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STEPHEN LANGTON (d. 1228)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 178 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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STEPHEN LANGTON (d. 1228)., cardinal and archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of English parents; but the date and place of his birth are unknown. Since he became early in his career a prebendary of York, and since his brother Simon (d. 1248) was elected' to that see in 1215, we may suppose the family to have been of northern extraction. Stephen, however, migrated to Paris, and having graduated in that university became one of its most celebrated theologians. This was probably the time when he composed his voluminous commentaries (many of which still exist in manuscript) and divided the Bible into chapters. At Paris also he contracted the friend-ship with Lothar of Segni, the future Innocent III., which played so important a part in shaping his career. Upon becoming pope, Innocent summoned Langton to Rome, and in 1206 designated him as cardinal-priest of S. Chrysogonus. Immediately after-wards Langton was drawn into the vortex of English politics. Archbishop Hubert Walter had died in 1205, and the election of his successor had raised thorny questions. The suffragans of Canterbury claimed a share in choosing the new primate, although that right had been exclusively reserved to the monks of Canterbury by a papal privilege; and John supported the bishops since they were prepared to give their votes for his candidate, John de Gray, bishop of Norwich. A party of the younger monks, to evade the double pressure of the king and bishops, secretly elected their sub-prior Reginald and sent him to Rome for confirmation. The plot leaked out; the rest of the monks were induced to elect John de Gray, and he too was despatched to Rome. After hearing the case Innocent Pope Innocent, however, would not confirm this election, and the disappointed candidate threw himself into the contest between the English barons on the one side and King John and the pope on the other. Later Simon made peace with Henry III. and was appointed archdeacon of Canterbury; he was consulted by Pope Gregory IX. and was sent to France on diplomatic business by Henry III.
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