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The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in Late Medieval England

The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in Late Medieval England

Simon Phillips
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller in Late Medieval England
    Book Description:

    The Prior of the Knights Hospitaller played a major role not only within the Order, but also in the wider arena of English - and indeed European - politics. This role, and its changes between 1272 and 1540, are the focus of this new book, which draws exte

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-753-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xiii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    Late medieval England was still a crusading country. The greatest military order after 1312, the Knights Hospitaller, also called the Order of St John of Jerusalem, held extensive English estates and supplied the crusading war effort with both money and manpower into the Tudor age. Their head, the Prior of St John, had his headquarters at Clerkenwell, just outside the city of London. This book focuses on the role of the Prior of St John in service to the crown between 1273 and 1540. Developments within both the crusading movement and England make this an appropriate starting point. In November...

  7. 2 Financier and Treasurer
    (pp. 25-44)

    The Prior of St John’s financial role in service to the crown took two forms: as provider and collector of funds and, in three cases, as royal treasurer. This chapter commences with a synopsis of the Priors’ previous financial experience within the Hospitallers, to help explain why Priors of St John were chosen for the two roles. It then proceeds to a discussion of the Priors as a source of finance, before analysing in detail the roles of the treasurer Priors, Chauncy, Hales and Langstrother, from the unpublished chancery and exchequer documents in the National Archives.

    Tyerman has noted that...

  8. 3 Defender of the Realm
    (pp. 45-58)

    By the end of the thirteenth century the feudal military summons was no longer an effective means of raising troops. It was incompatible with the almost continuous war with either Scotland or France and often with both. In the early fourteenth century, the feudal summons had been replaced by the contract system but, as Powicke has pointed out, this was done in a way so that ‘the king’s position as head, and that of the nobles as leaders, remained unimpaired’.¹

    The Prior of St John is one illustration of this change. Although theoretically exempt from any military service to lay...

  9. 4 International Ambassador
    (pp. 59-96)

    This chapter examines the Prior of St John’s role in crown international relations, as opposed to his role as the main Hospitaller representative in England. In contrast to the presumption of past histories of the Hospitallers, it is argued that the Prior’s role was not the same throughout the later medieval period and that four distinct phases are discernible: Firstly, from 1380 until 1395, under Priors Hales and Radington, occasional diplomatic duties were undertaken. Secondly, between 1395 and 1440, there was a lull in diplomatic involvement, with only one mission in 1406. Thirdly, from Prior Robert Botyll (1440—68) until...

  10. 5 National Statesman
    (pp. 97-132)

    The aim of this chapter is to establish what part the Prior of St John played in internal politics in England. It will concentrate on his service to the crown as a lay lord, instead of his role as mediator between the Grand Master in the East and the local ruler. Rather than deal with the development of parliament and council generally, which has been fully dealt with elsewhere, it will focus on the Prior’s activities in parliament, great council, and king’s council.² In the process, it will comment on the misconceptions about the Prior’s role in English politics that...

  11. 6 The Prior and the Secularisation of the Order in England
    (pp. 133-161)

    From their inception, the military orders had an ambiguous status that led contemporaries to confuse whether they were secular or monastic, and this still perplexes historians today. Anthony Luttrell has pointed out that although professed members were religious and the brethren took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and followed a rule approved by the papacy, they were not strictly speaking monks or canons. Neither, he continues, were they knights in the secular sense. Knight-brethren were always a minority of the total membership.¹ He concludes that there is ‘no tidy classification of a military order’.² Recent research by Cunich, moreover,...

  12. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 162-166)

    The introduction of this book, amongst other things, presented the current state of understanding on the Prior of St John in England. It drew attention to a number of current orthodoxies derived from general assumptions about the Hospitallers’ role in Western Europe which this book has tested through thematic studies on the Priors’ crown roles. Crusade historians are universally agreed that the main role of a provincial prior was to govern his priory well on behalf of the Order and to maximise its contributions to maintain brethren serving in the East. It is further supposed that the Priors of England...

  13. Appendix 1 Diplomatic Duties of the Prior for the Crown
    (pp. 167-170)
  14. Appendix 2 Hospitaller Presentations to Benefices, 1297–1540
    (pp. 171-180)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-200)
  16. Index
    (pp. 201-210)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. None)