STEPHEN LANGTON, (1150-1228)
from
A History of Preaching
by
F. R. Webber

One of the better preachers of the early thirteenth century was Stephen Langton. Since his father's estate was at Langton-by-Wragby, Lincolnshire, it is probable that Stephen Langton was born there. He studied at the University of Paris, and later became a lecturer in theology at that institution. In 1198 he was called to Rome where he became a member of the papal household. In 1206 he was made cardinal-priest, and about the year 1207 he was named as archbishop of Canterbury. His election displeased the King, who not only refused to permit Langton to remain in England, but expelled the monks of Canterbury as well. A long contest between King John and Innocent III took place, in which excommunications and interdicts were employed; and in the end Langton was victorious. His part in causing King John to grant Magna Charta in 1215 is said to have been an important one, and in 1222 he called a church council at Osney that secured corresponding liberties for the Church.

Stephen Langton was one of the leading theologians of the early thirteenth century, and a preacher of marked ability. Many of his sermons have been preserved in the libraries at Oxford, Cambridge and Lambeth Palace, and these are said to be superior to most of the other sermons of that period. Langton was a diligent student of the Scriptures, he wrote several commentaries and expositions, and it is he who, for the convenience of study and reference, divided the Bible into chapters. His historical writings are also of considerable merit. A recent biography worthy of mention is F. M. Powicke's Stephen Langton, (1928). Accounts of his life are also to be found in the collected biographies of the archbishops of Canterbury.


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