Church and Society in Late Medieval England
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About "Church and Society in Late Medieval England"
The two centuries from the Black Death to the Reformation witnessed population collapse, war with France, social and dynastic strife, and the emergence of a capitalism engendered by profound changes that occured in England's economy and feudal social structure. These events form the background against which Robert Swanson sets his account of the changing role of the Church in late medieval society.;The author begins with a consideration of the late medieval Church itself. He describes its institutional structure and its integration into the wider Catholic Church of western Europe, headed by the papacy in Rome. He looks at the clergy, examining their backgrounds and motives for entering the Church, and highlighting the influential role played by ecclesiastical patronage in making clerical careers.;The second part of the book focuses on the growing tensions between Church and state, as secular and increasingly nationalistic rulers challenged the theoretical universality of Rome, and the Church's freedom from political control. The state was in the ascendant, with ecclesiastical being eroded by the increasing authority of the royal courts. Yet the Church was a formidable economic force. The author shows how whilst enduring a Christian economic morality which deprecated usury and the accumulation of wealth, as a massive landowner the Church was extensively involved in economic activity.;Dr Swanson concludes with a discussion of spirituality, looking at both orthodox and unorthodox activity, and the attitudes of the laity to the Church and the religion it offered them. He discusses religious non-conformity, placing his interpretation of such movements as the Lollards, and the early stages of the English Reformation within the broader context of the late medieval search for religious reform and a reinvigorated spiritual life.;This book contains a new updated bibliography and should be of interest to undergraduates and above in medieval and church history, religious studies and theology.