Michael Burger

title.none: Kemp, ed., English Episcopal Acta 18 (Michael Burger)

identifier.other: baj9928.0107.012 01.07.12

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Michael Burger, Mississippi University for Women,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Kemp, B. R. English Episcopal Acta 18: Salisbury, 1078-1217. English Episcopal Acta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp. cxxiii, 213. $74.00. ISBN: 0-197-26198-1.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.07.12

Kemp, B. R. English Episcopal Acta 18: Salisbury, 1078-1217. English Episcopal Acta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp. cxxiii, 213. $74.00. ISBN: 0-197-26198-1.

Reviewed by:

Michael Burger
Mississippi University for Women

Brian Kemp has already done much to illuminate the workings of English diocesan administration in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In this book he collects some of the episcopal acta he so usefully exploited in those studies, along with many other acta. The result is a worthy addition to the ongoing series, English Episcopal Acta, itself more than twenty years old and still going strong.

The present collection includes 252 acta or references to acta produced by Bishops Osmund through Herbert Poore, and thus covers the years 1078-1217. A further volume will include 145 acta of Bishop Richard Poore (1217-1228), as well as several appendices on which the apparatus of the present volume relies. Readers of recent additions to this series will find its conventions familiar. Kemp makes an exception to recent practice, however, for Roger of Salisbury, who has received much attention because of his large role in the government of Henry I. Roger's acta appear in calendar form, as they are to be found in Father Edward Kealey's commonly available edition of them, although originals of Roger's acta are reproduced in full, as are some improved texts. Indeed, students of Roger, including his viceregal administration, will also want to consult this collection for a few additional references to lost acta. Inevitably, even leaving aside Roger's acta, many of the items included here have already seen print; many of the latter, however, are to be found only in hard to find editions. Many others have never been edited before.

A sampling of individual acta suggests the range of matters upon which the collection touches, and so is one index of the gratitude owed to Professor Kemp for collecting these acta. For example, readers can encounter the community of leper women whose chapel Bishop Jocelin de Bohun dedicated ca. 1155-77; the women's patron had to swear in the bishop's presence that the chapel would cause no diminution of assarts or other things pertaining to the church of All Saints of Maiden Bradley. The bishop's charter giving notice of these matters, no. 92 in the present collection, has been out of print since its inclusion in Dugdale's Monasticon. Some indication of Jocelin's good relations with his cathedral chapter appears in no. 125, in which he grants to the common of the cathedral canons the church of Alton, then occupied by Nigel, "our canon", to whom the bishop had previously given the church. Nigel is to continue in possession, making an annual payment to the common, while Jocelin is to enjoy the daily prayers of a priest of the cathedral and of the canons of another house after his death. The cathedral's own workings, too, are revealed, as in the grant by the bishop to Philip of Saint Edward of a virgate of land which had long been used to support the clerk charged with correcting the cathedral's books, on condition that Philip diligently correct the same (no. 130). Students of English can learn the name of some land in Potterne: "Garbradekeres", which Jocelin exchanged with Azo, dean of Salisbury (no. 127). A hitherto unpublished actum, no. 223, records the admission of Thomas of Chobham, best known as the author of the Summa Confessorum, to the perpetual vicarage of Sturminster. No. 155, also printed here for the first time, presents a nice instance of the potential ambiguity of the relations between church and crown: in 1157 the bishop, along with two colleagues, rendered a decision in a dispute over several vills between York Minster and the abbey of Goucester--the kind of business which the king's courts claimed for themselves. Yet these men acted as papal judges delegate, and in the presence of the king and his barons. Does this represent a genuinely fluid moment before jurisdictional claims were further crystallized? Or simply tact on the part of both the king and these clerical judges?

One of the chief uses of a systematic collection such as this, however, is to allow a synoptic view of a single diocese over a long period of time. Kemp's extensive introduction indicates some of the developments which such an overview reveals. One such matter is episcopal supervision of the benefices of the diocese. In one of his earlier studies, Kemp concluded that Roger of Salisbury's pontificate (1103-39) saw the beginning of the systematic survey of the patronage of the diocese's benefices known as a matricula; that conclusion, reproduced in this volume's introduction, relies on several acta edited here. The production of such a survey under Roger implies that episcopal control (or at least, I should note, an attempt at control) over what would later be called institutions to benefices began long before the advent of the episcopal registers whose chief purpose would be to record such matters. That interest in parochial appointments also seems evident under Jocelin de Bohun (1142-84), who even tried to deprive a patron of an advowson. Kemp's introduction suggests that Richard Poore's concern for parochial interests expressed itself in his resistance to appropriation of rectories by monasteries, preferring instead to grant religious houses a pension or part of the tithes as a perpetual benefice, while assigning the advowson of the church to himself. (Here some readers may wonder whether such moves show Poore more as a predator rather than a protector of parochial resources. But any further discussion of the matter will have to wait until the publication of Poore's acta in the next volume.)

