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William Longchamp (1140 - January 1197)

andrew potter
William Longchamp (died 1197), sometimes known as William de Longchamp or William de Longchamps, was a medieval Lord Chancellor, Chief Justiciar, and Bishop of Ely in England. Born to a humble family in Normandy, he owed his advancement to royal favour. Although contemporary writers accused Longchamp's father of being the son of a peasant, he held land as a knight. Longchamp first served an illegitimate son of King Henry II, but quickly transferred to the service of Richard I, Henry's eldest surviving son. When Richard became King in 1189, Longchamp paid £3,000 for the office of Chancellor, and was soon named to the see, or bishopric, of Ely and appointed legate by the pope.

Longchamp governed England while Richard was on the Third Crusade, but his authority was challenged by Richard's brother, John, who eventually succeeded in driving Longchamp from power and from England. Longchamp's relations with the other leading English nobles were also strained, which contributed to the demands for his exile. Soon after Longchamp's departure from England, Richard was captured on his journey back to England from the crusade and held for ransom by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Longchamp travelled to Germany to help negotiate Richard's release. Although Longchamp regained the office of Chancellor after Richard's return to England, he lost much of his former power. He aroused a great deal of hostility among his contemporaries during his career, but he retained Richard's trust and was employed by the king until the bishop's death in 1197. Longchamp wrote a treatise on the law, which remained well known throughout the later Middle Ages.

Longchamp was well known for his dislike of women and his preference for boys. A popular joke of the time was that the rebellious barons might be willing to leave their daughters with him as hostages to guarantee good behavior, but never their sons.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Longchamp

Further Readings:

Sodomy, Masculinity and Law in Medieval Literature: France and England, 1050-1230 (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature) by William E. Burgwinkle
Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 16, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0521839688
ISBN-13: 978-0521839686
Amazon: Sodomy, Masculinity and Law in Medieval Literature: France and England, 1050-1230

Shedding new light on the representations of masculinity and same-sex desire in medieval literature, William Burgwinkle offers a historical survey of attitudes towards same-sex love during the Middle Ages. His studies of a wide range of texts reveal that medieval attitudes towards sexual preferences were much broader than usually conceded. Although most texts of the period denounced sodomy, Burgwinkle reveals how some also endorsed it, however inadvertently.

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