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Lives of Parish Priests in England, from the 12th to the 15th century

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Je, Gyung-Hyun
Term Paper, Medieval History Class, June 2013

Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Parish priests in 13th to 15th century England
II.1 Parish and parish church
II.2 Parish priests
II.2.1 General Introduction
II.2.2 Origins
II.2.3 Becoming Parish Priests
II.2.4 Different Roles
III. Social Significance
III.1 How they were portrayed
III.2 Reality ?
III.2.1 Celibacy
III.2.2 Illiteracy
IV Different Involvement in Society
IV.1 Education
IV.1.1 General teaching
IV.1.2 Schools
IV.2 Religion
IV.2.1 Sunday service
IV.2.2 forgiving
IV.3 Revenue
IV.4 Community Events
IV.4.1 Baptism
IV.4.2 Marriage
IV.4.3 Funeral
V. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            The Middle Ages were shaped by religion. In form of Catholic Christianity, the authority and the power were centered to the Pope, and were structured according to hierarchy of the Church. The Church was firmly embedded not only in the structures of government and political systems, but also in the society. To people living in that era, religion was not an option but a part of their lives. The influence of religion was reflected in various aspects of lives of people such as in people's beliefs and fears in divine power of God, unknown forces, their daily schedules and habits.
            However, how was this possible ? The main idea of the paper begins with this simple question. How was it possible that the single belief - Catholic Christianity prevailed for such a long period of time, with the power condensed to the class clergy, those in small number. With that thought in mind, observing individual's parts in maintaining the big phenomenon sweeping Middle Ages was set as direction of the paper. Throughout the paper, it would be dealing with the answer to the question by looking at the big picture 'Religion' in Middle Ages and finding significance in the lives of parish priest in England, from the 12th to the 15th century. Focusing on this relatively short period in Middle Ages, the paper will essentially look at who parish priests were in the context of lives of parishioners and the communities in which they were serving at. It will reveal important roles of parish priests in the societal aspects including religious, economic, educational and communal ones. By doing so, the paper hopes to put the drawn analysis into wider context to show how parish priests were playing crucial role in maintaining power of Catholic Christianity in the Middle Ages.

II. Parish priests in 13th to 15th century England

II.1 Parish and parish church
            Parish, a church district, was smallest and basic unit of church organization, corresponding to a village in the countryside or to a neighborhood in the towns. Within the parish, there were at least one church, priests serving in the church, and the parishioners. They were religious expression of manors. The church was at the center of the parish. It was important to maintain the church, and it was the role parish had to play. It was the church which in physical sense continued to dominate and to give both unity and continuity to the institution of the parish.
            In the late 11th century, as it was recorded in the Domesday book, manors had been units based on which the recordings were done. However, a recording after a century indicated that it was parish which was used as a basic unit in recording the collected tithes from people in the Domesday book. [1] By the 12th and 13th century, most villages were coinciding with parishes, which reflected distribution of settlement and the structure of the society [2] with about 8,000 to 8,500 parishes. Parishes were religious units embedded in the society. The parish served not only religious but also secular functions.
            Parishes had two kinds of foundations; establishment of church and establishment of land owners. In the latter case, the land owners possessed the church, revenues given to the church were collected by the owners and they were able to appoint parish priests. [3] As time passes, the initiative of the church and revenues shifted from landlords to parish priests.

II.2 Parish priests

II.2.1 General Introduction
            In the middle ages, people were divided by three estates ? First estate clergymen, second estate aristocracy, and third estate commons. There were two types of clergymen. One was secular clergy who 'lived in the world' (in seculo) for the spiritual welfare of laity, non clerical people including those from other two estates. The other was regular clergy, those conforming to regulated rules and asceticism like monks or friars.
            Parish priests were in the category of secular clergymen. Parish priests were clergymen serving in the parish church. As priests living among people, they were affecting not only religious aspects in lives of people but also economic, educational and communal sections of the parish.
            Although the difference between ¡®vicar¡¯ and ¡®rector¡¯ is not going to be dealt in depth in this paper, it will now be briefly mentioned not to cause any confusion. Both are words referring to those serving in parish church, but rector did not necessarily serve in the parish and lived elsewhere. He often may be working at royal court, monastery or cathedrals. They were absentee rectors. Vicars were hired as deputy by rectors as actual servers to take care of the people in the parish community. Though they are different concepts, in this paper, there would not be so much distinction between them. Rather they would both be referred to as parish priests.

