Mediaeval Europe may from a distance seem a very unequal world where social mobility, outside the towns at least was all but impossible. But armed with an education and best of all a sponsor, the mediaeval Church could be a place of great opportunity. A young man might find his way to wealth and rewards very early on in life and this is demonstrated by three entries in the Papal Records Relating to England.
The young man was Richard Possewick, scion of an English family who had moved from England to Avignon to Rome following the papal court. In the early 1390’s Richard found himself under the wing of Adam Easton, Cardinal of St Cecilia and despite the problems of getting hold of his livings, clearly his extreme youth was no obstacle to being preferred.
1392 Kalends of May (Richard is just 16)
To Richard Possewick of Avignon. Provision at the petition of Adam, Cardinal of St Cecilia, whose servant (suo familiari continuo commensali) of the canonry and prebend of Tassegarde in Dublin, value 20 marks, void and reserved to the pope by the death at the apostolic see of Hugh Harlain during the lifetime of Gregory XI who died without disposing thereof, as did also Urban VI, so that they are still void; notwithstanding that he (that is Richard) has lately had provision from the present pope of a benefice without cure in the common or several gift of the archbishop, dean and chapter and each of the canons of York. Concurrent mandate to the Bishop of Leighlin, Richard Young, canon of Lincoln and Richard Carran canon of Dublin.
1394 8 Kalends November (Richard is now 18)
To Richard Possewick of Avignon canon of Dublin (see above). Reservation of the canonries and prebends of St Davids and Landewybrevy in the Diocese of St Davids value together 45 marks, which are to become void by the promotion made by the pope, of John, elect of St Asaph who was papal chamberlain and auditor and member of the household of Adam Cardinal priest of St Cecilia; notwithstanding that he has lately had provision from the present pope of the canonry and prebend of Tassegarde in Dublin then void and previously reserved to the pope, value 20 marks, of which he has not yet got possession and that the pope has ordered provision to be made to him of a benefice without cure in the common or several gift of the archbishop, dean and chapter and each of the canons of York. Concurrent mandate to the Bishop of Hereford, Richard Wyche, canon of Salisbury and a foreign bishop.
1397 13 Kalends August (Richard is now 21)
To Richard Possewick. Provision to him who is in his twenty first year of the rectory of Hechem in Suffolk in the diocese of Norwich, value not exceeding 100 marks, void and therefore reserved to the pope by the resignation at the apostolic see, into the pope's hands of Adam Cardinal Priest of St Cecilia who held it by grant of the said see, notwithstanding that he holds a canonry and prebend of St Georges in Valebro Rome, value not exceeding 30 gold florins; has obtained a definitive sentence in his favour in the apostolic palace about a canonry and prebend in Dublin; and that the pope has lately ordered provision to be made to him of canonries and prebends of St Davids and Landeuribrevi in the diocese of St Davids value together not exceeding 70 marks of which he has not yet got possession and of a benefice without cure in the common or several gift of the archbishop, dean and chapter and each of the canons of York, and has made provision to him of a canonry of St Servatius Maesticht in the diocese of Liege with expectation of a prebend, dignity, personatus or office with or without sure, which last is upon his obtaining Hechem to be null as far as regards a dignity, personatus or office with cure; notwithstanding also his defect of age on account of which he has hereby dispensation.
Papal Letters relating to England, Volume IV 1362-1404