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The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216$
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Hugh M. Thomas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.001.0001

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Clerics and Religious Life

Clerics and Religious Life

(p.322) (p.323) 14 Clerics and Religious Life
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216

Hugh M. Thomas

Oxford University Press

Surprisingly, it is hard to find out much about the clerical performance of such routine duties as preaching or performing the sacraments. It is therefore difficult to assess the overall quality of pastoral care or to judge the amount of exaggeration in the harsh diatribes of moralists about clerical shortcomings. Two things do emerge from the sources, however. There was a genuine desire among some clerics to improve pastoral care. Many clerics also practiced acts of personal piety, thereby setting an example for the laity. Whatever the quality of the parish clergy or of their overseers in the church hierarchy, they clearly played a fundamentally important role in the inculcation of Christianity among the laity. Given the religious intolerance of the period, clerical zeal did not always have positive social consequences, but despite the shortcomings of evidence the religious importance of the secular clergy is clear

Keywords:   secular clergy, piety, sacraments, pastoral care, reform, preaching, intercession, skepticism, intolerance

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