Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bishop Robert Sherborne, RIP

Robert Sherborne or Shirbun, later the Bishop of Chichester, was born in around 1440 and rose quickly through the clerical ranks and in royal service after his education at Winchester College and Oxford:

On 1 May 1488 he received the prebend of Langford Manor in Lincoln Cathedral, which he exchanged for Milton Manor in the same cathedral on 27 Nov. 1493, but again exchanged to Langford on 29 Aug. 1494. On 26 Aug. 1489 he was given the prebend of Wildland in St. Paul's Cathedral, and he also held a canonry at Wells, which he resigned in 1493. On 2 Nov. in that year he was made prebendary of Holywell or Finsbury in St. Paul's Cathedral, and in 1496 he became archdeacon of Buckinghamshire (13 Feb.), of Huntingdon and of Taunton (16 Dec.). In July of the same year he was sent as envoy to the pope with the intimation of Henry VII's willingness to join the holy league, which aimed at keeping the French out of Italy (Rymer, xii. 639); in his letter to the Duke of Milan requesting a free passage for Sherborne, Henry describes him as his secretary (Cal. Venetian State Papers, i. 691, 712, 722). In 1498 he was appointed to levy fines on those of the clergy who had abetted Perkin Warbeck, and in the following year he was made dean of St. Paul's. In August 1500 he was employed in examining adherents of Warbeck (ib. xii. 766). 

Sherborne was involved with the future Henry VIII's marital affairs from the beginning:

He was apparently ambassador at Rome in 1502, and while there was instructed to go to the pope with the Spanish ambassador, announce Prince Arthur's death, and request a dispensation for the marriage of Prince Henry with Catherine of Aragon (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, iv. 5467). On 4 May 1503 he was appointed commissioner to treat with Scotland concerning Margaret's dowry, and in 1504 was sent to Julius II to congratulate him on his election as pope.

Then he got a little too ambitious:

Early in 1505 Sherborne was made bishop of St. David's by a papal bull which he himself forged (Letters and Papers of Henry VII, ed. Gairdner, i. 246, ii. 169, 335, 337); the temporalities were restored on 12 April, and when the forgery was discovered Henry VII wrote to the Pope asking that Sherborne might be leniently treated (ib.). He does not seem to have been punished, and on 18 Sept. 1508 he was papally provided to the see of Chichester, the temporalities being restored on 13 Dec. On 23 July 1518 he met Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio [q. v.] at Deal on his arrival in England to urge Henry VIII to join in a crusade against the Turks. In May 1522 he accompanied Thomas Grey, second marquis of Dorset [q. v.], to Calais to meet Charles V and conduct him to London. In April 1525 he was commissioned by Wolsey to visit the Premonstratensian monastery at Bigham and examine into the scandals there. In the same year he sent Wolsey books for his new college at Oxford, of which he was in other ways a benefactor (Letters and Papers, iv. 1708, 2340).

Then he worked on Henry VIII's Great Matter:

In September 1528 he again met Campeggio on his arrival to try the divorce of Catherine of Aragon. He acquiesced in the Reformation, but probably with secret reluctance. He signed the letter of the lords spiritual and temporal to Clement VII on 13 July 1530 begging him to grant Henry's desire for a divorce, and pointing out the evils of delay. In 1532 accusations against him were laid before Cromwell, but he was able to clear himself, and on 26 Feb. 1534–5 he renounced the jurisdiction of the pope. On Sunday 13 June following he preached ‘the Word of God’ in his cathedral, promulgating the king's commands as to his supremacy of the church, but asked to be relieved of further proceedings in the matter, owing to age and feeble health. 

Sherborne seems to have been a good company man and I can't find any reason for the author of his biography to have thought there was any reluctance, even secret reluctance. But something must have triggered those accusations to Cromwell. Perhaps he commented once that it was rather strange that Henry VIII wanted to undo what his father Henry VII had done working with the Pope. Here's an interesting overview of how the Catholic bishops of England renounced their loyalty to the universal Church and the Papacy.

Maybe he said something about protecting the shrine of St. Richard of Chichester?

One of Thomas Cromwell's officials visited Sherborne:

He was examined by Richard Layton [q. v.], the visitor of the monasteries, on 1 Oct. 1535; and early in June 1536 resigned his bishopric, to which Henry wished to appoint Richard Sampson [q. v.] He died in the following August. His will, dated 2 Aug., was proved on 24 Nov. At Chichester he kept a state second only in magnificence to that of Henry and Wolsey, and he left property worth nearly 1,500l. He founded the prebends of Bursalis, Exceit, Bargham, and Wyndham, to be held by alumni of New College or Winchester College (cf. Laud, Works, v. 485–6). He also founded about 1520 a grammar school at Rolleston, Staffordshire (Shaw, Staffordshire, i. 34).


Among his interesting legacies are the Lambert Barnard panels in Chichester Cathedral:

Lambert Barnard (1485 - 1567) was a local, early Tudor painter whose close twenty year collaboration with his patron Bishop Sherburne resulted in the creation of an exceptional and unique group of Tudor paintings.

The paintings are built in panels (14ft x 32ft) which are made from individual vertical oak panels being joined together with hessian and chalk glue. Due to their size and rarity they are among the most important surviving examples of Tudor painting in the Country.

The paintings represent an extraordinary piece of political theatre and propaganda. They offer us a rare opportunity to imagine how Henry VIII may have been seen by the ordinary people. . . .

More detail here.

Image credit: Bishop Sherborne's tomb in Chichester Cathedral.

Image creditPanel painting by Lambert Barnard for Chichester Cathedral; depicts the event in 686 when King Cædwalla issued a charter confirming the rights and territories previously given to Wilfrid by King Aethelwealh and the estate of the Hundred of Pagham. Note: the man in white looking over the left shoulder of the king is believed to be a self-portrait of Barnard.

No comments:

Post a Comment