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Durham e-Theses
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The Durham clergy of the early sixteenth century 1494 - 1540

Stevens, Louise Marie (1979) The Durham clergy of the early sixteenth century 1494 - 1540. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Sixteenth century polemicists and later historians have traditionally denounced the Pre-Reformation clergy as being morally bankrupt, financially rapacious, and generally lacking in vocation. Recent historiography has proven otherwise in such areas as Lancashire and Lincoln; the Durham County evidence is similarly lacking in scandalous detail about the early sixteenth century secular clergy. The resident beneficed and unbeneficed clergy were mainly local men, proceeding through orders within the county palatine or at York, and had few educational opportunities open to them. The beneficed clergy proceeded through orders more slowly than did their colleagues in the southern province, and the unbeneficed did so at an even slower rate. Their dedication to their duties was mixed. Dilapidations were the most frequent complaint made against them, and it was a fault of which both the beneficed and unbeneficed were equally guilty. There were cases of non-residence and pluralism, but monitions tm reside seem to have been obeyed in general. Most of the clergy spent long periods of time, ten, fifteen and twenty years and more, farming their glebe, saying mass and providing hospitality. Aside from administering the sacraments, their lives differed little from those of their parishioners. They were ready to deal with their parishioners on the same terms as their parishioners dealt with each other, yet in all of the forums in which dissatisfaction with the clergy could have been voiced, there was a loud silence. One cannot say that the Durham clergy conformed 100% of the time to the prescriptions of canon law, or even that they fulfilled their duties to the best of their abilities, merely that they satisfied the expectations of this particular lay community.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1979
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:44

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