Cardinal Pandulf Masca

Born: Unknown

Rome, Italy

Died: September 16, 1226

Rome, Italy

Pandulf in History

Virtually nothing is known of the early life of Pandulf. He first appears in England in 1211 when he was sent as a papal envoy to intervene in the destruction of religious houses by King John, who had already been excommunicated by Pope Innocent III. By 1213, John had reconciled himself with Rome, and it was Pandulf who accepted the king's ceremonial resignation of the throne, only to be re-crowned as the Pope's vassal. When civil war broke out between King John and his magnates in 1215 (which ultimately led to the signing of the Magna Carta), it is uncertain as to Pandolf's exact involvement. Certain chronicles claim that he stirred up trouble between the two sides while others state he actually helped with the negotiations to bring about peace. His involvement becomes even more unclear when one considers the fact that he also voted to have the barons excommunicated and that he suspended Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, from his office. Also in 1215, Pandulf was elected Bishop of Norwich (though he was not consecrated to the office for another seven years). The following year, Pandulf was appointed chamberlain to the new Pope Honorius III and spent the next two years in Rome.

Pandulf returned to England in 1218, this time as the official papal legate, and was appointed by the dying William Marshal to replace him as (unofficial) regent during Henry III's minority reign. Although Pandolph was not popular (and not trusted by) his fellow councilors, of which Hubert de Burgh and Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, were the most significant, he did serve vigorously as an envoy for peace negotiations with Scotland, Wales and France, all while defending the rights of the church, which had been severely damaged during King John's reign. Pandulf resigned his post as papal legate in 1221, after the return of his enemy, Stephen Langton, and headed back to Rome. While on his journeys, he attended the funeral for Philip II of France (1223) and pressed (unsuccessfully) the new French king, Louis VIII, to return Normandy to English control. By this point though, Pandulf was slowly retiring. He resigned his post as the Pope's chamberlain and passed away in 1226.

Pandulf in Shakespeare

Appears in: King John

Within King John, Pandulf is wrongly labeled as a cardinal because of Shakespeare's likely confusion between him and Cardinal Pandolfo Masca of Pisa. He is portrayed in a fairly negative light, as a man who enjoys stirring up trouble. The cardinal is first seen when he excommunicates King John after his refusal to appoint Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury as the Pope has ordered (in reality John was already excommunicated when Pandulf arrived in England). For this reason, Pandulf attempts to convince Philip II of France to dismiss his oath and wage war once again against England, which he is successful in doing. After the French defeat and the capture of Arthur, Pandulf then persuades Louis the dauphin to pursue a claim to the English throne by right of his wife Blanche. However, once John submits to the Pope and is re-crowned by Pandulf, the cardinal attempts to dissuade Louis (who has now joined forces with the rebellious English magnates), unsuccessfully, from pressing his claim to the throne. In the play's last scene, just after John dies, it is announced that Pandulf has finally persuaded Louis to cease any violent actions against England (though Louis' chances of victory were unlikely anyway considering the magnates deserted him and his reinforcements were lost at sea).


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