By William Hopkins Campbell
PhD Dissertation, University of St Andrews, 2007
Abstract: The Church was not the only progenitor and disseminator of ideas in medieval England, but it was the most pervasive. Relations between the ecclesiastical and lay realms are well documented at high social levels but become progressively obscure as one descends to the influence of the Church at large on society at large (and vice versa).
The twelfth century was a time of great energy and renewal in the leadership and scholarship of the Church; comparable religious energy and renewal can be seen in late-medieval lay culture. The momentum was passed on in the thirteenth century, and pastoral care was the means of its transfer.
The historical sources in this field tend to be either prescriptive, such as treatises on how to hear confessions, or descriptive, such as bishops’ registers. Prescription and description have generally been addressed separately. Likewise, the parish clergy and the friars are seldom studied together. These families of primary sources and secondary literature are brought together here to produce a more fully-rounded picture of pastoral care and church life.
The Church was an inherently local institution, shaped by geography, personalities, social structures, and countless ad hoc solutions to local problems. Few studies of medieval English ecclesiastical history have fully accepted the considerable implications of this for pastoral care; close attention to local variation is a governing methodology of this thesis, which concludes with a series of local case studies of pastoral care in several dioceses, demonstrating not only the divergences between them but also the variations within them.