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Walter Langton (died 1321) was a bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and treasurer of England.

Walter Langton
Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
Elected20 February 1296
Term ended9 November 1321
PredecessorRoger de Meyland
SuccessorRoger Northburgh
Consecration23 December 1296
Personal details
Born2 September 1243
Died9 November 1321 (aged 78)
BuriedLichfield Cathedral

Langton was probably a native of Langton West in Leicestershire.

The life of Langton, was strongly influenced by his family, his uncle William Langton and mentor, Robert Burnell, Lord Chancellor of England. Then by the years in which he served King Edward I of England.


Life before royal serviceEdit

According to the Hughes paper: "In October 1298 Langton was licensed by Henry of Newark, archbishop of York, to ordain Walter and Robert Clipston, (his nephews), then aged seven and five years respectively, to all minor orders".

Although there is little research on the issue, Langton may have entered the church at a similar age. It is known that his uncle William Langton became Dean of York in 1262 and he may have come under his uncle's supervision at that time. In 1265 his uncle William Langton was elected by the brothers, Archbishop of York, but his appointment was superseded by the Pope's appointment of Bonaventura.

In public life both men took the name of their village of Langton West in Leicestershire, however their family name was Peverel. Hughes says: "Langton's register clarifies the bishop's connection with the Peverel families of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and shows that he was a Peverel by birth".

Copies of charters preserved in his register, by which Langton granted land and the advowson of the church of Adlingfleet, Yorkshire, to Selby Abbey, clearly states his paternity: Langton names himself as "the son and heir of Simon Peverel".[citation needed]

Keighley Shared Church is represented by St Andrew's Church at Keighley, West Yorkshire. Amongst its rectors is listed Walter de Langton, inducted 1272. More research into the Langton's life at this time may shed more light into his relationship with the wife of Sir John Lovetot.

It is said in the chronicles that King Edward I of England selected Langton for his service.

Life after entering royal service for King Edward IEdit

Though Lord Chancellor, Bishop Robert Burnell of Bath and Wells was also Archdeacon of York. It may be supposed through his duties in York he became a friend of William Langton and through the two men, Walter Langton was introduced to the King. The King must have liked the young man, for he selected him for his service and in later years Langton became "unquestionably Edwards’s first minister and almost his only real confidant".

Appointed a clerk in the royal chancery, Langton became a favourite servant of Edward I, and was appointed Keeper of the wardrobe from 1290 to 1295. He took part in the suit over the succession to the Scottish throne in 1292, and visited France more than once on diplomatic business. In 1293 he rushed to Lambeth to obtain a charter transferring the Isle of Wight to the king from Isabella de Fortibus who was near to death.[1] He became Treasurer from 1295 to 1307[2] and obtained several ecclesiastical preferments,[citation needed]. On 20 February 1296 he was elected bishop of Lichfield, being consecrated on 23 December.[3] As bishop he rebuilt the diocesan seat, Eccleshall Castle, in a more lavish style.[4]

Having become unpopular, the barons in 1301 vainly asked Edward to dismiss Langton; about the same time he was accused of murder, adultery and simony. Suspended from his office, he went to Rome to be tried before Pope Boniface VIII, who referred the case to Winchelsea, archbishop of Canterbury; the archbishop, although Langton's lifelong enemy, found him innocent, and this sentence was confirmed by Pope Boniface in 1303. Little is said about the nature of the charges of witchcraft against Bishop Walter Langton.[5] By inference Pope Boniface VIII was charged, about the same time with Invocation, consultation of diviners, and other offenses, by officials of King Philip IV of France, about which more information is available.[6]

Accounts by historians say little about how Langton escaped the charges of witchcraft at the tribunal at the Vatican over the 2 years he had to defend himself there. But a strong protest from King Edward I saw Pope Boniface refer the case back to English jurisdiction. Langton was allowed to return to England and his was eventually found innocent. This incident represents a political struggle between the Archbishop Robert Winchelsea, the King and his councillor.

Throughout these difficulties, and also during a quarrel with the prince of Wales, afterwards Edward II, the treasurer was loyally supported by the king. Visiting Pope Clement V on royal business in 1305, Langton appears to have persuaded Clement to suspend Winchelsea; after his return to England he was the chief adviser of Edward I, who had already appointed him the principal executor of his will.[7]

Life after the King's deathEdit

There is an elaborate pictorial representation of the life of King Edward I in Langton's residence housed outside of the Cathedral of Lichfield.

Langton's position, however, was changed by the king's death in July 1307. The accession of Edward II and the return of Langton's enemy, Piers Gaveston, were quickly followed by the arrest of the bishop, his removal from office, and imprisonment at London, Windsor and Wallingford. His lands, together with a great hoard of movable wealth, were seized, and he was accused of misappropriation and venality. In spite of the intercession of Clement V and even of the restored Archbishop Winchelsea, who was anxious to uphold the privileges of his order, Langton, accused again by the barons in 1309, remained in prison after Edward's surrender to the Ordainers in 1310.

He was released[citation needed] in January 1312 and again became treasurer on the 23rd;[2] but he was disliked by the ordainers, who forbade him to discharge the duties of his office. Excommunicated by Winchelsea, he appealed to the pope, visited him at Avignon, and returned to England after the archbishop's death in May 1313. He was a member of the royal council from this time until his dismissal at the request of parliament in 1315.[citation needed] He died on 9 November 1321,[3] and was buried in Lichfield Cathedral, which was improved and enriched at his expense. Langton appears to have been no relation of his contemporary, John Langton, bishop of Chichester.


  1. ^ Barbara English, Forz , Isabella de, suo jure countess of Devon, and countess of Aumale (1237–1293), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edition (subscription required), January 2008. Accessed: 5 January 2011
  2. ^ a b Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 104
  3. ^ a b Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 253
  4. ^ "History of Eccleshall". Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  5. ^ See ‹See Tfd›(in French) Julien Théry-Astruc, "'Excès' et 'affaires d’enquête'. Les procédures criminelles de la papauté contre les prélats, de la mi-XIIe à la mi-XIVe siècle. Première approche", in La pathologie du pouvoir : vices, crimes et délits des gouvernants, ed. by Patrick Gilli, Leyde : Brill, 2016, p. 164-236, at p. 183, 197, 204, 217.
  6. ^ See ‹See Tfd›(in French) Jean Coste, Boniface VIII en procès. Articles d'accusation et dépositions des témoins (1303-1311), Rome, "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1995.
  7. ^ Denton, J. H. (1980) Robert Winchelsey and the Crown (1284-1313). A Study in the Defense of Ecclesiastical Liberty, London, New York, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press.


Political offices
Preceded by
John Droxford
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Walter Reynolds
Preceded by
Walter Norwich
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Walter Norwich
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Roger de Meyland
Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
Succeeded by
Roger Northburgh