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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 in Public Life

Abbots and Priors in Public Life

(p.187) 5 Abbots and Priors in Public Life
The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England

Martin Heale

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the public role of late medieval superiors. By tracing these activities in various contexts—duties for religious order, diocesan administration, high ecclesiastical office, and service of the Crown on the local, national, and international stage—the chapter argues that abbots and priors played an important, valued, and varied public function in late medieval England. Indeed, the public role of heads of houses was on the rise in the century prior to the Dissolution, with a significant growth in the number of superiors appointed as bishops, suffragans, and Justices of the Peace, and markedly improved abbatial attendance in Parliament. This upturn can be attributed in part to changes in ecclesiastical and secular government, but also to the growing emphasis on abbatial dignity within the monastic order, and to the increased prominence and visibility of monks and canons in the universities.

Keywords:   public life, religious order, general chapter, bishopric, suffragan, diplomat, government, Parliament, ritual, university

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