Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wardlaw, Henry

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WARDLAW, HENRY (d. 1440), bishop of St. Andrews and founder of the university in that city, was descended from an ancient Saxon family which came to Scotland with Edgar Atheling, and was hospitably received by Malcolm Canmore. His grandfather, Sir H. Wardlaw of Torry, Fifeshire, married a niece of Walter, the high steward, and had by her Andrew, his successor, and Walter Wardlaw [q. v.], the cardinal. Sir Andrew married the daughter and heiress of James de Valoniis, and had Walter and Henry, the bishop. In 1378 Cardinal Wardlaw petitioned the pope for a canonry of Glasgow with expectation of a prebend for his nephew, who must have been then a mere boy, as he lived for sixty-two years afterwards. He was educated at the universities of Oxford and of Paris. In the book of the procurators of the English nation in the latter university his name appears among the ‘determinantes’ of 1383. In a petition to the pope of 1388 he is described as ‘a licentiate in arts who has studied civil law for two years at Orleans.’ He afterwards studied the canon law, and took the degree of doctor. During the papal schism Scotland was on the side of the anti-popes, and, through the favour of Clement VII and Benedict XIII (Peter de Luna), Wardlaw held simultaneously canonries and prebends in Glasgow, Moray, and Aberdeen, the precentorships of Glasgow and Moray, and the church of Cavers. Having been sent on a mission to the papal court at Avignon, he remained there several years. During his stay the see of St. Andrews fell vacant, and he received the appointment from Benedict, and was consecrated by him in 1403. On his return to Scotland Robert III sent his son, the Earl of Carrick (afterwards James I), to the castle of St. Andrews, and placed him under the bishop's care and tuition. While there the youthful prince imbibed those literary tastes which afforded him so much solace during his long imprisonment in England.

The restoration of the cathedral of St. Andrews, after its partial destruction by fire, which had been begun by one of his predecessors, was completed by Wardlaw, and he greatly improved the interior and enriched it with encaustic tiles and stained-glass windows. He also built the Gare bridge at the mouth of the Eden, which was then considered one of the finest in Scotland. But his crowning distinction was the erection at St. Andrews of the first Scottish university on the model of that of Paris. Wardlaw's charter of foundation is dated 27 Feb. 1411, and a commencement was made in a wooden building on the site now occupied by St. Mary's College, with several clerical professors who gave their services gratuitously. In September 1413 Benedict XIII, who was then living at the castle of Peniscola in Aragon, sanctioned the new institution as a studium generale for teaching theology, canon and civil law, arts and medicine, and with power to confer degrees. When Henry Ogilvie arrived in St. Andrews in February 1414 with the papal bulls, the church bells were rung, thanksgivings were offered in the cathedral, there was a procession of four hundred clergy, and bonfires, songs, and dances bore witness to the delight of the populace. The council of Constance, having deposed the rival popes, in 1417 elected Martin V in their room. Scotland was the last to adhere to Peter de Luna, but the parliament in 1418 resolved to acknowledge Martin V, and in August of that year the university of St. Andrews gave in its submission to him also.

Bishop Wardlaw was much employed in the negotiations for the release of King James, and on 21 May 1424 he crowned him and his queen at Scone with great pomp. He continued to enjoy the friendship and confidence of his sovereign, and was employed by him in important affairs of state. He also received the royal authority to recover the property of his see, which had been alienated by his predecessors. In the parliament which met at Perth in 1430 Wardlaw made a famous speech, in the presence of the king, against the luxury and superfluity in eating and drinking which the Scots had learned from the English who had accompanied James at his homecoming. The chief blot on his episcopate was the burning of John Resby, an English priest, at Perth in 1407, and of Paul Crawar, a Bohemian, at St. Andrews in 1432, for teaching the tenets of Wycliffe. He does not appear to have been himself an active promoter of persecution. Resby was apprehended by Lawrence of Lindores, and the king conferred the abbey of Melrose on John Fogo for his zeal in convicting Crawar. It may also be pleaded in extenuation of Wardlaw's conduct that the spirit of persecution then raged throughout Christendom, and that the Scottish parliament in 1425 enacted that all bishops should make inquisition of lollards and other heretics in their dioceses.

He died on 6 April 1440, and was buried in his cathedral, between the choir and lady-chapel, ‘with greater parade than any of his predecessors.’ Wardlaw was eminently distinguished for devotion to learning, for loyalty and patriotism. His charters bear witness to his generosity to the university and city of St. Andrews, and his hospitality was proverbial. He was a strict disciplinarian, corrected many abuses in the lives of the clergy, and set an example of the virtues which he inculcated upon others.

[Wynton and Boece's Hist.; Petitions to Pope, 1342–1419; Stuart's Report of Records of Univ. of St. Andrews to Hist. Commission; Tytler's Hist. of Scotland; Martin's St. Andrews; Lyon's St. Andrews; Bellesheim's Hist. of Catholic Church in Scotland; Robertson's Stat. Eccl. Scot.; Millar's Fife; Keith's Scottish Bishops.]

G. W. S.