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Clergy

Posted: Sat May 03, 2008 10:06 pm
by Ariarnia
One of our members is interested in being a Benedictine monk.

This in itself is great, but I have little idea of the authenticity. Looking at it, monks did go to nearby battlefields to help the wounded on several occasions. This bloke would be the only monk and wouldn't be acting as our doctor so...

I can't help but think that the presence of individual monastic clergy (monks or nuns) would be more unusual than individual ‘secular’ clergy (bishops and priests). I mean, monks belong in monasteries don't they?

Time line 1066-1225

Any opinions?

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 7:16 am
by Brother Ranulf
Ariarnia,

You are right about priests and battlefieds, but even they were fairly unusual in that situation. I am not including battles outside England, Wales and Scotland, since the crusades were a different scenario completely.

At the Battle of the Standard in 1138, the Archbishop of York himself was prevented from leading the Anglo-Norman army to face the Scots (being advanced in years and very frail) so he sent a contingent of priests to encourage, bless and support the troops. This was not an everyday occurrence and was meant to support the idea of a righteous crusade against the sacrilegious and amoral Scots who had raped, murdered and pillaged their way south.

At the trial by combat between Henry de Essex and Robert de Montfort at Reading in 1163, the monks of Reading Abbey appear to have ventured forth to watch the fight on nearby Fry's Island. They were given charge of the "dying" and shamed loser, Henry de Essex, who unexpectedly recovered and later joined the monks himself. It was only the proximity of this fight to the Abbey that meant that monks were present.

No mention of monks or priests at the Battle of Lincoln or at any of the big sieges of the 12th century.

It seems reasonable to assume that monks and priests would have been given charge of the aftermath of a battle, since so much importance was attached to people being given a decent Christian burial - but this may only have applied to the aristocratic corpses, with the lowly oiks simply thrown into a communal grave or series of pits (certainly the case with the Scots dead after the 1138 battle). Monks also had the medical skills (and the infirmaries) to treat the wounded in many cases.

Except for the Battle of the Standard, I would only opt for priests to bless the army before a fight (and - dare I mention it - officiate at Mass), with perhaps monks clearing up the mess afterwards.

In a living history environment there is much more basis for demonstrating monks or priests as part of the social structure.

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 2:24 pm
by Alan_F
There's Sauchieburn - a priest or monk is said to have 'helped' James III on his way to heaven with judicious use of a knife.

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 6:37 pm
by Brother Ranulf
That's slightly outside the time period in question, and besides:

"persistent legends, based on the highly coloured and unreliable accounts of sixteenth century chroniclers such as Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, John Leslie and George Buchanan, claim that James III was assassinated at Milltown, near Bannockburn, soon after the battle. There is no contemporary evidence to support this account, nor the allegation that he fled the battle, nor the tale that his assassin impersonated a priest in order to approach James."

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 7:54 pm
by Alan_F
Who's the quote from?

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 9:01 pm
by Brother Ranulf
It's Norman Macdougall in "James the Third" - he was senior lecturer in Scottish history at St Andrews and has written biographies of several of the Kings James.

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 10:20 pm
by Alan_F
Do you have an ISBN? I'd be interested to have a wee look, it falls into one of the periods we do.

Posted: Sun May 04, 2008 11:29 pm
by Merlon.
ISBN-10: 0859760782
Publisher: John Donald Publishers Ltd (5 Feb 1982)

Probably best to try for via inter library loan, Amazon show it at £180!!

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 12:19 am
by Alan_F
Merlon. wrote:ISBN-10: 0859760782
Publisher: John Donald Publishers Ltd (5 Feb 1982)

Probably best to try for via inter library loan, Amazon show it at £180!!


Ta muchly.

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 7:19 am
by Brother Ranulf
Ariarnia,

You have probably already covered it but just in case:

Anyone looking at representing a Benedictine monk or nun would be wise to look at the Rule of St Benedict at the outset and try to gain a firm understanding of its 73 chapters, since they govern every single aspect of life in a monastery. Discipline, clothing, holy offices, sleeping arrangements, meals and so on are all detailed.

The Catholic Encyclopedia gives an overview at
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02436a.htm

The entire Rule is translated at
http://www.holyrule.com/

Following on from this, an understanding of the work and daily routine (horae) of the monasteries would be beneficial; again there are many sources giving different versions of this - no two monasteries were identical in their interpretation of the Rule, so Matins (Nocturns) is variously given as 12 midnight or 1 or 2 am in different accounts.

For specific details of the monasteries themselves, no better source exists than the Monasticon Anglicanum of Dugdale, much of it in Latin. An understanding of Low Latin (medieval rather than classical) is almost compulsory since all the services, charters, books and records were in that language.

See http://monasticmatrix.usc.edu/bibliogra ... il&id=2659

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 9:31 am
by Marcus Woodhouse
Yer man Brother Ranulf might be able to suggest an order of Friars-I don't know what period you enact, so it may mean such fellas did'nt even exisit. :cry:

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 10:24 am
by Brother Ranulf
Ariarnia is looking at 1066 to 1225, so no friars in England yet. There were canons, who were essentially priests living together communally under a rule, such as the Augustinians. They staffed certain cathedrals, hospitals and other establishments and had much more regular contact with the population than did monks.

