mean that those who were appointed to bishoprics lacked the necessary pastoral and administrative talents. The archbishops of Canterbury generally displayed intellectual ability and had developed good administrative skills in a clearly defined career structure that extended from parish ministry, through appointment to a cathedral prebendary and then to the see. The same was true of the Church of Ireland where there existed both a well-defined hierarchy of sees and a definite career path to them; English appointees came through the vice-regal chaplaincy and Irishmen were usually deans. On average, an individual bishop in Ireland served a total of ten years each in two sees, with the greatest turnover occurring in the first round of appointments. Compared with appointments to the French episcopate, promotion within the English and Irish system was much more gradual and based upon obvious ability rather than noble birth, hence English bishops tended to be older than their French contemporaries.2 Though such a defined career ladder suggests a degree of professionalization, initial appointment and promotion depended upon patronage networks, recommendations and family connections in addition to the candidate's ability. Appointments were therefore based on a mixture of influence and proven ability.
Though hierarchical structures provided a well-defined career ladder and curacies could, as in England, spell the first step in advancement, life was hard forthe majority ofthe clergy. Graduates lackingfamily influence orthe support of a patron were often consigned to poorly endowed, obscure rural livings that sometimes led to problems of clerical poverty, isolation, and loneliness. Many became curates, paid by the incumbent clergyman to perform his parish duties, and frequently forced to survive and maintain a degree of respectability on a mere pittance. Peter Virgin has concluded that no less than a fifth of curates in late Georgian England would remain as curates for the rest of their careers. An equally lonely existence awaited many Lutheran clergy in the German states and Scandinavia, especially in east Brandenburg with its poor livings and serious language problems, and in the Baltic regions where the clergy simply did not have the agricultural skills to live comfortably. Surrounded by an overwhelmingly Catholic population, Anglican clergymen in Ireland sought to alleviate the sense of isolation through correspondence, reading and some travel, though any companionship sprang from personal friendships rather than official arrangements. Churches did provide opportunities for those with ability to ascend to the dizzying heights of a bishopric or a wealthy urban congregation, yet for the majority of ministers, obtaining an adequate living was as much as could be hoped for, while many found themselves in isolated and dispiriting situations.
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