Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Walter Jorz, Archbishop of Armagh

Walter Jorz, Archbishop of Armagh

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Early references to Walter Jorz

Walter Jorz (also written as Jorc or Joyce) was a member of the Dominican Order around the year 1300 and was a brother of Thomas Jorz, Prior Provincial of the Order in England, 1297-1304.[1] Walter was also a kinsman of Rowland Jorz, his successor as Archbishop of Armagh. It is not known where the Jorz brothers came from.

In 1300 and 1301 Walter Jorz was a member of the Oxford Convent. As the Dominican Order was dedicated to study as a means of achieving salvation for the soul Walter’s attendance at Oxford is not out of place.[2] On 12th October 1300 he was granted a licence by Bishop Dalderby to hear confessions in the Diocese of Lincoln. This licence was renewed on 11th October 1301.[3]

Archbishop of Armagh

On 6th August 1307 Walter Jorz was appointed Archbishop of Armagh by papal provision after a protracted vacancy in the see. He was the third member of the Dominican Order to be so appointed.[4] The last Archbishop of Armagh was Nicholas Mac Maol Íosa (1270-1303). In August 1303 Michael McLaughlin was elected Archbishop but was never consecrated. In 1303 or 1304 Dionysius was appointed Archbishop but again was never consecrated. He was followed by John Taaffe who was appointed in 1306 but died before 6th August 1307 when Walter Jorz was appointed.[5]  

Walter Jorz was in France at the time of his appointment and was consecrated there, possibly at Poitiers, by Nicholas, cardinal bishop of Ostia. The papal letter of appointed provided for this and that Walter would receive the pallium from Landulph, cardinal of St. Angelo’s.[6] Shortly after his arrival in England, Archbishop Walter Jorz received a fine from King Edward II of £1,000. This was because the papal bull of appointment contained words which the king considered prejudicial to the rights and dignity of the crown. King Edward wanted to be the authority for appointing bishops while he wanted the Pope to just recommend people for episcopal vacancies.[7] Archbishop Walter Jorz made peace with the king, acknowledging that his papal appointment contained no words prejudicial to the king and paid the £1,000 fine. It was the payment of this fine which satisfied King Edward and allowed him to accept Walter Jorz as archbishop and not because of any papal letters.

Armagh Cathedral 

Or at least that is the reasoning King Edward gave to the justiciar of Ireland when he ordered the temporalities of Armagh to be restored to Archbishop Walter Jorz on 30th September 1307.[8] The escheator of Ireland, Walter de la Haye, accounted for £268 18 shillings 1¼ pence income from the temporalities between the 34th year of Edward I and the first year of Edward II.[9] With such a moderate income Archbishop Walter Jorz must have been overjoyed with delight on 21st September to hear the news that King Edward decided to return the £1,000.[10] Archbishop Walter Jorz was able to pay the initial £1,000 because he had receive papal approval to raise a loan of 4,000 florins to help pay his expenses.[11]  

Archbishop Walter in England

But the new archbishop was in no hurry to go to Ireland. Instead on 18th October 1307 Archbishop Walter Jorz was granted protection for three years while he stayed in England. To represent his interests in Ireland Archbishop Walter Jorz nominated John de Bernak, parson of Toft, Co. Norfolk, and William de Burgo. As John de Bernak was living in England he in turn had to nominate Simon de Bernak to represent his interests in England while he stayed in Ireland. The letters of legal protection for John de Bernak were for only two years.[12]

It would seem that Archbishop Walter Jorz did not stay forever in England but came to Ireland at least once and may be twice. While Archbishop Walter Jorz was in England, King Edward II took advantage to appoint people to positions in the absent diocese. On 15th April 1308 Edward II granted to Master William de Birton, king’s clerk, the archdeaconry of Armagh because it was in the king’s gift by reason of the late voidance of the see. Archbishop Walter was directed to secure the appointment.[13] Archbishop Walter would be more of the opinion that such appointments were his to make and not for the king to decide. Nicholas Mac Maol Íosa, Archbishop of Armagh (1272-1303) had fought the crown for much of his episcopal over matters of jurisdiction and rights. His English successors fought to retain those rights.[14]

One group who were losing their rights at that time were the Knights Templars. In August 1308 Archbishop Walter Jorz along with the Archbishops of Canterbury, York, Dublin, Cashel and Tuam received a letter from the pope for the publication of the papal bull ordering the Templars to restore their property to the original benefactors.[15] This papal bull was later changed to allow national governments to take control of the Templar’s property in trust. Eventually the Templar property was given to the Knights Hospitaller.  

