Archbishop Wulfstan of York is among the most important legal and political thinkers of the early Middle Ages. A leading ecclesiastic, innovative legislator, and influential royal councilor, Wulfstan witnessed firsthand the violence and social unrest that culminated in the fall of the English monarchy before the invading armies of Cnut in 1016. This book introduces the range of Wulfstan's political writings and sheds light on the development of English law during the early eleventh century. In his homilies and legal tracts, Wulfstan offered a searing indictment of the moral failures that led to England’s collapse and formulated a vision of an ideal Christian community that would influence English political thought long after the Anglo-Saxon period had ended. More than just dry political theory, however, Wulfstan’s works are composed in the distinctive voice of someone who was both a confidante of kings and a preacher of apocalyptic fervour. No other source so vividly portrays the political life of eleventh-century England: what it was, and what one man believed it could be.
From self-representation to episcopal model. The case of the eloquent bishops Ambrose of Milan and Gregory the Great
: the emperor was
within, not above the Church, as the Milanese bishop stated with humility, but
also with steadfastness.14 As a member of the Church, the emperor himself was
placed under the moral and spiritual responsibility of the bishop: making sure
that the head of the res publica took no wrong decisions was part of the wide
range of episcopalduties, though undoubtedly one of the thorniest. Ambrose
gave a powerful demonstration of that when he imposed a public penance on
Theodosius for the massacre of innocents in Thessalonica in 390, an act that
did not directly entail
. 137–48; David Hayton, ‘Did Protestantism fail in early eighteenth century Ireland? Charity
schools and the enterprise of religious and social reformation, c.1690–1730’ in As by law
established, p. 167; James, North country bishop, pp. 259–62; O’Regan, William King,
pp. 125–30, 144–51.
No visitation records exist for the diocese of Down and Connor. Hutchinson’s performance of his episcopalduties has been examined through his commonplace book for the
years 1721 to 1730.
Hutchinson’s commonplace book, 1721–30 (P.R.O.N.I., MS DIO/1/22/1 [unpaged
alienated Church property, expanded the foundation’s
endowment, and consolidated the minster’s real estate
It cannot be a coincidence that Wulfstan’s early years at York and
Worcester also witnessed his first forays into legal composition,
including the Laws of Edward and Guthrum , Concerning EpiscopalDuties ( Episcopus ), the ‘Compilation on
The mental world of an eighteenth-century Anglican pastor
.17 He admitted that his own contribution to this programme
had been more rhetorical than tangible, admitting that his ‘maggotty projecting brain’18 had been put ‘to little purpose’ while living in England.19
New-found wealth and comparatively light episcopalduties, combined
with the fact that Ireland was a country almost constantly in the grip of
economic crisis and thus more than any other warranted the interference
of projectors, provided Hutchinson with both the spur and resources
to reverse this behaviour pattern.20
He was also convinced of the virtues of
and its Church; the contemporaneous formation and articulation of diocesan structures, episcopalduties and responsibilities; monastic identity, space, and community struggles for spiritual, fiscal, and political autonomy; the fragmentation of power and politics in the late Carolingian Empire; the spirit, meaning, and influence of ‘reform’ and its initiatives; and the transforming nature of canon law, in addition to secular and ecclesiastical authority and jurisdiction, all form part of the same institutional story.
One key to interpreting
The social, economic and cultural improvement of Ireland and the Irish, 1721–39
Connolly, Religion, law and power, p. 57; Barnard, Kingdom of Ireland, pp. 85–7.
See Chapter 4.
Francis Hutchinson to Cox Macro, 12 Nov. 1722 (B.L., Add. MS 32556, fo. 151).
Francis Hutchinson to Sir Hans Sloane, 12 Oct. 1723 (B.L., Sloane MS 4047, fos. 67–8).
The improvement of Ireland
and opportunities needed to actualise his projecting potential. The money
and time came from his relatively large episcopal income and his light
burden of episcopalduties.16 After all, publishing pamphlets, joining
improving societies, and purchasing and beautifying estates all
point about evidence for episcopalduties before 779.
No year in Charlemagne’s reign was trouble-free. The first real Krisenzeit,
though, was not 779, but 773–4, following Charlemagne’s takeover of his
brother’s kingdom and occasioned by the survival of his nephews in Italy under
the protection of the Lombard king. It was one thing to mop up Aquitanian
resistance in summer 769, or make a risky but potentially very profitable attack
on the Saxons’ great shrine in early summer 772: quite another thing to launch
a campaign across the Alps to Lombardy in late summer 773
bishops’ rejection of illegitimate papal intervention
within their dioceses should be at least partly understood as a manifestation of
The bishops possessed a finely tuned interpretation of papal and episcopalduties and rights. Throughout the century, they accepted the traditional doctrine
that the pope was the ‘bishop of bishops’ and, as Christ’s vicar on earth, the
leader of the universal Catholic church.6 Even at the height of gallican sentiment
during the 1680s, Bishop Bossuet was careful to stress papal primacy within the
church; although this
themes drawn from sources like Saint Paul, Ignatius of Antioch and Gregory the
Great.73 Indeed, the Council frequently included biblical quotations to support
its advice and to connect its bald rules with the conscientious bishop’s personal
faith. Session VI’s precept on residence quoted Paul’s advice to Timothy, a classic text on episcopalduties.74 But the directives produced were not only traditional; they were also limited in value. Assessed as a whole, Trent’s legislation
on episcopacy was overwhelmingly legalistic and focused on the disciplinary