Letter from Elizabeth of York, Queen of England, to the Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury – June 6, 1499

The Freelance History Writer

Detail of a miniature of the important 15th-century poet John Lydgate, the ‘monk of Bury’, riding to Canterbury as one of Chaucer’s pilgrims; from John Lydgate, The Siege of Thebes, England, 2nd quarter of the 15th century, Arundel MS 119, f. 1r.

Religious patronage was one of the preferred means by which medieval queens expressed their power. To attract qualified men to enter her service, a queen needed to demonstrate the ability to reward their talent. The queen relied on the benefices which she could present to her clerks. A benefice was a permanent Church appointment, typically that of rector or vicar, for which property and income are provided in respect of pastoral duties.

The ability to award these honors came from the churches on or near the Queen’s manors, whether held in wardship or in fee. When a Queen acquired a new manor, it was typical for them to…

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