The Register of John Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, 1388-1395 / the Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, 1317-1340, Volume IV

Article excerpt

The Register of John Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, 1388-1395. Edited by T. C. B. Timmins. [The Canterbury and York Society, Vol. LXXX.] (Woodbridge, Suffolk, and Rochester, New York: The Boydell Press. 1994. Pp. xxiv, 331. $45.00/s25.00.

The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, 1317-1340, Volume IV. Edited by Reginald Brocklesby. [The Canterbury and York Society, Vol. LXXXV] (Woodbridge, Suffolk, and Rochester, New York: The Boydell Press. 1997. Pp. vii, 246. $53.00/B29.50.)

These episcopal registers are but two recent achievements in the Canterbury and York Society's longstanding efforts to make original source collections more accessible to students of medieval English church history. Episcopal registers are generic compilations of diocesan business and bear the necessary mark of the official, the formulaic, and the routine. Paging through these registers, one finds records of usual activities-ecclesiastical institutions, ordinations, numerous kinds of licenses of exemption, records of litigation, memoranda, papal and royal correspondence. Nevertheless, each register is different in ways that describe the unique circumstances of time, geography, religion, administration, pastoral care, and the personality of the prelate who presided over the see.

William Melton's York register is a massive compilation of some 370 folios covering the broad range of archiepiscopal activities. His register is really a collection of separate gatherings representing the business of subsidiary jurisdictions (archdeaconries) and major categories of activity such as the work of suffragans, vicars general, and management of temporalities. This particular volume, fourth in the editions of materials from Melton's register, comprises the folios (4001-477) devoted to the Archdeaconry of Nottingham. Even with this contribution, the better part of Melton's register remains still in its original manuscript form. This volume represents, in effect, a smaller register within a larger one; its contents are arranged chronologically and encompass the broad range of Melton's activities regarding that section of his archdiocese. Consequently, it can be read as a sort of administrative chronicle and discloses with occasionally fascinating detail the local church history of an archdeaconry in northern England. …