Stillington, Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells

(d. 1491)
   In 1483, Robert Stillington, bishop of Bath and Wells, supposedly supplied Richard, duke of Gloucester, with the information the duke used to depose his nephew and thereby reanimate the Wars of the Roses.
   Born in Yorkshire, Stillington graduated from Oxford in about 1442 and thereafter rose steadily through the ecclesiastical hierarchy. He attached himself to the Yorkist cause in the late 1450s, and in July 1460 was appointed keeper of the privy seal by Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who was then, as a consequence of his recent victory at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON, in control of HENRY VI and the royal government. In 1465, Stillington was elected bishop of Bath and Wells, and in STILLINGTON, ROBERT, BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS 257 June 1467, EDWARD IV appointed the bishop chancellor of England. He was deprived of the chancellorship by Warwick when the earl overthrew Edward IV in the autumn of 1470, but restored to office by Edward upon his return to the throne in the spring of 1471. Stillington resigned the chancellorship in 1475 and was then employed by Edward IV on an ultimately unsuccessful effort to induce FRANCIS II, duke of BRITTANY, to surrender Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond (see Henry VII, King of England), the surviving Lancastrian claimant to the throne.
   At the accession of EDWARD V in 1483, Stillington informed Richard, duke of Gloucester, the king’s paternal uncle, that Edward IV had contracted marriage with one Eleanor Butler prior to his marriage to Elizabeth WOODVILLE; Gloucester accepted the BUTLER PRECONTRACT as grounds for deposing Edward V, holding that the Butler betrothal illegitimized the king and his siblings as offspring of an invalid marriage. As incorporated in the 1484 statute TITULUS REGIUS, Stillington’s claims became the basis of Gloucester’s formal justification for taking the Crown. Many contemporary commentators and most modern historians have dismissed Stillington’s supposed revelations as an invention by Gloucester to legitimize his usurpation. They point out that the story was unknown before 1483, and that the timing of its appearance was too convenient for Gloucester’s ambition to be credible. The duke’s supporters argue that Stillington’s mysterious imprisonment in 1478 for uttering words prejudicial to the king was the bishop’s punishment for divulging the precontract story to Edward IV’s brother, George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence. The truth of Stillington’s revelations cannot now be determined. In July 1483, Stillington officiated at Gloucester’s coronation as RICHARD III, and thereafter became a favored member of Richard’s COUNCIL. Shortly after his victory at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in August 1485, Henry VII, Richard’s supplanter, ordered Stillington’s arrest, but pardoned the bishop three months later. Henry had his first PARLIAMENT repeal Titulus Regius, but took no action against the supposed author of the statute’s contents. In 1487, Stillington involved himself in the uprising instigated by Lambert SIMNEL, who claimed to be the Yorkist heir, Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick. After the collapse of Simnel’s enterprise at the Battle of STOKE in June 1487, the king imprisoned Stillington at Windsor, where the bishop died in May 1491.
   Further Reading: Kendall, Paul Murray, Richard the Third (New York:W.W. Norton, 1956); Levine, Mortimer, Tudor Dynastic Problems, 1460-1571 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1973); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998); Ross, Charles, Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bath and Wells, Bishop of —    see Stillington, Robert …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Stillington — could be*Stillington, County Durham, England *Stillington, North Yorkshire, England *Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells and Lord Chancellor of England …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Stillington — Infobox bishopbiog name =Robert Stillington religion =Catholic See =Diocese of Bath and Wells Title = Bishop of Bath and Wells Period = 1465 ndash;1491 Predecessor = Thomas Beckington Successor =Richard Foxe ordination = bishops = post = date of… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers — The following is a list of Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers of the Great Seal of England and Great Britain. Contents 1 Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers of England, 1068–1707 2 Lord High Chancellors and Lord Keepers of Great Britain,… …   Wikipedia

  • Richard III of England — This article is about the English king. For other uses, see Richard III (disambiguation). Richard III The earliest surviving portrait of Richard (c. 1520, after a lost original), formerly belonging to the Paston family (Society of Antiquaries,… …   Wikipedia

  • Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York — Infobox British Royalty|royal name =Richard of Shrewsbury title =Duke of York; Duke of Norfolk imgw = 150px spouse =Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk issue = titles =The Duke of Norfolk and York The Duke of York Prince Richard royal house …   Wikipedia

  • Lord Privy Seal — Infobox minister office border = parliamentary minister = not prime office = Leader of the House of Commons incumbent = Harriet Harman QC MP tookoffice = 28 June 2007 appointed by = Gordon Brown governor = Prime Minister first minister = John… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Beckington — Infobox bishopbiog name =Thomas Beckington religion =Catholic See =Diocese of Bath and Wells Title = Bishop of Bath and Wells Period = 1443 ndash;1465 Predecessor = John Stafford Successor = Robert Stillington ordination = bishops = post = Dean… …   Wikipedia

  • Butler Precontract — (1483)    The Butler precontract, the claim that EDWARD IV was betrothed to Lady Eleanor Butler prior to his marriage to Elizabeth WOODVILLE, was used by RICHARD III in 1483 to justify his usurpation of his nephew’s throne, an act that revived… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Lady Eleanor Talbot — (died 30 June, 1468) was a daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. Her alleged pre contract of marriage with King Edward IV of England was of great significance to the final fate of the Plantagenet dynasty and outcome of the War of the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.