Cardinal. Morton was one of the greatest ecclesiastical statesmen of the 15th cent. A useful ecclesiastical lawyer, he advanced rapidly under the patronage of Archbishop Bourchier but, as an adherent of the Lancastrians, fell into disfavour after Towton in 1461. He escaped to the continent, returned with Warwick in 1470, and after the Lancastrian disaster at Tewkesbury in 1471 made his peace with Edward IV. In 1473 he was appointed master of the rolls and in 1479 bishop of Ely. During the short reign of Richard III, Morton was again forced to flee the country, returning after Henry VII's triumph at Bosworth. Henceforth he was the mainstay of the new regime, becoming archbishop of Canterbury in 1486 and lord chancellor in 1487. In 1493 Henry obtained for him a cardinal's hat from Pope Alexander VI. His extraordinary domination prompts comparison with Wolsey 20 years later.
Subjects: British History.