of the chapter and the favourite of the king, and kept the rival claimants waiting in suspense at Avignon (Murimuth, p. 121). He died on 25 April 1342, nearly two years after the election, leaving everything undecided. The new pope, Clement VI, was elected on 7 May, and crowned on 19 May. Zouche now prudently resigned all right by election, though Kildesby was less complacent. However, the cardinal of Santa Prisca pronounced his election invalid, whereupon on 26 June Clement appointed Zouche archbishop by papal provision (Cal. Papal Letters, iii. 52; Murimuth, p. 124, whose dates here are unusually exact). On 7 July he was consecrated bishop by Clement VI at Avignon (T. Stubbs in Raine, Historians of Church of York, ii. 417; cf., however, Cal. Papal Letters, iii. 85, which suggests Gaucelin, cardinal-bishop of Albano, as the consecrator). Having taken the oath of fealty to the pope, he was permitted on 12 July to wear the pallium. In consideration of the great expenses incurred by him while waiting, he was allowed to hold his prebend of Laughton for a year after his consecration (ib. iii. 52). He petitioned later for license to hold benefices worth 100l. to help defray the same expenses (Cal. Papal Petitions, i. 53).

On 8 Sept. Zouche received from Edward III letters of safe-conduct to return home, and on 19 Sept. his temporalities were restored. He was enthroned at York on 8 Dec. The question of the succession to the deanery of York involved Zouche in some difficulties both with the pope and Edward III. Clement rejected Thomas Sampson, whom the canons had chosen to succeed Zouche in that office, and on 18 March 1343 appointed Talleyrand de Périgord, cardinal of St. Peter ad Vincula, and afterwards bishop of Albano, by papal provision, while Edward III nominated John de Ufford [q. v.], whom the pope got rid of by making dean of Lincoln. However, Edward persisted in upholding his right, and in 1347 appointed Philip de Weston his chaplain, whom Zouche ordered the chapter to admit on 26 Aug. (Le Neve, iii. 123). The pope still persisted in pressing the claims of Cardinal Talleyrand, and on 30 June 1349 excommunicated and deposed Weston (Cal. Papal Letters, iii. 337). As Zouche and the canons had upheld him, they were on 15 June summoned to appear within three months at Avignon. Zouche not appearing was pronounced excommunicate. Talleyrand remained dean until his death. On 20 April 1352 the formal excommunication of Zouch was suspended with Talleyrand's consent (ib. iii. 434).

Zouche resided almost entirely in the north, and busied himself with the affairs of his diocese. Being generally on cordial terms with Edward, he was also able to give the king constant help in his dealings with the Scots. Early in 1346 he was appointed warden of the Scottish march, in which capacity he took a prominent part in repelling the Scots invasions. On 2 July he was sent to the marches, and on 20 Aug. he was made, with Henry Percy and Ralph Neville, commissioner of array for the northern army. When King David crossed the border in October, these three mustered an army to withstand him. They advanced from Richmond to Auckland, where they passed the night of 16 Oct., the archbishop commanding one of the three divisions into which the host was divided. On 17 Oct. the archbishop took a prominent part in the victory of Neville's Cross, near Durham. Before the fight he blessed the whole army. His action in the war was warmly praised by the king, and the northern clergy, who had largely followed him to the battle, regarded him as a hero. They thought that an archbishop could do no more christian work than protect his flock from the Scots invaders (Lanercost, pp. 347–8).

During the ‘black death’ in 1349 Zouche showed great activity in consecrating new cemeteries and ordering prayers and processions to avert the divine wrath (Historians of the Church of York, iii. 268–71). He obtained from Avignon permission to ordain clergy at other than the canonical seasons, and large indulgences to admit illegitimate children and persons under the canonical age to orders, that the dearth of priests caused by the ravages of the pestilence might be averted (Cal. Papal Letters, iii. 332; Cal. Papal Petitions, i. 178).

For many years Zouche suffered from a serious disease. On 28 June 1349 he drew up his will at Ripon. His main anxiety in making it was to secure the erection of a chantry chapel and burial-place for himself to be served by two chaplains in the cathedral. In the will he set aside three hundred marks for this purpose, and directed his executors, one of whom was his brother, Sir Roger la Zouche, to divide the residue of his property among his kinsfolk, servants, and friends according to their merits (Historians of the Church of York, ii. 271–3; Testamenta Eboracensia, i. 55–6). On 4 July 1352 he obtained a license from the chapter to build his chantry chapel, after the actual work of it had already begun. It was situated on the south side of the choir, and permission was given to pierce through the external wall of the cathedral to connect it with the fabric. Soon after, on 19 July, Zouche died at Cawood.

The executors and kinsfolk set at naught Zouche's last commands. He was buried, not in his unfinished chapel, but before the altar of St. Edward, and no monument was erected over him. Thomas Stubbs [q. v.], the historian of the archbishop, speaks very strongly about the meanness and negligence of the family which had derived so many benefits from him. The chantry chapel, if completed, was swept away when Archbishop Thoresby a few years later rebuilt the choir on the existing lines. The present office of the chapter-clerk, where the chapter records are now deposited, is supposed to mark the site of the chantry (Raine, Fasti Eboracenses, p. 448). The archbishop had already in 1337 established chantries, jointly with his brother Roger, in the churches of Lubbesthorpe, Leicestershire, and Clipsham, Rutland (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1334–8, p. 406).

[Calendar of Papal Letters, vols. ii. and iii.; Calendar of Papal Petitions, vol. i.; Calendars of Close and Patent Rolls, Edward III; Raine's Historians of the Church of York (Rolls Ser.); Rymer's Fœdera, vol. ii.; Walsingham, Murimuth (both in Rolls Ser.); G. le Baker, ed. Thompson; Chron. de Lanercost (Bannatyne Club). The earliest life is in T. Stubbs's Actus Pontiff. Ebor. in Raine's Historians, ii. 417–19; the latest and fullest is in Raine's Fasti Eboracenses, pp. 437–49; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy, i. 393, 406, 633, iii. 106–7, 123; Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ, 1743, p. 686.]

T. F. T.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.287
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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