chapter  1
16 Pages

Bishops and Bankers

ByOlivia Robinson

The origin of this chapter is in my curiosity about some borrowing by “my” bishop, and its implications.1 Now, bishops, like other men, needed money. But bishops, like other mediaeval great men, kings, princes, magnates, prelates, and lords, mostly lived off their own; in other words, they mostly lived off the fruits of their manors. And the bishop of Exeter held some 24 manors; he was not as rich as Winchester, but he was not poor. For example, Bronescombe’s next-butone successor, Bishop Bytton, could afford to give a regular £124-18s-8d p.a. to the cathedral Fabric Fund, doubling the dean and chapter’s contribution of half their prebendal salaries-£62-9s-4d p.a.2 Yet Bytton died with a reasonable credit balance; the dean and chapter, his residuary legatees, received some £600, after generous obit payments, etc.3 However, we do know that Bronescombe inherited significant debts from his predecessor (26).4