medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: Jon Cannon <[log in to unmask]>
> Yet the *assumption* of a bishop's consistory court of some kind in the
church is very frequently made in England, and their existence
immediately post-Reformation is a certainty.
*where*, "in the church"?
i'm just curious about the architectural setting for suchlike a proceding,
esp. if it were part of an on-going Institutional activity.
any decent Bishop's "palace" would have a (more or less) large audience hall,
which would serve as a venue for his court, i should think (unless there was
not a purpose-built structure, which i suspect might have been the case, by
the end of the m.a.).
the chapter --regular or secular-- would have their chapter"house", which
the latter *might* be more or less connected to the "church", and thus
considered "part" of it.
but i certainly have a problem imagining a semi-permanent "court" being set up
in the nave of the cathedral --or even a chapel, for that matter.
among other considerations, an institutional entity like a "court" consists of
much more than a free space and some benches to be warmed.
there are scribal materials to be gathered together, records to be kept,
wardrobes to hold... well, robes (and the other artifactual paraphrenaliac
Ju-Ju so essential to the acceptance of such a powerful and potentially
threatening institution), etc.
early on we can imagine these material necessitites to be taken care of on an
_ad hoc_ basis but, by the end of the M.A. (if not well before), Courts of
Justice in any Diocese would have been something of a Big Deal, and i would
expect that there would be a physical reflection of their s institutional
>And I presume the community (secular in one case, monastic in the other) had
parallel powers over its lands, and thus also needed courts prisons and etc.
"Justice Rights" were integral to Property Ownership, and were an essential
(and very lucrative) element of it.
it seems that there's always been Money to be made in the "Justice" Dodge.
presently, in the United States of America (the "Greatest Country in the
History of the World", according to our Present Prezziedint, who ought to
Know), many states have "farmed out" their prison systems to private
corporations, and these corporations are among the fastest growing on the
stock exchanges (behind Big Oil and, of course, as a close second these daze,
> BUT my main interest is your statement about separation of chapter and
bishop in France, which interests me enormously. In England chapters
both secular and monastic could indeed be constitutionally very separate
from their bishop,
i would think that in any diocese you would have evidence of on-going disputes
between the two institutions, as each sought to define, guarantee and
(sometimes) expand its own Perogatives and Rights viz-a-viz the other.
theoretically, the Bishop had the advantage of being the Single, very Visible,
Anointed Head of the Whole Thing.
but the Chapter had the edge in that it was a permanent, on-going, Morte-Main
when a Bishop died the Dean and Chapter (at Chartres and elsewhere in most of
France) acted in an _ex officio_ capacity as Bishop in many aspects. any
individual Bishop's household might or might not survive in whole or in part
to serve the next Bishop, depending upon the Pleasure of the latter and the
length of time which might pass in interregnum.
i've mentioned before the quite curious practice by which the Count or King
(as Overlord and "Protector") exercised the "right" to pillage the Bishop's
house and property at Chartres, Paris and Laon. the harm which this practice
would have done to the *institution* of the Bishop is simply incalcuable, it
seems to me.
otOh, individual canons came and went, but the Chapter (like a modern
Corporation) remained functioning without a break. there could, therefore, be
no such pillaging which could happen to the Chapter --someone was *always* at
Home there, so to speak.
>but in practice there were many areas of overlap -certainly enough to be able
to countenance the idea of a bishop holding a court in a church.
again, i'm just curious about *where*, "in the church", such a court might
have met, on an on-going (rather than an infrequent and exceptional) basis.
your ocassional trial (or Spasm of Trials) for such things as Heresy, sure.
but as a venue for a permanent institution meeting on a regular basis the
cahtedral fabric itself seems to me to be a pretty poor match.
i'm just speaking of the Top of me Head, here, so it may very well be that a
Reality Check of the actual surviving sources would contradict my Notions.
>Egs: bishops were far and away the biggest contributors to major building
to the extend this is documented at all, it varied considerably from diocese
to diocese, in France.
the best documented instance i can think of is that of Troyes cathedral.
Stephen Murray's excellent monograph, _Building Troyes Cathedral: the late
Gothic campaigns_ (Indiana University Press, 1987) publishes and interpretes
much of this material.
i'm ashamed to say that, after less than 20 years since i read it, i can't
recall whether it was the Bishop or Chapter who contributed more to the actual
funding of the buildign campaign(s) which extended over --and are documented
for-- a period of nearly two centuries.
i do recall that much of the documentation is in the form of the minutes of
regular meetings of the Chapter, where matters of finance were continually
discussed, architects were hired, building and building-related contracts were
(eg., Stephen publishes the wonderful entry recording the Chapter's decision
to spend a certain amount of money "for three cartloads of thorns, to be
spread over the tops of the unfinished piers, to keep the boys from climbing
on them during the course of the winter and ruining them".)
>many members of chapter were on the bishop's staff (in the secular
or, perhaps, put it another way: Bishops frequently obtained prebends in the
chapter for members of their staffs....
>some cathedrals eg. Exeter are iconographically a colossal stone-and-wood
hymn to Episcopal power.
i know nothing at all about Exeter.
but it sounds like the *sculpture* there was funded by at least *one* Bishop
who wished the building to be seen as that sort of "Episcopal hymn".
there are quite a few Bishops (including earlier Bishops of Chartres) who
appear among the early 13th c. statue columns of the South porch of the new
but i've never heard it suggested that there was any particular, Episcopal,
"hymn singing" at work there.
at Reims there is a portal (or at least a lintel) devoted to St. Remi's
baptism of Clovis.
but there's no Episcopal Hymnizing there, either, i don't believe.
rather at both places it seems that it was the Church of St. Mary at X, its
history and prestige, which was being "sung".
>All this blurs the distinction theoretical separation.
the distinction is, indeed, "theoretical"; as is the "separation".
but, on a day-to-day basis, the Rubber met the Road, in every diocese,
throughout Christendom; and Theory was put into Practice --with a very wide
variety of results.
i'll go out on a limb here, however, and suggest that the one *consistent*
thing which could be said to exist throughout Europe was a tendency for each
of the institutions (Bishop and Chapter) to jelously guard its own
perogatives, viz-a-viz the other.
>Bishops and chapters were far more interlocking in the secular churches than
in the monastic ones.
of course, in France we don't have that peculiar institution of a "monastic"
even the pre-Descartesian Gallic Mind, apparently, balked at the thought of
absorbing such an Oxymoron concept.
> I'd be enormously interested to know if you think there are any
differences here with France,
"monastic" cathedral chapters would be a Major one.
but, as best i can make out, while there were certainly a great many
institutional similarities throughout France (as opposed to, say, England)
among dioceses, every region differed somewhat from every other (certainly the
"Romance" South differed from the "Germanic" North) and, within regions, every
diocese had its own institutional distinctiveness --chapters had different
organisational setups, different names for different offices, sometimes
different rankings among those offices, different functions for the same
offices, etc., etc. the variations were, apparently, endless.
>as the 'sociology' or culture of secular and monastic chapters in England,
and its potential impact or otherwise on the fabric, is of great interest to
i can't help you on England, obviously.
less obviously, i can't really help much on France.
12th c. Chartres is my Bailiwick.
and that's more than enough, for one lifetime, i'm finding.
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: