In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS79 Despite such inevitable limitations, this volume remains without paraUel on the current market. It presents the practice of Christianity during the later Middle Ages to an undergraduate audience more effectively than any other coUection of sources now avaUable. It should immediately be added to aU college and university Ubrary coUections.With its attractive price and its useful contents, it wiU find a welcome place on numerous course syUabi and personal library shelves. Thomas Head Washington University Westminster Abbey and Its People, c. 1050-c. 1216. By Emma Mason. [Studies in the History ofMedieval Religion,Volume LX.] (Rochester, NewYork: BoydeU Press. 1996. Pp. xii, 395. $99.00.) The richness and variety of the Westminster archive, an important part of which was transferred intact at the Dissolution from the monastic foundation to the coUegiate church of St. Peter, has attracted the attention of historians from the time ofJohn Flete in the fifteenth century and RichardWidmore in the eighteenth down to the twentieth, when E. H. Pearce and Armitage Robinson and, more recently, Barbara Harvey and Gervase Rosser have written important critical histories based on a selective use of those sources. Nor have the manuscripts themselves been neglected. Indeed, in the latest survey, in 1988, Emma Mason, as principal editor, put together a basic coUection of twelfth-century charters, some printed for the first time, and others reprinted,but which had appeared in various forms in different places over the years. She has now used her knowledge of these documents to pubUsh a series of commentaries which shows the force ofsecular and ecclesiastical authority on the convent and helps to illuminate the internal Life of the church during a significant period of its development . Ofparticular concern are the abbots and the relations with the king and his court, with certain of the bishops, with the papacy, and with several of the more important tenants.There is a good deal of valuable information to be found here, but whUe organized by topics, it is presented in bits and pieces, as one charter after another is cited, without an ongoing narrative history to support it.There are, for instance, many examples of property rights and rents but little comment on the general inflationary spiral, or on the problems of heritable tenancies and fee-farms, which affected them. Quite a few named individuals , and terms relating to monastic offices, are encountered, but they come and go without explanation, and we are brought no closer to an understanding of, say, the factions at work within the community, or the changes in the poUtical, financial, and social relations between abbots and monks.With regard to an interesting point on charter style, whether an elaborate form was used for more important persons and a simple one for the less important, we are left to wonder not only what the differences were between a "florid style," a "mUdly florid style," a "more moderately florid style," and a "fuUy-florid style," but whether in 80BOOK REVIEWS fact the scribal changes depended on the status of the person addressed, or on the contents, or circumstances, of a particular charter. On the other hand, there is much to learn from this book. For example, following in the steps of Chaplais and Bishop and others, Mason has broadened our perception of the corpus ofWestminster forged charters, especiaUy for the reign of Henry II; she provides helpful commentary on the legal activities ofthe monks and their use of the Exchequer court so near at hand; and she carefully brings out the fundamental importance of the private donors and benefactors to the enormous accumulation of wealth which put Westminster Ln the top rank of EngUsh reUgious houses. In a word, whfle not an integrated critical history ofthe abbey, as the title might lead one to assume, this book makes its mark as an exceUent set of scholarly notes for a second reading of the charters; and the charters, in turn, form the bedrock for any work on the twelfth-century foundation. Everett U. Crosby University of Virginia Histoire des Croisades. By Jean Richard. (Paris: Editions Fayard. 1996. Pp. 544. 170.00 FF.) Jean Richard, weU known for his works on the Latin Kingdom of...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 79-80
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.