Archbishop Walter visits Ireland

Sometime before June 1309 Archbishop Walter Jorz travelled to Ireland to see his archdiocese. On 11th June 1309 Archbishop Walter nominated Thomas de Thorp and Walter de Shepwesse to be his attorneys in England for the following two years.[16]

The archdiocese of Armagh embraced two distinct areas of political control. Much of the archdiocese lay within the Irish sphere of influence and was for much of the medieval period off limits to various Archbishops of Armagh. The English sphere of influence contained the counties of Louth and Meath. Most archbishops stayed at Termonfeckin in County Louth and used St. Peter’s church in Drogheda as their cathedral church. Tensions between the two races sometimes erupted into the public gaze. In 1297 the Bishops of Armagh and Down were accused of refusing to receive English clerics.[17]

View of Armagh in c.1601 from the Thomas Barthelet map

Llanthony and St. Peter’s church at Drogheda

Archbishop Walter Jorz did not support this separation between the Irish and the English. Indeed the Dominican Order in Ireland was noted for its mixed convents.[18] By September 1309 he was at the proper primatial cathedral at Armagh. While at Armagh Archbishop Walter reduced the financial contribution of Llanthony Prima towards the up keep of the vicar of St. Peter’s Church at Drogheda from thirty marks of silver to fifteen marks. He also stated that the vicar should be resident and have cure of the souls of the parishioners or find a suitable priest or chaplain to do the job. Any extra burdens on the vicars were to be paid directly by Llanthony.[19]  

The papal tenths

After his visit to Ireland Archbishop Walter Jorz returned to England by March 1310. In the first decade of the fourteenth century four papal bulls were issued relating to the imposition and levying of the biennial and triennial tenths in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The Irish clergy refused pays these tenths before they inspected the bulls. On 24th March 1310 Archbishop Walter Jorz was at the Friars Preachers in London to place his seal on a public instrument which contained a verbatim text of the four bulls. This document along with a letter of instruction by the Bishops of Lincoln and London were sent to Ireland in March 1311 by the hand of James de Spinis, merchant of the Society of the Spini of Florence.[20]

Statute of Kilkenny in 1310

By May 1310 Archbishop Walter Jorz was back in Ireland. The Archbishop had a number of jobs to do while in Ireland. The previously mention issue about non-payment of the tenths was one issue but the actions of the Kilkenny Parliament in February 1310 was just as important an issue. One of the acts passed by the Parliament was a statute which made it unlawful for all religious houses and parishes within the English sphere of influence to have any member save English members. The houses within the English area were also forbidden to profess or receive any Irish religious monks, canons or friars. Strong penalties were to be applied to any who broke this statute.

The background to this statute contained a number of violent incidents. At a general chapter of the Franciscans in 1291 violence erupted between the English and Irish friars in which about sixteen people were killed. About the same time Bishop Nicholas of Kildare complained to King Edward I the some friars were in seditious correspondence with Irish rulers.[21] See more about Bishop Nicholas of Kildare in this article = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2013/10/nicholas-cusack-bishop-of-kildare-1279.html

This statute was chiefly promoted by several bishops including the Archbishop of Cashel and the Bishops of Ferns, Ossory, Leighlin and Emly who directed that anyone who broke the statute would be excommunicated. When Archbishop Walter Jorz heard of this statute he was shocked and strongly disapproved of this apartheid. Archbishop Walter Jorz was in England at the time and used this location to speedily approach King Edward II and got the statute annulled. On his return to Ireland Archbishop Walter Jorz met John Wogan, Justiciar of Ireland to tell of the king’s decision. On 22nd May John Wogan issued letters declaring that the statute had been revoked.[22]    

