Christine Carpenter
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The best-explored sphere of gentry religion is charitable donations. The pattern of donations closely mirrored the position of a family within the hierarchy of gentility, for the greater gentry, having more widespread lands, generally distributed their generosity over a wider geographical area. Very minor gentry would have to accept lesser, and less permanent, means of commemoration, like a finite number of masses, obits, or the donation of an altar light, vestment or furnishing. An exploration of the language used in the fifteenth-century gentry correspondences would offer valuable evidence of the true meaning of religion to the mass of the gentry, not just on their deathbeds but in the course of their daily lives. All gentry men and women were well enough educated in the faith to express their own personal preferences in religion and develop their own favourite saints and rituals.

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