Reynolds, Walter (DNB00)

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REYNOLDS, WALTER (d. 1327), archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of a baker in Windsor named Reginald (Anglia Sacra, i. 532). ‘Reynolds,’ though a patronymic in form, seems commonly used in his case as a true surname. He is called ‘Heyne’ in ‘Annales Londinenses,’ p. 229, and ‘Heyerne’ in ‘Annales Paulini,’ p. 264. He was brought up at the court of Edward I (Ann. Paul. p. 257), and became one of that king's clerks or chaplains. He is described as a ‘simple clerk’ and ‘imperfectly educated,’ having, it is suggested, taken no academic degree (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 197; cf. Flores Hist. iii. 155; Chron. de Lanercost, p. 222). On 23 Jan. 1294 Edward I presented him to the church of Wimbledon in Surrey, the royal right of patronage depending upon the vacancy of the archbishopric of Canterbury (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1292–1301, p. 128). Some informalities, however, and more than four years' litigation in the ecclesiastical courts intervened before Walter got possession of the benefice. Among other early preferments of Reynolds was the rectory of Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, which he only resigned on his appointment to the see of Worcester (Newcourt, Repert. Eccl.)

Reynolds seems to have been one of those evil-living, secular-minded clerks whom Edward I did not scruple to use in his rougher business, and did not hesitate to add to the household of Edward, his young son. He is said to have been made the prince's tutor. Anyhow, he became the chief favourite and confidant of the young prince, who describes him as one ‘qui a nostro ætatis primordio nostris insistens obsequiis, secreta præ cæteris nostra novit’ (Fœdera, ii. 101; cf. Sussex Archæol. Coll. ii. 87). Before 1305 Reynolds was keeper of the young Edward's wardrobe, and the Prince of Wales was soon exerting all his influence to get preferment for his ‘very dear clerk for the good services which he has long rendered us, and yet does day by day’ (Blaauw, in Sussex Arch. Coll. pp. 86–87). At the same period Reynolds devised means to supply the young Edward's necessities when his angry father had cut off all supplies. The heedless prince ordered Reynolds to provide a pair of strong trumpets for his ‘little players,’ and a pair of kettle-drums for ‘Francekin his nakarer’ (ib. p. 248). The former request corroborates the story that Reynolds owed his favour with the prince to his skill in theatricals (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 197). Reynolds was also accused of dissolute and indecorous life (Flores Hist. iii. 155). Yet Edward I, though not promoting him, did not drive him, like Gaveston, from his son's household.

Reynolds's good fortune began with Edward II's accession. He obtained the prebend of Wildland in St. Paul's Cathedral (Newcourt, Repert. Eccles. i. 224). On 22 Aug. 1307 he succeeded the disgraced Walter Langton [q. v.] in the office of treasurer (Dugdale, Chronica Series, p. 34), and he was henceforth able to devote the same cunning to replenishing the national exchequer that he had hitherto devoted to filling the private coffers of the Prince of Wales. A few months later the king's favour made him bishop of Worcester, in succession to William of Gainsborough, who died on 17 Sept. 1307. He received restitution of temporalities on 5 April 1308, and was consecrated on 13 Oct. by Archbishop Winchelsey at Canterbury (ib. p. 264), the king attending the ceremony in person.

Walter's life continued to be a cause of scandal (cf. Flores Hist. iii. 156). His main attention was still devoted to affairs of state. In the Lent of 1309 he was sent on a mission to the papal court at Avignon (Ann. Paulini, p. 267; Fœdera, ii. 69). He was also empowered to settle a dispute between the citizens of Bayonne and the Castilians (ib. ii. 70). On 6 July 1310 he received the custody of the great seal (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 326). The ‘communitas Angliæ,’ says the St. Paul's chronicler, did not assent to his elevation as chancellor, which was due to his fidelity in upholding the king's cause against the baronial opposition (Ann. Paulini, p. 269).

