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William Longchamp Edit Profile

Clergyman , diplomat , statesman

William Longchamp Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of England, first appears in the service of Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln, a natural son of Henry II.


Born to a humble family in Normandy, Longchamp owed his advancement to royal favour. Although contemporary writers accused Longchamp's father of being the son of a peasant, he held land as a knight.


Henry II, who disliked Longchamp, called him the "son of two traitors. "

He soon deserted Geoffrey for Richard, who made him chancellor of the duchy of Aquitaine.

He always showed himself an able diplomatist.

He first distinguished himself at Paris, as Richard's envoy, when he defeated Henry II. 's attempt to make peace with Philip Augustus (1189).

On Richard's accession William became chancellor of the kingdom and bishop of Ely.

When Richard left England (Dec. 1189), he put the tower of London in his hands and chose him to share with Hugh de Puiset, the great bishop of Durham, the office of chief justiciar.

In June 1190 he received a commission as legate from Pope Celestine.

He was then master in church as well as state.

But his disagreeable appearance and manners, his pride, his contempt for everything English made him detested.

is progresses through the country with a train of a thousand knights were ruinous to those on whom devolved the burden of entertaining him.

Even John seemed preferable to him.

John returned to England in 1191; he and his adherents were immediately involved in disputes with William, who was always worsted.

At last (June 1191) Geoffrey, archbishop of York and William's earliest benefactor, was violently arrested by William's subordinates on landing at Dover.

They exceeded their orders, which were to prevent the archbishop from entering England until he had sworn fealty to Richard.

But this outrage was made a pretext for a general rising against William, whose legatine commission had now expired, and whose power was balanced by the presence of the archbishop of Rouen, Walter Coutances, with a commission from the king.

William shut himself up in the Tower, but he was forced to surrender his castles and expelled from the kingdom.

In 1193 he joined Richard in Germany, and Richard seems to have attributed the settlement soon after concluded between himself and the emperor, to his "dearest chancellor. "

For the rest of the reign Longchamp was employed in confidential and diplomatic missions by Richard all over the continent, in Germany, in France and at Rome.