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Heterodox and orthodox piety in Tenterden, c.1420 - c.1540

Lutton, Robert G.A. (1997) Heterodox and orthodox piety in Tenterden, c.1420 - c.1540. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85972) (KAR id:85972)


This thesis investigates the nature of orthodox and heterodox piety in Tenterden, in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, by using testamentary materials together with a range of other sources. Recognising the limitations of past approaches, it offers a more adequate theory and method for using wills to reconstruct late medieval piety. From this basis, it argues that piety was diverse, subject to religiously significant changes, materially and socially based, and transmitted essentially within families. Chapter one reassesses theories and methods currently or revently employed in the reconstruction of religious beleif and practice, particularly in relation to testamentary analysis. It also argues that the family is the most appropriate unit of analysis for this work, and that current thinking on the nature of collective and individual piety is inadequate. Microscopic reconstruction of the testamentary practices of one family over three generations, in chapter two, demonstrates the familial continuity of piety. Chapter three reveals that local environment, material culture and identity, had a profound effect upon belief, and created heterogeneity within parochial piety. Religious belief and practice, is show in chapter four, to have been significantly different in Tenterden, compared to other places. Within the parish, traditions of testamentary piety varied markedly, between religiously generous and parsimonious families. Chapter five argues that parsimony in testamentary piety and a reformist tenor to religious devotion, were linked to social mobility, the generation of wealth and the creation of urban identities. Finally, in chapter six, the strong tradition of Lollardy in the Tenterden area is examined against orthodox belief and practice. It concludes that heterodoxy and orthodoxy were different and distinct. Nevertheless, the appeal of heresy, frugal and restricted practices with orthodoxy, and shifts in religious devotion, are argued to have all been aspects of a mentality which anticipated religious reform.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85972
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Tenterden; Kent; religious practice; orthodoxy; heterodoxy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:23 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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