On 25 Aug. 1311 orders were issued to the constable of Dover to allow Reynolds safe passage beyond seas, as he was about to attend the general council at Vienne (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 372). On 27 Aug. he surrendered the custody of the great seal to Adam de Osgodby [q. v.] (ib. p. 435), who, however, on 28 Sept. restored it to the king, by whom it was re-delivered to the bishop of Worcester (ib. p. 438). On 19 Dec. Edward II wrote to the pope, excusing Reynolds's attendance at the council, on the ground that he was ‘not only useful, but indispensable’ at home (Fœdera, ii. 101). In November of the same year he was one of the godfathers of the king's first-born child, the future Edward III (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13, p. 558). On 20 Dec. 1312 he attested the peace made at London between the king and the barons (Ann. Paulini, p. 225). He continued to hold the seal, continuously at least until April 1314, though in later years he was merely designated ‘keeper’ (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307–13 pp. 534, 557, 581–4, 1313–18 pp. 45, 71). In March 1312 he was also holding the mastership of St. Leonard's Hospital, York (ib. 1307–13, pp. 453–4).

Just before the death of Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, Clement V issued a bull (27 April 1313), reserving to himself the appointment of the next archbishop. Winchelsey died on 11 May. The monks of Canterbury, anxious not to lose their rights, proceeded immediately after the funeral to the election of Thomas Cobham [see Cobham, Thomas de]. But Edward had resolved that the archbishopric was to reward Reynolds's loyalty. He at once began negotiations with the pope. Large sums of money, it was believed, found their way to the papal coffers (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 197; Chron. de Melsa, ii. 329; Flores Hist. iii. 156; Fœdera, ii. 257), and on 1 Oct. a papal bull quashed Cobham's election, and appointed Reynolds to the see (Fœdera, iii. 228–9). Reynolds obtained restitution of temporalities on 3 Jan. 1314 (ib. ii. 239). On 4 Jan. the bull of appointment was published at Canterbury, and on 11 Feb. Reynolds received the pallium in Chartham church from the hands of Walter Maidstone. On 17 Feb. the new archbishop was splendidly enthroned at Canterbury in the presence of the king and many magnates (Ann. Paulini, p. 275). This simoniacal appointment of a ‘mere creature of court favour’ (Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 351) to the highest post in the English church created a very unfavourable impression. With the exception of Trokelowe, the chroniclers express themselves emphatically on the subject. Trokelowe, adopting the official view of the election (p. 82), gives a vague catalogue of Reynolds's virtues, and even says that Reynolds only took the archbishopric ‘post longas reluctationes.’

Contrary to precedent, the archbishop of Canterbury retained the custody of the great seal for at least three months after his consecration. About 5 April he seems to have resigned it in order to accompany Edward II to Scotland. He continued an active member of the king's council, and gave a general support to Edward against his enemies. But he took no leading part. In strong contrast to his predecessor, Winchelsey, he persuaded the unwilling clergy to pay liberal taxes to meet the king's necessities (Cal. Close Rolls, 1313–1318, pp. 96, 103, 121, 163; Flores Hist. iii. 170, 173, 181; Monk of Malmesbury, pp. 225–6). This attitude may account for something of the clerical chroniclers' hostility to him. In 1318 he assisted in procuring the pacification between the king and the barons at the parliament of Leicester (Canon of Bridlington, p. 54). In July 1321 he attempted mediation between the king and the barons at the crisis of the quarrel about the Despensers (Ann. Paulini, p. 295; Monk of Malmesbury, p. 259). In October he was one of those sent by the barons to the king to beg Edward to desist from the siege of Leeds Castle (Murimuth, p. 34; G. Le Baker, p. 12). But, as soon as he dared, he went round again to the king's side. In December of the same year he held a scantily attended convocation at St. Paul's, at which the banishment of the Despensers was declared invalid (Murimuth, p. 35; Ann. Paulini, p. 300). On New Year's day 1323 he publicly pronounced this sentence in St. Paul's (ib. p. 301).

The ecclesiastical side of Reynolds's work presents more creditable features than his labours in politics. His opportunist attitude gave his efforts in the way of ecclesiastical reformation a good chance of success. He sought to limit such crying abuses as pluralities, the ordination of unfit persons, and, above all, to reform the gross abuses of the ecclesiastical courts (Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 438–9). Like Wolsey in later times, he sought to effect these objects by combining, as far as he could, the papal authority with his own metropolitan jurisdiction. Immediately on his appointment he procured a series of bulls from Clement V, which invested him with no inconsiderable share of the jurisdiction usually reserved for the pope, and on Clement's death obtained a renewal of them from John XXII (Wilkins, Concilia, ii. 431–442; Hook, Archbishops of Canterbury, iii. 471–2). Thus armed with special powers, Reynolds held a visitation of the diocese of Lincoln, where he met with some opposition from the saintly bishop, John de Dalderby [q. v.] (Litt. Cantuar. i. 111). In 1322 he held an important provincial synod at Oxford, in which he drew up a series of canons (Wilkins, Concilia, ii. 512–14). He was not, however, as a rule very energetic. So late as 1325 he had not wound up the administration of Archbishop Winchelsey's affairs (Litt. Cantuar. i. 135). On the other hand, he showed some magnanimity in forgiving the monks of Christ Church who had opposed his election. Before long he selected them for his special favours, and bestowed the fullest confidence on their shrewd and experienced prior, Henry of Eastry [q. v.], who became his chief adviser in his later years.

