chapter  8
30 Pages

James of Spain, Prince and Pluralist

But let us return from father to son. James was showered with English clerical benefices,1 rectories and canonries, mostly while still in his teens, through royal patronage continued by Edward I after Eleanor’s death, especially when a vacant see gave the king the privilege of appointment to livings which would otherwise have been in the bishop’s gift, and after him by Edward II. These benefices were already numerous while he was underage, illegitimate, and not in orders, apparently without yet having obtained adequate dispensations from these defects such as would permit him to hold a benefice, let alone multiple ones. He is sometimes described as ‘Ser’ or ‘Sir’, and often as a clerk; these imply respectively simply an address of respect, and an educated man, though in this case James is also described as a king’s clerk. Indeed, there is positive evidence that he never took orders; in a papal dispensation of 1306 it was noted that he was not ordained, and in the same year Bishop Henry Woodlock of Winchester reported papal letters dismissory exempting James from all orders, minor and major (see below).