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The Nobility and Ecclesiastical Patronage in Thirteenth-Century England

The Nobility and Ecclesiastical Patronage in Thirteenth-Century England

Volume: 40
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Nobility and Ecclesiastical Patronage in Thirteenth-Century England
    Book Description:

    "While there has been work on the nobility as patrons of monasteries, this is the first real study of them as patrons of parish churches, and is thus the first study to tackle the subject as a whole. Illustrated with a wealth of detail, it will become an indispensable work of reference for those interested in lay patronage and the Church more generally in the middle ages." Professor David Carpenter, Department of History, King's College London. This book provides the first full-length, integrated study of the ecclesiastical patronage rights of the nobility in medieval England. It examines the nature and extent of these rights, how they were used, why and for whom they were valuable, what challenges lay patrons faced, and how they looked to the future in making gifts to the Church. It takes as its focus the thirteenth century, a critical period for the survival and development of these rights, being a time of ambitious Church reform, of great change in patterns of land ownership in the ranks of the higher nobility, and of bold assertion by the English Crown of its claims to control Church property. The thirteenth century also saw a proliferation of record keeping on the part of kings, bishops and nobility, and the author uses new evidence from a range of documentary sources to explore the nature of the relationships between the English nobility, the Church and its clergy, a relationship in which patronage was the essential feature. Dr Elizabeth Gemmill is University Lecturer in Local History and Fellow of Kellogg College. University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-081-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Ecclesiastical patronage was an essential part of the social and political cement of western Christendom. It was the only way in which the laity were permitted to exercise rights in the Church and its property. This work studies the deployment of such patronage by the higher nobility of later thirteenth-century England. It is about the nature and extent of patronage rights, how they were identified and used, why and for whom they were valuable, what challenges lay patrons faced, and how these patrons looked to the future in the ways in which they made gifts to the Church. This book...

  7. Part I

    • 1 Ecclesiastical Patronage Rights in the Thirteenth Century
      (pp. 17-45)

      Ecclesiastical patronage rights were property, belonging to and acquired with land. They belonged to the lord on whose estates the ecclesiastical institution – church or religious house – had been built, and from whom it had received its endowment. The rights that donors exercised in recognition of the gifts they had made descended with their estates. Broadly speaking, the patronage of a parish church was associated with the lordship of the manor in which the church was situated. The building of local churches between the tenth and twelfth centuries stemmed partly from the sense that ownership of a church was...

    • 2 The Exercise and Defence of Patronage Rights
      (pp. 46-67)

      Most of the evidence we have about magnates presenting to benefices comes from bishops’ registers. This is in itself an indication of the extent of canonical authority in relation to clerical appointments. When a bishop instituted a clerk to a church, he was upholding his own spiritual authority, and it was his duty to assure the quality of local clergy by checking on the character, education and eligibility of the man presented to him. This, after all, was a moment when he might give real meaning, within his own diocese, to the drive for pastoral reform which characterised the thirteenth-century...

    • 3 Jobs for the Boys?
      (pp. 68-98)

      Exactly why lay patrons valued their patronage rights so much is revealed when we look at the clergy who held livings in their gift, and exploring the connections they had with those who had presented them. It is not possible to explain the reasons for every presentation made by a magnate to a benefice, but a number of very clear interest groups emerge. In examining the records relating to these groups, we are able to see the complexity of the relationships involved, for prominent clerks tended not to rely on just one patron for advancement. Having looked at the qualifications...

  8. Part II

    • 4 Acquisitive Inquisitive Kings
      (pp. 101-128)

      In this chapter, we look at the implications for magnates of the efforts by the Crown to extend the patronage in its control. Here we start with a familiar theme: Edward I’s acquisition of magnate estates and the increase in the later thirteenth century of the amount of royal ecclesiastical patronage. The two were necessarily linked. Many years ago K.B. McFarlane exposed Edward I’s acquisitiveness of magnates’ estates, which, as he saw it, amounted to a ‘policy’ towards the earls: Edward acquired their estates by dubious legal procedures (the earldom of Derby or Ferrars), putting pressure on magnates to allow...

    • 5 Speaking With One Voice
      (pp. 129-148)

      Magnates were still the most important lay patrons. Individually, they were patrons of many churches, not just one or two. They had patronage rights in religious houses, some of them of great wealth and importance. And their influence over clerical appointments extended well beyond their formally constituted rights, reflecting their standing and their connections with prelates and the Crown. We need now to look at how that influence played out when issues relating to patronage were at the forefront in politics. We know very well that the later thirteenth century was a formative period in Church–State relations, particularly in...

    • 6 Looking to the Future
      (pp. 149-173)

      The Statute of Mortmain of 1279 was a response to the concern which had been growing since the early part of the thirteenth century about the passing of lands and rights into the hands of the Church. But how did lay patrons regard the new controls, and how did they react to them?

      ‘Mortmain’ was a pejorative term for free alms or frankalmoign tenure, for, when land was given to the Church to hold in free alms, the services and feudal incidents hitherto rendered to the lord by the donor were lost or weakened.¹ The concerns about such losses and...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 174-177)

    We cannot, then, look at endowment of the Church without also considering what was being taken back and which rights were being defended and nurtured. This, after all, was what patronage was all about. What emerges too is that patronage was a dynamic thing, always needing to be exercised in order to be a reality, and always benefiting from refreshment in the form of new endowments.

    Studies of ecclesiastical patronage have tended hitherto to focus on particular families or regions, or to address long time periods. The present study is different because it has focused on a larger, but still...

  10. Appendix of Documents
    (pp. 178-181)
  11. Appendix of Magnate Presentations
    (pp. 182-206)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-222)
  13. Index
    (pp. 223-240)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-245)