Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Register of Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter, 1258-1280, Volume Two

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Register of Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter, 1258-1280, Volume Two

Article excerpt

The Register of Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter, 1258-1280, Volume Two. Edited and translated by O. F. Robinson. [The Canterbury and York Society, Volume LXXXVII] (Rochester, New York: The Boydell Press. 1999. Pp.viii, 138. $45.00.)

This is the second of a three-volume edition and translation of Walter Bronescombe's episcopal register. The first volume appeared in 1995, and the third, which will include among other documents the Exeter Cathedral Statutes of 1269 and 1278, is scheduled to appear soon. This second volume concludes the register proper, its entries running from 1263, where Volume One leaves off, to the day of the bishop's death, July 22,1280. As was often the case in earlier episcopal registers, Bronescombe's followed a chronological rather than a topical form. Thus, records for the management of ecclesiastical benefices-by and large the better portion of most episcopal registers-appear in the midst of other matters that occupied the bishop and his chief assistants: copies of royal letters, memoranda of various commissions, the business of ecclesiastical courts, citations for anticipated ordinations and visitations, the concerns of religious houses, relations with the Exeter Cathedral Chapter, etc. The substance of these entries is vital for understanding the episcopal administration and pastoral care of the diocese, vital as well for understanding the man whose actions were the point of the record. In spite of the strong tendency toward the formulaic, something of Bronescombe's manner emerges along with the more objective features of his administration. He was a man at ease with his authority, whether engaged in the rule of his diocese or on business for the king or archbishop. A capable administrator, he was also a reform-minded prelate who had little patience with beneficed clerics who lingered on their way to priest's orders (#1200); showed similar contempt for pluralists (#1124); suffered through long rows with mischievous abbots at Tavistock and Ford (#773, 1089); and was not above a stern and pastoral rebuke to the Roman Curia for passing on to him a pair of incompetent and illiterate brothers for ordination (#966). …

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