The monastic patronage of King Henry II in England, 1154-1189

The monastic patronage of King Henry II in England, 1154-1189

Martinson, Amanda M.

University of St Andrews, 26-Jun-2008


The subject of this study is Henry II’s monastic patronage in England 1154-1189. Past studies have examined aspects of Henry II’s patronage but an in-depth survey of Henry’s support of the religious houses throughout his realm has never been completed. This study was therefore undertaken to address modern notions that Henry’s monastic patronage lacked obvious patterns and medieval notions that the motivations behind his patronage were vague. The thesis seeks to illustrate that Henry’s motivations for patronage may not have been driven by piety but rather influenced by a sense of duty and tradition. This hypothesis is supported by examining and analyzing both the chronology and nature of Henry’s patronage.

This thesis has integrated three important sources to assess Henry’s patronage: chronicles, charters, and Pipe Rolls. The charters and Pipe Rolls have been organized into two fully searchable databases. The charters form the core of the data and allow for analysis of the recipients of the king’s patronage as well as the extent of his favour. The Pipe Rolls provide extensive evidence of many neglected aspects of Henry’s patronage, enhancing, and sometimes surpassing, the charter data. The sources have allowed an examination of Henry’s patronage through gifts of land and money rents, privileges, pardons and non-payment of debt, confirmations and intervention in disputes. The value, geography and chronology of this patronage is discussed throughout the thesis as well as the different religious orders that benefited and the influences Henry’s predecessors and family had upon the king. Quantitative analysis has been included where possible. Henry II was a steady patron throughout his reign and remained cautious with his favour. He maintained many of the benefactions of his predecessors but was not an enthusiastic founder of new monasteries in England. There is no sign that neither the killing of Thomas Becket, nor the approach of Henry’s own death, had a marked effect on his patronage.

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