Kemp also points out how the collection as a whole reveals these bishops' relations with their chief ecclesiastical partners (and potential opponents), the cathedral chapter and the archdeacons. In line with his earlier work on archdeacons, Kemp sees this as a story of harmony. Osmund's and Roger of Salisbury's acta reveal little about their households; only one of Osmund's acta lists witnesses, and Roger's acta provide witnesses for only four different days. To judge from this thin evidence, neither was much in company with the chief dignitaries of the cathedral or with the archdeacons. This dim picture contrasts, however, with the better documented episcopate of Jocelin de Bohun, perhaps a result of the length of Jocelin's pontificate (by the time of his death most of these men owed him their appointments), perhaps a result of Jocelin's comparatively constant residence in his diocese. The next bishop, Hubert Walter, brought new men with him, and they continued to attest his acta even after some of them became archdeacons. Herbert Poore (1194-1217), too, brought his own followers, but their promotion as archdeacons was followed by their relative aloofness as attestors. Kemp attributes this contrast with Poore's predecessor to "an institutional growing apart of their separate spheres" (lxxvi) rather than to institutional conflict, pointing out that, after all, one of these absent archdeacons (and later dean of Salisbury) was Poore's own brother, Richard. This removal of the archdeacons continued when that same brother became bishop in turn, although cathedral canons and dignitaries experienced a resurgence as attestors, for reasons which are not entirely clear; Kemp indicates several possible explanations.

A great deal of careful prosopographical work underlies conclusions like those laid out in the previous paragraph. Kemp does all that this reviewer, at least, can ask in identifying the people who appear as attestors, and explicitly identifies his evidence for doing so, revealing, for example, the Richard, sheriff of Wiltshire who attests one of Jocelin de Bohun's acta to be a chaplain of Wilton Abbey. It is not surprising that one of the appendices promised for the next volume will consist of amendments to Le Neve's Fasti for the diocese, some of which are made in the course of the introduction itself.

One standard feature of this series is a treatment of the diplomatic of the acta. In such matters, Kemp, aided by the survival of 76 acta as originals, finds a general conformity with developments in other dioceses. For example, the twelfth century saw bishops increasingly employ the first person plural and use a more elaborate intitulation (e.g., dei gratia Sarisburiensis episcopusfor the earlier episcopus Sarisburiensis). The salutation also became moderately more elaborate, although Herbert Poore's episcopate marked a reversal of this direction. Following papal and royal example, at the end of the twelfth century the bishop of Salisbury, like other English bishops, started to use a standard dating clause. Similarly, like their colleagues in other sees, the bishops of Salisbury resisted use of the chirograph into the thirteenth century.

The arenga, a place where clerks might exhibit a show of style while adding little substance to the actum, largely disappeared in the early thirteenth century, as it did in other sees. In explaining this development, Kemp points out that acta had become quite lengthy--a reaction, one suspects, to an increasingly technical world, requiring documents increasingly detailed in substantive matters. To this reason one may also add the growing numbers of acta the men around the bishop had to produce. A greater sophistication, or at least new notions of the bishop's and cathedral's role in the diocese, is also evident in the emergence of what Kemp calls "a neat 'saving clause'" protecting episcopal and capitular rights in the dispositio of the acta. Kemp also pays particular attention to the changing terminology concerning what would eventually be called admission and institution to benefices, a matter whose study he has pioneered elsewhere.

Kemp also points out how the diplomatic manifests a conscious (and growing) distinction between secular and ecclesiastical matters. At the end of the period, Richard Poore's preference for scriptum over carta for a document concerned with ecclesiastical matters suggests a determination to differentiate lay from clerical concerns. Kemp further suggests that Herbert Poore's comparative reluctance to seal his acta indicates a similar differentiation of "episcopal acta from lay grants," observing that seals were increasingly used by the laity; he draws this conclusion from the absence of a sealing clause in the corroboratio in 30 instances, although he notes that these are still fewer, by his count, than half of Herbert Poore's acta. This is a very interesting development, and I wish that Kemp had been a bit more explicit about it: is it that Poore was reluctant to use a seal so regularly as other bishops, or that he tended not to use a seal for what can regarded as church business, but did use one for secular business (the distinction which differentiated scriptum from carta)? The former possibility seems to be the case, and the evidence for it is even stronger than Kemp would have it, in that I count 24 surviving acta of Herbert Poore without evidence of a seal (pace Kemp's figure of 30), which, however, constitute a majority out of a total of the total of 44 acta (by my count) surviving from his episcopate. Moreover, one can point to the two acta of Herbert Poore which are about indisputably secular matters: no. 237 (concerning villein service to the bishop) and no. 245 (a concord concerning knight service, a case which had been heard in the king's court). Neither bears evidence of sealing. Of course, one must keep in mind that a document could be sealed without reference to a seal appearing in the corroboratio, as in the seal which survives attached to no. 241 (although this actum may be spurious), a problem sharpened by the fact that most of these acta survive as cartulary copies. As Kemp notes, however, whatever the development incipient under Bishop Herbert, his successor regularly applied a seal.

Although it is always good to see diplomatic related to larger developments in the way Kemp does here, it is also good to see it deployed to more traditional ends. The appearance of Bishop Iocelinus (de Bohun)'s name without abbreviation, along with other matters of form, leads Kemp to raise doubts about no. 147. And even an intact seal of Bishop Herbert Poore does not save the reputation of no. 142; Kemp, having systematically collected all the Salisbury acta, notes that its diplomatic, which Christopher Cheney found merely interesting, marks this actum as suspect.

Finally, this is a well produced volume. I found only two typographical errors (a spacing problem on p. lxix, n 49, and "latters" for "letters" on p. cii). Several fine plates of some hands and seals complete this excellent edition. One can only look forward to its companion.