The Catholic University of America

Archbishop Richard le Scrope

Table of Contents


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Statement of Purpose


This page has been created not only as an archive of textual and pictorial materials pertaining to Archbishop Scrope, but also as an experiment to see how emerging technologies might serve the purposes of interdisciplinary projects in medieval studies. In short, Hyper/Hagiography is intended as a model of one way in which students of ecclesiastical, political, and literary history might develop interdisciplinary hypermedia sites relevant to their own research interests.


The Life and Death of Archbishop Richard le Scrope: An Introduction


On the afternoon of 8 June 1405, Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, was executed for treason at the express command of King Henry IV. Together with Thomas Mowbray, the nineteen year-old Earl Marshal, Archbishop Scrope had led an armed uprising against the king on behalf of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Scrope was betrayed and captured on Shipton Moor, imprisoned at Pontefract, tried at his own archiepiscopal residence at Bishopthorpe, and eventually beheaded in an open field just outside York's Skeldergate Postern, thus becoming the first instance in English history of the execution of a prelate by the sentence of a lay court.

But for this single dramatic incident, Archbishop Scrope's distinguished but otherwise unexceptional career would have provided little more than a scant footnote to the annals of English ecclesiastical history. By killing the Archbishop, Henry IV took the first decisive step toward checking a rebellion which posed a grave threat to his newly won crown, but in turn Richard le Scrope became, at least in the eyes of many of his countrymen, not only a symbol of courageous resistance to a tyrannous usurper, but a martyr and a saint.

Within a few years of his death, the historical Richard le Scrope was transformed into the central character of popular literary, artistic, and devotional traditions. Scrope's execution and the posthumous miracles attributed to him were made the subject of a number of narrative accounts, pious poems, and political songs. Liturgical offices and prayers were composed to venerate the uncanonized saint, his image was preserved in illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows, and his elaborate tomb in York Minster became an important shrine for pilgrims.


Archive of Texts and Images

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Other Online Resources





Since this page is designed as an ongoing experiment, your questions, contributions, comments, and suggestions are especially important. Please fell free to contact me via e-mail, or write to me at the following address:

Stephen K. Wright
Department of English
Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C., 20064