Canterbury Cathedral

anterbury Cathedral was the location in 1170 where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered by four knights who mistook King Henry II's outburst at Becket's defiance against him as a request for the death of the Archbishop. The site for the cathedral was important as far back as AD 597 when the missionary St. Augustine converted the Pagan king Ethelbert to Christianity. Ethelbert gave Augustine an ancient building which had been a church belonging to earlier British Christians built by King Lucius. Augustine restored and rebuilt sections of the church and it became the centre of Christianity in Britain. After the Norman conquest the cathedral was completely rebuilt by Archbishop Lanfranc (1070) and his successor Anselm (1093) and all remnants of the Saxon church were removed. Anselm started the reconstruction of the choir and his successor Conrad completed the work which was celebrated by Kings Henry I of England and David I of Scotland in 1130. In 1174, shortly after the death of Becket, a fire started in buildings close to the Cathedral and embers set light to its roof. The damage was extensive and this presented the opportunity to do major redesign work. William of Sens was chosen as the architect and he chose the new Gothic style as the style to replace the older Norman building. William de Sens was injured in a fall during construction and his successor, William the Englishman, continued the work. In 1220 Becket's shrine was installed in the Cathedral. The shrine became a cult object attracting pilgrims along the Pilgrim's Way from London. This being the basis of the Canterbury Tales written by Chaucer. Further building work was performed by Henry Yeveley from around 1379 until 1405. Yeveley died in 1400 but the work was continued under his apprentice Stephen Lote.

Dimensions: General

Total Length5100
West wall to apse arcade4500
Length of nave1850
Height of nave800
Width of nave710
Transept width1220
Length of choir and apse2650
Height of central tower2350
Height of western towers1300
Area43200 sq.feet
Source: Medieval Monasteries and Minsters:Roberts;

Archbishops of Canterbury (1070-1500)

Name From To Notes
Ralph d'Escures11141122 
William of Corbeil11231136 
Theobald of Bec11391161 
Thomas Becket11621170 
Richard of Dover11741184 
Baldwin of Forde11841190 
Hubert Walter11931205 
Stephen Langton12071228 
Richard Grant12291231 
Edmund Rich12341240 
Boniface of Savoy12451270 
Robert Kilwardby12731278 
John Pecham12791292 
Robert Winchelsey12941313 
Walter Reynolds13131327 
Simon Meopham13281333 
John Stratford13331348 
Thomas Bradwardine1348  
Simon Islip13491366 
Simon Langham13661368 
William whittlesey13681374 
Simon Sudbury13751381 
William Courtenay13811396 
Thomas Arundel13961397 
Roger Walden13971399 
Thomas Arundel13991414 
Henry Chichele14141443 
John Stafford14431452 
John Kemp14521454 
Thomas Bourchier14541486 
John Morton14861500 
669   .
 Theodore of Tarsus arrived in England to become the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Under Theodore's leadship the structure of the English Church was changed. Lands were donated and new dioceses were created. Before this time bishops had a monastery but had no defined areas of their own and were missionaries. It was at around this time that the rule of St. Benedict was introduced into the country. 
959   Aefsige becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Aefsige became Archbishop of Canterbury. 
   Beorhthelm becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Beorhthelm became Archbishop of Canterbury. 
960   Dunstan becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Dunstan became Archbishop of Canterbury. 
988   Athelgar becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Athelgar became the Archbishop of Canterbury after the death of Dunstan. 
990   Sigeric Serio becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Sigeric Serio becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. 
1011   The Vikings murder Aelfheah
 The Vikings captured Canterbury and obtained a payment of £48,000. In a drunken rage the Vikings murdered Aelfheah, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Aelfheah was the man that had baptised Olaf Trygvasson in the Winter of 994. Outraged by the actions of his fellow men Thorkell the Tall defected to the side of Aethelred along with 45 Viking ships to help defend England from further Viking attacks.[1]

