Repository logo

Pastoral care according to the bishops of England and Wales (c.1170 – 1228)



Change log


Runciman, David 


Church leaders have always been seen as shepherds, expected to feed their flock with teaching, to guide them to salvation, and to preserve them from threatening ‘wolves’. In the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, ideas about the specifics of these pastoral duties were developing rapidly, especially in the schools of Paris and at the papal curia. Scholarly assessments of the bishops of England and Wales in this period emphasise their political and administrative activities, but there is growing interest in their pastoral role. In this thesis, the texts produced by these bishops are examined. These texts, several of which had been neglected, form a corpus of evidence that has never before been assembled. Almost all of them had a pastoral application, and thus they reveal how bishops understood and exercised their pastoral duties.

Although bishops’ preaching was rarely recorded in narrative sources, combining this evidence with the extant sermons left by bishops reveals episcopal preaching to clerical, lay, and monastic audiences. Bishops also instructed the clergy through their writing. The two subjects bishops addressed most frequently were the Eucharist and confession. As new ideas about these sacraments emerged, even educated bishops fell behind the pace of change. Bishops’ treatments of the sacraments changed significantly across the period as these ideas became established. The ‘wolves’ that threatened the flock were most readily identified as heretics. England was largely unaffected by the popular heresy seen in some other regions, and bishops dealt with heretics of this kind abroad as often as at home. Other threats to orthodoxy in England were identified, however, and in some cases resisted vigorously. The evidence of these bishops’ writing confirms that, even in the midst of political turmoil and administrative innovation, pastoral care remained fundamental to episcopal office. Bishops sought to implement the ideas of Paris and Rome in their dioceses.





Barrau, Julie


medieval, history, middle ages, pastoral care, bishops, pastoral theology, preaching, sacraments, heresy, orthodoxy, exegesis, Bartholomew of Exeter, Gilbert Foliot, Hugh of Lincoln, Stephen Langton, Christopher Cheney, Lateran III, Lateran IV, eucharist, confession, Richard Poore, Alexander of Stainsby, Hubert Walter, Richard of Dover, William Longchamp, Cadwgan of Llandyfai, Contra fatalitatis errorem, Dialogus contra Iudeos, Liber de sectis hereticorum et orthodoxe fidei dogmata, English Church, Welsh Church, medieval manuscripts, medieval sermons, Baldwin of Forde, penance, De penitentia sub persone Magdalene, episcopal, episcopus, cathedral


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
(2015-18) Pigott Doctoral Studentship, Cambridge Home and European Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) (2015-18) Senior Scholarship, Fitzwilliam College (2018) Fitzwilliam College, 10th term funding