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Piety, Fraternity and Power - Religious Gilds in Late Medieval Yorkshire, 1389-1547

The religious gild was central to the structure of late medieval society, providing lay people with a focus for public expressions of orthodox piety that accorded with the doctrinal views of government between 1399 and 1531. Using evidence from the county of Yorkshire, this book argues that beyond their devotional and ceremonial roles, the influence of these basically pious institutions permeated all aspects of late medieval political, social and economic activity. The author begins by discussing the evidence for Yorkshire gilds in the late fourteenth century, moving on to survey the changing distribution, development, and membership of fraternities throughout the county over the next century and a half. Special attention is given to the ways in which the religious gilds of Yorkshire interacted with town government, with clerical bodies, with occupational organisations, and with one another, illustrated with detailed case-studies of the gilds of Corpus Christi, York, and St Mary in Holy Trinity, Hull, which are particularly well-documented. The final section of the book deals with the decline and disappearance of religious gilds during the Reformation, showing how their devotional purposes were eroded by the new policies of central government and how many gilds anticipated their official dissolution. DAVID J.F. CROUCH gained his D.Phil from the University of York.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: historiography; sources. Part 1 English gilds in 1389: the context of the 1389 gild returns; the Yorkshire writs; the Yorkshire returns; the proliferation of gilds; conclusion. Part 2 The geographical distribution and chronological development of Yorkshire gilds: the nature of the testamentary evidence for Yorkshire gilds; chronological patterns for gild activity; gild distribution; gilds in the East Riding; gilds and services in the West Riding; gilds in urban centres. Part 3 The membership and activities of Yorkshire gilds: the occupations and status of testators; lay piety and the dedications of gilds; religious ceremonial in Yorkshire towns; gild administration; conclusion. Part 4 The religious gilds of medieval York: the chronological distribution of testamentary evidence; parish gilds; monastic gilds and confraternities; gilds and occupations; the civic gilds of York; the membership of York gilds; conclusion. Part 5 Case study one - the Corpus Christi gild of York: the evolution of the gild; the ordinance of 1408 and 1477; the origins and foundations of the gild; gild membership; gild finance; dissolution. Part 6 Case study two - the gild of St Mary in Holy Trinity, Hull: the evolution of the gild; gild functions; commerce; real estate; the gild accounts and the town government; St Mary Gild and other fraternities in Hull; the end of the gild; conclusion. Part 7 The reformation and the dissolution of the gilds: the decline of the gilds; Lollards and conservatives; purgatory, intercession and the Eucharist; images, lights and ceremonial; the pilgrimage of grace and its aftermath, 1536-41; the process of dissolution; gild survival; conclusion. Appendices: list of identified Yorkshire gilds; gild masters of the Corpus Christi in York, 1461-1546; York City officials index 1397-1550 showing Corpus Christi Gild membership; officers and financial state of the St Mary Gild in Holy Trinity, Hull, 1463-1537; Yorkshire gilds and services surviving to the dissolution.


An excellent, mature and integrated study... good sense and sympathy informed by formidable understanding the sources and the issues. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW An interesting and informative study... contributing significantly to our knowledge and understanding of gilds and the range and complexity of their functions. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Highly impressive study... a perceptive and fully rounded account... Adds significantly to our understanding of the religious guilds. HISTORY

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