Salisbury Cathedral and the Laity

Andrew D. Brown

in Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780198205210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Salisbury Cathedral and the Laity

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • History of Religion


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Cathedrals of secular clergy were potentially as detached from the laity as monastic houses. The daily round of liturgical service conducted by the Salisbury canons and vicars-choral — the seven canonical hours, daily mass, chantry masses, and anniversary services — tended to cut off the clerical members from lay people. The cathedral's wealth and exclusiveness meant that the institution sometimes became a focus of discontent. The rebels of the Lollard uprising in 1431 drew up plans to disendow the cathedral and raze it to the ground. Unsavoury incidents like these do not suggest that the cathedral clergy were held in high esteem. They do not even imply that the laity regarded the cathedral at best with a mixture of ‘respect and indifference’. This chapter argues, however, that lay people were neither indifferent nor hostile to the cathedral.

Keywords: cathedrals; monastic houses; laity; Salisbury canons; rebels; Lollard uprising; secular clergy

Chapter.  8501 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; History of Religion

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