Hubert Walter

Hubert Walter
Archbishop of Canterbury
Stone statue of a robed man set in a niche. The top half of the head of the statue is missing.
Statue of Hubert Walter from the exterior of Canterbury Cathedral
Elected29 May 1193
Installed7 November 1193
Term ended13 July 1205
PredecessorReginald fitzJocelin
(elected but died before consecration)
Other postsBishop of Salisbury
Consecration22 October 1189
Personal details
Bornc. 1160
Died13 July 1205
BuriedTrinity Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral
ParentsHervey Walter
Maud de Valoignes
Chief Justiciar of England
In office
MonarchRichard I
Preceded byWalter de Coutances
Succeeded byGeoffrey fitzPeter
24th Lord Chancellor
In office
Preceded byEustace
Succeeded byWalter de Gray
baron of the exchequer
In office
MonarchHenry II

Hubert Walter (c. 1160 – 13 July 1205) was an influential royal adviser in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries in the positions of Chief Justiciar of England, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. As chancellor, Walter began the keeping of the Charter Roll, a record of all charters issued by the chancery. Walter was not noted for his holiness in life or learning, but historians have judged him one of the most outstanding government ministers in English history.

Walter owed his early advancement to his uncle Ranulf de Glanvill, who helped him become a clerk of the Exchequer. Walter served King Henry II of England in many ways, not just in financial administration, but also including diplomatic and judicial efforts. After an unsuccessful candidacy to the see of York, Walter was elected Bishop of Salisbury shortly after the accession of Henry's son Richard I to the throne of England.

Walter accompanied Richard on the Third Crusade, and was one of the principals involved in raising Richard's ransom after the king was captured in Germany on his return from the Holy Land. As a reward for his faithful service, Walter was selected to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1193. He also served as Richard's justiciar until 1198, in which role he was responsible for raising the money Richard needed to prosecute his wars in France. Walter set up a system that was the precursor for the modern justices of the peace, based on selecting four knights in each hundred to administer justice. He also revived his predecessor's dispute over setting up a church to rival Christ Church Priory in Canterbury, which was only settled when the pope ordered him to abandon the plan. Following Richard's death in 1199, Walter helped assure the elevation of Richard's brother John to the throne. Walter also served John as a diplomat, undertaking several missions to France.

Early life

Hubert Walter was the son of Hervey Walter[1] and his wife Maud de Valoignes, one of the daughters (and co-heiresses) of Theobald de Valoignes, who was lord of Parham in Suffolk.[2][3] Walter was one of six brothers.[4] The eldest brother, Theobald Walter, and Walter himself, were helped in their careers by their uncle, Ranulf de Glanvill.[2][a] Glanvill was the chief justiciar for Henry II; and was married to Maud de Valoignes' sister, Bertha.[4] Walter's father and paternal grandfather held lands in Suffolk and Norfolk, which were inherited by Theobald.[6] A younger brother, Osbert, became a royal justice and died in 1206. Roger, Hamo (or Hamon) and Bartholomew only appear as witnesses to charters.[3][4]

Walter's family was from West Dereham in Norfolk, which is probably where Walter was born.[7] Walter first appears in Glanvill's household in a charter that has been dated to 1178, although as it is undated it may have been written as late as 1180.[8] His brother Theobald also served in their uncle's household.[3] Walter's gratitude towards his aunt and uncle is shown in the foundation charter of Walter's monastery in Dereham, where he asks the foundation to pray for the "souls of Ranulf Glanvill and Bertha his wife, who nourished us".[9] Earlier historians asserted that Walter studied law at Bologna, based on his name appearing in a list of those to be commemorated at a monastery in Bologna in which English students lodged. Modern historians have discounted this, as the list also includes benefactors, not just students; other evidence points to the fact that Walter had a poor grasp of Latin, and did not consider himself to be a learned man.[10] However, this did not mean that he was illiterate, merely that he was not "book-learned", or educated at a university.[11] His contemporary, the medieval writer Gerald of Wales said of Walter that the Exchequer was his school.[12]

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