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1013   Lyfing becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Lyfing becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. 
1020   Aethelnoth becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Aethelnoth became Archbishop of Canterbury. 
1038   Eadsige becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Eadsige became Archbishop of Canterbury after the death of Aethelnoth. 
1050   Robert of Jumieges becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Edward appointed the French abbot Robert of Jumieges to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. 
1052 Summer  Stigand becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Stigand, Bishop of Winchester, mediated between the Godwines and Edward the Confessor. The Norman Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert of Jumieges, fled the country with other bishops who had been appointed by Edward. Stigand assumed the title of Archbishop of Canterbury. Robert appealed to Leo IX and Stigand was excommunicated (repeated by Victor II & Stephen IX, repealed by Benedict X, reintroduced by Nicholas II and Alexander II). 
1070   Lanfranc becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 William the Conqueror placed Lanfranc in the position of Archbishop of Canterbury a move designed to strengthen his hold on the English throne. Thomas of Bayeux, a pupil of Odo (William's brother), was put in the position of Archbishop of York after the death of Ealred who died on September 11, 1069. Archbishop Stigand was imprisoned in Winchester. 
1071 - 1077 Canterbury Cathedral rebuilt by Lanfranc
 Canterbury Cathedral was rebuilt at this time by Archbishop Lanfranc. The Cathedral was based on the design of his abbey in Caen. 
1072 Feb  Council of Winchester
 Lanfranc held a Church council at Winchester where the reorganisation of Bishops and Bishoprics war confirmed. Canterbury was also confirmed as the head of the English Church rather than York. 
1089 May 24  Lanfranc dies
 After the death of Archbishop Lanfranc William Rufus held open the post of Archbishop of Canterbury for four years taking the revenues for his own purposes. 
1093   Anselm Becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Anselm became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 succeeding Lanfranc. The post of Archbishop of Canterbury had been held open by William Rufus so that he could collect for himself the church's income. Anselm died in 1109. 
1096 - 1107 Canterbury Choir, East Transepts and Crypt building work.
 Canterbury Choir, East Transepts and Crypt building work.[2] 
1097   Anselm goes into exile
 Conflicts between Archbishop Anselm and William Rufus resulted in the Archbishop leaving England and heading for Rome. William confiscated Anselm's land. 
1100 Qtr 3  Anselm recalled from exile
 Henry I had no quarrels with the exiled archbishop and invited Anselm to return from exile and take back his position at Canterbury. 
1103   Conflicts between Church and State
 Disagreements began to arise between Henry I and Archbishop Anselm over the appointment of bishops and abbots into important Church positions. Anselm believed that it was a matter for the Church to decide and should not be controlled by the King. No concession could be agreed upon and once again Anselm went into exile as the King confiscated the lands that the archbishop owned. 
1109 Apr 21  Archbishop Anselm dies
 Death of the Archbishop of Canterbury.[3] 
1130   Canterbury choir dedication
 A new choir started at Canterbury Cathedral in 1093 by Prior Ernulf and completed by Prior Conrad was dedicated in the presence of Henry I, David of Scotland and many English Earls.[4] 
1141 Dec 25  Stephen's second coronation
 After his release Stephen insisted on a second coronation so that the barons would swear their loyalty to him. The coronation took place at Canterbury Cathedral.

Episode: Civil War Stephen and Matilda  
1161 Apr 18  Death of Theobald of Bec
 Theobald of Bec, archbishop of Canterbury, died after an illness. Henry II was informed and wanted his friend Thomas Becket elected as archbishop.

Episode: Henry II and Thomas Becket  
1162 Jun 3  Thomas Becket becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Thomas Becket becomes Archbishop of Canterbury.

Episode: Henry II and Thomas Becket  
1170 Dec 29  Thomas Becket is murdered
 When Henry II heard that Thomas Becket had returned to England and was threatening to excommunicate his opponents, his outrage was such that four knights overhearing the King travelled to England and killed Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral.

Episode: Henry II and Thomas Becket  
1173 Feb 21  Becket canonised
 Becket was canonized by Pope Alexander III. His shrine at Canterbury Cathedral became extremely wealthy due to the number of pilgrims visiting it and donating money.[5]

Episode: Henry II and Thomas Becket  
1174   Canterbury Cathedral fire
 Canterbury Cathedral suffered another disastrous fire and was damaged so badly that it needed almost completely rebuilding. William of Sens was given the task of constructing a new Cathedral. William was injured by a fall from scaffolding and the work was continued by William the Englishman. 
 Jul 7  Whipping of Henry II
 Henry II accepted his part, even though indirect, in the killing of Thomas Becket. He was whipped by the monks of Canterbury as punishment.

Episode: Henry II and Thomas Becket  
1175 - 1178 Canterbury Choir building work
 Canterbury Choir building work by William of Sens.[2] 
1179 - 1184 Canterbury Trinity Chapel and corona building work
 Canterbury Trinity Chapel and corona building work by William Englishman.[2] 
1193   Hubert Walter becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Hubert Walter follows Baldwin as Archbishop of Canterbury. 
1205 Jul 13  Hubert Walter dies
 Hubert Walter the Archbishop of Canterbury and King John's most important advisor died.[6]

Episode: Excommunication of King John  
 Dec  John forces election of De Gray
 When Hubert Walter died a dispute began between King John and the monks of Canterbury over who should become the new Archbishop of Canterbury. King John wanted John de Grey, Bishop of Norwich, to have the position but the monks wanted their sub-prior, Reginald. The matter was delayed until December when a mission sent to Rome could consult the Pope. Reginald himself went as part of the mission and stated that he had been elected by the monks. When King John heard of this he demanded that De Gray should be elected and the monks dutifully did.[6]

