Simon Langham was despatched to Northern France with the French cardinal John of Dormans from Soissons in August 1370. The pope wanted to inspire a new crusade against the Turks who were by now pressing hard against the frontier of Christendom. The Byzantine Empire was on the point of collapse holding little ground beyond its own city walls. Yet with the two most powerful kingdoms in Europe, England and France slugging in a state of near permanent war, a crusade was looking unlikely. Simon and John were to try and instigate peace talks between the warring crowns and then preach the crusade. The mission turned out to be a thankless task. Neither king was interested in peace and the pope did not make life any easier. Urban V died just as negotiations got under way so the cardinals had to hurry back to Avignon to elect the new pope. Then hardly had they returned, than they found the pope was pleading for a crusade on the one hand, whilst asking for a papal subsidy with the other.
The items below from the main records of the day show give some hints of the mission. Note that as well as working for peace with the secular princes of Europe, the ambassadors or nuncios were also tasked with carrying out the routine of church business whilst they were on their travels. But where was Adam? Well as the last item shows he was following his master:
Dilecto filio Symoni tituli S. Sixti Presbitero cardinali apostolice sedis nuncio salutem. Symoni S. Sixti prebytero cardinali facultas absolvendi 100 personas ab excommunicatione incursa propter homicidia in clericos solutos vel conjugatos. Datum Avione XIIII kalendas maii anno secundo.
Dear Simon cardinal priest of St Sixtus ambassador of the apostolic seat, greetings: Simon cardinal priest of St Sixtus, the means for acquitting 100 people from excommunication befalling them on account of murder of clerics, or profligacy in marriage. Dated at Avignon 18th April 1372
Dilecto filio Symoni tituli S. Sixti Presbitero cardinali apostolice sedis nuncio salutem. Symoni S. Sixti prebytero cardinali creandi quidecim notarios apostolicos facultatem dat. Datum Avione VII kalendas maii anno tertio.
Dear Simon cardinal priest of St Sixtus ambassador of the apostolic seat, greetings: Simon cardinal priest of St Sixtus, given the means for creating 15 apostolic notaries. Dated at Avignon 24th April 1373
From: Lettres Secretes et Curiales (relatives de France) Gregoire XI
To William Archbishop of Canterbury. Announcing his election (ie Gregory XI’s) and the continuation of the mission of Cardinals Simon of St Sixtus and John of Sancti Quatuor Coronati, sent by Urban V to foster peace between the kings of England and France and directing the Archbishop to use his influence with the king and price Edward of Aquitaine and Wales and with the king’s councillors to the same end. Avignon, 2nd Ides January 1371.
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus and John cardinal of Sancti Quatuor Coronati, papal nuncios. Faculty during their mission to France and England to cause churches and cemeteries to be consecrated by catholic bishops in communion with the apostolic see and to reconcile and cause to be reconciled the same when necessary, by fit priests, a bishop having blessed the water; without derogation to the constitution which requires such reconciliation to be made by bishops only.Avignon 7 Ides March 1371
To John cardinal of Sancti Quatuor Coronati. Directing him to prosecute the mission entrusted to him and cardinal Simon and to point out the destruction and occupation of the East and the evils which come from the war between the kings of England and France. The pope encloses letters to King Edward and prelates of the realm touching the same.
To Edward king of England. Applying for a safe conduct into his realm which the pope has heard that he has refused to grant for the cardinals Simon and John and requesting him to give audience to the same. Avignon 2nd Ides April 1371
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus and John cardinal of Sancti Quatuor Coronati, papal nuncios. Mandate to visit correct and reform cathedral, collegiate and other churches, monasteries and other religious places in the realms of France and England provided they receive nothing, even meat or drink. Villeneuve Avignon 6 Nones May 1371
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus papal nuncio. The pope has received his letters by his messenger Nigel in which he announces that the men of the Kings of France and England are to meet on March 1st with sufficient powers for making peace. The pope is writing by Bertrand de Veuraco to the said Kings and to the cardinal whom he orders along with Cardinal John to prosecute the negotiations with solicitude. Avignon 2 Kalends February 1372
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus. Directing him to meet the other parties to the Treaty of Calais on March 1st. Bertrand de Vayraco donsel, member of the pope’s household bearer of these presents and others, will assist the cardinal in the negotiations of the course of which he is frequently to inform the pope. Avignon 10 Kalends February 1372
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus papal nuncio. Mandate to give full credence to the bishop of Carpentras touching the subsidy which the pope is asking King Edward and many of the prelates of the realm, as contained in the enclosed schedule, to give for the defence and recovery of the property of the Roman Church. The nuncio is to make speed to induce the king to give heed to the pope’s prayers and the said prelates to come to the help of the pope and the Roman Church in this their great necessity. Avignon 6 Ides March 1372
To the prelates and other clergy, secular and regular of England. Mandate to provide liberally the procurations already ordered for the cardinals Simon and John as necessary expenses of their mission under pain of sentence against those who resist payment. In a previous mandate the pope fixed the amount at two thirds of the procurations for a legate a latere; but as within the memory of man no such legate has been sent to England, some hesitate to pay. The pope therefore fixes the amount at two thirds of the procurations which were provided for the late Talleyrand bishop of Albano and the late Nicholas bishop of Tusculum, then cardinal pries of St Peters ad Vincula. Avignon 14 Kalends May, 1372
