The relationship of the kings of England with their bishops was influenced by the fact that from the Norman Conquest to the early years of King John’s reign they were also lords of considerable territories in France and, theoretically at least, subjects of the French kings for their French lands. Consequently, with the exception of William II before his brother mortgaged Normandy to him, and Stephen, kings of England spent a considerable part of their reigns governing and defending their continental territories. Richard I’s absence from England for all but six months of a ten-year reign was exceptional, but nevertheless he maintained a considerable interest in English affairs. Likewise many members of the aristocracy held territories in France and England, and of few bishops could it be said ‘he is an Englishman’. As late as 1205 foreigners filled the majority of English sees; eight were held by Frenchmen, Bernard of Ragusa, the unconsecrated bishop of Carlisle, was an Italian, and there were only four English bishops, including the Anglo-Norman Giles of Briouse. Nevertheless, by the end of the twelfth century the concept of Englishness was developing and bishops like William Longchamp and Peter des Roches were seen as aliens in English politics. The northern borders of England were not precisely defined and fluctuated depending on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the kings of England and Scotland. Nor were English politics, secular and ecclesiastical, uninfluenced by events in Wales and Ireland.
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