Benedictine monks and nuns in the 11th century may have worn brown habits, with a universal change to black at some point very early in the 12th century. I have not come across any reference to exactly when or why this change took place.

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 1:14 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Sorry missed the timeline. :oops:

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 2:50 pm
by Ariarnia
I did look at the rule when he first brought it up, that was the main reason I was thinking there would be a problem with him as a benadictine. It is very definate that the outside is a bad, bad place.

I think he wants to be Cadfael.

I was wonderering about saying that he should be a scribe. He is traveling with an earl, so a lay member might be the best way to go.

Thanks to all for the helps.

Posted: Wed May 07, 2008 11:13 am
by Brother Ranulf
Ariarnia,

A secular scribe would certainly be appropriate for the period from about 1100 onwards - the universities of Paris, Bologna and latterly Oxford (plus Cambridge from the early 13th century) were churning out literate people trained to write and produce books and documents.

There is still no getting away from Latin, however, plus many books for lay people would be in either Anglo-Norman or French.

A detailed study of the various scripts used by scribes from the 11th century onwards can be found at this very useful site:
http://medievalwriting.50megs.com/scripts/history1.htm

Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 1:02 pm
by Colin Middleton
If I recall correctly Joad de Valence had a number of monks in her household & doesn't the Luttrel psalter show 2 monks sat at table with the head of the family? That gives you cause to put monks in a household, though it still doesn't give any reason for them being at a battle sight. The household chaplain might be a better bet.

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 11:53 am
by Brother Ranulf
Colin, in the popular mind there is no difference between monks and friars, whereas in reality they were at opposite ends of the Church spectrum.

The Luttrell Psalter picture (I just downloaded the high quality full version at http://www.bl.uk/collections/treasures/ ... adband.htm ) shows two tonsured figures wearing black cloaks over white habits, which means they can not be monks - most likely Dominican friars, who spent all their time in the community. For a monk to be sitting at table in a private house in the company of a woman would break at least 12 of the rules of St Benedict and his penance would be almost eternal.

I do not know the other reference you mentioned, but again I would suggest it refers to chaplains, priests, secular canons or friars, but not monks.
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Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 12:26 pm
by Colin Middleton
You're probably right Brother Ranulf, I'm working from memory and it's not a subject I was paying much attention to. For example, I thought that the 'monks' in that picture were Dominicans (correct), but didn't know that Dominicans are Friars not Monks. D'oh :oops: !

Thanks for correcting me.

Colin

Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 1:34 pm
by Ariarnia
Well it went well enough.

He sat writing in greek (close enough compremise until we can get him to copy up texts before the show, to illuminate at the show, which is the next plan)

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 3:55 pm
by guthrie
Brother Ranulf wrote:Ariarnia,

A secular scribe would certainly be appropriate for the period from about 1100 onwards - the universities of Paris, Bologna and latterly Oxford (plus Cambridge from the early 13th century) were churning out literate people trained to write and produce books and documents.


Just to get this straight in my head, these secular scribes would not be part of any priestly or religious order, and wouls basically be people who had done several years at university or similar, where they would have learnt Latin, how to read and write, and some of the trivium and quadrivium. Having attended various lectures and read and borrowed various books, they would be literate, and were capable of claiming benefit of clergy because they would have sufficient biblical knowledge etc to convince people, even if they were not actually priests, monks or friars themselves.
Is that about right? Its cobbled together from various things I've read over the past year or two.

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:15 pm
by behanner
guthrie wrote:Just to get this straight in my head, these secular scribes would not be part of any priestly or religious order, and wouls basically be people who had done several years at university or similar, where they would have learnt Latin, how to read and write, and some of the trivium and quadrivium. Having attended various lectures and read and borrowed various books, they would be literate, and were capable of claiming benefit of clergy because they would have sufficient biblical knowledge etc to convince people, even if they were not actually priests, monks or friars themselves.
Is that about right? Its cobbled together from various things I've read over the past year or two.


Except for the fact that you are putting the cart before the horse it is generally correct. Secular clerks tend to be members of the minor orders of the clergy or sometimes some of the major ones. Basically when you take what is often called your first tonsure you enter the minor orders, I don't recall which one specifically or if it varried. So you were clergy just not in Holy orders, being subdeacon, deacon, priest and Bishop. Typically when you went to school you entered minor orders. It is hard to say when the practice stopped because if you knew latin you had protection of being clergy should you seek it. So it was assumed that if you learned latin you had been admited to minor orders reality in say the 15th century is hard to determine because the answer isn't obvious and no one has really sought to figure it out.

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:19 pm
by guthrie
Ok, so you're putting guidelines around the areas we aren't so sure about...
I need to go and read some more, but I'm thinking, would such a secular clerk wear the robes associated with the minor order they had joined? And they would probably have been tonsured? I'm thinking circa 1300 here...

