Peter of Aigueblanche bigraphy, stories - Bishop of Hereford

Peter of Aigueblanche : biography

- 27 November 1268

Peter of Aigueblanche (or Peter of Aquablanca; died 27 November 1268) was a medieval Bishop of Hereford. A nobleman from Savoy, he came to England as part of the party accompanying King Henry III's bride Eleanor of Provence. He entered the royal service, becoming bishop in 1241. He then served the king for a number of years as a diplomat, helping to arrange the marriage of Prince Edward. Peter became embroiled in King Henry's attempts to acquire the kingdom of Sicily, and Peter's efforts to raise money towards that goal brought condemnation from the clergy and barons of England. When the barons began to revolt against King Henry in the late 1250s and early 1260s, Peter was attacked and his lands and property pillaged. He was arrested briefly in 1263 by the barons, before being mostly restored to his lands after the Battle of Evesham.

Diocesan affairs

While he was overseas, Peter appointed a non-Englishman as his deputy, Bernard, who was a prior from Gascony. This led to the outbreak of dissension with the cathedral chapter of Hereford, who eventually managed to secure a favourable outcome. In 1252, though, disorders in Herefordshire threatened Peter's life, and Bernard was murdered in Hereford Cathedral. The king then promised Peter that he could take shelter in Hereford Castle at need.

Peter appointed many of his relatives to positions in his diocese. A number of his nephews were given benefices and appointed to prebends. They continued to hold those offices into the 1290s. But Peter gave lands to the cathedral chapter, but also ordered the canons to reside in the cathedral. Peter also rebuilt extensively in Hereford Cathedral, finishing the presbytery as well as the north transept.


Royal service

Peter continued to receive gifts from the king, including market rights, and the ability to take timber from the royal forests. In August, Peter was present at the royal court at Shrewsbury which made peace with the Welsh. In the fall, Henry again attempted to have him translated to another see, by having him moved to London, which was once more unsuccessful. He then served as a papal judge-delegate, judging a case for the papacy that had been referred back to England, this one involving a dispute between King Henry and Jocelin of Wells, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, over Glastonbury Abbey. In 1242 he was sent to the continent as a diplomat, helping to arrange the marriage between the king's younger brother, Richard of Cornwall, and Queen Eleanor's younger sister Sanchia of Provence.

In 1243 Peter began acting as the representative for the absent Archbishop of Canterbury-elect, Boniface of Savoy, another of Queen Eleanor's uncles. Boniface had been appointed archbishop in 1241, but had still not arrived in England or been consecrated. Boniface finally arrived in England in the spring of 1244, and Peter was at Dover to welcome Boniface and deliver Boniface's pallium, the symbol of an archbishop's authority. Shortly after this, Peter was ordered by the papacy to intervene in Henry's dispute with William of Raleigh, the Bishop of Winchester. The pope sent Peter to the king with an ultimatum threatening an interdict on the king's chapel if peace was not made between the king and Raleigh.

Peter attended the general council of the church that was convened by Pope Innocent IV at Lyons in 1245, and then went to Savoy on a diplomatic mission for the king. Then he returned to England where he acted as Boniface's representative again, until Boniface returned to England in 1249. During this time he was also busy in his diocese, where he issued regulations for his clergy as well as taking possession of lands that had been granted away by his predecessors. He also performed some other diplomatic missions for the king.

Probably in early 1250, Peter vowed to go on crusade, and he spent the next years busy on the continent. In 1251 he helped settle a concern over whether King Henry had previously been bethrothed to Jeanne, Countess of Ponthieu, who was now married to King Ferdinand III of Castile. After this, Peter helped arrange the marriage of Prince Edward to Eleanor of Castile, which was finalized in the spring of 1254.

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