Book Series Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, vol. 17

Vernacularity in England and Wales, c. 1300-1550

Elizabeth Salter, Helen Wicker (eds)

  • Pages: 335 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:11 b/w, 1 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2011

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-52883-0
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53980-5
  • E-book
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This interdisciplinary collection explores the concept of vernacularity in late medieval England and Wales using a variety of sources and approaches.


"(...) in its pervasive questioning and complicating of earlier accounts and its opening of new territories for pursuit of the "conceptualisation" of late-medieval English vernacularity, the volume makes an important contribution." (A. Galloway, in: The Medieval Review, 12.03.14,


Studies of the vernacular in the period 1300-1550 have tended to focus exclusively upon language, to the exception of the wider vernacular culture within which this was located. In a period when the status of English and ideas of Englishness were transforming in response to a variety of social, political, cultural and economic factors, the changing nature and perception of the vernacular deserves to be explored comprehensively and in detail. Vernacularity in England and Wales examines the vernacular in and across literature, art, and architecture to reach a more inclusive understanding of the nature of late medieval vernacularity.

The essays in this collection draw upon a wide range of source material, including buildings, devotional and educational literature, and parliamentary and civic records, in order to expand and elaborate our idea of the vernacular. Each contributor addresses central ideas about the nature and identity of the vernacular and how we appraise it, involving questions about nationhood, popularity, the commonalty, and the conflict and conjunction of the vernacular with the non-vernacular. These notions of vernacularity are situated within studies of reading practices, heresy, translation, gentry identity, seditious speech, and language politics. By considering the nature of vernacularity, these essays explore whether it is possible to perceive a common theory of vernacular use and practice at this time.


Introduction -- Helen Wicker

Part I: Reading and Writing

The ABC Reading Primer: Was It English or Latin? -- Michael Clanchy

Context and Construction: The Nature of Vernacular Piety in a Fifteenth-Century Devotional Anthology -- Amanda Moss

Evidence for Devotional Reading in Fifteenth-Century England: A Comparative Analysis of One English Poem in Six Manuscript Contexts -- Elisabeth Salter

Part II: Religious Experiences

“Langagis, whose reules ben not writen”: Pecock and the Uses of the Vernacular -- Sarah James

“Love this Name that is IHC”: Vernacular Prayers, Hymns and Lyrics to the Holy Name of Jesus in Pre-Reformation England -- Rob Lutton

Translation, Paraphrase, and Wyatt’s Penitential Psalms: Englishing Scripture in Late Henrician England -- Stewart Mottram

Part III: Political Issues

The Politics of Vernacular Speech: Cases of Treasonable Language, c. 1440-1453 -- Helen Wicker

Literature of the Welsh Gentry: Uses of the Vernacular in Medieval Wales -- Helen Fulton

The Spread of English in the Records of the Central Government, 1400-1430 -- Gwilym Dodd

Part IV: Conceptual Vocabularies

The Language of Property: Vernacular in the Context of Late Medieval Urban Identities -- Jayne Rimmer

Textual Production and Vernacular Behaviour: Locating a Fifteenth-Century Administrative Book -- Andrew Butcher

Afterword -- Ian Johnson