Philip of Poitou

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Philip of Poitou
Bishop of Durham
Appointed November 1195
Predecessor Hugh de Puiset
Successor Richard Poore
Other posts Archdeacon of Canterbury
Ordination 15 June 1196
Consecration 20 April 1197
by Pope Innocent III
Personal details
Died 22 April 1208
Denomination Catholic

Philip of Poitou (sometimes Philip of Poitiers; died 22 April 1208) was Bishop of Durham from 1197 to 1208, and prior to this Archdeacon of Canterbury.


Philip's origins and early life are unknown, though it is believed he may have had a university education. The first records of him are in 1191, when he was accompanying Richard I on the Third Crusade, in documents relating to Richard's marriage on Cyprus.[1] Philip was with Richard's party when the king was captured in Germany.[2] He was appointed Archdeacon of Canterbury prior to March 1194 by Richard I, having previously a royal clerk.[3] An attempt was made to appoint him as Dean of York, but political factors prevented this.[1]

Philip was appointed as Bishop of Durham in November 1195. He was formally elected by the chapter in January 1196.[4] The pope confirmed the election on 13 April 1196 and he was ordained a priest on 15 June 1196.[1] On 20 April 1197 he was finally consecrated as bishop,[4] by the pope in Rome. Prior to his consecration, he obtained a licence to operate a mint in Durham, and installed his nephew Aimeric (or Aimery) as the Archdeacon of both Durham and Carlisle.[1]

Philip, along with Wiliam de Rupierre, Bishop of Lisieux, went to Rome in the early part of 1197 to argue before Pope Celestine III about contested lands in France.[5] It was in the course of this successful negotiation that the pope consecrated him as bishop.[1] In 1198 Philip was sent to Germany to attend the election of a successor to Emperor Henry VI.[6]

Philip was present at the coronation of King John in 1199, and attempted to protest the fact that the coronation took place without the Archbishop of York. After the coronation he was employed by John on diplomacy with Scotland.[1] In 1201 he went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.[7] After his return, he was involved in the resolution of the dower rights of Richard's queen, Berengaria of Navarre, but afterwards was not at the king's court for almost three years.[1]

In 1207, Philip quarrelled with King John over the right of John to tax tenants of the Church. Philip denied that John had such a right,[8] but, along with Archbishop Geoffrey of York, had his lands confiscated. Both Geoffrey and Philip went to the court of the king, and begged to be forgiven.[9] Philip had to pay a fine for forgiveness.[8]

As bishop, Philip quarreled with the monks of his church over the right of the bishop to name clergy to serve churches. At one point, the monks were besieged in the cathedral, and the prior of the monks was excommunicated. Some sources blame the bishop's nephew Aimeric for fanning the flames of the quarrel, but Philip also violently disputed the monks' side. Eventually a settlement was reached.[1]

Philip died on 22 April 1208.[4][10] It is said the monks refused him a Christian burial, his body ending up in an obscure grave with no religious ceremony. However, his gravestone is recorded in the chapter-house.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Snape "Poitou, Philip of" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Gillingham Richard I p. 232
  3. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Canterbury: Archdeacons of Canterbury
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 241
  5. Powicke Loss of Normandy p. 115
  6. Gillingham Richard I p. 311
  7. Bartlett England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings p. 473
  8. 8.0 8.1 Warren King John p. 149-150
  9. Warren King John p. 191
  10. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Durham: Bishops


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hugh de Puiset
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Richard Poore