In 1317 some Irish rulers considered that the failed statute of Kilkenny was an attempt merely to legalise what had long been common practice. John Watt contends that government policy around 1310 was still in favour of mixed communities.[23] Yet from earliest times decrees enforcing discrimination and separation between the English and the Irish were regularly made. In 1216 Henry III directed that no Irishman was to be elected or promoted in any cathedral church as disturbances would ensure.[24]

Llanthony and the Bishop of Meath

On 27th May Archbishop Walter Jorz was at Termonfeckin to agree a settlement between Llanthony Secunda and the Bishop of Meath concerning a number of disputes between them, chiefly that pertaining to the income of Duleek church. To help the settlement Archbishop Walter agreed that Llanthony should be free from appointing perpetual vicars to the churches of Duleek, Dowth and Ballycrobin. Instead they could serve these churches with their fellow canons or employ secular priests.[25]

The election of a new Bishop of Elphin

While in Ireland Archbishop Walter Jorz was involve in some ecclesiastical controversy. Following the death of Donatus, bishop of Elphin, the canons there elected Malachy as bishop, but Salomon, the dean, elected Charles; abbot of Loch Cé, and this was confirmed by Master Reginald, the official in charge of administrating the diocese while vacant. Subsequently Abbot Charles was consecrated bishop by Walter Jorz, Archbishop of Armagh. After this, Malachy and the canons appealed to the pope, who annulled the election and consecration of Abbot Charles. In July 1310 the pope further confirmed the sentence of Thomas Jorz, cardinal of St. Sabina's (and brother of Archbishop Walter), and ordered that Malachy be consecrated by Nicholas, Bishop of Ostia and Velletri.[26]

It is not clear why Archbishop Walter should prefer the choice of the cathedral dean over that of the chapter. Was it racially motivated or did Archbishop Walter consider the election of Malachy to be in some way flawed. Clearly his brother did not approve of Walter’s actions.

Walter resigns as Archbishop of Armagh

Since his appointment as archbishop, Walter Jorz was harassed by lawsuits and the rapacity of royal officials. On 8th July 1310 the king demanded 40 marks from Archbishop Walter in an action relating to the Bishop and chapter of Dromore. The priors of Louth and Dundalk had to come to the Exchequer court to acquit the archbishop of the amount. On 18th January 1311 Archbishop Walter had to provide two attorneys (Richard Manning and Walter Kynefare) in a plea at the Exchequer where the king had demanded £5 from Theobald de Verdon and the Archbishop was obliged by legal contracts to acquit Theobald of the demand. Even after Walter Jorz had resigned as archbishop the government still pressed his successor, Rowland Jorz, for a demand of 27 marks on the manors of Drommskin and Termonfeckin which the government alleged was due from Walter Jorz.[27] 

This hostility against the archbishop increased significantly after the statute of Kilkenny was revoked. The Bishop of Ossory was the lead campaigner for division between the races and was most upset at what happen. The bishop soon began a campaign of hostility against the archbishop. In August 1310 Archbishop Walter Jorz had plans to visit Avignon, France (seat of the popes between 1309 and 1377) to help solve his problems and received legal protection for one year. Archbishop Walter nominated Thomas de Thorp and William de Burgh as his attorneys for England and Ireland during that time.[28]

After his arrival in Avignon, Archbishop Walter Jorz found no comfort. Instead the weight of office continued to burden him. By November 1311 Archbishop Walter had had enough and got leave to resign the see. In return he was promised a yearly pension of £50.[29]

Walter Jorz as the ex-Archbishop of Armagh

On 26th March 1318 Walter Jorz, ex-Archbishop of Armagh, made his way to Durham as one of the suffragan bishops in the Archdiocese of York to officiate at the consecration of Lewis de Beaumont as Bishop of Durham. Walter was assisted by two other bishops called David Recerensis and Peter Corbaviensis and two papal legates; Cardinals Gaucelin de Eauze and Luke Fieschi.[30]

Lewis de Beaumont was extravagant and illiterate but had important connections. His sister was Isabella de Vesci, a wealthy widow and powerful friend of Queen Isabella, wife of King Edward II.[31] Lewis de Beaumont’s brother was Henry de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Buchan, a person of considerable military and political skill. Henry de Beaumont fought for England in nearly every battle between England and Scotland from 1298 to 1333. It was his battle techniques that were later developed to great effect at Crecy and Agincourt.[32]

