Life in a Medieval College: The Story of the Vicars-Choral of York Minster

By Frederick Harrison | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Canon Harrison, the Chancellor and Librarian of York Minster, is already well known for the books he has written on the great Cathedral Church which he has served so faithfully for over thirty years. This, the latest of his books, is the result of continued study throughout this long period of a mass of original documents, some of which he himself discovered, on the life and work of the Vicars-Choral of York during seven centuries. He tells us that he has read 2,750 pages of books as well as a large number of charters and other documents which concern various aspects of the Medieval College of Vicars-Choral. He is thus able to give us an authoritative account of their duties, their rules, their food, their hospitality, their responsibilities as landlords, their not infrequent quarrels among themselves or with their superiors, their misdemeanours and their consequent penalties. The College survived throughout the Reformation and only came to an end a few years ago, though when the marriage of the clergy was permitted it lost much of its common life. There is no other book which gives such a vivid picture of a College of Vicars Choral. Canon Harrison is not only a scholar, but he can write so that the ordinary man can understand: this book is, therefore, not merely for specialists and students, but for all those who wish to know something more of the men and women who lived in an age very different from our own. Entertainment as well as information can be found in the pages of this most interesting book on an unfamiliar subject.

Bishopthorpe, CYRIL EBOR
York. November 1950.

-vii-

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