Thomas Bourchier (bishop)
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Thomas Bourchier Bishop

Thomas Bourchier
Cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury
Primate of All England
Cardinal Thomas Bourchier
1909 stained glass depiction in Sevenoaks Church, Kent, of Thomas Bourchier, wearing a cardinal's hat. His residence of Knole House, which he built, was situated opposite the church
Appointed23 April 1454
Installed26 January 1455
Term ended30 March 1486
PredecessorJohn Kemp
SuccessorJohn Morton
Consecration15 May 1435
Created cardinal18 September 1467
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Borncirca 1411
Died30 March 1486
Knole House
BuriedCanterbury Cathedral
DenominationRoman Catholic
Coat of armsThomas Bourchier's coat of arms

Thomas Bourchier (c. 1411 - 30 March 1486)[1] was a medieval English cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England.[2]


Bourchier was a younger son of William Bourchier, 1st Count of Eu (d. 1420) by his wife Anne of Gloucester, a daughter of Thomas of Woodstock (1355-1397), youngest son of King Edward III. One of his brothers was Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex (d. 1483), and his great-nephew was John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, the translator of Froissart. Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham was his half-brother.


He was educated at the University of Oxford, after which he entered the church and obtained rapid promotion.


After holding some minor appointments he was consecrated Bishop of Worcester on 15 May 1434.[3] In the same year of 1434 he was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and in 1443 was appointed Bishop of Ely.[4] In April 1454 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury,[5] and became Lord Chancellor of England in March 1455.[6]

Tomb of Thomas Bourchier in Canterbury Cathedral

Bourchier's short term of office as chancellor coincided with the start of the Wars of the Roses, and at first he was not a strong partisan, although he lost his position as chancellor when Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, was deprived of power in October 1456. In 1458 he helped to reconcile the contending parties as part of The Love Day, but when the war was renewed in 1459 he had become a decided Yorkist. He crowned Duke Richard's son Edward Plantagenet, 4th Duke of York as King Edward IV in June 1461, and four years later he crowned Edward's queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

In 1457 Bourchier took the chief part in the trial for heresy of Reginald Pecock, Bishop of Chichester. In 1473 he was created a cardinal, not after some delay as this honour had been sought for him by King Edward IV in 1465. In 1475 he was one of the four arbitrators appointed to arrange the details of the Treaty of Picquigny between England and France. After the death of King Edward IV in 1483 Bourchier persuaded the queen to allow her younger son, Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, to join his elder brother King Edward V in (supposedly protective) residence in the Tower of London. Although Bourchier had sworn, before his father's death, to be faithful to King Edward V, he nevertheless crowned King Richard III in July 1483.

The third English king crowned by Bourchier was King Henry VII (1485-1509), whom he also married to Elizabeth of York in January 1486.

Knole House, Kent

Death and burial

Bourchier died on 30 March 1486[5] at the palatial residence he had transformed, Knole House, near Sevenoaks in Kent, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where his monument can be found.



  1. ^ Clark, Linda (2004). "Bourchier, Thomas (c. 1411-1486)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online). doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2993.
  2. ^ Miranda, Salvador. "Thomas Bourchier". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 280
  4. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 245
  5. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 234
  6. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 87


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bourchier, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Gilbert Kymer
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
John Carpenter
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Salisbury
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
William Waynflete
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Brunce
Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by
John Carpenter
Preceded by
Lewis of Luxembourg
Bishop of Ely
Succeeded by
William Grey
Preceded by
John Kemp
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
John Morton
Preceded by
Dénes Szécsi
Cardinal priest of San Ciriaco alle Terme Diocleziane
Succeeded by
Bernardino Lunati

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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