Reynolds upheld with great zeal the rights of his see against the ancient claim of the archbishops of York to have their cross borne erect before them in the province of Canterbury. William of Greenfield [q. v.], the archbishop of York, retaliated by refusing to recognise Reynolds's right to have the cross borne erect before him in the northern province. Soon after his consecration he quarrelled with the archbishop of York, when attending a great council held at York in the summer of 1314, and only royal intervention secured a formal peace, by which the right of the archbishop of Canterbury to bear his cross erect in the province of York was acknowledged (Trokelowe, p. 88; cf. Cal. Close Rolls, 1313–18, p. 194; Fœdera, ii. 253; Wilkins, Concilia, i. 448). In 1317 Reynolds so bitterly resented the action of Archbishop Melton [q. v.], Greenfield's successor, who had had his cross borne before him in London, that he put London under an interdict which was to endure as long as the northern primate remained there (Ann. Paulini, p. 281), and the king in despair begged the pope to settle once for all the time-honoured dispute (Fœdera, ii. 339). In 1322 and 1323 he was again quarrelling on the subject with Melton (Fœdera, ii. 449; Trokelowe, pp. 142–3). A little later he angrily remonstrated with Edward for promoting Melton to his old office of treasurer. But he neither persuaded Edward to get rid of Melton, nor forced Melton to abate his pretensions (Monk of Malmesbury, pp. 283–284). By this time the old harmony between Reynolds and Edward was impaired, and in August 1325 Edward ordered Reynolds not to interfere with Melton on account of his bearing his cross in the southern province (Fœdera, ii. 604).

Edward II seems to have resented the exceptional powers conferred on Reynolds by the papacy. In 1323 Prior Henry of Eastry advised Reynolds to show great caution in explaining to the king the full nature of the papal injunctions (Litt. Cantuar. i. 111). In 1324 he came into open collision with the king, when Edward accused Adam of Orlton [q. v.], bishop of Hereford, of high treason, for his vigorous partisanship of his patron, Roger Mortimer. Reynolds and the whole of the episcopate took Orlton under their protection (Trokelowe, pp. 141–2). Edward prudently handed over Orlton into Reynolds's custody, but obtained a verdict against him from a jury in the royal court. Orlton remained at liberty under Reynolds's continued protection, but Edward deprived him of the temporalities of his see. Despite the strained relations resulting from this incident, Reynolds was suggested as a companion to Queen Isabella [q. v.] when she went with her son Edward, duke of Aquitaine, to perform homage for Guienne at Paris. But Reynolds, at the suggestion of Prior Eastry, excused himself from going (Litt. Cantuar. i. 137–8). Reynolds now devoted himself to the visitation of the vacant diocese of Norwich (ib. i. 144–5), but the prior and monks of Norwich Cathedral repelled his jurisdiction, claiming to be the guardians of the spiritualities during a vacancy (ib. i. 153–159).

Meanwhile the breach between Edward II and his absent queen was widening. Reynolds anxiously surveyed the situation, in order to find out which side was going to win, and to declare himself for the victors. As the outlook was uncertain, he followed Eastry's advice, and played a waiting game. But his uncertainty frightened him into a serious illness. His church courts were closed for the greater part of a year (Ann. Paulini, p. 321). He remained about the court; but, after the landing of Isabella in Suffolk, he thought it prudent to win her favour by sending her large sums of money (Murimuth, p. 47). When Edward II fled from London to the west, Reynolds remained in the capital. Eastry now advised him to ‘reverently go and meet’ Isabella and her son, but at the same time not to offend the king (Litt. Cantuar. i. 172–3). If a policy of mediation were no longer possible, Reynolds was to shut himself up in sanctuary at Canterbury (ib. i. 196).

