The People of the Parish: Community Life in a Late Medieval English Diocese by Katherine L. French, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The People of the Parish: Community Life in a Late Medieval English Diocese

The People of the Parish: Community Life in a Late Medieval English Diocese

by Katherine L. French
     
 

The parish, the lowest level of hierarchy in the medieval church, was the shared responsibility of the laity and the clergy. Most Christians were baptized, went to confession, were married, and were buried in the parish church or churchyard; in addition, business, legal settlements, sociability, and entertainment brought people to the church, uniting secular and

Overview

The parish, the lowest level of hierarchy in the medieval church, was the shared responsibility of the laity and the clergy. Most Christians were baptized, went to confession, were married, and were buried in the parish church or churchyard; in addition, business, legal settlements, sociability, and entertainment brought people to the church, uniting secular and sacred concerns. In The People of the Parish, Katherine L. French contends that late medieval religion was participatory and flexible, promoting different kinds of spiritual and material involvement.

The rich parish records of the small diocese of Bath and Wells include wills, court records, and detailed accounts by lay churchwardens of everyday parish activities. They reveal the differences between parishes within a single diocese that cannot be attributed to regional variation. By using these records show to the range and diversity of late medieval parish life, and a Christianity vibrant enough to accommodate differences in status, wealth, gender, and local priorities, French refines our understanding of lay attitudes toward Christianity in the two centuries before the Reformation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Meticulously researched and erudite."—The Historian

"A coherent, well-written, and stimulating survey of parish life."—Catholic Historical Review

"By integrating issues of literacy and gender, and considering the tensions as well as cohesion, this book adds a significant contribution to the developing understanding of the role of the parish in late medieval English religious and social life."—Robert Swanson, University of Birmingham

"Katherine French puts a human face on the history of the English medieval parish between the end of the fourteenth century and the Reformation."—Carol Davidson-Cragoe, The Medieval Review

Booknews
From the author's introduction: "The studies that precede mine have not generally focused on the late medieval parish for its own sake, and they have not emphasized the interaction of local concerns with institutional expectations. Rather, they have focused on changes to the parish over the course of the Reformation. My perspective does not offer a general picture of English parish life or the particulars of one community alone. Instead, I present the coherence of one diocesan administration to reveal differences among parishes within that diocese and how these differences reflect the creation of a community identity." French (history, State University of New York) bases her study on records from Bath and Wells. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812235814
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
11/28/2000
Series:
The Middle Ages Series
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author

Katherine L. French is Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York, New Paltz.

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