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M. Spence
The Late Medieval Cistercian Monastery of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire
Monastic Administration, Economy, and Archival Memory

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208 p., 17 b/w ill., 18 b/w tables, 156 x 234 mm, 2020
ISBN: 978-2-503-56771-6
Languages: English
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Online content: https://www.brepolsonline.net/action/showBook?doi=10.1484/M.MMS-EB.5.110111
A systematic analysis of three contemporary manuscripts from Fountains Abbey - the wealthiest English Cistercian monastery - revealing key insights into monastic administration.

Founded in 1132, Fountains Abbey became the wealthiest English Cistercian monastery — yet relatively little analysis has been made of its surviving records to investigate how its wealth was controlled and sustained. This book deals with this secular aspect of the religious community at Fountains, investigating in particular the way in which prosaic business records were compiled and redacted. It traces the transmission of data from original charters through successive versions of cartularies, and in the process establishes the existence of a previously unknown manuscript. It also reveals how abbots in the fifteenth century interacted with and adapted the records in their care.

In this process, two quite different aspects of monastic life are uncovered. First, it sheds new light on the history of Fountains Abbey through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, amongst other things how it responded to the turmoil of the Black Death, and discloses for the first time the allegiance of one abbot to the Lancastrian cause during the Wars of the Roses. Second, it reveals the worldly skills shown by the community of Fountains that were successfully applied to exploit the monastery’s large landholdings across Yorkshire, mainly through wool and agricultural production, but also through fisheries, tanning, mining, and metalworking. The economic success of these activities enabled the abbey to become a prosperous institution which rivalled the wealth of the aristocracy.

This book addresses recordkeeping and archival memory at one, Cistercian, monastery — albeit a well-endowed and prosperous one — in the north of England. However, its treatment of archival sources could be extended to other houses in different geographical locations and different orders, to enable comparisons between monasteries dealing with economic change and social and political upheaval in the later Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

Chapter 1: Fountains Abbey: Origins and Development, Antiquarians, and Modern Scholarship

Chapter 2: Fountains Abbey in the Long Fifteenth Century

Chapter 3: Charters, Cartularies, and Archival Redaction

Chapter 4: Abbot Greenwell’s Aide-Memoire? The President Book of Fountains Abbey

Chapter 5: Creative Redaction: Reassembling the Past and Developing an Audit Trail

Chapter 6: Reflective Redaction: Reviewing the Past

Chapter 7: A Forensic Approach to Fountains Cartularies

Conclusion

Appendix A: The President Book of Fountains Abbey

Appendix B: Cartulary 2, WYAS 150/5384

Appendix C: Cartulary RP, Univ. Coll. MS 167

Appendix D: Rentals, Add MS 40010

Appendix E: Fountains Abbey Manuscripts

Appendix F: The Charter of William of Goldsborough

Bibliography

Index

Interest Classification:
Book History, Manuscript Studies & Palaeography
Palaeography, Scripts & Manuscript Studies
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Christian Church : religious orders
Cistercians
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : genres & specific topics
Historiography (historical writings in the period)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : local & regional history
British Isles
Medieval History (400-1500) : subperiods
Late Middle Ages (c.1300-1500)

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