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Baldwin of Forde, Archbishop of Canterbury 1184-90

Baldwin of Forde was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1184 and 1190. The son of a clergyman, he studied canon law and theology at Bologna and was tutor to Pope Eugene III’s nephew before returning to England to serve successive bishops of Exeter. He was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury in December 1184.

He had a bitter dispute with the monks of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury. Both sides retained legal representation in the Papal Court at Rome for several years, and the outcome was not to Baldwin’s satisfaction.

At Easter 1187 a monk who had delivered to Baldwin at Otford certain communications from the Vatican, presumably having made the uncomfortable journey over the Alps during the spring thaw, had his request for the customary reward for such missions, the privilege of carrying the chrism at the Mass, denied him. (Unusually Baldwin celebrated Easter in London rather than at Canterbury, and he had actually spent the preceding Christmas at Otford.) These communications may have borne the seals that were subsequently found at Otford Palace. Shortly afterwards Baldwin accompanied King Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade to free Jerusalem, and died at the siege of Acre in 1190, where he had commanded the troops in the king’s absence. For him the phrase the ‘Church militant’ certainly comes to mind.