8th April 1072. Battle for Power in the Medieval Church.

The 11th century Accord of Winchester established the primacy of Canterbury over York thus ending the dispute between Thomas of York and Lanfranc.

Thomas of Bayeaux became Archbishop of York in 1070 which saw the beginning of a power struggle for primacy set to rumble on for years.

Thomas had succeeded the Saxon Ealdred when Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc demanded his subservience to the southern Province, which on refusal, the dispute was heard by William the Conqueror Today at Easter 1072, in the Royal Church at Winchester Castle.

Then later at Windsor at Pentecost on the 27th May, the King decided in favour of Canterbury with the Accord written in Latin, witnessed by all the interested parties.

Document witnessed firstly by King William and Queen Matilda with first 2 crosses and 2 archbishops and the papal legate, along with others. The cross was the traditional way to sign documents then, not necessarily due to illiteracy.

The two sites chosen to hear the case was symbolic as Winchester was the ancient Saxon capital whilst Windsor was the new Norman stronghold.

King William I after his invasion, quickly took control of Church and State and with the Accord finally resolved the primacy of the church in England thus showing some independence of the Papacy who though having supported William’s conquest in 1066, was reluctant to see such a concentration of power away from Rome.

William keen to reward his Norman followers had already removed the Saxon Stigand from Canterbury in 1070, imprisoning him and confiscating his estates before replacing him with the Lombard Lanfranc, then Abbot of St Stephen’s Caen, founded by William.

Stigand from the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Stigand though having served six kings in succession, had been excommunicated for enjoying the benefits of pluralism of the sees of Winchester and Canterbury.

One of the contentions between the two archbishops centred on the likes of the authority to carry one’s cross in each other’s province.

Then there was concern over whether York, situated in the largely unpacified north of England, might crown a rival king, in the event of a serious contender to William arising: the name of the game in the Church, as now, was POWER!







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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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