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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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The External Relations and Reputation of the Late Medieval Superior

The External Relations and Reputation of the Late Medieval Superior

Chapter:
(p.227) 6 The External Relations and Reputation of the Late Medieval Superior
Source:
The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England
Author(s):

Martin Heale

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702535.003.0007

This chapter discusses the external relations and reputation of late medieval superiors. Abbots and priors were expected to uphold and preserve their monasteries’ wider interests. They took care to cultivate close relationships with influential lay neighbours—for example, offering generous hospitality, acting as godfathers to their children, and joining urban guilds. They also defended their house’s properties and rights zealously in the law courts. Indeed, late medieval literary representations of monastic superiors repeatedly portrayed them as merciless litigators, who sought the friendship of the rich while neglecting or actively harming the interests of the poor. The extent to which these stereotypes reflected conscious and widespread anticlericalism is unclear, but it is significant that both Lollard and early English Protestant writers adopted these same critiques of abbots and priors as part of their wider attacks on the religious orders.

Keywords:   hospitality, lay elites, patronage, guilds, law, litigation, literature, anticlericalism, Lollardy, Protestantism

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