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John Morton

Morton, John, 1420?–1500, English prelate and statesman, archbishop of Canterbury (1486–1500). He studied law at Oxford and practiced in the London ecclesiastical courts. A supporter of the Lancastrian party in the Wars of the Roses, he received a number of church livings, but after the Yorkist victory at Towton (1461) he was attainted and lived in exile at the court of Margaret of Anjou. He returned to England in 1470, taking an active part in the coalition against Edward IV, but after Edward's victory at Tewkesbury (1471), his attainder was reversed. He was made a master of the rolls in 1473, was sent (1474) on a mission to Hungary, and became bishop of Ely in 1479. Arrested in the reign of Richard III, he escaped to Flanders and was recalled by Henry VII on his accession (1485) to the throne. Morton became the king's principal counselor, was made archbishop of Canterbury (1486) and lord chancellor (1487), and was created a cardinal in 1493. He was probably the author of the original Latin version of the History of Richard III, which is usually ascribed to Sir Thomas More.

See biography by R. I. Woodhouse (1895).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies


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