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The Intellectual Properties of LearningA Prehistory from Saint Jerome to John Locke$
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John Willinsky

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226487922

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226488080.001.0001

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The Patronage of Medieval Learning

The Patronage of Medieval Learning

(p.73) Chapter Four The Patronage of Medieval Learning
The Intellectual Properties of Learning

John Willinsky

University of Chicago Press

This chapter sets out the terms of patronage and sponsorship for medieval monasticism, which involved elaborate rituals on the part of nobility in bequeathing land and other resources to fund a monastery. Yet every level of society was involved in acts of sponsorship and donation to the monastery, which enabled these religious houses to sustain the production and copying of works of learning, which became their own marker of the abbey’s pious devoutness and worthiness of support. This patronage economy, in which women played a significant role, has a quality of transubstantiation to it as the land – which was originally a gift of God and then returned to Him through the monastery – was transformed into the text, literally in its materials and figuratively in its affordances. This sponsorship became a property of monastic learning as it enabled the learned to give expression to their studies. This institutional patronage is compared to the personal patronage of the scholar, which represents an older but much less stable tradition. On the other hand, the monasteries had to wrestle with their own forms of excess in wealth and knowledge, which did not become their spirit of humility.

Keywords:   monastic patronage, donor economies, individual sponsorship, medieval property, intellectual property

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