II.2.2 Origins
            Though nobody was born into the 'class of clergymen', it was different in the beginning of the parish church. The beginning of the parish in England is not certain, but it is believed to have originated from Anglo-Saxon period (550-1066). In the early beginning of parish churches, the Saxon priests were mostly of noble birth and royal families. If parish churches were established by landowners, who brought up their younger sons to be the priests of the family estate, the job parish priests were passed down within the family. [4] Naturally, they were not only noble in their blood but also were learned, religious and capable. However, as time passed people from different ranks and classes started to rise into priesthood. [5] Those who were not nobles started to supply a great number of the clergy and rose to higher ranks with helps of education. Even young men of the servile class were not excluded from the ranks of the clergy. Especially from thirteenth century serfs were more educated and ordained (after getting a permission from lords), and were given fair chance of promotion. Village priests would teach sons of peasant basic knowledge and at least one out of ten boys would go to the class clergy. [6]
            An example of high ranked clergyman from a servile background is William of Wykeham, who rose from peasant background and became Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor to both Edward III and Richard II. He later built public school?Winchester college which started with seventy peasant boys in 1394. [7]
            Becoming a parish priest was not an option confined only to those of noble birth and detached to the people in lower ranks. It was an occupation which could be considered by commoners or even serfs, though differences in one's background set up a distinction in clerical hierarchy.

II.2.3 Becoming a parish priest
            In order to be a clergyman, one needed to get an education. Noblemen could afford to send their children for higher education in monasteries or private schools. However, those in lower class had to rely on other sources. They could get their education from schools attached in cathedral or religious houses, which were 'ready enough to admit boys who were seen to possess those "gifts of the Holy Ghost"'. [8] It was seen as a duty of ecclesiastical persons to find such people and to support them. Furthermore, means of getting education widened as it was enhanced by both Statute of Artificers passed by Parliament in 1406, which stated 'every man or woman, of what state or condition he be, shall be free to set their son or daughter to take learning at any school that pleaseth them within the realm' and opening of different schools such as cathedral or monastic schools. Universities around 12th and 13th century began to emerge [9]. In different schools, students learned about things such as reading, grammar, and science. [10] As Latin was the formal language of learning, students got education on Latin, too. In some occasions, those who could not afford to go to the schools had to earn by labouring or travelling around the country asking for some financial support. [11]
            Then parish priests had to go through ordination. Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. [12] Ordination gave parish priests a definite place to exercise his ministry. Some of the newly-ordained priests sometimes would go to universities or school to add on their knowledge. [13]

II.2.4 Different Roles
            There were several duties parish priests had to perform in the church. In a larger community, these roles were assigned to specialists - different priests. They were the confessor, who heard confession from people about their sins. Closely related to this job was the pardoner, who accepted repentance and granted indulgence, which will be discussed later in this paper in more depth. He also performed his duty as the instructor in various schools. He was obliged to give advices not only on religious matters but also on practical issues related more closely with lives of people, such as counsels on nursing children, morality or marriage.
            Parish priests performed relatively minor duties such as the cantor, the one in charge of singing liturgies, chants, hymns during services or the verger, the one in charge of interior of church or cathedral. The one taking care of surrounding grounds and graveyards was called the sexton, whose job could be combined with the verger in small churches. The carilloneur was a carillon ringer, the bell usually placed at bell tower of the church. [14]

III. Social Significance

III.1 How were they portrayed ?
            The class clergy in Middle Ages was enviable profession which was looked up to by people. They were seen as 'a powerful medium of divine will and grace, and an intermediary between man and God'. [15] As they were able to provide blessing for secular authority and its people, they were seen as protection of some kind, as well as pure and mysterious beings. On top of that, having power to excommunicate, cutting someone off from the support of the church, clergymen had strong political influence. Thus, being in the class 'clergy' was something that was looked up to and valued by the people.
            To obtain some insight into people's view toward parish priests, literary work is mentioned here. Chaucer's is fictional tales collected from people from different classes going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. It can also be seen as a portrayal of individuals with different social background.
            In the prologue, there is a description of a 'priest of a village'. There, he was portrayed as a generous and caring figure.

