Journal Article

The Separation of Portions between Abbot and Convent at Bury St Edmunds: the decisive years, 1278-1281

Antonia Gransden

in The English Historical Review

Volume 119, issue 481, pages 373-406
Published in print April 2004 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online April 2004 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/119.481.373
The Separation of Portions between Abbot and Convent at Bury St Edmunds: the decisive years, 1278-1281

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Some separation of portions between abbot and convent existed at Bury St Edmunds Abbey before the Norman Conquest for administrative convenience. After 1066 the need for such separation became more urgent because during a vacancy of the abbacy the king was entitled to occupy the abbot's portion, like the barony of any other tenant-in-chief, and tended to exploit its assets. Abbot Robert II (1102-7) made some kind of formal separation of the portions. There is scattered evidence that various properties, revenues and rights were assigned to specific obedientiaries in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. However, the lack of clear definition of the portions increasingly led to disputes within the abbey as well as with the king, because any encroachment by the abbot on the convent's portion meant that whatever he had usurped might fall into the royal hands when the king occupied the abbot's portion during a vacancy. A crisis occurred in 1279 during the vacancy preceding the succession of Abbot John of Northwold, when the royal keeper occupied the convent's portion together with the abbot's. Therefore, to give legal protection to the convent's portion during vacancies, the abbot and convent in 1281 obtained royal confirmation of the separation. Moreover, in 1280 they agreed in chapter to a composition codifying some details of their respective properties, revenues and rights within the abbey which affected the monks' domestic lives. This article traces the complicated history of the separation which led to the 1281 confirmation and to the composition of 1280. The latter is printed for the first time in the appendix.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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