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date: 14 August 2022


The Oxford Companion to the Book

Documents, issued on behalf of the pope or a lesser ecclesiastical authority, in which individuals or groups of individuals were absolved from paying for their sins, in life or in purgatory. They were common in the later Middle Ages and were a method of raising money for stated purposes—a crusade, a campaign against the Turks, sometimes the rebuilding of a church or a convent. Their sale was organized within the administrative structures of the Church. Commissaries were appointed under whose auspices pedlars (or ‘pardoners’) travelled to sell as many copies as they could before the indulgence expired at a predetermined date: Chaucer provided a vivid portrait of such a pardoner in ... ...

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