                'Educated, too, for he could read;
                Would truly preach the word of Jesus Christ
                Devoutly teach the folk in his parish.
                Kind was he, wonderfully diligent;
                For he would rather give, you may be sure,
                From his own pocket to the parish poor;
                Few were his needs, so frugally he lived.
                Wide was his parish, with houses far asunder,
                But he would not neglect, come rain or thunder,
                Come sickness or adversity, to call
                On the furthest of his parish, great of small;
                He practiced first what later he would teach.
                ... To draw up folk to heaven by goodness
                And good example, was his sole business.'

            He was portrayed as an educated, dedicated, caring, and forgiving figure, fulfilling his duties by setting an example to people. In the prologue, there also is his brother, who is 'a ploughman, who's fetched and carried many a load of dung'. It also reflects the village priest had a peasant background.

III.2 Reality

III.2.1 Celibacy
            Not everything that seemed to have been correct about parish priests was true. Although celibacy of the priesthood was decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) in 1079, it was one of rules which priests were supposed to follow but were not so strictly kept. Celibacy was 'the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity'. Priests were expected to separate himself from normal human relations by remaining chaste and unmarried. [16]. At the time of Anglo Saxon priests, their sons were to inherit properties. In the time of 13th century, the custom of marriage and forming relationship with other human became more open. It was recommended that priests stayed chaste, not an openly stated rule as canon law was rather ambivalent on the issue. It was not so rare that a priest had a wife and even concubine, hearth woman, was tolerated. [17] There even were priests living openly with concubine, having children.
            Robert Mannyng (or Robert de Brunne, c. 1275 ? c. 1338), who was an English chronicler and Gilbertine monk, tells a tale of a woman who was married to a priest, having four sons. After the death of the woman, according to Robert Mannyng, devils and fiends took her corpse. And her son advised other women not to marry a priest. Although the vow of chastity was not enforced to great degree, it was desirable for priests not to marry.

III.2.2 Illiteracy
            Some parish priests, especially ones in rural parishes, were illiterate. Particularly those who could not receive good enough education were lacking in Latin to serve in Scriptures or rituals. These illiterate priests could be misleading the parishioners and thus, leading them to sin. This was so on both those being ordained, and ones already having been ordained. Roger Bacon (c.1214-1294) accuse them of reciting 'the words of others without knowing in the least what they mean, like parrots and magpies which utter human sounds without understanding what they are saying'.
            To solve this problem, 'Archbishop Peckham, in the Constitutions of 1281, put forth a manual of teaching on the Articles of Faith, the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Seven Principal Virtues, and the Seven Sacraments, so fully and ably done that it continued to form a standard of teaching, and is constantly referred to in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.' [18]
            The extract of the manual begins by saying : "The ignorance of priests precipitates the people into the pit of error, and the foolishness or rudeness of clerks, who ought to instruct the minds of the faithful in the Catholic faith, sometimes tends rather to error than to doctrine." [18a]
            There were special manuals assisting with teachings and sermons in parish churches, given out by rulers of the Church. Also, there were some visits paid by those from higher authorities to make sure these orders were complied with properly.

IV. Social involvement

IV.1 Education

IV.1.1 General knowledge
            Children were supposed to get religious education which included the one on basic Christian belief, and it was a job of godparents. Such as reciting Pater Noster ('Our father' in Latin. Said in Latin even by uneducated during Middle Ages), the Ave Maria, and the Credo and a bit of Latin were considered important. After children have learned basic knowledge, they received the sacrament of Confirmation, a ceremony administered by the bishop to mark the child's full entry into the Christian community.
            It was identified by the Lambeth Council in 1281, the following teachings were to be taught to people;
                - the Fourteen Articles of the Faith(statements in the Apostles' Creed)
                - the Ten Commandments
                - the Two Laws from the Gospel ('love God', 'love thy neighbour')
                - the seven principal virtues (faith, hope, charity, justice, temperance, prudence, fortitude)
                - the seven deadly sins ( pride, sloth, envy, avarice, lust, wrath, covetourness)
                - the seven sacraments( baptism, confirmation, confession, communion, ordination, matrimony, extreme unction) [19]
            Also, the concept 'great chain of being' was inherent in Christian teaching strongly supported by the church. It was sometimes called scale of nature (Scala Natura) and it advocated the social hierarchy set up in Middle Ages. It justified the social structure claiming the God was the one who decided it. Therefore anyone going against the established order was going against the God. The church even denied the mass to anyone against the belief. With the belief, position of priests in middle ages was more effectively maintained in the society.

