He contents the people where he goes …

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in Medieval People, Quotes

During Richard III’s short reign there were only three vacancies for bishops, and it is remarkable that two of these went to Thomas Langton.  Langton ticked all the right boxes with Richard:  Richard preferred Cambridge men to those from Oxford – Langton had studied at Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, though he also was provost of Queen’s College in Oxford; Langton had studied further in Italy, in Padua and Bologna, and shared Richard’s interest in learning and humanistic scholarship.

St David’s Cathedral (© Isolde Martyn)

In May 1483 the Bishop of St David’s, Richard Martin, died and Richard as protector suggested Thomas Langton for the vacancy.  He must have proved a very able man and, when in February 1485 the see of Salisbury fell vacant, it was again Thomas Langton who was promoted [1].

After his coronation Richard went on a royal progress and stayed in the late summer in York.  From here Thomas Langton wrote to his friend, the prior of Christ Church in Canterbury, a letter which exists:

He contents the people where he goes best that ever did prince; for many a poor man hath suffered wrong many days have been relieved and helped by him and his commands in his progress. And in many great cities and towns were great sums of money given him which he hath refused. On my truth, I never liked the conditions of any prince as well as his. God hath sent him to us for the weal of us all.

Well, hardly the words to describe a power-hungry, bloodthirsty tyrant!  Langton’s statements are supported by other sources.  John Rous confirms that Richard turned down offers of benevolences.  The records of John Kendal, Richard’s secretary, show that Richard went to great lengths to ensure to ensure the dispensing of speedy justice, especially when hearing the complaints of poor people. A clerk of the council, John Harington, was to receive an annuity for his work ‘in the custody, registration and expedition of bills, requests and supplications of poor persons”.  This part of the council’s work was to develop under the Tudor’s into the Court of Requests, but it was originally set up by Richard [2]

Nor was Thomas Langton’s career limited to Richard’s reign.  During the Tudor period he became bishop of Winchester in 1493, a post held previously (until 1486) by another noted humanist, William Waynflete.  In 1501 he was nominated to succeed John Morton as Archbishop of Canterbury, but died of the plague before he could assume office [3].

1    Charles Ross, Richard III. Yale English Monarchs, Yale University Press, 1999, Reprinted 2005.  ISBN 0 300 07979-6 (pbk), p.133
2    Ross, pp.151-152
3    Jeremy Potter, Good King Richard?  An Account of Richard III and his Reputation.  Constable, London, 1994 (pbk).  ISBN 0 09 468840 0, p.127; Ross, p.133

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  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Richard III and Learning. Part 1: Richard III and Learned Men    May 02 2012 / 12pm:

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