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:32 pm
by Brother Ranulf
These secular scribes don't get much of a mention in the writings of the time, maybe because they were essentially paid for their work on a kind of commission basis, unlike the clerical types who had time to write about themselves and each other (e.g. Gerald of Wales - well worth reading all of his work).

In Christopher de Hamel's book on Scribes and Illuminators (previously mentioned on this thread I believe), he says that before the 12th century private ownership of books was a rarity - that clerical types were basically producing books for other clerical types.

Early in the 12th century things started to change, prompted by an increase in the demand for books. Secular scribes and illuminators were first employed in the monasteries to help meet a rising demand, later they set up businesses of their own and by 1200 "there is quite good evidence of secular workshops writing and decorating manuscripts for sale to the laity". He mentions noblewomen desiring their own Psalters and students needing copies of textbooks as examples of their clients.

I doubt that these secular types could or would claim benefit of clergy purely on the basis of their education, but they did have a reliable income, a rapidly increasing clientele and long-established methods, materials and patterns to call upon. Sounds like a doddle!

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:59 pm
by guthrie
Brother Ranulf wrote:I doubt that these secular types could or would claim benefit of clergy purely on the basis of their education, but they did have a reliable income, a rapidly increasing clientele and long-established methods, materials and patterns to call upon. Sounds like a doddle!


Yes, I have Hamel's book, and it is very good. I'm just trying to straighten things out in my head so I can propose stuff for our group regarding members of our lords household this season.
The benefit of clergy thing I read somewhere (Sorry, my memory has gotten a bit bad when I've been ill), probably the book on theft of Edward the firsts crown jewels in 1303 by Paul Doherty. He mentions some medieval court cases and the problems caused by someone claiming benefit of clergy, as some of the thieves who robbed Edwards treasury.

So by circa 1300, these scribes would be living as non-tonsured individuals, possibly married, making a living out of reading and writing things for clients?

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 5:16 pm
by behanner
Minor orders don't have any specific dress, they tend to wear conservative long form of whatever tunic or gown is being worn at the time.

Being tonsured doesn't mean you necisarily have to keep it up. There are actually rules somewhere about it. So more then likely he wouldn't have a tonsure as we understand it. Yes he could have a wife. The poet Thomas Hocleve who wrote in the early 15th century was a secular clerk. He married after he never recieved a benefice.

Benefit of the clergy is generaly blown out of proportion. In reality it meant that instead of waiting to be hung for several years in a secular prison you were condemned to the rest of your life in an ecclesiastical prison. But you might be more likely to get a reprieve eventually.

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 9:12 pm
by Ellen Gethin
Can I recommend The Wandering Scholars by Helen Waddell? It's an old Pelican paperback about the scholars and poets of the Middle Ages called the Vagantes. In other words, they wandered about acting as scribes, and performing and writing poetry. Mostly they'd been educated at the great universities like Paris, so it was all Latin.
It's also a jolly good read.

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:53 pm
by Colin Middleton
behanner wrote:Benefit of the clergy is generaly blown out of proportion. In reality it meant that instead of waiting to be hung for several years in a secular prison you were condemned to the rest of your life in an ecclesiastical prison. But you might be more likely to get a reprieve eventually.


I thought that the basic benefit was that you were tried in a church court, where there could be no death penalty, rather than the king's court. Weren't the church big on fines too?

Or have I just bought into the 'spin' on this?

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:09 pm
by behanner
Colin Middleton wrote:
behanner wrote:Benefit of the clergy is generaly blown out of proportion. In reality it meant that instead of waiting to be hung for several years in a secular prison you were condemned to the rest of your life in an ecclesiastical prison. But you might be more likely to get a reprieve eventually.


I thought that the basic benefit was that you were tried in a church court, where there could be no death penalty, rather than the king's court. Weren't the church big on fines too?

Or have I just bought into the 'spin' on this?


Somewhat both. This is actually one of the major issues that got Thomas a'Becket murdered. He refused to let clergy be tried in secular courts. In the end Henry won out. While I would have to look up the details it boils down to the fact that the particular canon basically says that a member of the clergy cannot be tried and punished by secular authorities. So in order to make everyone happy atleast major crimes were tried in secular courts and then the clergy handed over for punishment. That way they were only tried by a secular court and not punished by it and therefore were in accordance with the canon. Lawyers have always been lawyers. I should note that this is the case for England other secular jurisdictions might have been different because how the law of a secular jurisdiction interacted with canon law varied. Apparently England had one of the cleaner relationships between the two likely because they really both came into serious practice at about the same time. That is probably one of the reasons why England kept church courts until I believe the 19th century.

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:34 pm
by gregory23b
"In Christopher de Hamel's book on Scribes and Illuminators (previously mentioned on this thread I believe), he says that before the 12th century private ownership of books was a rarity - that clerical types were basically producing books for other clerical types. "

Inter monastery loans or book swaps add weight to this self serving/mutually supportive book production, and yes, the De Hamel book is a great overview of the development of the Scribe.