Thomas de Cantilupe — c.1218 - 1282
Bishop of Hereford from 1275 - 1282
Thomas was born in Buckinghamshire, descended from Norman families of standing on both sides. His father was seneschal to the royal household of Henry III, while Thomas’s eldest brother married Eva de Briouze, a cousin of William de Briouze Snr. His uncle Walter de Cantilupe was Bishop of Worcester from 1236, and was responsible for Thomas’ early education and perhaps influenced his future high-profile career. He came from a rigorous academic background, having studied (and then taught) Arts, Law and Theology at the universities of Paris, Orleans and Oxford, even serving two terms as Chancellor of the latter university. Through connections with his uncle, Thomas was also drawn into thirteenth century politics which was dominated by baronial rebellions against King Henry III. In the uneasy peace following the Second Baron’s rebellion, Thomas was made Chancellor of England in 1265, though he did not hold the post for long.
Thomas de Cantilupe was what is known as a ‘pluralist’ which meant that he held multiple ecclesiastical benefices all over England. They made him very rich, even before he was made Bishop of Hereford in 1272, which made some question his ‘saintly’ lifestyle. In later life, Thomas enjoyed a good relationship with Edward I and was a close advisor, though his dealings with the Archbishop of Canterbury John Pecham soon turned sour. It was this disagreement which led him to make the trip to Rome to appeal to the Pope in 1281, a journey which was to be his last, as he became ill and died on his way home in 1282.