18 April 2019

William Canynges: Constructing an after-life before death

William Canynges (c.1402–1474), parishioner of St Mary Redcliffe, wealthy merchant and five-times mayor of the town, is one of Bristol’s most famous late medieval citizens.

But there is more to the man – both in life and as he prepared for death – than might be readily apparent.

Not only was he well-connected, with siblings who rose to positions of notability elsewhere in the country, but towards the end of his life he also forged a close association with John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, who himself was similarly well placed.

As he prepared for death, and seemingly under Carpenter’s guidance, Canynges made a series of spiritual investments and choices revealing the strategies on which a wealthy late medieval merchant like himself might rely; but Canynges’ plans also suggest something of the networks of influence that determined the devotional programme to which an eminent Bristolian might aspire, both for the benefit of his soul and of the broader community that he had served for so long.

Speaker: Dr Clive Burgess is Reader in History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk.