Friday, 13 September 2013

William Fitzstephen: Becket as Chancellor

Extract from

James Craigie Robertson (London 1877). Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (Canonized by Pope Alexander III, AD 1173). Rolls Series Volume III. Cambridge University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-108-04927-6.
Life of St. Thomas Becket by William Fitzstephen

Dignities and duties of the chancellorship

Cancellarii Angliae dignitas est, ut secundus a rege in regno habeatur; ut altera parte sigilli regii, quod et ad ejus pertinet custodiam, propria signet mandata; ut capella regis in ipsius sit dispositione et cura; ut vacantes archiepiscopatus, episcopatus, abbatias et baronias, cadentes in manu regis, ipse suscipiat et conservet; ut omnibus regis adsit conciliis; ut etiam non vocatus accedat; ut omnia sigilliferi regii clerici sui manu signentur, omnia cancellarii consilio disponantur: item ut, suffragantibus ei per Dei gratiam vitae meritis, non moriatur, nisi archiepiscopus aut episcopus, si voluerit. Inde est quod cancellaria emenda non est.

Translation, extract from
Gourde, Leo T. (1943), "An Annotated Translation of the Life of St. Thomas Becket by William Fitzstephen". pp. 24-5

The dignity of the Chancellor of England is second to
that of the King. He has custody of the Great Seal and may
use its reverse side to seal his own documents. He takes
care of the Chapel Royal. He takes over and administers all
the vacant archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbacies and baronies
that fall in the hands of the King. He sits at all the King's
councils, even when not called. He signs all documents from
the Seal Bearer, his Cleric, and disposes of them according
to his own counsel. If the merit of his life, with the grace
of God, should warrant it and if he wishes, he does not die
before he is made Archbishop or Bishop. Hence merit and not
money is the necessary qualification for a candidate to the


Saint Thomas (à Becket) (1845). Opera. Parker. pp. 186–.

The Quarterly Review. Murray. 1862. pp. 105–.

David Rollo (2000). Glamorous Sorcery: Magic and Literacy in the High Middle Ages. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-8166-3546-7.

Lewis Bostock Radford (1894). Thomas of London before his consecration. P.57-75 University press. Chapter III: Thomas the Chancellor

Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 48–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.


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