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Title: Cardinal Kemp : the last Lancastrian statesman
Author: Grussenmeyer, J. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 910X
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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John Kemp (c. 1380-1454) - cardinal, archbishop, councillor, chancellor, and diplomat - was one of the most central figures in the royal government during the reign of Henry VI, serving the Lancastrian Crown for four decades. Despite this, scholars have treated him with varying degrees of neglect, mentioning him often enough but rarely ever attributing consequential policy to his influence. This thesis presents a comprehensive study of Kemp's political career, examining him as an individual statesman and using his biography as a lens through which to gain a deeper understanding of royal government and political culture under the Lancastrian dynasty. While it is notoriously difficult to paint a detailed portrait of any medieval personage, Kemp's career is considerably well documented. Records of chancery, the exchequer, and the royal council give us a great deal of information about his public career, while the invaluable correspondence recorded by William Swan, his proctor at the curia, grants us a rare glimpse of the private feelings, ambitions, and concerns of a fifteenth-century prelate. From his time on the minority council in the 1420s to his chancellorship in the volatile 1450s, he was often called upon during times of crisis, and it is during such trying times that we can most clearly see his stabilising effect upon the governance of the realm. His parliamentary addresses and court of chancery decisions evidence his strong principles, and his statesmanship is further confirmed by the remarkable diplomacy with which he balanced his obligations to both Church and state, finding favour with the papacy while always prioritising the interests of the Crown. Kemp's death in 1454 removed the last figure able to restrain the duke of York's ambitions and to prevent political faction from descending into violence, and it is no coincidence that the Wars of the Roses commenced the following year. Cardinal Kemp was, indeed, the last Lancastrian statesman.
Supervisor: Grummitt, David ; Fincham, Kenneth ; James, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available