A History of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, 1182-1256: Samson by Antonia Gransden

By Antonia Gransden

St Edmund's Abbey used to be the most hugely privileged and wealthiest spiritual homes in medieval England, one heavily concerned with the critical govt; its heritage is a vital part of English historical past. This publication (the first of 2 volumes) deals a magisterial and complete account of the Abbey throughout the 13th century, dependent totally on facts within the abbey's documents (over forty registers survive). The careers of the abbots, starting with the nice Samson, give you the chronological constitution; separate chapters learn a number of features in their rule, corresponding to their relatives with the convent, the abbey's inner and exterior management and its relatives with its tenants and neighbours, with the king and the important executive. Chapters also are dedicated to the clergymen' non secular, cultural and highbrow existence, to their writings, booklet assortment and records. Appendices concentrate on the mid-thirteenth century money owed which provide a different and distinctive photograph of the organization and economic system of St Edmunds' estates in West Suffolk, and at the abbey's watermills and windmills.

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4. JB, p. 1. JB, p. 2. Cf. Harvey and McGuinness, Guide to British Medieval Seals, pp. 106–7. JB, pp. , JB, ed. Greenway and Sayers, p. 124. For Benedict the Jew of Norwich see Roth, Jews in England, p. 14; V. D. Lipman, The Jews of Medieval Norwich (Jewish Historical Soc. of England, London, 1967), pp. 16 n. 3, 59, 60 and n. 1, 61, 62, 107.  With regard to property, he had direct responsibility for his own portion, and overall responsibility for the convent’s. To protect and promote these interests entailed frequent recourse to the law courts.

Among the numerous ecclesiastical magnates, heads of religious houses and the like attending were Robert, abbot of St Albans, and Hugh, abbot of St Edmunds. A dispute arose between them and their supporters concerning the precedence of the two abbots. The question of precedence was of the utmost importance because it determined seating arrangements which all could see. Among the arguments used by Robert and his supporters was that St Alban was England’s protomartyr – an argument which Hugh and his supports countered by pointing out that St Edmund was England’s first royal martyr.

Below p. 11. JB, p. 129. Kalendar, ed. Davis, p. 90 no. 26. Cf. JB, ed. Rokewode, p. vi; Memorials, i. lix; JB, p. xiii; Thomson, ‘Obedientiaries’, p. 99. For whom see Thomson in Electio, p. 185 and index under ‘Jocelin, almoner of St Edmunds’.  This is quite possible: it certainly reads like one. Moreover, the description of Jocelin the almoner would fit Jocelin of Brackland nicely. 10 In its present form the chronicle was composed in 1202 or 1203. Jocelin, therefore, wrote retrospectively. He used written sources as well as oral testimony and his own recollections.

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