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1365 Prior of Students

As soon as he had qualified as a graduate and Doctor of Divinity Adam was appointed as prior of students for Gloucester College. This meant that he would have a salary that allowed him to stay in Oxford and further his studies, but in return he had to take charge of the spiritual and moral welfare of the other monk students. The following text from the Benedictine rule book outlines the thinking behind the role of the Prior:

De Priore Studentium

Solet effrenata libertas frequenter in devium prosilire, et dum a superiore non regitur, a bono torpescere ac in vetitas occupari. Quod quidem apostolica perpendens discrecio, ne studentes nostre ordinis dum a monasteries suis absunt, libero dimitterentur arbitrio, et in aliqua prorumperent que non licent, provide statuit, ut unus ex ipsis studentibus prior esset ipsorum studencium deputatus, per cuius industriam ceteri in suis actibus debite regerentur. Quia tamen ex quorundam clamore didiscimus, quod priores qui retroactis temporibus studentibus Oxon prefuerant, in execucione potesatis per summum pontificem eis commisse, necnon ad debite regulandum studentes ipsos, quibus prefuerant, aut nimium negligentes extiterant aut remissi; ne hoc idem contingat temporibus successuris, presencium tenore districte precipimus eis qui prioris officio futuris temporibus Oxon presidebunt, ut ad ipsorum studencium regimen invigilent diligenter, quodque ea que in constritucione Benedictina, titulo De Pensionibus Studencium, capitulo Precavere et capitulo Provideant, de ipsis prioribus ac studentibus statuuntur, priores ipsi quatenus eos concernunt observant, et quatenus studentes alios tangent, faciant ab ipsis studentibus absque mitigacione, quacumque futuris temporibus observari.
The Prior of Students

Unbridled freedom tends frequently to break out into errant practises when it is not controlled by a superior leading to deviation from the proper path and involvement in forbidden activities. So the discretion that comes from the church specifically provides that students of our order, whilst they are away from their monasteries, should not be sent out with complete freedom and should not break out into forbidden things and that one of the students should be appointed Prior of Students through whose efforts the others should be properly controlled in their behaviour. For as we have learnt from various rumours, those priors who in former times had responsibility for Oxford students in the execution of the power which had been given to them through the supreme pontiff, when it came to the proper control of these students over whom they had jurisdiction, turned out to be too negligent (remiss). To avoid this same thing happening in later times when the local power has been removed, we enjoin that those who in future times will hold the office of prior should diligently keep an eye on the conduct of those students and that those things in the Benedictine Constitution in the book concerning the Pensions of Students containing two chapters Let them prey” and “Let them provide” and that those provisions of these chapters concerning the priors themselves and students, that the priors should observe those principles concerning themselves and as regards other students, they should ensure that the principles are observed without exception by those students at all future times.

From the Benedictine Statutes of 1363 transcribed by William Pantin in The English Black Monks Vol II from Durham MS B IV 26