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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In medieval Europe, the parish was the basic unit of orthodox lay worship, but it was also a unit of social regulation, moral instruction, and taxation. This chapter will survey the role of the parish in late medieval European life, looking at varieties of lay administration and participation. It will also consider the ways in which gender, status, and geography shaped lay participation, arguing that these forces as much as theology and episcopal administration shaped and were a part of religious practice. The chapter will also consider the ways in which the parish failed to meet lay interests, giving rise to confraternities that transcended parish boundaries, sub-parochial organizations that focused on chapels dedicated to a saint, and domestic chapels in manor houses. Lastly, this chapter offers a history of the pre-Reformation parish that recognizes changes in parish and devotional life that are not referenced by the spectre of the Reformation.

Keywords: Parish, women, guild, confraternity, saint, Eucharist, churchwarden

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