Ely: Bishops and Diocese, 1109-2009

By Greatrex, Joan | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Ely: Bishops and Diocese, 1109-2009


Greatrex, Joan, The Catholic Historical Review


Ely: Bishops and Diocese, 1109-2009. Edited by Peter Meadows. (Rochester, NY: The Boydell Press, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer. 2010. Pp. xx, 354. $50.00. ISBN 978-1-843-83540-0.)

This collection of essays celebrates the ninth centenary of the foundation of the Diocese of Ely. The editor and eight other contributors have examined in detail the lives and careers of a succession of fifty-four bishops, from Hervey to Anthony Russell, in chronological order. Peter Meadows has assembled some of the leading scholars among contemporary historians in the field of English ecclesiastical history, including Nicholas Vincent for the thirteenth century, Felicity Heal for the late-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, Ian Atherton for the period between 1559 and 1667, and Frances Knight for the years 1864 to 1957. Other competent contributions in the medieval period are provided by Nicholas Karn (the twelfth century); Benjamin Thompson (the fourteenth century); Peter Meadows (the fifteenth century); and, in the post-Reformation era, by Evelyn Lord (1667 to 1748), Peter Meadows (1748 to 1864), and Brian Watchorn (1959 to 2009). As one of the smallest and also wealthiest among English dioceses through much of its history, Ely had the additional attraction of the presence of Cambridge and the University of Cambridge within its bounds. Furthermore, it was relatively close to London, the seat of government and the royal court. An impressive number of Ely bishops have been academics as well as graduates, some (like Hugh de Balsham) instrumental in the foundation of colleges and others serving as heads of colleges. Eight Ely bishops served as royal chancellors, Thomas Goodrich in 1552 being the last, and four went on to occupy the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury before 1500. Details of episcopal oversight of diocesan administration are to be found in the series of registers that provide the record of the bishops' official acts, of which the earliest surviving example is that of Simon de Montacute (1338-1445). …

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