IV.1.2 Schools
            Medieval schools in the Christian world normally were operated by Catholic Church officials, who were to take care of local administrations of parish schools. Parish priests, by being a teacher in schools, were directly participating in education of people as well as in secular teaching profession. Schools where those teachers from priesthood might have taught were parish schools, grammar schools, chantry school or cathedral school. Grammar school was originally a school teaching Latin, but the subjects it taught broadened to Ancient Greek, and later English and other European languages, natural sciences, mathematics, history, geography, and other subjects. Chantry schools were both early forms of private schools, which affected modern public education later on. Chantry school was the one donated by wealthy people who sought favor of the church. [20] They taught subjects such as hymns, prayers, theology and so on.

IV.2 Religion

IV.2.1 Sunday services
            Sunday services were regularly attended by majority of people, whereas services during the week were not so. Not only did the clergymen exercised more authoritative over their people than they did during week days but also it was the duty of churchwardens to present people who were negligent of their religious duties, and of the Ecclesiastical Courts to punish them. [21]
            It was divided into three sections: matins, Mass, and evensongs. Matins were held in the morning, before the Mass, which was held at about nine o'clock. Evensongs were held around three, which may not have been so well attended.
            The Mass was developed gradually as a sacrifice and its attendance made obligatory in the 11th century. In Mass, the most important thing in Sunday service, sacrament of Communion was held, in which 'sacred wafer and wine were turned into flesh and blood of Jesus Christ'. Normally, those were received only by priests, and people could receive them during the time of Easter. Sacred wafer was called Host which treated sacredly by the people. Adoration of the wafer was decreed by pope Honorius III in 1220.
            In 12th, 13th century, tales involving Host shows how it was regarded with sacred object in the eyes of people. Jacques de Vitry has a story of a woman who intended to use the Host as a love-charm. She kept it in her mouth, but it changed to flesh and adhered to her palate, so that she could not speak. A licentious priest also kept the Host in his mouth, intending to kiss a woman and bend her to his will through its power. Leaving the church, he became so tall that he struck his head on the roof. In terror he drew the Host from his mouth and concealed it. Then, going to another priest, he confessed. [22]
            In thirteenth century, sermons were infrequent. It was required only four times a year. [23] Although the sermons were infrequent, it delivered fundamentals of Christian belief to people. It was divided into three sections: an exposition on three vices, or symbolic meanings of the Trinity, or symbolic features of some familiar object [24]. During sermons, teachings on sins, sacraments, or faith would be delivered. Often, terrifying tales of devils, death bed scenes, or torments of hell were 'favourite descriptive subjects' which priests brought up. Description of the Last Judgment or mortality of human were emphasized as well. This fomented fear in minds of people and made them feel as vulnerable beings, needing a protection from unknown powers.

IV.2.2 Forgiving
            The confession of sins to a priest instead of the one to the God was instituted by pope Innocent III, in Lateran Council in 1215. Before sacrament of communion, sacrament of confession was held. During the confession, parish priests played their role as a confessor or a pardoner, as well as an instructor giving out advises to adults. This was to be pure in mind before attending the Mass. In the beginning of the confession, the penitent would be examined on the Credo, Ave Maria, and pater Noster, to be tested of their religious knowledge. Then penitents would be asked on specific wrongs of their actions such as being late to church, robbing other's properties, or hearing sermons without devotions and so on. [25] They were to confess his sins without concealing anything. Depending on the gravity of the sins, after being 'punished' ? having to pay additional almsgiving, prayer or attendance at church?their sins were forgiven. To absolve people of sin and to control what they faced after death were privileges given to the priests, importance of the position priest was emphasized.
            From the 11th century, when the idea of purgatory was widely spread, 'indulgence' emerged. It is not forgiving of the sin itself, but remission of punishment one was bound to have. One could reduce the time a soul would have to rest in purgatory - space between heaven and the earth?by buying indulgence. Professional "pardoners", who were sent to collect alms for a specific project, had power to sell unrestricted sale of indulgences.
            In the the pardoner shortly introduces himself in the prologue. He says,

                'I show; and say a few words in Latin
                -- That's to five spice and colour to my sermon ?
                It also helps to stir them to devotion.
                And in this way induce them to be free
                In giving cash ? especially to me.
                Because my only interests is in gain
                I'll tell you in a word what I'm about :
                I preach for money, and for nothing else.
                I know how to make other people turn
                From avarice, and bitterly repent.'

