Thomas Bourchier (cardinal)

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Thomas Bourchier
Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Thomas Bourchier
Province Canterbury
Diocese Canterbury
Appointed 23 April 1454
Installed 26 January 1455
Term ended 30 March 1486
Predecessor John Kemp
Successor John Morton
Ordination 1433
Consecration 15 May 1435
Created Cardinal 18 September 1467
Rank Cardinal priest
Personal details
Born circa 1404
Died 30 March 1486
Knole House
Buried Canterbury Cathedral
Nationality English
Denomination Roman Catholic
Canting arms of Bourchier: Argent, a cross engrailed gules between four water bougets sable
Tomb of Thomas Bourchier in Canterbury Cathedral

Thomas Bourchier (c. 1404 – 30 March 1486) was Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor and a cardinal.


Bourchier was a younger son of William Bourchier, 1st Count of Eu (d. 1420), and through his mother, Anne of Gloucester, a daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, was a great-grandson of King Edward III of England. One of his brothers was Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex (d. 1483), and his grand-nephew was John, Lord Berners, the translator of Froissart. Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham was a half-brother.

Educated at the University of Oxford, Bourchier then entered the church and obtained rapid promotion. After holding some minor appointments he became Bishop of Worcester in 1434, being consecrated on 15 May.[1] In the same year he was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and in 1443 he was appointed Bishop of Ely;[2] then in April 1454 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury,[3] becoming Lord Chancellor of England in the following March.[4]

Bourchier's short term of office as chancellor coincided with the start of the Wars of the Roses, and at first he was not a strong partisan, although he lost his position as chancellor when Richard, Duke of York, was deprived of power in October 1456. Afterwards, in 1458, he helped to reconcile the contending parties, but when the war was renewed in 1459 he appears as a decided Yorkist; he crowned King Edward IV in June 1461, and four years later he crowned the queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

In 1457 Bourchier took the chief part in the trial of Reginald Pecock, Bishop of Chichester, for heresy; in 1473 he was created a cardinal after some delay as this honour had been sought for him by Edward IV in 1465; and in 1475 he was one of the four arbitrators appointed to arrange the details of the Treaty of Picquigny between England and France. After the death of Edward IV in 1483 Bourchier persuaded the queen to allow her younger son, Richard, Duke of York, to share his brother's residence in the Tower of London; and although he had sworn to be faithful to Edward V before his father's death, he crowned Richard III in July 1483. He was, however, in no way implicated in the murder of the young princes, and he was probably a participant in the conspiracies against Richard.

The third English king crowned by Bourchier was Henry VII, whom he also married to Elizabeth of York in January 1486. The archbishop died on 30 March 1486[3] at his residence, Knole House, near Sevenoaks, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.



  1. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 280
  2. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 245
  3. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 234
  4. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 87


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Gilbert Kymer
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
John Carpenter
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Salisbury
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
William Waynflete
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Brunce
Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by
John Carpenter
Preceded by
Lewis of Luxembourg
Bishop of Ely
Succeeded by
William Grey
Preceded by
John Kemp
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
John Morton
Preceded by
Dénes Szécsi
Cardinal priest of San Ciriaco alle Terme Diocleziane
Succeeded by
Bernardino Lunati