18 AUGUST 1906, Page 22

Essays upon the History of Meaux Abbey. By the Rev.

A. Earle. (A. Brown and Sons. 3s. 6d. net.)—Meaux Abbey, founded in 1150 by William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle, was situated in the Holder- ness region, about seven miles from the sea. We happen to know more than has usually come down to us about its temporal affairs, the Abbot who held office at the close of the fourteenth century having written a history which is full of detail. It seems to have farmed on a large scale, possessing a considerable stock, in which thousands of sheep figure with other things. In 1349 we find the House having a "flutter" in wool, selling 20,000 lb. (which they did not possess), and losing heavily. Very likely the Black Death had something to do with it; the Abbey suffered much, thirty- two out of the forty-two monks dying—the Abbot was one of them—and all the seven lay brethren. The picture of the disaster is vivid in the extreme. The fluctuations of fortune during the whole existence of the monastery were both frequent and serious. It seems never to have been out of debt, though it had large possessions in land and in impropriated tithes. Mr. Earle makes a half-hearted apology for the system of impropriation, but his defence rests largely on the safeguards which were employed to minimise its evils,—the stipulation, for instance, that the priest in charge must always receive a certain stipend. The main evil, that tithes which were intended to support religion locally were largely expended elsewhere, remains untouched. The end we all know, that much is absolutely lost to the Church. An interesting section on "Mediaeval Land Tenure" follows the history of the Abbey.