Christopher Bainbridge

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His Eminence

Christopher Bainbridge

Cardinal, Archbishop of York
Primate of England
Christopher Bainbridge.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic
Installed1508 (appointed)
Term ended1514
PredecessorThomas Savage
SuccessorThomas Wolsey
Consecration12 December 1507 (Bishop)
Created cardinal10 March 1511
RankCardinal priest of Santi Marcellino e Pietro (1511)
Cardinal priest of Santa Prassede (1511–1514)
Personal details
Bornc. 1462/1464
Hilton, near Appleby, Westmorland, England
Died14 July 1514 (aged c. 48/50)
BuriedChapel of St Thomas of Canterbury at the English hospice, Rome
DenominationRoman Catholic

Christopher Bainbridge (c. 1462/1464 – 1514) was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of York from 1508 until his death.

Early life[edit]

Christopher Bainbridge was born in Hilton, Cumbria to a Westmorland family with roots in Bainbridge, North Yorkshire and was a maternal nephew of Thomas Langton, Bishop of Winchester, which likely accounts for his ecclesiastical career.[1] He was educated at Oxford, possibly at The Queen's College.[2] He also studied law at Ferrara and Bologna. He was granted an indult in 1479 which allowed him to hold church benefices while still unordained and under the age of 16, and another in 1482 that allowed him to hold more than one benefice concurrently. He was said to have been fifty years old at his death and must therefore have been born about 1464.

He was described as a magister, or scientist, by 1486; in the early 1490s, he was named a chamberlain of the English Hospice in Rome and rented one of its houses. At Bologna he was admitted DCL in 1492; he was in Rome between 1492–1494. He succeeded his uncle as Provost of Queen's College, Oxford in 1496.[2] He was a Prebendary of Salisbury, and by 1497, had become chaplain to Henry VII, dean of York in 1503, and Master of the Rolls in 1504. He was incorporated at Lincoln's Inn on 20 January 1505. In 1505 he was Dean of St. George's Chapel, Windsor. He was appointed Bishop of Durham on 27 August 1507.[1]

Archbishop of York and Cardinal[edit]

Bainbridge was translated to York on 22 September 1508, a sign of the favour he enjoyed at court. On 24 September 1509, King Henry VIII (whose coronation he had attended) appointed Bainbridge to be his ambassador to Pope Julius II.[1] Just at this time Julius had taken alarm at the invasion of Italy by Louis XII of France, and the support of England was therefore of great importance.

Julius left Rome to relieve Bologna, and was nearly taken prisoner in the war. A group of pro-French cardinals summoned a council in opposition to him at Pisa, which Julius opposed by calling another council at Rome, the Fifth Lateran Council,[3] in the course of which he created (in March 1511) several new Cardinals, of which Bainbridge was one, with the title of "Cardinal of St. Praxed's" or Santa Prassede.[4]

Bainbridge was immediately sent with an army to lay siege to Ferrara, but the creation of the Holy League relieved the papacy of some pressure by involving Spain against the French forces. Pope Julius II was succeeded on his death by Pope Leo X, who was initially willing to grant the title of Christianissimus Rex (Most Christian King) to Henry, after Francis had automatically forfeited the title by waging war on the Pope. However, Henry's making peace with France in 1514 probably ended these hopes.[4]

Bainbridge died on 14 July 1514, having been poisoned by a priest, Rinaldo de Modena, who acted as his steward or bursar, in revenge for a blow which the cardinal, a man of violent temper, had given him.[5] MacCulloch says that the two men may have been lovers.[6][page needed] Rinaldo was imprisoned and confessed to the crime. He also implicated Silvester de Giglis, then Bishop of Worcester, as the instigator of the plot. De Giglis was the resident English ambassador at Rome, and regarded Bainbridge as a threat to his position: he also had sufficient power and influence to make Rinaldo retract his confession and have him killed in prison.[4]

Richard Pace and John Clerk, the cardinal's executors, were eager to prosecute De Giglis, but he maintained that the priest was a madman whom he had dismissed from his own service some years before in England, and his defence was accepted as sufficient.[4]

Bainbridge was buried in the chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury at the English hospice in Rome, which later became the Venerable English College. He left Baldon Manor, Oxfordshire to The Queen's College.


  1. ^ a b c Schofield, Nicholas. "Christopher Bainbridge (1464–1514), cardinal archbishop of York and Henry VIII's ambassador to the pope", The Venerable English College Archives
  2. ^ a b "Christopher Bainbridge (c.1464–1514), Provost (1496–1508), Cardinal ", ArtUK
  3. ^ Francesco Guicciardini, Storia d'Italia, Lib.10, cap.2
  4. ^ a b c d Miranda, Salvador. "Christopher Bainbridge". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  5. ^ Birt, Henry. "Christopher Bainbridge." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 13 January 2019
  6. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch. Thomas Cromwell:A life, Penguin, 2018
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885.
  • David Chambers, Cardinal Bainbridge in the Court of Rome,1509–1514, London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Christopher Bainbridge". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Geoffrey Blithe
Dean of York
Succeeded by
James Harrington
Preceded by
Christopher Urswick
Dean of Windsor
Succeeded by
Thomas Hobbes
Preceded by
William Senhouse
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Thomas Ruthall
Preceded by
Thomas Savage
Archbishop of York
Succeeded by
Thomas Wolsey