ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY: A masterpiece of scholarly research and writing...This superb collection of financial records is w rendered easily accessible to scholars by means of a practical guide. May (B.H.)'s achievement prove to be the long awaited model that future scholars will follow to the benefit of us all. The obedientiaries - office-holding monks - of Benedictine monasteries in the middle ages led a life of more privilege and freedom than is usually associated with the profound understanding of the monastic life in the Rule of St Benedict. The records of the obedientiaries of Westminster Abbey are a source of major importance, t only for life in the cloister, but also for that of society outside. The typical obedientiary rendered his final account at Michaelmas (29 September) each year, and nearly 2,000 such accounts survive, but other documents were also produced throughout the year. The entire number surviving, approximately four thousand items, is listed here under the title of the appropriate obedientiary (including abbot and prior); an in troduction to each list describes the principal subject-matter of the records. BARBARA HARVEY is emeritus fellow of Somerville College, Oxford; her other work includes Living and Dying in England, 1100-1540: The Monastic Experience and The Estates of Westminster Abbey in the Middle Ages.
Barbara Harvey is Emeritus fellow of Somerville College, Oxford.