This study sets out to examine how the 1298 decretal Cum ex eo of Pope Boniface VIII, that allowed non-priest rectors of parish churches to absent themselves for up to seven years to attend university, was implemented over fifty years in the diocese of Lincoln.
The need for an educated parochial clergy had been seen from early times and during the Middle Ages was articulated by popes, councils and generations of canonists. In 1298 the decretal Cum ex eo of Pope Boniface VIII allowed non-priest rectors of parish churches to absent themselves for up to seven years to attend university. This study sets out to examine how this decretal was implemented over the next fifty years in the diocese of Lincoln, the largest in England, but the bishops’ registers revealed a much wider practice. In addition to dispensations granted in virtue of Cum ex eo, a very substantial number of licences to study (licencie studendi) were also granted to rectors who were already priests. Over twelve hundred rectors of Lincoln diocese received permissions to study by way of dispensation or licence during the first half of the fourteenth century. This educational phenomenon and the questions it raises are examined in detail. The volume concludes with a register of all rectors of Lincoln diocese who attended university during the period under study.
"I suspect that this book's value as a research tool will be as useful as the information it provides about the education of parish clergy. Those of us who focus on the University of Oxford will certainly get a great deal of mileage out of the appendix, and the book is a welcome addition for those who focus on parish life, the history of education, and the secular clergy in general." (Andrew E. Larsen, in: The Medieval Review, 15.11.17)