The consecration ceremony attended by Walter Jorz was the second attempt at the consecration of de Beaumont. The first ceremony was planned for sometime in late 1317 but “certain wicked persons” attacked the two papal legates and took them prisoner along with de Beaumont.[33]

The “certain wicked persons” were a Scottish raiding party led by Sir Gilbert Middleton. After the English defeat at Bannockburn in 1314 the north of England was wide open for Scottish invasion and was ravaged by numerous raiding parties. Sir Gilbert’s castle at Milford on the Wansbeck was said to a centre of highway robbery.[34]

The capture of de Beaumont and the two cardinals had political motives above simple robbery. With Lewis de Beaumont as Bishop of Durham his brother Henry de Beaumont would have a strong base from where he could launch attacks into Scotland. The Scots wished to prevent such a strong hand. The two cardinals were sent to England by Pope John XXII to make peace between England and Scotland and to make peace within England between the king and the barons.[35]

After his association with such a high profile consecration, Walter Jorz, ex-Archbishop of Armagh, was sent off in June 1318 to perform more low status activities. The church of Selston in Nottinghamshire had been polluted with bloodshed. Walter Jorz was sent to reconcile Selston church and make it spiritually clean for renewed religious service.[36]

By September 1319 Walter Jorz was a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln.[37] In February 1321 Walter Jorz died at the Lincoln convent of the Dominicans. He requested burial within the convent church. Walter’s last illness must have come suddenly to a climax. On 2nd February 1321 Walter made his will and on 7th February it was proved – which points to the Walter’s death between those dates.[38]


End of post


[1] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford University Press, 1989), vol. 2, p. 1023
[2] Daphne D.C. Pochin-Mould, The Irish Dominicans (Dominican Publications, Dublin, 1957), p. 25
[3] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1023
[4] Daphne D.C. Pochin-Mould, The Irish Dominicans, p. 25
[6] W.H. Bliss (ed.), Calendar of the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland (H.M.S.O., 1895), Vol. 2 (1305-1342), p. 26
[7] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1023
[8] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, p. 4
[9] Thirty-ninth report of the Deputy Keeper of Ireland (1907), p. 23
[10] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, p. 10
[11] W.H. Bliss (ed.), Calendar of the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2 (1305-1342), p. 29
[12] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, p. 9
[13] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, p. 64
[14] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland (Ernest Benn, London, 1980), p. 130
[15] W. Bliss (ed.), Calendar of the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2 (1305-1342), p. 48
[16] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, p. 121
[17] Edmund Curtis, A history of Medieval Ireland from 1086 to 1513 (Barnes & Noble, New York, 1968), p. 180
[18] John Watt, The Church in Medieval Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1972), pp. 64, 65
[19] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541: Land, patronage and politics (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008), pp. 335, 336
[20] Philomena Connolly (ed.), ‘List of entries on the Memoranda Rolls of the English Exchequer, 1307-1327’, in Analecta Hibernica, no. 36 (1995), p. 179
[21] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of medieval Ireland, p. 138
[22] J.A. Watt, The church and two nations in Medieval Ireland (Cambridge University, 1970), p. 183
[23] John Watt, The Church in Medieval Ireland, p. 79
[24] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Kraus reprint, 1974), Vol. 1 (1171-1252), nos. 736, 739
[25] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, pp. 338, 339, 340
[26] W. Bliss (ed.), Calendar of the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2 (1305-1342), p. 70
[27] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1024; chancery.tcd.ie/document/Close/4-edward-ii/2; chancery.tcd.ie/document/Close/4-edward-ii/11; chancery.tcd.ie/document/Close/6-edward-ii/14 
[28] Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, 1307-1313, pp. 273, 274
[29] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1024
[30] Rosalind M.T. Hill (ed.), The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, 1317-1340, vol. 1 (Canterbury & York Society, vol. LXX, 1975-76), no. 192
[33] Rosalind M.T. Hill (ed.), The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, 1317-1340, vol. 1, no. 197
[34] May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 40, 41
[35] May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399, p. 52
[36] Rosalind M.T. Hill (ed.), The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, 1317-1340, vol. 1, no. 194
[37] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1024
[38] A.B. Emden (ed.), A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, vol. 2, p. 1024

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