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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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The Wealth of the Secular Clergy

The Wealth of the Secular Clergy

Chapter:
(p.55) 4 The Wealth of the Secular Clergy
Source:
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216
Author(s):

Hugh M. Thomas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.003.0004

Collectively, the secular clergy controlled a massive amount of wealth. This derived mainly from ecclesiastical sources, including the lands of cathedrals and collegiate churches, the profits of church office, and the revenues of parish churches, but some came from secular sources, such as the ownership of land or income from royal office. Many clerics were poor, but large numbers were prosperous, and many elite clerics, especially pluralists, had incomes equivalent to knights or even barons. As landowners and estate managers, clerics contributed to economic development, perhaps even bringing the habits of systematic analysis learned in the schools to economic issues. As lenders, debtors, and above all as consumers, clerics contributed to the gradual but continuous commercialization of the English economy. Clerical riches formed another source of religious tension, however, and though some clerics defended clerical wealth, it produced widespread unease.

Keywords:   secular clergy, wealth, economic development, commercialization, pluralism

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