Stigand

Stigand (died 1072) was an English churchman in pre-Norman Conquest England. His birth date is unknown, but by 1020 he was serving as a royal chaplain and advisor. He was named Bishop of Elmham in 1043, and was later Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury. Stigand was as an advisor to several members of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman English royal dynasties, serving six successive kings. Excommunicated by several popes for his pluralism in holding the two sees, or bishoprics, of Winchester and Canterbury concurrently, he was finally deposed in 1070, and his estates and personal wealth were confiscated by William the Conqueror. Stigand was imprisoned at Winchester, where he died without regaining his liberty.

Stigand served King Cnut as a chaplain at a royal foundation at Ashingdon in 1020, and as an advisor then and later. He continued in his role of advisor during the reigns of Cnut's sons, Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut. When Cnut's stepson Edward the Confessor succeeded Harthacnut, Stigand likely became England's main administrator. Monastic writers of the time accused Stigand of extorting money and lands from the church, and by 1066 the only estates richer than Stigand's were the royal estates and those of Harold Godwinson.

In 1043 Edward appointed Stigand to the see of Elmham. Four years later, in 1047, he was appointed to the see of Winchester and then in 1052 to the archdiocese of Canterbury, which Stigand held jointly with that of Winchester. Five successive popes, including Nicholas II and Alexander II, excommunicated Stigand for holding both Winchester and Canterbury. Stigand was present at the deathbed of King Edward and at the coronation of Harold Godwinson as king of England in 1066. After Harold's death, Stigand submitted to William the Conqueror. On Christmas Day 1066, Ealdred, the Archbishop of York, crowned William King of England. Stigand's excommunication meant that he could only assist at the coronation.

Despite growing pressure for his deposition, Stigand continued to attend the royal court and to consecrate bishops, until in 1070 he was deposed by papal legates and imprisoned at Winchester. His intransigence towards the papacy was used as propaganda by Norman advocates of the view that the English church was backward and needed reform.

Read more about StigandEarly Life, Bishop of Elmham and Winchester

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