Reformed Churchmen

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

12 June 1333 A.D. Simon Mepeham Dies—52nd of 105 Archbishops of Canterbury; Excommunicated by a Roman Bishop

12 June 1333 A.D.  Simon Mepeham Dies—52nd of 105 Archbishops of Canterbury; Excommunicated by a Roman Bishop

Simon Mepeham (or Meopham or Mepham; died 1333) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1328 to 1333.


Early life

Mepeham was educated at Oxford between the years 1290 and 1296 at Merton College where he devoted himself to the study of theology. He was ordained priest on 21 September 1297 in Canterbury Cathedral by Archbishop Robert Winchelsey, who gave Simon the rectory of Tunstall in Kent.

Mepeham became a prebendary of Llandaff in 1295 and soon afterwards a canon of Chichester but took no interest or part in public affairs.[1]

Archbishop of Canterbury

Mepeham was the candidate of the Earl of Lancaster against the candidate supported by Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer.[2] Elected to the Archbishopric of Canterbury on 11 December 1327, Simon Mepeham was consecrated on 5 June 1328, and received the temporalities of the see of Canterbury on 19 September 1328.[3] That winter, he supported a rebellion against the rule of Roger Mortimer that was led by the Earl of Lancaster and supported by the Earl of Norfolk, Earl of Kent and others.[4]

Archbishop Mepeham's register is lost[5] and as a result what we know of his governance of his see is gleaned from the chroniclers William Thorne and William Dene.[5] Mepeham was considered to be a "man of no great ability and with scanty knowledge of ecclesiastical tradition and propriety, and the maintenance of the rights of his See caused disputes on every side."[1]

Dispute and excommunication

Mepeham became involved in a dispute about the juridical rights of churches that had been appropriated by St Augustine's Abbey. The monks made an appeal against the Archbishop, and a Papal nuncio and canon of Salisbury, Icherius de Concareto, was appointed to mediate. Mepeham was cited to give evidence before him, but refused to attend. The suffragans of Canterbury were in support of Mepeham, but his refusal to submit to the judicial process of the Church led to his excommunication by Pope John XXII in 1333.[6] Concoreto had issued an order suspending Mepham from presiding at Divine Services on 22nd January 1333 with the condition that should the Archbishop continue to refuse to resist the will of the Pope and court he was to be excommunicated 30 Days later. [7]

Mepeham's excommunication was postumously rescinded allowing him to be buried in Cantarbury Cathedral.

Death and afterward

Mepeham died on 12 October 1333.[3] He is buried in a tomb made of black marble located beneath the entrance arch to the Chapel of St. Anselm in Canterbury Cathedral.[1]


1.       ^ Jump up to: a b c Chronicles of Wingham accessed April 2010

2.       Jump up ^ Weir Queen Isabella p. 306

3.       ^ Jump up to: a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 233

4.       Jump up ^ Powell House of Lords in the Middle Ages p. 302

5.       ^ Jump up to: a b Haines "An Innocent Abroad" English Historical Review pp. 555–596

6.       Jump up ^ Carpenter 'Cantuar' pp. 89–90

7.       Jump up ^ Haines 'Archbishop Simon Mepham 1328-1333: A Boy Among Men'


  • Carpenter, E.; Hastings, A. (1997). Cantaur: The Archbishops in their Office (3rd Edition ed.). London: Mowbray. ISBN 0264674499. 
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Haines, Roy (June 1997). "An Innocent Abroad: The Career of Simon Mepham, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1328–33". The English Historical Review CXII (447): 555–596. doi:10.1093/ehr/CXII.447.555. 
  • Haines, Roy (2012). Archbishop Simon Mepham 1328-1333: A Boy Amongst Men. Xlibris Corp. ISBN 978-1465302380. 
  • Powell, J. Enoch and Keith Wallis The House of Lords in the Middle Ages: A History of the English House of Lords to 1540 London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1968
  • Weir, Alison Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery and Murder in Medieval England New York: Ballantine 2005 ISBN 0-345-45319-0

Preceded by
Walter Reynolds
Succeeded by
John de Stratford

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