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date: 10 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Church lords were among the most powerful owners of property in the middle ages. We have learned much about the cultural and social histories of the medieval Church in the past generation, but we still have much to learn about its economic development. Ecclesiastical lordships were far more complex, diverse, and constructive than they might have appeared to an earlier generation of scholars. Strategies adopted by many churchmen between 1100 and 1400, often influenced by pressures and resistance exerted by peasants, monarchies, and city-states, brought about major transformations in the nature of ecclesiastical lordship. At the same time canon lawyers developed a vigorous legal tradition of ecclesiastical patronage. Nevertheless, the tension between the ideal of apostolic poverty and the reality of church property led to conflict, especially within the Franciscan Order. Many church lords responded constructively to the challenges of economic crisis in the later middle ages, but church property remained a divisive issue well into the early modern period.

Keywords: property, lordship, church, patronage rights, Franciscans, economy

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