Patronage of the Knights Hospitaller in Britain and Ireland, 1291-1400
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This study examines what motivated donors to the Knights Hospitaller throughout the British Isles from 1291 to 1400. The Hospitallers, a military-religious order which fought in the crusades, came to Britain and Ireland in the twelfth century. It soon became, due to the generosity of donors from all levels of society, one of the archipelago’s largest ecclesiastical institutions. This thesis is the first study of donations to the Hospitallers in the British Isles, allowing conclusions to be drawn about the Order’s patronage and relations with societies throughout Britain and Ireland. Chapter One discusses the role of the Hospitallers’ crusading, knighthood, and hospitality in motivating donors, finding that these traditional explanations behind patronage, particularly crusading, played only a minor role. Chapter Two finds that their military support of England did influence patronage by alienating support, but only in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The remaining chapters show what really motivated most patrons: personal and professional ties, particularly familial, religious benefactions, and localism. At each stage, the Hospitallers’ patronage is compared with that of other religious orders, finding that there was little difference between what motivated donations to military and non-military orders. Such a conclusion has important implications for the treatment of the military orders in studies of medieval religion, many of which relegate these orders to a subfield of crusade studies rather than treating them as a full part of mainstream religious life. It also suggests that we should reconsider the place of the military orders within the societies of late medieval Britain and Ireland. They were not valued by most donors primarily as outposts of the crusade movement, but rather were treated firstly as professed religious offering much the same services as any other house: intercessory prayer, employment, trade, and acting as a source of prestige for those who patronised them.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-04-29
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 29th April 2024
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