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Stephen Langton
(Died 1228)

Archbishop of Canterbury
Died: 9th July 1228

Though an Englishman by birth - son of Henry, Lord of the Manor of Langton-by-Wragby in Lincolnshire - Stephen studied in Paris and remained there as a teacher of theology till he was called to Rome by Pope Innocent III, who made him a Cardinal. Both at Paris and in Rome, he was held in great honour for his learning and holiness and, in 1207, Innocent procured his election to the See of Canterbury.

King John, however, declined to acknowledge Archbishop Langton and, though the country was laid under an interdict, he laboured for six years to overcome the King's opposition before John yielded and allowed him to come to England and enter upon his archiepiscopal functions. From the first, Langton set himself to restrain the King's lawlessness and to mediate between him and his aggrieved Barons. The result of his efforts was the signing of the Magna Carta. But King John succeeded in gaining over the Pope, and Langton was suspended from his archiepiscopal office. He was only restored upon the death of Innocent and of John.

Archbishop Langton continued to use his influence on behalf of peace and order in the State and in the Church; and at Osney, in 1222, the Canons, known as the Constitutions of Stephen Langton, were promulgated. He was the author of a large number of commentaries on the Bible, besides many other theological, historical and poetical works. His death occurred in 1228.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC