The many commands which the crown addressed to bishops represent a rich source of information about the history of government, law, and lay society, as well as about the church itself. The material, previously neglected, offers rich rewards to scholars in a variety of disciplines, and the writs collected here touch on many aspects of life the later fourteenth century, including tax gathering, political upheaval, property disputes, Lollardy, and foreign warfare. The bishop is seen swearing in local officials, setting up commissions of enquiry, organising the attendance of the clergy in parliament and the saying of patriotic prayers, and consulting episcopal archives to answer queries from the lay courts. There is also a vivid series of vignettes of family life among the gentry class from Yorkshire to Hampshire. An extensive introduction places the writs in their historical and archival contexts, and suggests further lines of research.