Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Runaway Religious in Medieval England, C. 1240-1540

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Runaway Religious in Medieval England, C. 1240-1540

Article excerpt

Runaway Religious in Medieval England, c. 1240-1540. By E Donald Logan. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1996. Pp. xix, 301. $59.95.)

Religious vows, like those of marriage, were for life. To leave the monastery was to commit apostasy and be subject to excommunication; as Gerald of Wales expressed it, this was to leave the path of truth and salvation. Not surprisingly, therefore, comparatively few took such a step, accompanied as it was with uncertainty in this world and damnation in the next. The total population of medieval English religious is notoriously hard to gauge; the numbers of runaways can similarly never be more than impressionistic; yet, if Logan is right (and his figures are as convincing as any), no more than about 7% of religious were renegades. However, this figure masks considerable fluctuations, peaking (at over 16%) in the generation following the Black Death, a statistic which sheds further light, and from a new perspective, on the monastic crisis of those years.

Yet though these figures are lower than those of popular imagination they still constitute a minority of the discontented, who have only now found their historian. Moreover, at the same time we should not infer that 93% of religious were content in their vocation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.