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Portrait of an Expatriate Community: The English in Rome, 1362-1420.

The English in Rome, 1362-1420: Portrait of an Expatriate Community. By Margaret Harvey. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 278 pp. $45.00.

The English in Rome is Margaret Harvey's third monograph exploring relations between England and Rome during the papal schism and its aftermath. Two loosely connected English communities living in Rome between 1362 and 1420 constitute the focus of this latest monograph. The fortunes of both communities unfolded in the midst of a series of political and religious conflicts, including struggles between the Roman popolo and magnate factions, and turmoil caused by the Papal Schism and Hundred Years' War, both of which contributed to the often tense relations between the Roman curia and the English crown. As a result, English men and women in Rome had to navigate through treacherous waters.

After two chapters setting the historical context of Rome from 1362-1420, Harvey turns her attention to the first community, predominantly lay men and women until 1400, rooted in the hospices of St. Thomas (founded in 1362) and St. Chrysogonus (founded in the 1390s). Both hospices were founded by laymen seeking to establish a support network for English pilgrims and expatriates--mostly merchants connected to the pilgrim and wool trades. This part of the study is deeply rooted in archival material from the Venerabile Collegio Inglese in Rome, the successor to the two hospices, and from notarial protocols in the Archivio di Stato and Archivio Capitolino. Given the nature of the sources, the portrait that emerges is largely prosopographical. Using wills and property transactions, Harvey examines the economic activity of merchants and artisans and reconstructs the social and economic networks (in Rome, and to a much lesser extent, in England) in which the English community was embedded. This helps explain why St. Thomas fared much better than St. Chrysogonus, whose benefactors and Italian connections fell upon hard times due to the politics of the Schism. A separate chapter examines the limited social and economic opportunities of English women (wives and widows) in Rome and the experiences of women pilgrims.

Harvey then turns her attention to Englishmen holding curial posts. These chapters are, once again, heavily prosopographical. Because the protagonists in this part of the study are career churchmen, their career paths are better documented than their lay counterparts in the first part of the book. As we follow their careers from political and ecclesiastical posts in England to positions in the curia, we find ourselves in a rich historical landscape. In addition to providing a very brief but useful introduction to the papal curia's structure, the lives of these churchmen provide fascinating insight into the papal benefice market and the tension between the papacy and English crown over the Statute of Provisors. The book concludes with an examination of Adam Easton, the only English cardinal during this period. As a promoter of Bridget of Sweden's canonization, a fierce opponent of John Wyclif, and a student of Hebrew, Easton's career leads to another interesting array of subjects. Because of the fuller range of sources available, this second part of the book has the most to offer, especially to historians interested in the English church and the papal curia in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.



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Author:Foote, David
Publication:Journal of Church and State
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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