The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-02-28
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Although there have been many regional studies of the proprietary church or particular aspects of it, this is the first extensive study of it covering most of western Europe, from the end of the Roman Empire in the West to about 1200. The book aims at a broad survey in varying degrees of intensity and with a shifting geographical focus; and it asks questions that are as much social and religious as legal or administrative. The book vindicates, for village and estate churches, Ulrich Stutz's basic concept of a church with its possessions, revenues, and priestly office as an object of what we can reasonably call property. But it largely rejects his and his followers' application of this to great churches, and sees the position of intermediate churches (such as small or middling monasteries) as various, changeable, and ambivalent. Above all it turns away from Stutz's view of the property relationship as a distinct institution or system of "Germanic church law," presenting it rather as a fluid set of assumptions and practices taking shape as customary law. Susan Wood considers also the changing background of ideas and the bearing on it of important polemical writings (with some questioning of their established interpretations). Finally the book discusses how property in churches was imperfectly superseded by the new canon-law patronage, in the increasingly bureaucratic post-Gregorian Church.

Author Biography

Susan Wood is an Emeritus Fellow of St Hugh's College, Oxford where she was a Lecturer, Fellow, and Tutor for over 35 years.

Table of Contents

The Roman Empire and Post-Roman Kingdoms
A New Stage: Bavaria, Alemania, and Lombard Italy, Mid-Eighth to Mid-Ninth Century
The Converging of Private and Parish Churches
The Question of Origins
Early Monasteries: Their Founders and Abbotts
Some Non-Frankish Patterns of Family Interest in Monasteries
Transition to Outside Lordship of Monasteries
The Emergence of Bishop's Lordship over Monasteries
The Emergence of Lay Ruler's Lordship over Monasteries
Lordship over Higher Churches, Ninth to Eleventh Centuries
Kings and Princes
Nobles other than Founder's Heirs
Noble Founders and their Heirs
Great Churches as Lords of Monasteries
Lower Churches as Property, Ninth to Eleventh Centuries
Lesser Churches' Resources in Lands and other Possessions
Lesser Churches' Resources in Tithes and Offerings
Proprietors' Arrangements with their Priests
Lay Proprietors
Priests as Proprietors
Higher Churches as Proprietors
Some Proprietary Elements in a Bishop's Authority
Ideas, Opinion, Change
The Juridical Condition of Churches
Legislation and Reforming Opinion
Monastic Reform: Lordship and Liberty
Gregorian Reform
Towards a Bureaucratic Church
The Longer Term
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