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Crusade administration in fifteenth-century England: regulations for the distribution of indulgences in 1489

Crusade administration in fifteenth-century England: regulations for the distribution of indulgences in1489

Swanson, R.N. (University of Birmingham)

Historical Research, vol. 84, no. 223 (February, 2011)

Abstract

By the fifteenth century English participation in crusading was mainly a matter of purchasing the confessional letters to gain access to the appropriate indulgence. Information on how such letters were distributed by the pyramid of collectors is scarce.This article draws attention to, and reproduces, injunctions issued by a superior collector to his underlings for the distribution linked to a drive for crusading funds in 1489.The confessional letters were in this case printed, and the injunctions reveal the impact of the new technology, and suggest the greater control of distribution which it permitted.

The fifteenth century – a long fifteenth century stretching from the thirteen-eighties to the fifteen-forties – provides repeated instances of English involvement in activities linked to crusading, even if the relevant expeditions were not directed to the Middle East. Starting with the Flanders crusade of 1383, numerous English appeals sought support for expeditions to defend the faith – although this could be a capacious concept.

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