Henry DEAN

(Archbishop of Canterbury)

Died: Feb 1503, Lambeth

For more information, see A CANON REGULAR AT LAMBETH, by Father Anthony Maggs CRL

After Henry Dean became Prior of Llanthony, in Gloucester, he attracted the attention of Edward IV, of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and eventually that great statesman Henry VII. Henry wanted to do something for Ireland which had been notoriously badly governed so he appointed his second son Henry, Lord Lieutenant and the Prior, Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Dean was completely successful in executing his responsibilities so much so that when the See of Bangor fell vacant he was appointed Bishop. He was given this diocese to enable him to commute between Ireland and his diocese as necessity demanded. He found the Diocese of Bangor in a mess. It had been much neglected but in three years he was able to turn it around and set it on its feet. He restored the Cathedral and repaired his palace. He busied himself with the spiritual and material welfare of his diocese with the result that his people rallied round him. He made a change from the absentee prelates they had been used to.

Having made his mark in Bangor and Ireland, when Salisbury became vacant he was the natural choice. He was installed in Dec 1499, becoming at the same time Registrar of the Order of the Garter. He still held Llanthony in commendam, which frequently was the custom in those times. It has to be said that the King made him Bishop of Salisbury not so much for the good of the Church but in order to have a wise counselor nearer to him at Windsor.

He was Bishop of Salisbury for less than a year but time enough to receive yet another honour. On Archbishop Morton's death he became Keeper of the Great Seal. Thomas Langton, Bishop of Winchester succeded John Morton as Archbishop of Canterbury but died of the plague before his translation could be perfected. The King then persuaded the chapter of Canterbury to put up Henry Dean as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. They did so and the Pope was quick to acquiesce. The year was 1501.

Henry was Archbishop for a very brief time and indeed never got around to having himself officially installed. He received the cross and pallium but it is said that his enthronement was deferred due to cost. He was involved however in two events which had repercussions on our history. He presided over the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales and Catalina de Aragon and he was engaged in the negotiations for a marriage between the King of Scots and Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, who was brought up at Eltham Palace. The wedding of Catalina and Arthur was a sumptuous affair attended by nineteen mitred prelates in St Paul's.

By now the Archbishop's health had begun to fail. He resigned the Great Seal in 1502 and died in Feb 1503 at Lambeth. He was a man respected for his piety as John Fisher noted when preaching at the Requiem Mass for Queen Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII. England, he said, had suffered a triple loss, the Queen, Prince Arthur and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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