Battle, Abbey of

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Former benedictine monastery near Hastings, Sussex, England, founded 1067. To commemorate the Battle of Hastings (1066) and his victory over Harold, william i the Conqueror founded on the site of the battle an abbey dedicated to the Holy Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Martin and endowed it with all the lands within a radius of a mile and a half, as well as with several other manors in Kent and Sussex. The original community was drawn from the famous Abbey of marmoutier, near Tours, whose abbots also appointed the first two abbots of Battle, even though Battle was never a dependency of Marmoutier. Among the privileges of the abbey were the rights of sanctuary, of treasure trove, of free warren, of inquest, and of certain exemptions from episcopal jurisdiction. These exemptions led to a series of disputes with the bishop of chichester, settled finally by the Compositio of 1235. While the abbey was not exempt from the metropolitan visitations of the archbishop of Canterbury, the episcopal visitation occurred only triennially and had to be carried out by two monks, of whom one was elected by the bishop and the other by the community itself. From 1295 to 1538 the abbots of Battle sat in the House of Lords. The abbey was suppressed in 1539; its annual income amounted then to £900, and the community consisted of the abbot and only 16 monks.

Bibliography: Chronicon monasterii de Bello, ed. j. s. brewer (London 1846). The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, 10661176, tr. m. a. lower (London 1851). w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573) best ed. by j. caley et al., 6 v. (181730) 3:233259. Custumals of Battle Abbey , 12831312, ed. s. r. scargillbird (Camden Soc., NS 41; London 1887). h. w. c. davis, "The Chronicle of Battle Abbey," English Historical Review 29 (1914) 426434. r. graham, "The Monastery of Battle," in English Ecclesiastical Studies 29 (1929). The Victoria History of the County of Sussex, ed. w. page (London 1905) v. 2. Descriptive Catalogue of the Original Charters (London 1835). The Sussex Archaeological Collections (Sussex Archaeological Society) v. 3, 17.

[j. brÜckmann]