This morning I received a very nice note from one of this blog’s readers. She was kind enough to send along a note: “My home town is the beautiful City of Durham, World Heritage Site, also known as the Land of the Prince Bishops and final resting places of St. Bede and St. Cuthbert…..both very popular names for Catholic Churches and schools in the area. Thought this might be of interest.” Included was a link to an article about the Prince Bishops of Durham. The lands ruled by the bishops became known as the ‘County Palatine of Durham’, a defensive buffer zone between England and the Northumbria-Scottish borderland. Due to its strategic importance and its remoteness from London, the County Palatinate became a virtually autonomous entity, in which the Prince-Bishop possessed the powers of a King. Specifically, the Prince-Bishops, technically holding the rank of Earl Palatine, had the authority to: hold their own parliaments, raise their own armies,appoint their own sheriffs and justices, administer their own laws, levy taxes and customs duties, create fairs and markets, issue charters, salvage shipwrecks, collect revenue from mines, administer the forests, and mint their own coins.
Historically one of the nicer side gigs – and an very interesting perspective into the milieu of the Church-State dynamic leading up to Reformation.