Walter de Coutances
Walter de Coutances is the Chief Justiciar and viceroy of England, and Archbishop of Rouen. He is a learned man of literary tastes.
Walter was born in Cornwall and was educated, possibly in Paris He began a career as a royal clerk at the court of King Henry II before 1169, and was part of a cadre of highly educated clerks, including Richard of Ilchester, Walter Map, John of Oxford and Ralph Diceto, who rose through the ranks of the royal bureacracy in the 1170s. He became a canon in Rouen Cathedral in 1169. He served as the chaplain to Henry the Young King, but left his service and returned to the royal bureacracy when Henry rebelled against hs father in 1173. Later that year he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of England, deputy to Chancellor Ralph de Warneville. Between 1173 and 1176 he was appointed Archdeacon of Oxford. In 1176 and 1177 King Henry II sent him on diplomatic missions to the courts of Flanders and France. He was elected Bishop of Lincoln in in May 1183, ordained a priest in June and consecrated bishop in December. In November 1184, however, he was translated to the see of Rouen, becoming Archbishop. He had some conerns over the move, as although the Archbishopric held higher status, it was poorer than the see of Lincoln. After King Richard was crowned in September 1189, Walter and Archbishop Baldwin of Forde absolved him of rebelling against his father. Archbisop Walter joined Richard on Crusade, but was sent back to England from Sicily in April 1191 to advise William Longchamp. He arrived in England on June 27. Longchamp refused to obey the letters ordering him to follow Archbishop Walter's advice, claiiming they might be forgeries, Richard, however, had sent separate instructions to William Marshal and the four associate justiciars ordering them to heed Archbisop Walter if Longchamp refused to comply. He brokered the Treaty of Winchester between Longchamp and Count John in July 1191, which helped avoid civil war and curbed Longchamp's powers. However, in September, Longchamp ordered the arrest of Richard and John's half-brother, Geoffrey, due to be consecrated Archbsiop of York, saying he had entered England illegally. The act alienated almost all of Longchamp's remaining supporters, and on October 5, near Reading, the leading bishops and nobles heard charges against Longchamp from Archbishop Walter and three of the associate justiciars. Longchamp himself did not attend, but fled to London, where he occupied the Tower and prepared for a siege. Count John and the justiciars arrived in London shortly afterwards, and an assembly in St Paul's Cathedral on 8 October deposed Longchamp. The assembly declared that Walter was now Chief Justiciar and Count John governor of the realm. Arhcbishop Walter never referred to himsxelf as Chief Justiciar, preferring to be known as head of the council of regency. Longchamp refused to accept the assembly's decision, and the following day the allies laid siege to the Tower. Longchamp submitted on October 10 and handed over the keys to the Tower. Though Archbishop Walter had forbidden Longchamp to leave England, he attempted to do so on October 17, and was finally permitted to sail to Flanders on October 29, from wehere he wrote letters complain of his treatment to Pope Celestine III. On December 2 1191 the pope wrote a letter excommunicating anyone who had laid hands on Longchamp. Longchamp named Archbishop Walter, the bishops of Winchester and Coventry, the four justiciars, Gerard of Camville, John Marshal and Count John's chanceller, Stephen Ridel. None of the bishops paid any attention.