Council of London in 1075

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For councils of London in other years, see Council of London.

The Council of London in 1075 AD was a council of the Roman Catholic church in England held by the new Norman archbishop of Canterbury Lanfranc five years after his installation. Other attendees included Gisa (Bishop of Wells) and William the Norman (Bishop of London). The Council of London produced several decrees, these were known as the ’'Canons of the Council of London AD 1075’’.[1]

A number of copies of the acts of the council survive, which derive from two earlier copies, one from Canterbury and one from Worcester.[2]

The following ’'Canons of the Council of London AD 1075’’, translated from the original latin, are taken from the old register of the church at Worcester, the original document has a short historical preface followed by the nine canons and then a section with signatures of the two archbishops, twelve bishops, and twenty-one abbots, these being preceded by the Archdeacon of Canterbury.[1][3]

Canons of the Council of London AD 1075[edit]

Letter 11 Council of London 25 Dec. 1074-28 Aug. 1075[1][4]
In the year of our Lord 1075, in the ninth year of the reign of William, glorious king of the English, a council of the whole land of England was assembled in the church of St. Paul the Apostle in London, namely of bishops, abbots and many ecclesiastics. The council was summoned and presided over by Lanfranc, archbishop of the holy church of Canterbury and primate of the whole island of Britain; the venerable men sitting with him were Thomas, archbishop of York, William, bishop of London, Geoffrey of Coutances, who though an overseas bishop was sitting with the others in the council because he had a great deal of property in England, Walchelin of Winchester, Hermann of Sherborne, Wulfstan of Worcester, Walter of Hereford, Giso of Wells, Remigius of Dorchester or Lincoln, Herfast of Elmham or Norwich, Stigand of Selsey, Osbern of Exeter, Peter of Lichfield. At that time the church of Rochester lacked a pastor. The bishop of Lindisfarne, that is Durham, for a canonically valid reason was unable to be present at the council.
Because the custom of holding councils had been in abeyance in the realm of England for many years, some legislation which is already defined in ancient law was renewed.
  1. The first canon decreed where the bishops should all sit. They decided that the Archbishop of York ought to sit at the right hand of Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London on the left, then the Bishop of Winchester should sit next to the Archbishop of York. However if the Archbishop of York was away then the Bishop of London should then sit on the right of York and Winchester on the left.
  2. Monks should conform to the rule of St. Benedict. That children and young people should have guardianship in all places and fit masters assigned them. Everyone should carry lights by night unless they have no property allowed by the authorities. If a person dies who is not allowed to have property by the authorities, but on their death is found to have property then let not the bells be tolled for him, nor the saving sacrifice be offered for his absolution, nor let him be buried in the cemetery.
  3. By the decrees of Popes Damasus and Leo, and by the Councils of Sardica and Laodicea, bishops' sees should not be in vills, they should be in cities so the Council agreed that three bishops should migrate from vills to cities - those moved were Herman from Sherborne to Salisbury, Peter from Lichfield to Chester and Stigand from Selsey to Chichester. The case of some others who were in vills or hamlets, was postponed for the king's hearing, when he returned from a war overseas.
  4. By many decrees of the Roman pontiffs and different authorities of the sacred canons, that no one should keep or ordain any clerk or monk without letters dimissory[5]
  5. To restrain the arrogance of some unwise men it was decided by general decree that no one speak in the Council, save bishops and abbots, without leave from the metropolitan.
  6. By the decrees of Gregory the Great and the Less that none take a wife from his own family or that of his deceased wife, or any be has as relation within the seventh degree on either side.
  7. That no one should buy, or sell sacred orders or church office to the cure of souls because this crime was originally, condemned by the Peter the Apostle in the case of Simon Magus and afterwards forbidden under threat of excommunication by the holy fathers.
  8. Bones or dead animals should not be hung up anywhere to avoid disease. Sooth saying, divination, or any such works of the Devil should not be practiced as all such things the sacred canons have forbidden, and those who practise them will be excommunicated.
  9. That by the Councils of Elvira and Toledo XI no bishop or abbot or any of the clergy should judge a man to be put to death or to mutilation, nor favour with his authority those who so judge.
[There followed a list of the signatories, these were two archbishops, twelve bishops and twenty one abbots. The last abbots signature was preceded by that of the archdeacon of Canterburys[1]]


  1. ^ a b c d Gee. Documents Illustrative of English Church History. pp.55 - 56
  2. ^ Brooke "Archbishop Lanfranc" Studia Gratiana p. 56–57
  3. ^ Brooke "Archbishop Lanfranc" Studia Gratiana p. 52–53
  4. ^ Lanfranc. Letters. Letter 11 pp.73 - 79
  5. ^ The Freedictionary Online. Letters Dimissory - Letters given by a bishop dismissing a person who is removing into another diocese, and recommending him for reception there.
  • Brooke, C. N. L. "Archbishop Lanfranc, the English Bishops, and the Council of London of 1075" Studia Gratiana vol. 12 1967 p. 41–59
  • Lanfranc (1979). Helen Clover, Margaret Gibson, ed. The Letters of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury . London: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-822235-1. 
  • "Freedictionary Online". theFreedictionary. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  • Gee, Henry; William John Hardy (1999). Documents Illustrative of English Church History. London: Richardson. ISBN 1115674048.