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William De La March
(Died 1302)

Bishop of Bath & Wells
Died: 19th June 1302


William De La March, Treasurer of England, succeeded Robert Burnell as Bishop of Bath & Wells in 1293. During the late 14th century, the great Churchmen of England had been ready to support King Edward I in his schemes of insular conquest, especially in his attacks on the Welsh, whose rebellious princes Archbishop Peckham excommunicated, and whose movements Bishop Burnell had carefully watched. It is, nevertheless, somewhat remarkable to find that, if we are to believe the statement of Westminster, William De La March was the instigator of an arbitrary act which greatly enhanced the monarch's purse. Before his war in Guienne, Edward I swept into his own exchequer, under the name of a loan, all the wealth which had been accumulated in the religious houses of the realm. He not only took that which belonged to the Churchmen themselves, but that also which, according to the usage of the time, had been placed by others in their charge, as in the most secure banks of deposit. Edward I petitioned the Pope for the canonization of this prelate after his death, asserting that his life had been conspicuous for sanctity and that many miracles had been performed by him. The King's request, however, was not granted, possibly owing to the part Bishop De La March had taken in the plunder of the monasteries. His tomb remains in the south transept of Wells Cathedral. The beautiful chapter-house of this building was commenced by Bishop de la March.

Edited from Richard John King's "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division" (1903).

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