Major new resource published on Carmelite history

Friday, 9 October 2020

A major new resource has been published that throws light on the lives of medieval Carmelites.


The Biographical Register of Carmelites in England and Wales 1240-1540 is the result of decades of meticulous research by leading historian and Carmelite friar Father Richard Copsey, O.Carm.



For over thirty years Father Richard has visited libraries and archives across Europe recording whatever information he could find about members of the Carmelite Order in England and Wales from the arrival of hermits in the 1240s until the Order's suppression at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Having painstakingly consulted many hundreds of manuscripts and printed materials, Father Richard has compiled the details of some 5,000 Carmelite men, and a handful of women linked to the Order.


Fr. Richard Copsey, O.Carm.


This pioneering research casts light on medieval Carmelite friars who were saints, bishops, confessors to royalty, academics, men of prayer, scientists, diplomats, musicians, preachers, poets, and even a handful of thieves, heretics, and murderers.


In some cases very little is known, perhaps only the date of a friar's ordination; in other instances a wealth of material is available enabling historians to have a better understanding of the impact an individual Carmelite made on the Society and Church of their day.


The Biographical Register incorporates a number of medieval manuscript illustrations.


Like several of Father Richard's other publications, his Biographical Register has been printed by Saint Albert's Press, the publishing house of the British Province of Carmelites, and comes in at nearly 600 pages. It is a major scholarly achievement, being the first such register for Carmelites in any of the Order's medieval provinces. Very few comparable resources exist for other religious orders in Britain, and Father Richard's Register will sit proudly on the shelves of university libraries and county records offices alongside volumes for Benedictines at English Cathedral Priories (by Joan Greatrex) and Franciscans in the Custody of York (by Michael J. P. Robson), as well as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (to which Father Richard has contributed).


In the foreword paying tribute to Father Richard's work the Prior Provincial of the British Province of Carmelites, Fr. Kevin Alban (himself a historian), said that the entries in the Register "are a goldmine of information, sometimes humorous, occasionally sombre, always absorbing. Richard has written up what might be considered rather dry facts in a stimulating and engaging way. This is a considerable achievement and I am delighted his labours have seen the light of day."


To see a sample extract from the Register, and for details of how to purchase copies, please visit the Register webpage.


Not content to rest on his laurels, Father Richard is continuing his research post-publication. New names continue to be reclaimed from the mists of time as further resources come to light, and Father Richard will be publishing additions and corrections on a periodic basis on the Register's webpage. The first set is already available.