            Here, the pardoner is portrayed as greedy sinner himself, yet preaching against avarice and greed. Though the priests were in classes of people who were looked up to, the pardoner could have been seen as a greedy person, buying repents from people in forms of money

IV.3 Revenues
            Parish priest?rector gained different earnings for different occasions from parishioners. There were three kinds of traditional revenues : Plow-alms, soul-scot, and church-scot. Plow alms was a charge on each plow-team and it was to be paid in Easter. Second one was a funeral duty paid to the priest, and the last one was a charge on all freemen for the support of the prists, paid at Martinmas usually in grain. [26]
            Nonetheless, the strongest support for the rector and the church was obligatory tithes (tenth), which was "the tenth part of the increase arising from the profits of land and stock, allotted to the clergy for their support or devoted to religious or charitable uses" [26a]. A story told by Gerald of Wales (c. 1146 - c. 1223), a medieval priest and a chronicler, the peasant shows the importance of paying tithes. In his story, the peasant sent a tithe from ten stone of wool which he had to pay back to a creditor. Sending only nine stones, he promised to fill one missing stone. However, when a creditor weighed the wool, it turned out that nine stones of wool actually weighed the same as ten stone of wool. In this story, it reflects how paying tithes was seen as an almost holy thing in religious perspective. These tithes made living for rectors, who collected them from various occasions such as during Mass, on anniversaries of a parishioner's death, at weddings, funerals, and some after confession was made by penitents. [27]
            Other than those, rector also earned payments from 'glebe', land permanently assigned for the maintenance of the incumbent of a parish. Parish priests were influencing economic lives of people through various payments to be given in Middle Ages.

IV.4 Community Events

IV.4.1 Baptism
            The first formal event in the newborn's life was baptism, or 'christening' [28]. For infant if there ceremony was celebrated by the parish priests, at church. This ceremony was also about receiving an identity as a Christian, who could thus enter into the Heaven. Essentially it was about being a part of the society. Around the time of baptism, godparents who were like religious parents of the infant were summoned. [29]
            After the priests said with accuracy, 'I crystene thee in the nome of the Fader, and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen' (in middle English) the baby was baptized. The baby received a name - symbol of public identity - after the ceremony. They were named after their godparents of the same gender, whose names derived from those of saints or French. One of common names for boys was John, and for girls it supposedly was Katherine. [30] In this sense, priests were mediums connecting people of the society and Divine power in the beginning of their lives, giving them both religious and social identity.

IV.4.2 Marriage
            Marriage in Middle Ages was a ceremony that fell under the jurisdiction of a church, a religious procedure. A marriage announcement (bann) was read out loud publicly in church on three successive Sundays before the marriage in the parish church [32]. This was to give a chance to anyone who opposed to the marriage to step up and speak out loud. The marriage was celebrated at the door of the church, considered as the most public place of the village, and usually nuptial Mass followed it.
            Parish priests, as well as the Church itself intervened in the process and some rules of marriage. There were church intervention in the process of marriage - Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) had laid down rules that needed to be kept in order for the marriage to be a valid one. The marriage had to be accomplished either by words of the present ( I take thee ...) or by words of the future. [33] The Fourth Lateran Council (1215), in which Pope Innocent III and the Council gathered at Rome's Lateran Palace, stipulated that wedding must be public and the bride must receive a dowry. Also, marrying non-consenting woman was forbidden by the church.
            In 14th century, there even was a direction from a priest telling people the location on which finger to put their marriages rings:
            'put and set by the husband upon the fourth finger of the woman, to show that a true love and cordial affection be between them' [34]

