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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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Patronage and Advancement

Patronage and Advancement

(p.87) 5 Patronage and Advancement
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216

Hugh M. Thomas

Oxford University Press

Competition for benefices in England was fierce in the long twelfth century, and candidates needed whatever edge they could get. Despite the efforts of reformers, benefices continued to be acquired through simony or inheritance. The latter practice was declining rapidly, but nepotism remained a powerful force. Clerics also obtained church office through service to bishops, abbots, powerful secular lords, and the king. Good morals and education, the main theoretical qualifications for office, mattered as well. Declining inheritance of church office, combined with a high demand for lucrative benefices, helped spur a tremendous growth in education, since even clerics with good connections wanted every possible advantage. Naturally enough, the importance of personal connections and even the purchase of office in a theoretically meritocratic system created profound religious tensions, and the fierce competition for office produced social tensions as well.

Keywords:   secular clergy, patronage, simony, celibacy, nepotism, education, benefices

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