A History of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, 1182-1256: Samson by Antonia Gransden

By Antonia Gransden

St Edmund's Abbey was once essentially the most hugely privileged and wealthiest spiritual homes in medieval England, one heavily concerned with the relevant executive; its background is a vital part of English heritage. This publication (the first of 2 volumes) deals a magisterial and complete account of the Abbey in the course of the 13th century, established totally on proof within the abbey's files (over forty registers survive). The careers of the abbots, starting with the good Samson, give you the chronological constitution; separate chapters examine a variety of points in their rule, akin to their family members with the convent, the abbey's inner and exterior management and its relatives with its tenants and neighbours, with the king and the relevant govt. Chapters also are dedicated to the clergymen' spiritual, cultural and highbrow existence, to their writings, booklet assortment and files. Appendices specialize in the mid-thirteenth century bills which offer a different and targeted photograph of the supplier and economic climate of St Edmunds' estates in West Suffolk, and at the abbey's watermills and windmills.

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Extra info for A History of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, 1182-1256: Samson of Tottington to Edmund of Walpole

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269–70 and pl. LXXXIII B. Discussed and printed by Liebermann in Ungedruckte Anglo-Normannische Geschichtsquellen, pp. 97–155. The annals from 1032 are printed by Arnold in Memorials, ii. vii–viii, 3 and n. , 4–25; he bases his text on Liebermann’s. Liebermann, ed. , pp. 101–3; Vaughan, Matthew Paris, p. 24; Gransden, Historical Writing, [i]. 359 and n. 24. INTRODUCTORY  abbatiate.  The value of Jocelin of Brackland’s chronicle as a source will be amply illustrated in the chapters on Samson and his rule.

He also describes the grief of those monks whom Samson excluded from the viewing of the body and the community’s tearfulness as it sang the ‘Te Deum’ after the body’s translation. Jocelin’s personal goodness, his warm heartedness, humility and wisdom appear in a number of passages. Clearly he had a strong personal affection for Samson which survived despite the fact that he came to see much deserving criticism,13 and he was fond of others besides Samson. He sadly tells how he lost a friend and benefactor: during the discussions which preceded Samson’s election as abbot, Jocelin said in private that he did not think that this particular monk was a suitable candidate; unfortunately his remark was repeated to the monk and ‘neither words nor gifts’ could win back his affection.

Lipman, The Jews of Medieval Norwich (Jewish Historical Soc. of England, London, 1967), pp. 16 n. 3, 59, 60 and n. 1, 61, 62, 107.  With regard to property, he had direct responsibility for his own portion, and overall responsibility for the convent’s. To protect and promote these interests entailed frequent recourse to the law courts. The justiciar, Ranulf de Glanville, was initially uneasy at Samson’s succession because of his lack of administrative experience, but was reassured because Samson soon showed his ability.

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