Episode: Excommunication of King John  
1207   Stephen Langton becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 Stephen Langton was chosen as Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Innocent III.[7]

Episode: Excommunication of King John  
1215 Jun 15  John's Great Charter (the Magna Carta)
 A large number of barons, led by Stephen Langton the archbishop of Canterbury, meet King John on an island in the Thames at Runnymede. They forced the king to sign the 'Great Charter' or Magna Carta that would limit the power of the monarchy. The barons insisted that the old feudal contract should be reinstated and that the king should abide by the laws that the rest of the population did. The feudal contract allowed the barons to run their own lands, renting it from the king but paying rent by supplying knights rather than money. This feudal system had been set up by William the Conqueror.[8]

Episode: The First Barons' War  
1228   Stephen Langton dies
 On the death of Stephen Langton, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, attempting to raise as much money from the clergy in England filled senior posts in the clergy with anyone who bidded the highest.[8] 
1236 - 1238 Canterbury Cloister building work
 Canterbury Cloister building work.[2] 
 Jan 4  King Henry marries Eleanor of Provence
 Henry married Eleanor, one of four daughters of Raymond count of Provence. Eleanor was 14 years old. Simon de Montfort, as Lord High Steward, took care of the banquet and kitchen arrangements. The ceremony took place at Canterbury Cathedral.[8] 
1254   Edward marries
 Edward (I) at the age of fifteen travels from Portsmouth with his mother and the Archbishop of Canterbury to marry Eleanor of Castile the half-sister of the King Alfonso X of Castile. Both Edward and Eleanor are descended from Henry II.[9] 
1304 - 1320 Canterbury Screen of choir and chapter house building work
 Canterbury Screen of choir and chapter house building work.[2] 
1340 Nov  Edward dismisses his Chancellor
 Edward travelled back to England and came ashore at the Tower of London. He was horrified to find the castle unguarded. His anger did not stop with those in charge at the Tower. Edward sacked many of his advisors including the Chancellor, John Stratford, the Archbishop of Canterbury.[10] 
1363   Construction of the Chantry Chapel at Canterbury
 The Black Prince organised the construction of the Chantry Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral and he expressed the wish to be buried there. 
   Canterbury Black Prince chantry in crypt built
 The Black Prince chantry in the crypt of Canterbury cathedral built by John Box.[2] 
1372 - 1377 Canterbury Crypt Lady Chapel building work
 Canterbury Crypt Lady Chapel building work by John Box.[2] 
1378   Canterbury Cathedral rebuilding work
 Work on rebuilding the nave and transepts of Canterbury Cathedral was started. The designer was Henry Yeveley one of the greatest architects in the late medieval period. 
1379 - 1414 Canterbury Cloisters
 Canterbury Cloisters built by Henry Yevele.[2] 
1381 Jun 10  William Courtenay becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 William Courtenay became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Episode: Peasants Revolt  
 Jun 10  Peasant's Revolt reaches Canterbury
 William Courtenay was elected the new archbishop of Canterbury by the Kentish rebels who crowded into the church. The previous archbishop was in London with the king and was to be beheaded by the rebels. The Essex section of the revolt burnt and sacked a Hospitaller commandery that had previously belonged to the Templars called Cressing Temple.[11]

Episode: Peasants Revolt  
1387   The Canterbury Tales
 Geoffrey Chaucer begins the Canterbury Tales. 
1397   Wilton Diptych painted
 A series of miniature images painted on the side of the Black Prince's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. 
   Thomas Arundel exiled
 Shortly after becoming Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Arundel was exiled by Richard II because of his support for the lords appellant who opposed the King's misrule of the country.

Episode: Lords Appellant  
1400   Henry Yeveley dies.
 Henry Yeveley, one of the greatest late medieval architects died in 1400. His work on Canterbury Cathedral was continued by his pupil Stephen Lote. 
1400 - 1412 Chapter House at Canterbury building work
 Chapter House at Canterbury building work by Stephen Lote.[12] 
1423 - 1434 Canterbury South West Tower building work
 Canterbury South West Tower building work by Thomas Mapilton.[2] 
1468   Canterbury Lady Chapel Vault
 Canterbury Lady Chapel Vault built.[2] 
1493 - 1497 Canterbury central tower building work
 Canterbury central tower building work undertaken including strainer arches in the crossing.[2] 
Early Modern Period (1500-1800)
1503   William Wareham becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
 William Wareham is elected to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury by Julius II. 
1538   Destruction of Thomas Becket's Relics
 Henry VIII ordered the destruction of the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral and the removal of all the offerings that had been made over the centuries. The bones were supposed to have been burned but may have been reburied sparking a mystery over the location of the remains today.[4] 
1642   Canterbury Cathedral vandalised
 Parliamentarian troops broke into Canterbury Cathedral and damaged the interior including the organ and choir. 

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