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The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England$
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Martin Heale

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702535.001.0001

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Abbots and Priors as Administrators

Abbots and Priors as Administrators

(p.101) 3 Abbots and Priors as Administrators
The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England

Martin Heale

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the role of the superior in the administration of his monastery. The abbot was accorded almost absolute power over monastic affairs in the Benedictine Rule, but the twelfth and thirteenth centuries witnessed concerted attempts to circumscribe the powers of the superior, in order to reduce the potential for mismanagement. These initiatives lost impetus over time, and the later Middle Ages saw the gradual return to abbatial primacy in monastic administration. Late medieval abbots and priors increasingly acquired additional sources of independent revenue, and many succeeded in bringing a growing proportion of their house’s income under their direct management. This centralization of monastic finances might have promoted greater administrative efficiency, but it also increased the dependency of monastic communities on their superiors.

Keywords:   administration, management, obedientiary, authority, canon law, visitation, democracy, finance, benefices, centralization

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