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John Morton (archbishop)

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John Morton (c. 1420 – 15 September 1500) was an English prelate who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1486 to 1500. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1493.

He was appointed Master of the Rolls from 1472 to 1479.

In February 1477, he was sent by the Yorkist King Edward IV, together with Sir John Donne, as ambassador to the French court. After serving a short spell in 1478 as Archdeacon of Leicester he was appointed Bishop of Ely by King Edward on 8 August 1479 and he was consecrated on 31 January 1479.[4] Morton was an important foe of the Yorkist regime of King Richard III and spent some time in captivity in Brecknock castle. After the dynastic change to the Tudors in 1485, Henry VII made him Archbishop of Canterbury on October 6 of 1486,[5] and appointed him Lord Chancellor of England in 1487.[6] In 1493 he was appointed Cardinal priest of the church of St. Anastasia in Rome by Pope Alexander VI. He built the "Old Palace" of Hatfield House where Elizabeth I spent much of her girlhood. ]] As Lord Chancellor, Morton was tasked with restoring the royal estate, depleted by Edward IV. By the end of [[Henry VII's reign, the king's frugality, and Morton's tax policy, carried out by Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson, had replenished the treasury. Morton gave a statement, later known as 'Morton's Fork', that no one was to be exempted from taxes: "If the subject is seen to live frugally, tell him because he is clearly a money saver of great ability, he can afford to give generously to the King. If, however, the subject lives a life of great extravagance, tell him he, too, can afford to give largely, the proof of his opulence being evident in his expenditure."

Morton died at Knole House, Kent, on 15 September 1500. His monument was placed in the south-east part of Canterbury Cathedral's crypt, with an effigy and an arch decorated with angels, cardinal's caps, and tun barrels inscribed with MOR (a pun on his name, Mor-ton). However, this monument is a cenotaph since his actual body was buried in the crypt's central chapel of the Virgin Mary, according to his wishes.

Morton was a mentor of the young Sir Thomas More. More served as a page in Morton's house, acted in revels at Morton's court at Knole House, the archiepiscopal palace, and later mentioned him in his work Utopia. Although most scholars credit More with authoring the History of King Richard III, they debate the issue of the original authorship. Morton is believed by many to be the originator of the account that More rewrote. Modern-day enthusiasts of King Richard III thereby accuse Morton of inventing the account whereby Richard murdered Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York and committed other crimes attributed to him.

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