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Battle Abbey Archives: Finding Aid
mssBA  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection consists of two parts: the records of the Benedictine abbey of St. Martin at Battle, Sussex, England, dating before 1538, and the papers chiefly of the Browne and Webster families, who owned the Battle Abbey properties following the monastery's dissolution in 1538. The collection is particularly rich in monastic and estate accounts, court records, and deeds for lands possessed by Battle Abbey in Sussex and other counties.
Background
The Benedictine abbey of St. Martin at Battle was founded by William the Conqueror to commemorate his victory over Harold at Hastings. The first abbot, Gausbert of Marmoutier, was consecrated in 1076 but the church, built on the precise spot where Harold fell in battle, was unfinished when William died, and not dedicated until 1094. The Conqueror bestowed upon his abbey extraordinarily wide lay and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, focused on the banlieu or leuga, a circle of land one league in radius centered at the high altar. Within this liberty (geographically within but legally separate from and comparable to the Rape of Hastings in Sussex) the abbey was free of all feudal dues and customs and was enfranchised to exercise royal judicial and administrative rights independent of both shire and hundred. These privileges, imperfectly recorded at the time they were granted, were confirmed (partly on the strength of forged charters) by Henry II nearly a century later.
Extent
Approximately 3,000 pieces
Restrictions
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Availability
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.