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The Sheep As Shepherds: Lay Leadership And Pastoral Care In Late Medieval England

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illustrates the sustained practice of the patronal enthusiasms beyond the strict canonical construct of the ius patronatus. Following the three-fold description of patronal rights in the language of Rufinus, this examination centers on the role of the laity as defenders of the rights of their local churches (possessio). Clearly, medieval parishioners cultivated a sense of ownership of their churches, no matter who had the specific right of presentation or institution to the parochial cure. This broader understanding of possession required active leadership even to the point of shouldering that other patronal duty, the timely reports to the bishop about the moral lives of clergy and people. By the end of the Middle Ages, the author sees a full awakening of lay religious patronage in the establishment of new spiritual and pastoral foundations.

Keywords: late medieval England; lay leadership; pastoral care; patronal rights; religious reformers



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