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The Dean and Chapter of Durham, 1558-1603

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  • Economics
  • Political Science


This thesis provides the first comprehensive study of the role of an Elizabethan Cathedral in society, perhaps doubly significant because it deals with the only diocese in which, according to Dr Collinson, the puritans had 'unfettered control'. How this outpost of radicalism came to be located at Durham and the way in which the puritans used their positions of authority are both questions which are dealt with, but the scope of the study is much wider than this. The Cathedral is examined as a complete unit by following the interests and activities of the individual prebends as well as of the corporation in general: indeed, it is only when these 2 aspects of the Cathedrals work are examined together that meaningful conclusions can be drawn. The involvement of the Cathedral in national and local politics and the contributions which it made to the spiritual and economic life of the diocese are examined in some depth, and in this way a picture is built up of a vigorous organisation with involvements in many aspects of government and society often far removed from prevailing notions both of Cathedrals and of the Elizabethan clergy in the localities. The reign of Elizabeth was in many ways the vital formulative period for the attitudes and institutions which came to characterise the Church of England and the Cathedral represents one area which up until now has been largely ignored: the conclusion which emerges is of an institution which was still basically rooted in the past yet which became in itself something new, owing little to traditional concepts of either the monastic or collegiate life.

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