IV.4.3 Funeral
            The role of parish priests weas significant in deathbed, as they were guidance to one's soul after the death. When someone was about the die, parish priest of the village would be summoned to perform last rites - the sacrament of Extreme Unction. If the person was able to speak, the priest would ask 'seven interrogations', including questions about their religious life and some sins they made. [35] On one's deathbed, the priest heard a confession, administered Communion, and anointed the person's feet with holy oil. At the last moment, the person was encouraged to make a will for the inheritance of their property. If he or she was still able to speak, they were to say 'into thy hands I commend my soul'. If not, the priest would say it instead of the person.
            After the death, body would be carried to a church bier, and the Mass (sometimes accompanying funeral sermons) was delivered. Occasionally, there were almsgiving for the sake of the soul of deceased. The corpse was buried at the sound of the church bell and it was usually buried in the churchyard or in the church itself, depending on deceased's social class.

V. Conclusion
            A religious unit dividing societies in England was the parish. In the parish, the one influencing the shaping of lives of people was a parish priest. Although some portrayal may contradict the reality, being in the class of clergy, parish priests as well as the religion itself had the significance in people¡¯s daily lives. Moreover, being a parish priest was not something that was distinctively different and detached from ordinary parishioners. Rather, it was a relatively open position existing closer to the people than it may have seemed.
            Many events and societal activities that were taking place in a village such as education, economic activities, marriages, funerals and even baptisms were coloured by the religion?not to mention religious services held at the church. In those events taking place, there would always be a place which parish priests occupied. From the moment of one's birth to death, parish priests were involved in parts of his life.
            For several centuries in Middle Ages, Catholic Christianity had strong influence on people's daily lives, their behaviors and thoughts. Had the religion been not so practical, the influence of the religion would not have been so strong. However, the seemingly small roles parish priests performed in villages were the ones closely tangled with lives of people. Parish priests stood in the closest position with the people as members of clergy. Consequently, parish priests were able to instruct them and get involved in various aspects, which naturally led them to live close by the religion, Catholic Christianity.


(1)      Pounds 2000 p.4
(2)      Gies 1991 p.155; Pounds 2000 p.3
(3)      Churches founded on the private ground of a feudal lord was called proprietary church (ecclesia propria, German "Eigenkirche")
(4)      Cutts 1898 p.128
(5)      ibid. p.130
(6)      Terry Jones' medieval lives - peasant¡¯
(7)      ibid.
(8)      Cutts 1898 p.134
(9)      Especially Oxford and Cambridge University were among one of the well known/gaining influence around that time
(10)      "The course of reading in the Schools was four years in grammar (i.e. Latin language and literature), rhetoric, and logic, before the student could be admitted a Bachelor; three years in science, viz. arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy, before inception as a Master; seven years¡¯ study before, as a Bachelor of Theology, he could lecture on the 'Sentences;' and, lastly, he must study the Bible for three years, and lecture on one of the Canonical Books, before he could take his degree as a Doctor of Theology." Cutts 1898 p.140
(11)      In , in epilogue, in a part where the scholar is described; "But upon books and learning he would spend All he was able to obtain from friends; He¡¯d pray assiduously for their souls, Who gave him wherewith to attend the schools", which reflects how students got support from others to continue on with their studies
(12)      Wikipedia : Ordination
(13)      Cutts 1898 p.146
(14)      Franck et al. 1988 pp.76-77
(15)      ibid. p.77
(16)      Cutts 1898 p.155
(17)      Gies 1991 p.161
(18)      Cutts 1898 p.216; Articles of Faith, according to "St. Thomas Aquinas, is any revealed supernatural truth which is distinct in itself from other such truths but which unites with them to form the organic whole of Christian teaching." Quoted from catholic online encyclopedia 'New Advent', 2013
(18a)      From Canon X. of the Provincial Synod of Lambeth, 1281
(19)      Singman 1995 pp.26-28. Though regional differences and personal tastes interpreted religious teaching in different ways, hindering uniformity in the religious teaching, those were official religious doctrines.
(20)      Franck et al. 1988 p.134
(21)      Cutts 1898 p.202
(22)      MacCulloch 1932
(23)      Singman et al.1995 p.29
(24)      Gies 1991 p.167
(25)      ibid. p.170
(26)      ibid. p.159
(26a)      Catholic Encyclopedia : tithes
(27)      Gies 1991 p.160
(28)      Singman et al.1995 p.40
(29)      Online 'Family Ministry Today' : Among your company at home, part 5: Godparents and godchildren in middle ages Some manuals to help priests also mentioned about godparents who should be charged with the spiritual upbringing of children, teaching them the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles¡¯ Creed, and the Ave Maria(Hail Mary). The responsibility for the selection of godparents in these manuals apparently rested partly upon parents, who were urged not to accept as sponsor anyone who did not know these prayers.
(30)      Singman et al.1995 pp.41-42
(31)      Manuscript Royal 6 E VI, f.171(baptismus) by James le Palmer, 1360-1375
(32)      Singman et al.1995 p.53
(33)      Gies 1991 p.114
(34)      Owst 1926 p.269
(35)      by John Myrc, 15th century, pp.53-59

