Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Urban Society and Monastic Lordship in Reading 1350-1600 by Joe Chick

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: Interrogates the standard view of turbulent and violent town-abbey relations through a combination of traditional and new research techniques.

The power of the medieval Church stretched far beyond the religious sphere. Bishops and monasteries held lordship over vast areas of the realm, often wielding political and judicial powers beyond those of secular lords. Early twentieth-century scholarship tended to view towns with monastic lords as highly distinctive, characterised by robust lordship and violent town-abbey relations, and though subsequent studies have done much to modify this view of relationships between towns and their monastic lords, the shadow of this dramatic interpretation still colours our understanding of these situations.

Conversely, through a detailed examination of the governmental, guild, parish, and testamentary records of Reading, one of the more populous monastic towns of the period, this book presents a view of town-abbey relations as largely non-violent, thus problematising the more traditional characterisation and interrogating its universality. Uncovering a remarkably swift transition from monastic lordship to self-government, it illuminates how urban society functioned under two very different regimes, both before and after the dissolution of the monasteries. By combining traditional research methods with Social Network Analysis, the author moves beyond a focus on the political elites and institutionalised bodies, such as the corporation, to look at lower-status members of society and how they interacted with the successive governing authorities. In particular, it investigates what continuities and changes to local governance they experienced during this turbulent period.

Purchase on amazon (click here)