On 30 Sept. 1326 Reynolds made his last show of opposition to Isabella by publishing at St. Paul's an old papal bull against Scottish invaders of the north, as if it were directed against the queen and her followers (Ann. Paulini, p. 315). On 13 Oct. he summoned a meeting of bishops at Lambeth, and proposed that they should cross over to St. Paul's. But the bishops were afraid to enter the city, so Reynolds remained ineffectively at Lambeth until the rising of the citizens on 15 Oct. and the murder of Bishop Stapleton goaded him to flight. The Londoners hated him, regarding him as a mere tool of the king, and he only escaped Stapleton's fate by running away into Kent, borrowing for that purpose the bishop of Rochester's horses without asking his leave, and compelling that bishop to travel from London to Lessness in Kent on foot (W. Dene in Anglia Sacra, i. 366). Reynolds thus avoided attending the meeting of the magnates who on 26 Oct. proclaimed the young prince warden of the realm. But on 7 Dec. he left his retreat at Maidstone, and made his submission to the queen at Wallingford. He took a decisive part in the parliament which met on 7 Jan. 1327. On 8 Jan. the young Edward was shown to the people in Westminster Hall, and Reynolds delivered a discourse to them on the text ‘Vox populi vox Dei,’ in which he justified the revolution (ib. i. 367; Chron. Lanercost, p. 258, dates this on 15 Jan.) He seems to have suggested the sending of a deputation of the estates to renounce homage to Edward II at Kenilworth (Litt. Cantuar. i. 205). On 13 Jan. Reynolds and other bishops accompanied Roger Mortimer to the city, where all swore in the Guildhall to uphold the liberties of the Londoners (Ann. Paulini, p. 322). Reynolds apologised to the citizens for any offences he might have committed against them, and presented them with fifty casks of wine (ib. p. 323). As he left the hall he was assaulted and illtreated. On Sunday, 1 Feb., he crowned Edward III at Westminster (Fœdera, ii. 684).

Reynolds was made a member of the council of the new king, but he was merely regarded as a useful tool, and his work was done. He joined with his suffragans in urging on the pope the old plea for the canonisation of Winchelsey (Anglia Sacra, i. 173). He consecrated James of Berkeley as bishop of Exeter on 22 March 1327, an act which is said to have offended the pope. He died on 16 Nov. at his manor of Mortlake, and was buried on 27 Nov. in the south choir aisle of Canterbury Cathedral. He was heavily in debt to the crown, and his goods and chattels were therefore taken into the king's hands (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1327–1330, p. 194). His will, calendared in ‘Historical Manuscripts Commission,’ 5th Report, p. 460, suggests that he died poor. His books were to be distributed among his clerks, and small gifts were made to John of Eltham, Queen Isabella, and the principal executor, the bishop of Ely. No one spoke kindly of Reynolds save the monks of his cathedral, to whom he had made benefactions during his life, including the manor of Caldicot as a place of refreshment. Reynolds was also a benefactor of the hospital at Maidstone and Langdon Abbey. Intellectually and morally Reynolds was, of all the mediæval archbishops of Canterbury, least deserving of respect.

[Ann. Paulini, Ann. London., and Monk of Malmesbury in Stubbs's Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, Murimuth, Flores Hist. vol. iii., Litt. Cantuar. vol. i. (all in Rolls Ser.); Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. i.; Chron. de Lanercost (Bannatyne Club); Galfridus le Baker, ed. E. M. Thompson; Calendars of Close Rolls, Edward II, 1307–13 and 1313–18; Cal. Papal Registers, ed. Bliss; Hasted's Kent; Rymer's Fœdera, vols. ii. and iii.; Deputy-Keeper's Ninth Report; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. pp. 438, 447, 460; Wilkins's Concilia, vol. ii.; Sussex Archæological Collections, ii. 80–98; Hook's Archbishops of Canterbury, iii. 455–91 (a very fair modern life); Stubbs's Const. Hist. vol. ii., and his Introduction to vol. ii. of the Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II; Foss's Judges of England, iii. 288–91; Biographia Juridica, pp. 550–1; Godwin, De Præsulibus, 1743, pp. 104–5; Newcourt's Repertorium Eccles. Londin. i. 170, 224, 870.]

T. F. T.