Crosby Everett U., The king’s bishops: the politics of patronage in England and Normandy, 1066-1216

Crosby Everett U., The king’s bishops: the politics of patronage in England and Normandy, 1066-1216, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, XVIII-519 p. ISBN: 9781137307767

Compte rendu par/Review by : Hugh M. Thomas

The Medieval Review

Date : 10 May 2014

In his lengthy exploration of patronage and bishops in England and Normandy between the Norman Conquest and the death of King John, Everett U. Crosby has two main concerns, royal control of episcopal appointments and nepotism. His first chapter sets the stage by discussing medieval and modern views of bishops in the period. Crosby criticizes what he regards as snap judgments about individual medieval bishops made with inadequate evidence by some modern historians, warns against relying too heavily on medieval judgments that were based on impossibly high standards set by reformers, and argues that we should not focus too much on opposition between church and state. The second chapter consists of an overview of royal control of episcopal appointments, with most attention on the period up to Thomas Becket, and discusses the dual role of bishops as church officials and powerful lords. The third chapter provides a good deal of useful information, much of it set out in tables, on a variety of subjects, including episcopal appointments by royal reign; the background of bishops as regular clerics, royal clerks, or secular clerics; and the lengths of episcopal vacancies in various reigns. Scholars will find a large amount of research digested into a brief space here.

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