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Simon Langham
(Died 1376)

Abbot of Westminster
Bishop of Ely
Archbishop of Canterbury
Died: 1376 at Avignon, France

Simon Langham was born in Langham in Rutland and entered the Monastery of S. Peter's, Westminster, of which he became Abbot. In 1360, he was appointed Treasurer of England, Bishop of Ely in 1362 and, for three years, he also held the office of Chancellor. His administration was characterized by the determination with which he resisted Papal encroachments. As Bishop, he showed equal vigour in correcting ecclesiastical abuses and earned respect, though he may not have secured popularity. His translation to Canterbury took place in 1366.

In 1368, he incurred the displeasure of King Edward Ill by accepting an appointment as Cardinal from Pope Urban V without having obtained the Royal permission. Edward pronounced the See of Canterbury void and seized the revenues. Langham betook himself to the Papal court at Avignon and was employed in negotiations between England, France and Flanders. He continued, however, to hold preferments in England, as Treasurer and Archdeacon of Wells, Archdeacon of Taunton and Archdeacon of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Langham died in 1376, as he was about to return to England, Three years later, his body was transferred to Westminster Abbey, which owed much to his great munificence.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC