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The Clergy: Swinging Both Plowshares And Swords

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Chapter Summary

An exploration of instances of clerical violence found in descriptive sources, such as letter collections and court rolls, reveals some of the ways in which clerics negotiated between secular and ecclesiastical codes of conduct. This chapter focuses mainly be on the actions of rectors, chaplains, vicars, parsons and parish priests because these men functioned directly within parish communities-with varying degrees of attachment to lay values and the lay society. Contemporary concerns such as gender norms, class affinities, and economic rights encouraged conflict between parishioners and clergy, or between clerics themselves. Parish curates' involvement in religious rituals helped to curb their entanglement in violence and enhance their role as peacemakers yet, at the same time, it also helped to inflame lay anger toward overly 'worldly' parish curates. Contemporary gender norms, royal demands, and class customs all gave parish clergy reasons to put aside their walking staffs and take up their swords.

Keywords: clergy; parishioners; religious rituals; violence



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