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Walter de Cantilupe

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Walter de Cantilupe

Walter de Cantilupe
Bishop of Worcester
Church Catholic
See Diocese of Worcester
In office 1236–1266
Predecessor William de Blois
Successor Nicholas of Ely
Ordination 18 April 1237
Consecration 3 May 1237
Personal details
Died 12 February 1266

Walter de Cantilupe (died 1266) (anciently Cantelow, Cantelou, Canteloupe, etc, Latinised to de Cantilupo) [1] was a medieval Bishop of Worcester.


  • Life 1
  • Early career 2
  • Bishop of Worcester 3
  • Barons Wars 4
  • Death 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


Walter came from a family that had risen by devoted service to the crown. His father, William I de Cantilupe,[2] and his elder brother William II de Cantilupe were named by Roger of Wendover among the evil counsellors of King John of England, apparently for no better reason than that they were consistently loyal to an unpopular master.

Early career

Walter at first followed in his father's footsteps, entering the service of the Exchequer and acting as an itinerant Justice in the early years of Henry III.[2]

But Walter also took minor holy orders, and, in 1236, although not yet a deacon, received the see of Worcester. He was elected on 30 August 1236 and was consecrated on 3 May 1237.[3] He was ordained a deacon on 4 April 1237 and a priest on 18 April 1237.[2]

Bishop of Worcester

As bishop, Walter identified himself with the party of ecclesiastical reform, which was then led by Edmund Rich and Robert Grosseteste. Like his leaders he was sorely divided between his theoretical belief in the papacy as a divine institution and his instinctive condemnation of the policy which Pope Gregory IX and Pope Innocent IV pursued in their dealings with the English church. At first a court favorite, Walter came at length to the belief that the evils of the time arose from the unprincipled alliance of Crown and Papacy.

In 1240 Walter conducted the significant Synod of Worcester, advancing many reforms for the church.

Walter raised his voice against Papal demands for money, and after the death of Grosseteste in 1253 was the chief spokesman of the nationalist clergy. At the parliament of Oxford in 1258 he was elected by the popular party as one of their representatives on the committee of twenty-four which undertook to reform the administration; from that time until the outbreak of civil war he was a man of mark in the councils of the baronial party. During the war he sided with Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and, through his nephew, Thomas de Cantilupe, who was then Chancellor of Oxford University, brought over the university to the popular side.

Barons Wars

Walter was present at the Battle of Lewes and blessed the Montfortians before they joined battle with the army of the king; he entertained de Montfort on the night before the final rout and defeat of the Battle of Evesham.

During Simon's dictatorship Walter appeared only as a mediating influence; in the triumvirate of Electors who controlled the administration, the clergy were represented by the Bishop of Chichester.


Walter de Cantilupe died on 12 February 1266.[3] He was respected by all parties, and, though far inferior in versatility and force of will to Grosseteste, fully merits the admiration which his moral character inspired. He is one of the few constitutionalists of his day whom it is impossible to accuse of interested motives.


  1. ^ The spelling used by modern historians is "de Cantilupe", which is followed in this article
  2. ^ a b c British History Online Bishops of Worcester accessed on 3 November 2007
  3. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 279


  • British History Online Bishops of Worcester accessed on 3 November 2007
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William de Blois
Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by
Nicholas of Ely
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