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1361 A star student

In the aftermath of the Oxford riots in 1355, many of the Norwich monks were recalled to their priory. In addition to concerns for their welfare, the priory was being attacked by the friars who were taking income from the priory by preaching and saying mass for the townsfolk. The alms that they received might normally have been heading for the coffers of the priory. Norwich valued the skills that a talented preacher like Adam could bring to the fight. When Oxford wondered if they could have one of their star pupils back, Norwich politely declined!

To the venerable fathers and lords, the prior and the whole company of Black Monks studying at Oxford, from your humble servants the prior and convent of Norwich, reverences and honours due to such fathers with all prompt desire to please. By the tenor of your reverend letters we understand the deplorable infertility of the sons of the mother university studying at Oxford, to such an extent, as you assert, that out of the whole order of Black Monks there are scarcely to be found three bachelors studying theology at the present time; among whom your most gracious goodness considers our brother and your fellow, Adam Estone, to be senior, and out of the militia of scholastic labour, in the course of his studies to be the nearest to the doctors reward. Wherefore you have asked us, with sincere affection, to send him back next year and effectually restore him to the maternal bosom of the schools whence we have recalled him for a short time for a certain cause. Indeed reverend fathers and lords, with the greatest desire we would like to accede to your wishes, as we ought, if we were not hindered by the reasons given below. For of old in our cathedral church, situated as it is in such a populous city and country, it has been the custom to have many sermons of Gods word preached to the people at certain times; and this duty used to be undertaken, at the cost of entreaties and gifts, yet with some difficulty by the mendicant friars, who are the enemies of our order, and indeed of all churchmen, loosing their backbiting mouths at everyone. However with unanimous deliberation, considering it a shame and a detriment to us that these preachings in our own church should be undertaken by friars, we have decided altogether to exclude all friars, and so far have imposed that laborious work upon our own brethren. But because the harvest is laborious and great, and our labourers are wearied and few, we have thought it necessary to set up our said brother Adam as a subtle and experienced reeve over these reapers who are thus wearied; lest the sheaves of the word of God, bound up in bundles, be incautiously sown amongst biting, envious men and the mouths of those that speak iniquity. Who also, our said brother (Adam) may baffle the backbiting mouths of those that rise up against us and impose silence upon these sadducees. For certain matters against sound doctrine and the liberty of the church were brought forward by certain friars, whom by true doctrine he has restrained from their erroneous way, and will shortly, God willing, completely triumph over them. For blessed be the Most High, his doctrine enjoys special favour among clergy and people. But if his absence came to be known at present, we fear that they (i.e. the friars) would at once come up like mice out of their holes, and we have no one else to resist them in wisdom or learning, but they would proudly make broad their fringes exceedingly. Wherefore lest these things or worse happen, it seems to us necessary either to recall Thomas Brinton, or to keep our brother Adam for a short time. We hope indeed soon to exalt them both to the pinnacle of the doctorate, God willing, and with the intervention of your gracious help. May it please your reverend fatherhood and the lordship of your whole venerable company to have us favourably excused in these and other altogether necessary things. For we would shudder greatly, God knows, to offend such a company, or to delude with feigned excuses such a congregated flower of the order. May the wisdom of God the Father enlighten your scholastic acts, to the exaltation of the universal church and the special honour of the whole order. Amen.