Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Ecclesiastical Studies in Honour of Dorothy M. Owen

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval Ecclesiastical Studies in Honour of Dorothy M. Owen

Article excerpt

Medieval Ecclesiastical Studies in Honour of Dorothy M. Owen. Edited by M. J. Franklin and Christopher Harper-Bill. [Studies in the History of Medieval Religion,Volume VII.] (Rochester, NewYork: The Boydell Press. 1995. Pp. xxi, 310. $71.00.)

This volume is a most appropriate tribute to its honoree, presenting sixteen essays ranging from the Anglo-Saxon period to the sixteenth century, all of which pertain to the history of the Church in England and focus particularly on the record sources from which that history has been written. Christopher Harper-Bill suggests that Owen's "balance of universal and local concerns, as well as her indefatigable energy" mirror that of the subject of his essay, John of Oxford (p. 83). One assumes that he refers to John's hard work as a diplomat, judicial officer, and bishop in the late twelfth century, rather than the perjury and duplicity which may have attended his activity in the Becket controversies.

The range and scope of the essays is impressive, and indicative of Owen's contributions over her career, itself well documented by Arthur Owen in the bibliography of her works. Some pieces, such as Pamela Taylor's heavily detailed discussion of the complexities of establishing Anglo-Saxon estate patterns, and Sandra Raban's treatment of the 1279 hundred rolls, find themselves at the perimeters of Owen's work. C. N. L. Brooke's history of the English Episcopal Acta, and his emphasis on the importance of diplomatic in this project are, however, right at the heart of Owen's endeavors.Three contributions stand out, even in such a strong collection as this. Harper-Bill's study is a marvelous example of biography that is much more than biography, expansive in its content and a model of the use of the genre to understand the people who filled the posts that make up much of administrative history. Martin Brett's contribution, reflecting Owen's work in canon law, advances the thesis that local interest in canon law, rather than its imposition from without, accounts for much of its growth in the century before Gratian. F. Donald Logan presents a finding unique in English records: addresses and sermons in the canon law faculty at Cambridge.This is perhaps the real gem of the book.Yet there is so much in the remaining pieces. …

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