William of Lanchester

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William of Lanchester, or simply William Lanchester, was an Aureate magician, the Chancellor, seneschal and favourite servant of John Uskglass[42]. His name suggests he may have originated from Lanchester in County Durham (see here for more information on Lanchester the place.)

In the mid-thirteenth century however the two men quarrelled over an act of the king's which Lanchester wholly disapproved: this was the raising from the dead of Henry Barbatus, to interrogate him about his father's treason[31]. It is greatly to be regretted that the king behaved so badly towards the young Barbatus, who in life had been a noble knight. Lanchester fell out with his royal master for several years over this affair.

Despite this sad episode however there can be no doubt that on the whole Lanchester felt the strongest ties of loyalty and love towards Uskglass, and in return enjoyed his complete trust. We are even told that for much of the 13th century the King devoted himself to study while Lanchester ruled the kingdoms in his stead, and that Lanchester's arms - an open book, with the King's Raven Volant displayed above - became so familiar a sight in Northern England that the oath "by Bird and Book" came to be used there as the most serious expression of sincerity it was possible to give[64].