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St. Aethelhard
(Died AD 805)

Abbot of Louth
Archbishop of Canterbury
Died: 12th May AD 805


Aethelhard, the Abbot of Louth in Lincolnshire, was elected to the See of Canterbury in AD 790, through the influence of King Offa of Mercia who wished to find archiepiscopal support for his kingdom's interests. However, he was not consecrated until three years later.

After the death of Offa in AD 796, the Kingdom of Kent attempted to shake off Mercian supremacy and Aethelhard fled from Canterbury. Such action drew upon him a rebuke from Alcuin for deserting his flock.

Having been restored to his See, Aethelhard obtained a decision from Pope Leo III, in AD 803, annulling the right of Lichfield to be regarded as a Metropolitan See and confirming the Primacy of Canterbury. Suggestions of relocating the Kentish Archiepiscopate to London were rejected. In the same year, the Synod of Clofesho (possibly Brixworth in Northamptonshire) decreed that all newly elected bishops must make a written profession of their orthodoxy and give a promise of obedience to Canterbury. Aethelhard's death took place in AD 805. He should not be confused with Aethelhard who was Bishop of Winchester in the early 760s.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).

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