Bishop of Aquila

"The Bishop of Aquila: an evil man, hated and feared. Rejected even by Rome herself".

~Imperius, telling the mouse about the bishop.

The Bishop of Aquila is the main antagonist in 1985 medieval fantasy film, Ladyhawke. He is portrayed by English actor, John Wood. He rules the French city of Aquila in post-bubonic plague France with its inhabitants loyal to him. He carries a staff in the shape of a cross and has a knife tucked in the bottom of the staff.


In the film, a pickpocket called the mouse escapes from the dungeons of Aquila. The bishop learns of this and sends his men to find him. The men, led by Marquet, the captain of the guard, find the mouse but are attacked by a mysterious man, cloaked in black. The man is revealed to be Etienne Navarre, former Captain of the guard and now wandering in exile. Navarre, along with his pet hawk defeat Marquet and his men and takes the mouse with them. Navarre learned of the mouse's escape and wants to use him to break into the cathedral of Aquila and kill the bishop. When the bishop learns of Navarre's return, he hires Cezar, a wolf hunter.

Navarre and the men are ambushed by the bishop's guards again and they injure the hawk. Navarre got wounded too and orders mouse to bring the hawk to an isolated castle, owned by Imperius, a drunk priest. Mouse arrives by nightfall and the hawk turned into a beautiful woman called Isabeau and Imperius heals her wounds. That same night, the bishop has a nightmare of Navarre killing him. Mouse begs Imperius to tell what is going on with Navarre and he explains: many years ago, Isabeau came to Aquila and her beauty caught the attention of many men, including Navarre and the bishop, himself. Isabeau did not love the bishop, returning the poems and love letters he sent to her. The bishop was unaware that Isabeau was bethrothed to Navarre.

Imperius was also a member of the bishop's clergy and was the only one who knew of the couple. In a drunken state, Imperius accidently tells the bishop about the affair and the bishop became furious. He swore if he could not have her, no man would. Navarre and Isabeau fled from Aquila but were soon captured by the Bishop. Imperius went on explaining: "The Bishop called on the powers of darkness, for the means to damn the lovers. In his fury and frustration, he struck a terrible bargain... with the evil one. The dark powers of Hell spat up a terrible curse". By day, Isabeau turns into a hawk and by night, Navarre turns into a wolf. They have been cursed for almost two years, only to see each other in human form for a second at sunrise.

Cezar showed the bishop several wolf pelts, but none were Navarre's. He tells Cezar that he must hunt for a black wolf who travels with a beautiful woman, Isabeau. Navarre is healed and Mouse accompanies him to Aquila. Imperius tells Navarre that the curse can be broken if both confront the bishop in human form and that will happen in three days during an eclipse. Navarre did not believe him and sets off to kill the bishop. Cezar fails to capture Navarre is his wolf form and is killed by his own traps. The group arrive at Aquila the night before the eclipse which will occur during an important Sunday mass. Navarre infiltrates the cathedral and duels with Marquet. During the duel, the sky light breaks open, and Navarre sees the eclipse occurring and understood Imperius' riddle. Earlier, Navarre foolishly tells Imperius to kill Isabeau if he fails his quest. Navarre now thinks Isabeau was dead, kills Marquet and corners the bishop with his sword.

The bishop taunts him, reminding him that killing him means the curse will go on forever. Navarre did not care and was about to strike when Isabeau appeared... in human form! The bishop refused to look but Navarre forces him to look at both of them and the curse was broken. Isabeau walks up to the bishop, handing him a little helmet that she wore as a hawk, thus breaking off with him forever. The Bishop grew furious and attempted to kill Isabeau but Navarre stepped in and hurled his sword at the Bishop, piercing him against the altar. He whispers Isabeau's name and dies.


The bishop's character is very similar to Claude Frollo of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The novel has several tie-ins with the film

  • Both settings are in medieval France.
  • Both the bishop and Frollo were devoted to the church and fell in love with the heroine, Isabeau and Esmeralda.
  • Both women did not love them and were love with the captains of the guard: Navarre and Phoebus.
  • The bishop and Frollo both swore that if they could not have the women, then no man will.
  • They both committed evil deeds in order to get the girl.