To Simon, Cardinal of St Sixtus, papal nuncio. Faculty to absolve a hundred persons in France and England who have incurred excommunication by laying violent hands on clerks in minor orders, due satisfaction and public penance being made and done. Avignon 14 Kalends May 1372
To Simon, Cardinal of St Sixtus, papal nuncio. Faculty to confer the office of notary in France and England on fifteen persons, married or in holy orders who are to take the usual oath of fealty to the pope as enclosed. Faculty to the same to dispense in France and England twelve persons of illegitimate birth to be ordained and hold one benefice with cure of souls. Avignon 8 Kalends May 1373
To Simon cardinal of St Sixtus papal nuncio. Commending his diligence in his mission to France and England but as the business on which he and John cardinal of Sancti Quatuor Coronati were sent has not been brought to the desired issue, he is ordered to return at once to the pope. 16 Kalends May 1373
From: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters, Volume 4, 1362-1404
The keepers of the passage of the port of Dover, that William de Barton clerk, one of the servants of master Roger de Freton who is abiding in the parts of Calais in the company of the Cardinal of Canterbury, may pass to his said master taking one hackney price 20s and 20s for his expenses, by mainprise of John de Freton clerk of Norfolk and Henry de Bladworth of Yorkshire under a pain of 20 marks. 3rd March 1372 at Westminster
The keepers of the passage of the port of Dover or Sandewic that Robert de Colton may pass towards Simon cardinal of Canterbury taking one groom and 8s for expenses by mainprise of John de Neville knight. 6th March 1372 at Westminster
Edward III, 1327-1377: Calendar of the close rolls preserved in the Public Record Office
Misericordia divina Simon tituli sancti sixti et Johannes tituli sanctorem quattuor coronatorum presbytri cardinals apostolice sedis nuncii: venerabilis pater in Christo domino dei gratie Archiepiscopo Cantuariensis vel eius vicario seu vicariis in opinarelibet seu officus vel officialibus aut locatenus eorumdem ac illi vel illis sunt vel erunt quem pro tempore vicarii officiales seu administratores Archiepiscopo Cant. ad quem vel ad quos presentes litterae pervenerit salutem in domino.
Sanctissima in Christus pater et dominis in dominis Gregoriis papem XI (text shows VI in error) ad ffrancia et anglia regna pro magnis et ardius negotiis nos destinans ut possimus expensarum omnia nobis incumbencia facilius supportare suas nobis concessit litteras in hac forma. Gregorius epus servius servorum dei delictis filius Simon tituli sancti sictus et Johannes tituli sanctorem quatuor coronatorum presbyteries cardinalibus apostilice sedis nuntius saultem et aposticulam bene sine vos ad ffrancia et Anglie regna quod magnis et ardius negotiis destinemus nos ut incumbencia vobis expensarum omnia possitis facilius supportare volentes vobis de oportimo subventomnis auxilio providere vobis ambobus recipiendi habemus negotiorum vestra prosecutione (could be persecutione) durante tam in praesentia quia in absentia vestram duas partes ex procurationibus quas unus de cardinalibus sancta romane ecclesie apostolice sedis legatus in dictis per suis procurationibus recipere consuevit que videlicet ad summam maiorem ascendere dinoscit filius electis abbatibus, prioribus, decanis, praepositis archidiaconis archiepiscopus et aliis ecclesiarum prelatis et rectoribus ac ecclesias personis religiosus et secularibus earum que capitulis et conventibus exemptis et non exemptis Cisterciensis, Cluniacensis, Cartusiensis premonstratensis, sanctorem Benedicti et Augustini et aliorum ordinum necnon magisteris Boribus preceptoribus et fratribus sancti Johannes Ierusalem et aliorum quorumcumque hospitalium seu domorum regnorum predictorum necnon contradictores per censuram ecclesiam appellatione postposita compescendi non obstantibus illa quam felicis recordationis Gregorius pape X praedecessor nostra edidit in ecclesia Lugdunensis (Lyon) ac pie memorie Bonifacii papae VIII praedecessor nostril et qualiter alis sedis predicte constitutionibus seu quibuslibet privileges indulgenciis et litteris apostolicis quibus personis locis et orinibus sub quacumque verborum forma ab eadem cede concessis de quibus quorum que totis tenoribus plenam et expressam fieri oporteat in nostris litteris mentionem et per que habemus nostre concessionis impediri valeat quilibet ut disserri plenam liberam vobis et unicumque vestram auctoritate praesentum concedimus facultatem. Dat. avinionensis vii ides martii.
Fo50v Datum apud Parisius in domo magni prioris in Ffrancia ordinis sancta Johanis Jerlumitanus presentibus venerabilis patri in Christo domino Aymerico (Aimeri de Maignac was bishop of Paris 1368-1384) dei gratia episcopus Pariensis ac venerabilis et circumspectis viriis magisteris Adam de Estonus, doctore in sacra theologia, Rogero de Freton sacri palacii apostolice causorum auditore Johanis Persona dottore decretorum, Guillemus de Villemontoir archiediaconis de Tardano in ecclesia Suessionensis (Soissons) et pluribus aliis testibus vocatis ad permissa anno domini millio trecentesimo septuagesimo primo indicatione nona die seconda mense maii pontifex dat nostri domini Gregorii papem XI anno primo. Et ego Richardus de Croxton clericus eliensem dioc. publicus apostolica et imperialis auctoritate notaris praemissis omnibus et singulis prout supra foribuntur? et duplici sic ut praefertur agerent et fierent cum notari et testibus prescriptis presens secundum ea quem per alius scripta publicam et me subscribens hic signis mensem consuetum cum dicti notari signo et sigillis predictis apposui requisitus in testimonium veritatis omnium praemissorum. Et ego Adam Wagneti de Villemontoir Suessionensis dioc. publicus apostolica auctoritate notarius dum praemissa ut praefertur agerent cum notari et testibus prescriptis presens secundum et ea quo per alium scripta sunt publicam et me subscribens hic signis consuetum cum dicti notarii signo et sigillis praedictis apposui requisitus in testimonium veritatis omnium praemissorum.
Folio 49r Whittlesey Register Lambeth Palace records