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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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Living Standards and Display

Living Standards and Display

Chapter:
(p.139) 4 Living Standards and Display
Source:
The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England
Author(s):

Martin Heale

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702535.003.0005

This chapter illustrates how the growing control of abbots and priors over monastic finances provided further opportunities for expenditure on their own office. Over the course of the later Middle Ages, increasingly large sums of money were devoted to the financing of the head’s household and to impressive abbatial residences. Late medieval superiors also adopted new and ostentatious forms of display, utilizing their initials, rebuses, and even personal coats of arms to advertise their high-status artistic and architectural patronage. In short, monastic superiors were becoming more prelatical over this period, adopting the bishop as their model. This increased emphasis on the dignity of the abbatial office should not be equated with ‘worldliness’, but was rather the expression of an ecclesiastical magnificence thought appropriate for princes of the Church—even if this pursuit did not sit particularly comfortably with traditional monastic ideals.

Keywords:   standards of living, display, household, entertainment, diet, dress, houses, heraldry, prelate, magnificence

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