Lincoln Cathedral Chapter and Ceremonial Gift-Exchange: establishing alliances in the fourteenth century

Dorr, Abigail (2018) Lincoln Cathedral Chapter and Ceremonial Gift-Exchange: establishing alliances in the fourteenth century. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

This thesis analyses the common fund accounts of Lincoln Cathedral Chapter, which run almost continuously between 1304 and 1386. These records contain a wealth of information on the administration and financial situation of a religious institution in the fourteenth century but have widely been neglected. This study highlights the potential of financial accounts to not only contribute to current understanding of the economic stability of an institution, but to provide an insight into the performance of the tenants and debtors who frequent the material. In a similar way to manorial records allowing the historian to access the lives of the peasantry, the common fund reveals much about the experience and stability of both the rural and urban inhabitants of the Lincolnshire diocese in the fourteenth century. In contradiction to the findings of Francis Hill, the common fund highlights the performance of Lincolnshire in the aftermath of the Black Death and suggests that the Chapter, city and wider settlements remained economically stable in the decades notorious for sustained population decline and economic collapse. The study uses the accounts to explore the relationship between Lincoln Cathedral Chapter and the outside world through an evaluation of its gift-giving practices. The accounts contain numerous examples of gifts both received and offered by the Chapter, which proved an effective way to establish alliances and to cement friendships. The thesis analyses trends in the value of gift-exchange throughout the turbulent and troublesome fourteenth century. Gift-exchange established reciprocal alliances between the rich and poor, and the living and dead. The study evaluates exchange between pilgrims and saints using shrine accounts, the rich and the poor using obit records, and gifts given directly by the Chapter to the poor of the diocese and members of both the secular and religious elite. Where one socio-economic crisis led to a reduction in gift-exchange, another increased the value of giving. This study is the first of its kind to use institutional ecclesiastical accounts to explore the economic performance of both rural and urban settlements. The availability of the data facilitates an exploration of long-term trends in gift-exchange and places gift-giving practices against a backdrop of significant social and economic change in an age of famine, deflation, and plague. The common fund accounts contribute to current knowledge on the place of unofficial saints, which benefit from extensive shrine account data. With eight regular openings of the shrine boxes throughout the year, this study adds further nuance to seasonal cycles in pilgrimage and allows for a comparison of the veneration of official saints and those who failed to secure papal recognition. For the first time, this thesis can compare the extent of charitable giving to the poor with other forms of expenditure to understand whether charity was motivated by the recipients’ need to receive or the benefactors’ ability to give. This thesis uses giftgiving behavior to highlight the potential of institutional accounts to further current knowledge on economic performance and the place of a cathedral in the urban space.

Keywords:Lincoln Cathedral Chapter, fourteenth century, gift, financial accounts
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V214 English History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:34380
Deposited On:18 Dec 2018 10:06

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