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Canterbury and York Series (13th-16th century)

The Canterbury and York Society was founded in 1904 for the purpose of publishing medieval bishops' registers and other ecclesiastical records. By the late 13th century all but one of the 17 dioceses of England had begun formal registration of episcopal business, in particular of the institutions of clergy to benefices and of ordinations. To this basic record were frequently added details of judicial business in the bishop's court, visitations, confirmations of the heads of religious houses in the diocese, royal and papal letters, indulgences, commissions, licences, dispensations, records of estate and financial administration, and much more. Episcopal registers are the rich source therefore for any study of the administrative structure of the late medieval church.

In addition, since the church had jurisdiction over all inhabitants in matters of faith, morality and testaments, the registers frequently contain material on heresy and witchcraft and matrimonial irregularities and full copies of wills proved. Episcopal mandates deal with a wide variety of topics, including prayers for successful harvests, the capture of recalcitrant excommunicates, contributions for the repair of roads and bridges, and the consecration of churches. Registers are therefore widely consulted not only by church historians, but also by those interested in political, social, architectural and local history and in demography.

The Library collection comprises c. 90 volumes (published from 1909 to date), covering, amongst others, the dioceses of Canterbury, Lincoln, Hereford, Winchester, Coventry and Lichfield, Exeter, and Norwich.