Today we celebrate the feast day of St. William of York, hotly contested 12th century archbishop and saint. William Fitzherbert (of York) was nominated for archbishop in 1140 after two failed elections– the first nominee was accused of bribery and the second was opposed by the pope while he held another office. William’s nomination was also opposed, this time by the Cisctercians and Theobald of Bec who accused him of bribery as well. When the archbishop of Canterbury refused to consecrate him, William, the king’s nephew, probably bribed a local bishop to consecrate him anyway.
But that’s just my opinion.
Tangent: Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cisctercian who most adamantly opposed William Fitzherbert’s ordination, was blessed as abbot by guy named William and also best friends with another another guy named William who happened to speak out against errors he found in William de Conches writing.
Because this bishop acted without the approval of the church, William Fitzherbert (of York) lacked the pallium signifying the papal granting of the archbishop’s authority, but he continued to act as archbishop, enacting reforms and gaining popularity. Abbot Bernard pressured the Pope to suspend Fitzherbert on account of his appointing of another, different guy named William into office. While awaiting the hearing of the case, Fitzherbert resided with his good friend the King of Sicily. Because of course he did. William of York is an easy person to hate, in retrospect.
Fitzherbert was, ultimately, suspended. In response, his supporters waged an attack on Bernard’s Cisctercian Fountain Abbey who, without the aid of explosives, tore it down. King Stephen, grandson of William the Conqueror, (not to be confused with all the other Williams), refused to accept the suspension of his nephew and blocked Henry Murdac, Fitzherbert’s replacement from residing in York. Murdac was accepted neither by the king, nor the York cathedral chapter and retired to Ripon where he seethed and wore sackcloth next to his skin. No joke.
Deposed, Fitzherbert retreated to his hometown of Winchester where he stayed for a few years until all of his opponents: Pope Eugene III, Bernard and Murdac died in quick succession. In December of 1153, Fitzherbert convinced the new pope Anastasius to reappoint him to archbishop.
Under a month later, somebody poisoned the wine out of his chalice at Mass and he died.