|The Most Reverend and Right Honourable
|Archbishop of Canterbury|
Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527)
|Appointed||29 November 1503|
|Term ended||22 August 1532|
|Died||22 August 1532
|Buried||Canterbury Cathedral, Kent|
Early life and education
After graduating, Warham practising and teaching law both in London and Oxford. His father was a tenant farmer, but his brother, Sir Hugh Warham, acquired an estate at Croydon, which passed to his daughter Agnes, who married Sir Anthony St Leger.
Later, Warham took holy orders, held two livings (Barley and Cottenham) and became Master of the Rolls in 1494. Henry VII found him a useful and clever diplomatist. He helped to arrange the marriage between Henry's son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon. He went to Scotland with Richard Foxe, then bishop of Durham, in 1497. He was partly responsible for several commercial and other treaties with Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, also Count of Flanders and Regent Duke of Burgundy, on behalf of his son Philip IV of Burgundy.
In 1502, he was consecrated Bishop of London and became Keeper of the Great Seal, but his tenure of both offices was short, as in 1504, he became Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1506, he became Chancellor of Oxford University, a role he held until his death. In 1509, he married and then crowned Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.
As archbishop, Warham seems to have been somewhat arbitrary; for example, his actions led to a serious quarrel with Foxe, now Bishop of Winchester, and others in 1512. That made him gradually withdraw into the background after the coronation. He resigned the office of Lord Chancellor in 1515 and was succeeded by Thomas Wolsey, whom he had consecrated as bishop of Lincoln in the previous year. His resignation was possibly because of his dislike of Henry's foreign policy.
Warham was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 and assisted Wolsey as assessor during the secret inquiry into the validity of Henry's marriage with Catherine in 1527. Throughout the divorce proceedings, Warham's position was essentially that of an old and weary man. He was named as one of the counsellors to assist the queen, but, fearing to incur the king's displeasure and using his favourite phrase ira principis mors est ("the king's anger is death"), he gave her very little help and signed the letter to Pope Clement VII that urged the pope to assent to Henry's wish. Later, it was proposed that the archbishop himself should try the case, but the suggestion came to nothing.
Warham presided over the Convocation of 1531, when the clergy of the Province of Canterbury voted £100,000 to the king to avoid the penalties of praemunire and accepted Henry as supreme head of the church with the face-saving clause "so far as the Law of Christ allows".
In Warham's concluding years, however, the archbishop showed rather more independence. In February 1532, he protested against all acts concerning the church passed by the parliament that met in 1529, but that did not prevent the important proceedings which secured the complete submission of the church to the state later in the same year. Against this further compliance with Henry's wishes, Warham drew up a protest in which he likened the action of Henry VIII to that of Henry II and urged Magna Carta in defence of the liberties of the church. He attempted in vain to strike a compromise during the Submission of the Clergy.
Death and legacy
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Warham, William". Dictionary of National Biography. 59. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 384.
- Gwyn, Peter The King's Cardinal- the rise and fall of Thomas Wolsey 1990 Pimlico Edition p.26
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "St. Leger, Warham". Dictionary of National Biography. 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 167.
- Hasted, Edward (1798). "Parishes". Hospitals: Ospringe, A History of the County of Kent. Institute of Historical Research. 2: 222–224. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- John Sherren Brewer, Reign of Henry VIII (1884)
- James Gairdner, Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Warham, William". Dictionary of National Biography. 58. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- James Gairdner, The English Church in the 16th Century (1902)
- W. F. Hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury (1860?1876)
- A. F. Pollard, Henry VIII (1905)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Warham, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Burton, Edwin Hubert (1912). "William Warham". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Scarisbrick, J. J. "Warham, William (1450?–1532)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28741. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Archival material relating to William Warham". UK National Archives.
- Portraits of William Warham at the National Portrait Gallery, London
(Keeper of the Great Seal)
|Keeper of the Great Seal
|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of London
|Archbishop of Canterbury
|Chancellor of the University of Oxford