Book Series New Communities of Interpretation, vol. 3

Religious Transformations in New Communities of Interpretation in Europe (1350–1570)

Bridging the Historiographical Divides

Élise Boillet, Ian Johnson (eds)

  • Pages: 275 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60177-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60178-6
  • E-book
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Bridging national, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, sectarian, and historical divides in the ‘long fifteenth century’


Ian Johnson is Professor of Medieval Literature and Head of English at the University of St Andrews. He pecialises in Middle English literature, medieval literary theory, translation and devotional textuality. He edited, with Alastair Minnis, The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: II. The Middle Ages (CUP, 2005; Arabic edn 2016); edited Geoffrey Chaucer in Context (CUP, 2019); and authored The Middle English Life of Christ: Academic Discourse, Translation and Vernacular Theology (2013).

Élise Boilet, CNRS researcher, Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, University of Tours, France, is the author of L’Arétin et la Bible (Geneva: Droz, 2007), editing Aretino’s texts for the Edizione Nazionale delle Opere (Rome: Salerno, 2017). With several publications on Renaissance Italian Psalms literature, she has co-edited collections on European and Italian biblical literature and culture. Repertorio della letteratura biblica a stampa in italiano (ca 1462-1650) (Brepols), co-edited with Erminia Ardissino, is forthcoming.


This volume brings together medievalist and early modernist specialists, whose research fields are traditionally divided by the jubilee year of 1500, in order to concentrate on the role of the laity (and those in holy orders) in the religious transformations characterizing the ‘long fifteenth century’ from the flourishing of the Devotio Moderna to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

Recent historiography has described the Christian church of the fifteenth century as a world of ‘multiple options’, in which the laity was engaged with the clergy in a process of communication and negotiation leading to the emergence of hybrid forms of religious life. The religious manifestations of such ‘new communities of interpretation’ appear in an array of biblical and religious texts which widely circulated in manuscript before benefiting from the new print media.

This collection casts a spectrum of new yet profoundly historical light on themes of seminal relevance to present-day European society by analysing patterns of inclusion and exclusion, and examining shifts in hierarchic and non-hierarchic relations articulated through religious practices, texts, and other phenomena featuring in the lives of groups and individuals. The academic team assembled for this collection is internationally European as well as interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in its methodology.


List of Contributors

Introduction: Investigating and Reconsidering Medieval and Early Modern Divides and ConnectionsIAN JOHNSON

Lay and Clerical Cultures in Heaven and on Earth: Divides, Interactions, and Negotiations

Gertrude More’s ‘Confessiones Amantis’ and the Contemplative Identity of the Cambrai Benedictine CommunityMARLEEN CRÉ

Helper Saints and their Critics in the Long Fifteenth CenturyOTTÓ GECSER

Censoring Popular Devotion in French Protestant Propaganda: The Reformer Pierre Viret, the Rosary, and the Question of the Proper Honouring of the Virgin MaryDANIELA SOLFAROLI CAMILLOCCI

Lay Literacy and the Press: Forms and Transformations of Religious Writing and Rewriting

Changes in the Grammar of Legibility: Influences on the Development of ‘New Communities of Interpretation’?MARCO MOSTERT

Biblical Genres through the Long Sixteenth Century: Italy as a Case StudyERMINIA ARDISSINO

Vernacular Culture and Ecclesiastical Censorship

Printed Italian Vernacular Biblical Literature: Religious Transformation from the Beginnings of the Printing Press to the Mid-Seventeenth CenturyÉLISE BOILLET

Communities of Interpretation of the Bible along the European Margins: Hussite Teachings, the Hussite Bible, and the Bogomils, from the South of Hungary to the Periphery of Eastern Europe in the Long Fifteenth CenturyMELINA ROKAI

Political and Religious Cultures

Language as a Weapon: Hilarius of Litoměřice and the Use of Latin and the Vernacular Language in Religious Polemics in Fifteenth-Century BohemiaVÁCLAV ŽŮREK

The Legitimacy of Making Alliances between Christians and Infidels: Arguments of Polish Jurists in the First Half of the Fifteenth CenturyWOJCIECH ŚWIEBODA

Confessional Coexistence, Conversion, and Confusion

Peasants and ‘Sectarians’: On the Ineffectiveness of Evangelical Persuasion in Sixteenth-Century PolandWALDEMAR KOWALSKI

Religious Transformation on the Early Modern Periphery: Law and Gospel: Image, Place, and Communication in the Multi-Confessional Community of Sixteenth-Century Moravian OstravaDANIELA RYWIKOVÁ

Index of Persons and Places