Walter Reynolds

Walter Reynolds (d. 1327), archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of a Windsor baker, and became a clerk, or chaplain, in the service of Edward I.

He held several livings and, owing perhaps to his histrionic skill, he became a prime favourite with the prince of Wales, afterwards Edward II. Just after the prince became king in 1307 Reynolds was appointed treasurer of England; in 1308 he became bishop of Worcester and in 1310 chancellor.

When Robert Winchelsea, archbishop of Canterbury, died in May 1313 Edward II prevailed upon Pope Clement V to appoint his favourite to the vacant archbishopric, and Walter was enthroned at Canterbury in February 1314.

Although the private life of the new archbishop appears to have been the reverse of exemplary he attempted to carry out some very necessary reforms in his new official capacity; he also continued the struggle for precedence, which had been carried on for many years between the archbishops of Canterbury and of York. In this connexion in 1317 he laid London under an interdict after William de Melton (d. 1340), archbishop of York, had passed through its streets with his cross borne erect before him.

Reynolds remained in general loyal to Edward II until 1324, when with all his suffragans he opposed the king in defence of the bishop of Hereford, Adam of Oriton. In the events which concluded Edward's life and reign the archbishop played a contemptible part. Having fled for safety into Kent he returned to London and declared for Edward III, whom he crowned in February 1327. He died at Mortlake on November 16 following.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.


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