« Cantata Canterbury Cantharus »


CANTERBURY: The ancient metropolitan see of England. The city is of great antiquity, succeeding the British village of Durwhern, the Roman Durovernum, and the Saxon Cantwarabyrig. Augustine, sent from Rome by Gregory the Great in 596 to convert the Anglo-Saxons, made it the headquarters of his missionary activity; but it was not until the episcopate of the great organizer Theodore of Tarsus (668–690) that the claim of the see to metropolitan jurisdiction over the whole of England was acknowledged by the other bishops and confirmed by Pope Vitalian. This authority extended over Ireland as well until the elevation of the see of Armagh to primatial rights. Owing, however, to the important position of York in the north of England, the archbishops of that see for a long time contested the first place with Canterbury, and it was not until the pontificate of Alexander III. (1159–81) that the latter enjoyed an unquestioned primacy. Among the long line of archbishops some distinguished names occur: Dunstan (959–988); Ælfheah martyred by the Danes (1006–12); Lanfranc (1070–89) and Anselm (1093–1109), the great defenders of the rights of the Church and people against the first Norman kings; Thomas Becket (1162–70), murdered in the cathedral itself for his resistance to the king's encroachments; Stephen Langton (1207–28). William Warham (1503–32) was, with the exception of the two years' tenure of the see by Cardinal Pole under Mary (1556–58), the last Roman Catholic archbishop. Thomas Cranmer (1533–56) begins the Anglican succession, followed by Parker, Grindal, and Whitgift under Queen Elizabeth. William Laud (1633–45) kept up the earlier traditions of the see by giving his life for his principles; but in the post-Reformation annals few names of great significance occur—though Archbishops Tait, Benson, and Temple in the latter half of the nineteenth century were men of broad and statesmanlike abilities. The archbishop of Canterbury ranks as the first peer of the realm after the princes of the blood royal, and has the right to crown the sovereign and to other secular prerogatives. The cathedral in its present shape was begun by Lanfranc on the site of St. Augustine's monastery; it contains work extending from his time to that of Prior Goldstone in the fifteenth century, thus exhibiting specimens of all schools of Gothic, and affording the best guide to the study of the development of architecture in England. From the death of Becket until the Reformation, it was a favorite place of pilgrimage. His body, brought from the crypt, was placed in 1220 in a shrine of such magnificence that Erasmus, who visited it in 1512, recorded that "gold was the meanest thing to be seen." In 1538 Henry VIII. destroyed the shrine, as that of a rebel against royal authority, and confiscated its treasures. Among the other interesting ecclesiastical remains in Canterbury are St. Martin's church, said to be the oldest in England and to date in part from the period of the Roman occupation, and the first house of the Dominicans in England. See the biographical notices of Augustine, Theodore, and other archbishops of Canterbury; also the articles Anglo-Saxons, Conversion of the; Celtic Church in Britain and Ireland; England, Church of.

Bibliography: The history of the diocese is given by R. C. Jenkins, in Diocesan Histories, Canterbury, London, 1880. On the cathedral consult: A. P. Stanley, Historical Memorials of Canterbury Cathedral, ib. 1900; J. M. Cowper, Memorial Inscriptions of the Cathedral Church of Canterbury, Canterbury, 1897. For the monastery consult: Literæ Cantuarienses. Letter Books of the Monastery of Christ Church, 3 vols., ed. by J. B. Sheppard for Rolls Series, London, 1881–89. Consult also: S. R. Gardiner, Student's Hist. of England, passim, ib. 1895; W. Bright, Early English Church Hist., Index, Oxford, 1897; W. A. Shaw History of the English Church, 1640–1660, London, 1900 (contains much material); W. W. Capes, English Church in 14th and 15th centuries, ib. 1900; W. R. W. Stephens, The English Church, 1066–1272, p. 33, ib. 1901; J. Gairdner, The English Church in the 16th Century, pp. 1, 66, 104, et passim, ib. 1903

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