Bibliography The following websites were visited in May/June 2013

Primary Sources
1.      The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, (1386), Oxford : Oxford University Press 1985
2.      Handlyng Synne by Robert of Brunne, 1303
3.      Instructions for parish priests by John Myrc, 15th century
4.      British Library : 11. Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts: Royal 6 E VI, f.171 (baptismus) By James le Palmer, 1360-1375, in Latin, England, S.E (London),

Secondary Sources : Books
5.      Life in a medieval village, by Frances and Joseph Gies, 1991, Harper Perennial
6.      Rodney Hilton's middle ages-an exploration of historical themes, Rodney Howard Hilton, Christopher Dyer, Peter R. Coss, 2007, Oxford Journals
7.      The oxford illustrated history of medieval England, George Holmes, 2001, Oxford University Press
8.      Church life in England in the thirteenth century, John R. H. Moorman, 2010, Cambridge University Press
9.      Work throughout history-Scholars and priests, Irene M. Franck and David M. Brownstone, 1988
10.      A History of the English Parish, N.J.G. Pounds, 2000, Cambridge University Press
11.      Parish Priests and Their People in the Middle Ages England, Rev. Eward L. Cutts, D.D., 1898, Society for promoting Christian knowledge
12.      The World of the Middle Ages: A Reorientation of Medieval History, John L. Lamonte, 1949, Appleton-Century-Crofts
13.      Signs & Symbols in Christian Art>, George Ferguson,1961, New York: Oxford University Press
14.      England's thousand best churches> Simon Jenkins, 2013, Penguin Books
15.      Preaching in Medieval England>, Gerald Robert Owst, 1926, Cambridge University Press
16.      The English church in the fourteenth century, W.A Pantin, 1955, Cambridge university press
17.      The naked parish priest-what priest really think they're doing, Stephen H Louden, Leslie J. Francis, 2003, Continuum
18.      A companion to medieval England, 1066-1485, Nigel Saul, 2005, Tempus
19.      A History of Vicarages in the Middle Ages, Reginald Alfred Rupert Hartridge, 1968, Barnes & Noble
20.      The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West, Susan Wood, 2009, Oxford University Press
21.      Daily Life in Chaucer's England, Jeffrey L. Singman and Will McLean, 1995, Greenwood Press
22.      Medieval Faith and Fable, J.A. MacCulloch. Boston,1932, Marshall Jones Company Publishers
23.      The People of the Parish--Community Life in a Late Medieval English Diocese, Katherine L. French, 2001, University of Pennsylvania Press

SAecondary Sources : Websites
24.      Britain express: English parish church:
25.      The finer times: Priests in Middle Ages/A>,
26.      Three Gold Bees: a portrait of the pardoner from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
16.      Medieval life and time sitemap: Medieval religion
17.      Gode Cookery Present Tale of the Middle Ages: Miracles Page Two
18.      Catholic encyclopedia online (based on the 1907-1914 edition): parish
19.      Wikipedia: Ordination,
20.      Wikipedia: Advowson,
21.      Third Millennium ministries The Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages Reformation Men and Theology, Lesson 1 of 11 by Dr. Jack L. Arnold,
22.      Association for the rights of Catholics in the church Do Parishes Have Rights? James A. Coriden
23.      Family Ministry Today Among your company at home, part 5: Godparents and godchildren in middle ages
24. List of Catholic orders and congregations

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