Archbishop (Lat. arehiepiscopus), the chief of the bishops of an ecclesiastical province. The first formal sanction of this authority was by the council of Nice, in 325, which distinguished the bishops of the capitals as metropolitans, and the more eminent of the metropolitans were termed archbishops or patriarchs. In the 8th century the title was applied to every metropolitan and to the more eminent of the bishops. Since that time, in Roman Catholic countries, the archbishops have had a more definite position in the hierarchical scale, ranking next below patriarchs, although their prerogatives have considerably varied. They possess a double character, exercising over their own diocese ordinary episcopal functions, and also having a limited jurisdiction over the bishops of their province, who are termed suffragans. They claim the right of calling provincial synods, of presiding at them, and publishing their acts; also the right of supervision; and an appeal lies to them from the decisions of the bishops. The archbishop also supplies benefices left vacant by the bishops for a longer time than that prescribed by the canons, and receives the bulls of the pope, which he announces to his suffragans.
The symbol of his superior authority is the pallium, a band of white woollen worn around the shoulders. - The archiepis-copal dignity has been retained in the Greek and Anglican churches. The ecclesiastical government of England is divided into two provinces, Canterbury and York. The archbishop of Canterbury is the chief primate and metropolitan of all England, first peer of the realm, and member of the privy council. It is his prerogative to crown the king, and he is consulted by the ministry in all ecclesiastical affairs, and generally delivers in parliament the sentiments of the bench of bishops. The archbishop of York crowns the queen, and is her chaplain. He also belongs to the privy council, but his inferiority to the archbishop of Canterbury is recognized in his being styled simply primate of England, while the latter is styled primate of all England. The two archbishops have precedence of all temporal peers excepting those of the blood royal, and excepting the lord chancellor, who in processions is interposed between them.
The archbishop of St. Andrews was the metropolitan of Scotland while episcopacy prevailed in that country, and the archbishop of Armagh is primate of all Ireland. - In Denmark the bishop of Copenhagen has precedence of the others, but the bishop of Seeland is the metropolitan, and anoints the king. In Sweden the bishop of Upsal is the sole archbishop. In Germany, three of the archbishops, those of Treves, Cologne, and Mentz, were electors of the empire.