A bishop is the equivalent of a an earl in the Church hierarchy, and his feof is called a “diocese”, the religious equivalent of a shire, composed of smaller areas called “parishes”. A bishop might hold as many as 500 manor estates. Bishops oversee the religious houses and the priests of their dioceses and parishes. Like the archbishop, every bishop is always a fully ordained priest, and has a cathedral (which means “bishop’s throne”) and an adjoining palace, though neither will be quite so grand as those of the archbishop. The bishop’s cathedral and palace will be located in the most important city in the diocese, and from which the diocese will take its name. A town must have a cathedral in order to be called a city, the center of administration for the Church in that region.
The monsignors, bishops and archbishops under their prelate are the Church equivalents of the noble hierarchy under the king. Where the nobles’ power is located primarily in the rural countryside with their estates, the seats of Church power lie in cities of which they are the feudal lords. The word cathedral means bishop’s throne, There is always an archbishop or bishop over a town that has a cathedral, indeed, the title of “city” is reserved for ecclesiastical towns under the rule of a bishop or archbishop. Monsignors, abbots, and priors may be found in either cities, towns, or ruling rural manored estates in the same manner as any baron, owing feudal duty.
The Medieval Bishoprics of England
(The Isle of) Ely
(Bath and) Wells
19 cathedrals, total