Simon Sudbury

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Simon Sudbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
Appointed 4 May 1375
Installed unknown
Term ended 14 June 1381
Predecessor William Whittlesey
Successor William Courtenay
Other posts Bishop of London
Consecration 20 March 1362
Personal details
Born c. 1316
Died 14 June 1381

Simon Sudbury, also called Simon Theobald of Sudbury and Simon of Sudbury (born c. 1316;[1] killed in the Peasants' Revolt 14 June 1381) was Bishop of London from 1361 to 1375, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1375 until his death, and in the last year of his life Lord Chancellor of England.


The son of Nigel Theobald, Sudbury (as he later became known) was born at Sudbury in Suffolk, studied at the University of Paris, and became one of the chaplains of Pope Innocent VI,[2] one of the Avignon popes, who in 1356 sent him on a mission to Edward III of England.

In 1361 Sudbury was made Chancellor of Salisbury[2] and in October that year the pope provided him to be Bishop of London, Sudbury's consecration occurring on 20 March 1362.[3] He was soon serving Edward III as an ambassador and in other ways. On 4 May 1375 he succeeded William Whittlesey as archbishop of Canterbury,[4] and during the rest of his life was a partisan of John of Gaunt.

In July 1377, following the death of Edward III in June, Sudbury crowned the new king, Richard II at Westminster Abbey, and in 1378 John Wycliffe appeared before him at Lambeth, but he only undertook proceedings against the reformer under great pressure.

In January 1380, Sudbury became Lord Chancellor of England,[5] and the insurgent peasants regarded him as one of the principal authors of their woes. Having released John Ball from his prison at Maidstone, the Kentish insurgents attacked and damaged the archbishop's property at Canterbury and Lambeth; then, rushing into the Tower of London, they seized the archbishop himself. So unpopular was Sudbury with the rebellious peasants that guards simply allowed the rebels through the gates, the reason being his role in introducing the third poll tax.


Sudbury was dragged to Tower Hill and, on 14 June 1381,[4] was beheaded after eight blows to his neck. His body was afterwards buried in Canterbury Cathedral, though his head (after being taken down from London Bridge) is still kept at the church of St Gregory at Sudbury in Suffolk, which Sudbury had partly rebuilt.[2] With his brother, John of Chertsey, he also founded a college in Sudbury; he also did some building at Canterbury. His father was Nigel Theobald, and he is sometimes called Simon Theobald or Tybald.

In March 2011 a CT scan of Sudbury's mummified skull was performed at the West Suffolk Hospital to make a facial reconstruction,[6] which was completed in September 2011 by forensics expert Adrienne Barker at the University of Dundee.[7]


  1. Walker, Simon (2004). "Sudbury, Simon (c.1316–1381)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (revised 2008 ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Neale, John Preston (1825). Views of the most interesting collegiate and parochial churches in Great Britain. Longman. pp. 35–36.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 258
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 233
  5. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 86
  6. "Skull scan for Archbishop of Canterbury Simon Theobald". BBC Online. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Face of Simon of Sudbury revealed by forensic artist". BBC Online. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Page includes illustrations of face.


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Scrope
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Hugh Segrave
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Michael Northburgh
Bishop of London
Succeeded by
William Courtenay
Preceded by
William Whittlesey
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
William Courtenay

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>