1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cantilupe, Walter de

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CANTILUPE, WALTER DE (d. 1265), bishop of Worcester, came of a family which had risen by devoted service to the crown. His father and his elder brother are named by Roger of Wendover among the “evil counsellors” of John, apparently for no better reason than that they were consistently loyal to an unpopular master. Walter at first followed in his father’s footsteps, entering the service of the Exchequer and acting as an itinerant justice in the early years of Henry III. But he also took minor orders, and, in 1236, although not yet a deacon, received the see of Worcester. As bishop, he identified himself with the party of ecclesiastical reform, which was then led by Edmund Rich and Robert Grosseteste. Like his leaders he was sorely divided between his theoretical belief in the papacy as a divine institution and his instinctive condemnation of the policy which Gregory IX. and Innocent IV. pursued in their dealings with the English church. At first a court favourite, the bishop came at length to the belief that the evils of the time arose from the unprincipled alliance of crown and papacy. He raised his voice against papal demands for money, and after the death of Grosseteste (1253) was the chief spokesman of the nationalist clergy. At the parliament of Oxford (1258) he was elected by the popular party as one of their representatives on the committee of twenty-four which undertook to reform the administration; from that time till the outbreak of civil war he was a man of mark in the councils of the baronial party. During the war he sided with Montfort and, through his nephew, Thomas, who was then chancellor of Oxford, brought over the university to the popular side. He was present at Lewes and blessed the Montfortians before they joined battle with the army of the king; he entertained Simon de Montfort on the night before the final rout of Evesham. During Simon’s dictatorship, the bishop appeared only as a mediating influence; in the triumvirate of “Electors” who controlled the administration, the clergy were represented by the bishop of Chichester. Walter de Cantilupe died in the year after Evesham (1266). He was respected by all parties, and, though far inferior in versatility and force of will to Grosseteste, fully merits the admiration which his moral character inspired. He is one of the few constitutionalists of his day whom it is impossible to accuse of interested motives.

See the Chronica Maiora of Matthew Paris (“Rolls” series, ed. Luard); the Chronicon de Bellis (ed. Halliwell, Camden Society); and the Annales Monastici (“Rolls” series, ed. Luard); also T. F. Tout in the Political History of England, vol. iii. (1905).