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Summary: In this seminar we move our attention away from the experience of laity in the parishes, and towards one of the key clerical institutions of late medieval England – the monasteries, friaries and convents collective known as the religious houses, and the monks, canons, friars and nuns belong to various religious orders. We will examine the evidence for the state of ‘religious life’, and seek to assess the centrality or relevance of the regular clergy for cultural and religious life as a whole.

Seminar and essay questions:

a) In what sense, if any, were the religious orders in decline in England in the sixty years before their dissolution?

b) Assess the contribution of the religious houses in this period to the society around them.


D Knowles, The Religious Orders in England III: The Tudor Age - the standard work; see esp. chs 2, 6, 7

RN Swanson, Church and Society in Late Medieval England, ch 2. 5 - brief intro.

GW Bernard, The Late Medieval English Church (2012), ch 8

P Marshall, Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation (2017), pp. 52-65

Martin Heale, Monasticism in Late Medieval England, c. 1300-1535 (2009), intro.

------------, The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England (2016), esp chs 4-5

F Heal, Reformation in Britain and Ireland (2003), ch 2 (i)

GW Woodward, The Dissolution of the Monasteries, chs 1-3 (a, b)

J. G. Clark (ed), The Religious Orders in Pre-Reformation England (2002), esp. chs. by Clark, Greatrex, Swanson, Oliva, Thompson.

------ (ed), The Culture of Medieval English Monasticism (2007) [15/16th c. chaps]

JAF Thomson, Early Tudor Church and Society, ch 7 (a, b)

B Harvey, Living and Dying in England 100-1540: The Monastic Experience, esp. chs 1, 5, 6 (a, b)

C Cross, ‘Monasticism and Society in the Diocese of York 1520-1540’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (1988) (b)

----------, ‘The Religious Life of Women in Sixteenth-Century Yorkshire’, Studies in Church History 27 (1990)

N Rushton, ‘Monastic Charitable Provision in Tudor England’, Continuity and Change 16 (2001) (b)

J Burton and K Stöber (eds) Monasteries and Society in the British Isles in the Later Middle Ages (2008)

C Harper-Bill, ‘Monastic Apostasy in late Medieval England’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History (1981) (a)

--------------, ‘The Labourer is Worthy of His Hire? - Complaints about Diet in Late Medieval English Monasteries’, in C Barron and Harper-Bill (eds), The Church in Pre-Reformation Society (a)

C Platt, King Death: The Black Death and its Aftermath in Late-Medieval England, ch 6 (a)

JT Rhodes, ‘Syon Abbey and its Religious Publications in the Sixteenth Century’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 44 (1993) (b)

J. Clark, ‘Print and Pre-Reformation Religion: the Benedictines and the Press, c.1470-c.1550’, in J Crick and A Walsham (eds), The Uses of Script and Print, 1300-1700 (2004)

E.A. Jones and A Walsham (eds), Syon Abbey and its Books: Reading, Writing and Religion, c.1400-1700 (2010)

K Stöber, Late Medieval Monasteries and their Patrons (2007)

B Dobson, ‘English Monastic Cathedrals in the Fifteenth Century’, Transactions of

the Royal Historical Society (1991) (a, b)

S Lehmberg, The Reformation of Cathedrals, ch 2 (on monastic cathedrals) (b)

D Baker, ‘Old Wine in New Bottles’, Studies in Church History 14 (1977) (a)