The Age of Provision: Responses and Consequences
Throughout the thirteenth century, episcopal elections had been one of the primary causes of dissent between the English king and the church, as well as an important source of discord within the church. The ferocity of the electoral disputes of this period demonstrates the importance of episcopal appointments in medieval society, and the jealousy with which the participants in the electoral process guarded their rights. Against this background, it might be expected that the four key English participants in the electoral process would have reacted strongly to the manner in which the fifth party (the papacy) altered this process during the early decades of the fourteenth century. This chapter considers each of the members of this core quartet (king, chapter, archbishop and candidate) in turn, examining their responses to the rise of provision, along with the strategies they adopted in order to adapt to the new system. It then considers the changing position of subsidiary participants, such as the queen and aristocracy, asking how far their ability to influence appointments was affected. Wider responses to the rise of provision, both clerical and lay, are also discussed. The final section of this chapter analyses the consequences of the transition to provision, asking whether procedural changes and new ideologies had any substantial impact on the composition of the English episcopate.