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Langton

Langton, Stephen (d. 1228), a great English prelate and statesman, was born towards the end of the 12th century. He graduated in arts and theology in Paris, where he lived till 1206. In that year he was summoned to Rome by Innocent II. and created a cardinal. In the same year, when he was at the height of his reputation as a scholar, he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury, after two uncanonical elections had been quashed by the Pope. He was consecrated at Viterbo in 1207, but King John refused to acknowledge him, and proclaimed as his enemies all who should do so. The Pope in 1208 placed England under an interdict, and it was not till after a five years' struggle that Langton was allowed to act as Primate. During this time he lived chiefly at Pontigny, but in 1212 went to Rome to urge Innocent to take decisive steps to remedy the misery which existed in England. On his arrival in England Langton immediately took up a constitutional position. He mediated between John and the barons who refused to follow him to Poitou, and opposed the king and the legate when they appointed to vacant sees according to royal pleasure. In the eventful year 1215 he played an important part. He became one of John's sureties for the fulfilment of the charter of Henry I., mediated between the king and the barons when John's promises were not carried out, and brought to the king the articles afterwards embodied in the Great Charter. After the acceptance of the charter the Pope turned against the constitutionalists, and Langton went to Rome to remonstrate against their excommunication. He was suspended from his functions till the death of Innocent and the accession of Henry III. in England. In 1218 he returned to England, crowned the new king, and obtained from Honorius III. the promise that no Papal legate should come to England during his (Langton's) lifetime. In 1222 he presided over a very important Church council at Osney. His remaining years were occupied in obtaining confirmations of the charter from Henry III. and in securing the allegiance of the anarchical party among the barons.