18 October 2021

A Burgundian nobleman in Exeter

 On S Luke's day, Sunday 18 October 1327, a great concourse of cardinals, bishops, and noblemen entered the Dominican priory  church which, during the papal 'exile' in Avignon, often hosted major papal ceremonies (even Coronations). The presiding bishop on this occasion was Pierre des Prez, Cardinal Bishop of Praeneste and one of fellow-townsmen whom pope John XXII had brought with him from Cahors. There, with due solremnity, the Cardinal consecrated to the episcopate a protege who was another member of the pontiff's inner circle and, like himself, a former papal chaplain. This 35-year-old Burgundian nobleman had only recently returned from an international diplomatic mission on behalf of the papacy; and the see to which he was consecrated wouild not have been vacant if the pope had not made room for him by setting aside the capitular election and royal confirmation of a rival aspirant.

The young bishop was Jean de Grandisson (pronounced by the English as 'Grahns'n'). The vestments he wore for his Consecration were in white cloth of gold woven with gold and white birds and with needlework orphreys containing 'images' inside circles, and pearl decorations. They were listed in subsequent Cathedral inventories. And they were only the beginning of his benefactions: One such inventory concludes "of the gifts of Bishop John de Grandisson -- all the choir books, vestments of every colour, ornaments, jewels of gold and silver and others, of which on account of their multitude the number is not written here or elsewhere, because in his life and afterwards they were multiplied beyond number. God knows who knows everything."

Grandisson ws a resolute bishop who reformed many aspects of life in his diocese, and not least its worship. He pursued an interesting heretic; he repelled an Archbishop of Canterbury who desired to carry out a Metropolitan Visitation. 

Even after the depredations of time and of the Tudors, he merited a section all to himself in a 1987 exhibition at the Royal Academy.


Simon Cotton said...

Pierre des Prés came from Montpezat de Quercy (just off the old N20 south of Cahors), where he built a magnificent collegiate church dedicated to Saint Martin. Consecrated in 1343, this is where he was to be buried in 1361. Its walls bear splendid 16th c. tapestries of the life of Saint Martin.

dunstan said...

Thank you for prompting me to take up my copy of the catalogue for that great Age of Chivalry exhibition. There I read that the family came from Grandson near Neuchatel from where they derived their name. That presumably explains its pronunciation. I wonder how quickly the Devonians learnt to say it.

Pulex said...

The Castle of Grandson is still standing and can be visited.
"Pierre des Prez, Cardinal Bishop of Praeneste ... from Cahors."
Does it mean that at the time there were not only two Popes, but also two teams of suburbican bishops?

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

A fine evocation of the splendours of Papal Avignon and of the cathedral in Exeter before the Edwardian “reformers” got at it.
Fending off metropolitical visitations was a regular thing for suffragens of medieval Archbishops of Canterbury - think of St Thomas of Hereford most famously. Unlike today it was not a case of welcoming the Archbishop as a guest preacher for an anniversary but rather he was a potential threat to the jealously guarded privileges of the diocesan and his cathedral.

William Tighe said...

"Does it mean that at the time there were not only two Popes, but also two teams of suburbican bishops?"

"At that time" was 1327, so no.