John of Oxford

John Of Oxford, an English prelate, flourished in the second half of the 12th century, and took an active and important part in the controversy between king Henry II of England and his archbishop Thomas a Becket in behalf of his royal master, whose favor and unlimited confidence he enjoyed. He had attended the Diet at Würzburg in 1165, held to cement a union between Henry and the emperor of Germany, and had there taken the oath of fidelity to the rival pope of Alexander, Paschal III, whom the emperor supported. For his success in this mission, John, on his return, was rewarded by king Henry II with the appointment of dean of Salisbury. Of course the archbishop, at this time himself claiming the right to fill these positions, disapproved of the appointment, and even suspended and cited before him for trial the bishop of the diocese of Salisbury, who had approved the royal action. (See Inett, History of the English Church, vol. 2, pt. 1, p. 337, note; Robertson, Life of Becket, p. 186; note d; compare art. JOCELINE OF SALISBURY and CLARENDON CONSTITUTIONS.) John, disregarding the archbishop's censures, was finally punished by excommunication (in 1166). The king at once dispatched a special embassy to pope Alexander, John of Oxford being one of the number, and, notwithstanding the archbishop's serious actions against John of Oxford, the pope, anxious to continue friendly relations with the English court, favorably received John, and the latter even measurably succeeded in the object of their mission [see art. BECKET], securing also the pope's confirmation of his appointment as dean of Salisbury. After the, close of the controversy and the return of Becket, John of Oxford was appointed by the king to meet and reinstate the archbishop, a not very moderate reproval to the haughty prelate; and upon the death of the latter John further received evidence of the grateful remembrance of his royal master by the appointment to the bishopric of Norwich (1175), and as such attended the Lateran Council in 1179. The exact time of his decease is not known to us, neither are we aware that he performed any literary work of value; in all probability, his active part in the king's controversy absorbed all his interests. See Milman, Latin Christianity, 4, 364 sq., 408. (J.H.W.)

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