Theobald (TEDBALD), Archbishop of Canterbury; d. April 18, 1161. He was a Norman by descent and became a Benedictine monk at Bee late in the eleventh or early in the twelfth century. In 1127 he was made prior, and abbot in 1137. On December 28, 1138, he was elected archbishop and was consecrated on January 8 following. He went to Rome for his pallium and took part in the second Lateran Council. He proved a wise and capable prelate, devout in his private life, charitable, and a lover of learning. During the civil war he adhered to King Stephen, whom he crowned, though for a time he was at the Empress Maud’s court, and always worked for the Angevin succession.
In his household he collected many young men of ability, including his successor St. Thomas of Canterbury, and he encouraged the formation of scholars and statesmen of a new type. He was the first to introduce civil law into England, and founded a law school at Canterbury, inducing the famous jurist Roger Vacarius to come and lecture there. This introduction of Roman law had important effects on the fortunes of the common law of England, and incidentally led to the establishment of the Inns of Court to maintain the national body of law against the newly introduced code. Theobald suffered many difficulties owing to the appointment of his suffragan bishop, Henry of Winchester, as legate. Among these was the appointment of St. William of York as archbishop of that see, which Theobald felt bound to oppose. Celestine II did not reappoint Henry of Blois as legate and finally in 1150, or possibly before, Theobald was named legate by Blessed Eugene III, probably on the recommendation of St. Bernard (Ep. 238).
When the pope summoned the English bishops to a council at Reims the king forbade them to go, whereupon Theobald defied the king and went. Though he saved the king from excommunication, his property was confiscated and he was banished. The pope then put England under interdict, which was disregarded except in Canterbury, and finally the king and archbishop were reconciled in 1148. In 1151 Theobald held a legatine council in London. In the following year, acting on papal authority, he refused to crown Eustace, the king’s son, and was again compelled to seek flight. While in Normandy he reconciled Henry of Anjou to Stephen, with the result that in 1153 the Treaty of Wallingford ended the Civil War. On Stephen’s death Theobald crowned Henry II, and during the rest of his life, though not without anxiety for the future of the Church, he maintained good relations with the Court, especially with his former disciple Thomas, who had now become chancellor. He expressed to John of Salisbury his hope that Thomas would succeed him. Throughout his pontificate he had continual trouble with the monks of Christ-church, but in every instance his action was justified finally. He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where eighteen years afterwards his body was found incorrupt.