Central authority and local powers: the apostolic penitentiary and English church in the fifteenth century
Historical Research, 84, (225), . (doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2010.00558.x).
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The apostolic penitentiary was the central office of the late medieval Western church concerned with matters of conscience. It authorized absolution of sins in cases reserved to the papacy. It also issued other graces that were a papal monopoly, including dispensations and licences. The office's registers of supplications in the Vatican Archives record requests for these favours from 1410 onwards. This article surveys this valuable evidence for social and religious history and, using local ecclesiastical sources, shows how bishops acted as executors for these papal graces in the fifteenth-century English church, sometimes denying the requests of supplicants in their dioceses.
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