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Laura L. Gathagan

The abbey of Holy Trinity, Caen, was founded by Mathilda of Flanders, Duchess of Normandy and Queen of England, in June 1066. The abbesses of Holy Trinity are the focus of this study, especially their judicial role and their power to imprison. These rarely discussed aspects of women’s authority are revealed in Manchester, John Rylands Library, GB 133 BMC/66. Produced in 1292 at the meeting of the Exchequer at Rouen, the modest parchment reveals the existence of a prison in Ouistreham, France, under the authority of the abbesses of Holy Trinity. This article engages heretofore unexamined elements of female abbatial authority, jurisdiction and the mechanisms of justice. The preservation of BMC/66 also reflects the documentary imperatives of the women who governed Holy Trinity and fits into a broader context of memory and documentary culture.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Kinga Lis
Jerzy Wójcik

The Laws of Oléron are a compilation of regulations concerning sea conduct drawn up in the thirteenth century in French. Copies of the text appeared in varieties of French in England and on the Continent, but it was only in the sixteenth century that the code was translated into English. Multiple issues concerning this English text are still vague. An attempt at settling some of them, such as the relationship between different exemplars and determining their French source text, has been undertaken in two recent studies. This article tries to verify whether the conclusions reached there can be corroborated with the use of mathematical methods of analysis, and to measure the correlations between the extant copies of the English translation and a group of French texts named by different researchers as the source texts for the rendition. The analysis is conducted by means of text similarity measurements using cosine similarity.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Chris Schabel

This is part II of a two-part article on the questions on the Sentences of the Servite Lorenzo Opimo of Bologna. This part focuses on the doctrine and sources of the work, which would become the theological guide for the Order by the end of the Middle Ages. An appendix offers a catalogue of the theses Lorenzo defended: conservative but also up to date at a time when radical ideas were spreading. His explicit citations suggest that he was well versed in fourteenth-century theology, citing ten theologians of the era by name as opposed to just five for the more famous thirteenth century. He also favoured Austin Friars over Franciscans and he completely ignored Dominicans, except for Thomas Aquinas. Upon closer inspection, however, and in common with some of his contemporaries, Lorenzo’s knowledge of some of these fifteen theologians was indirect via passages borrowed from the Augustinians Gregory of Rimini and Hugolino of Orvieto from the 1340s and the Franciscan Francis of Perugia, the Minorite regent master during the year in which Lorenzo lectured.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Alexander Lee

In March 1506, Machiavelli was in the Casentino when he received a letter from Agostino Vespucci in Florence. A few weeks earlier, Machiavelli had arranged for his Decennale primo – a verse history of Florence between 1494 and 1504 – to be printed by Bartolomeo de’ Libri, with Vespucci bearing the costs. It was the first of his works in print and had already met with some success. Much to Vespucci’s alarm, however, a rival printer, Andrea Ghirlandi da Pistoia, was now selling a pirated version, festooned with mistakes. This article explores how Vespucci tried to protect Machiavelli’s interests and his own investment. It shows how Vespucci successfully circumvented the lack of copyright protection by casting the pirated version as a form of defamation and exploiting both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. In doing so, it casts fresh light on the legal and commercial challenges of printing in sixteenth-century Florence.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Molly Lewis

Rylands MS French 5 is a thirteenth-century Bible picture book consisting of a single pictorial cycle depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The manuscript is remarkable for the predominance of its imagery and the erasures that selectively mar its otherwise unspoiled folios. The sites of these erasures can be categorised as evil, obscene, and divine subjects. Examining each in turn, I hope to demonstrate the importance of both the Bible picture book tradition and manuscript erasure for considerations of later medieval visuality. Where the Bible picture book encapsulates thirteenth-century confidence in the visual sense, the erasures signal the boundaries of this confidence, revealing a paradoxical mode of sight in which ocular passions merge and clash. In turn, these findings problematise attempts to theorise a homogenous thirteenth-century visuality, as different understandings of vision surfaced in the decades after the production of MS French 5 and played out in impassioned and contradictory ways on the manuscript page.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Swedish local sermons and the social order, 1790–1820
Joonas Tammela

This chapter places the religio-political messages conveyed from Swedish pulpits at the centre of attention. By means of a close analysis of sermons delivered in seven different kinds of local parishes in the Swedish realm at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, it demonstrates the impact of and the remarkable continuity in discourses defending the idea of a corporate state system. Instead of the individual benefit, the common good was seen as the fundamental idea for maintaining obedience. The writer argues for the continued strength of a traditional, Lutheran orthodox definition of the social order, but also for its adaptability at a time when new ways of life increasingly came to influence local societies.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries
The Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen, 1738–1770
Jesper Jakobsen
Lars Cyril Nørgaard

This chapter questions the received view of the Press Act of 1770 in Denmark–Norway as a clean break with previous practices of censorship. By way of examination of the institutional practices at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen from 1738 until 1770, the chapter demonstrates how both confessional and commercial rationales transformed the practice of censorship long before pre-publication censorship was removed. These changes were not imposed upon the religious system but rather developed inside it. Consequently, the chapter stresses that mitigations of confessional policies should be studied with changes within religious culture taken into account, besides rationales related to Enlightenment ideas.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries
Struensee’s statecraft and the Moravian Brethren
Christina Petterson

This chapter offers a close analysis of the Danish state initiative to invite Moravians to build and settle in the town of Christiansfeld in 1772. By way of examination of a document written by the responsible Minister of Finance, the chapter shows that the forming of this alliance was motivated by commercial rationales. The Struensee Enlightenment regime is presented as a watershed in respect of the point in time when commercial concerns replaced religious ones. Previously, attitudes towards Moravians had been marked either by support for or dismissal of their teaching and spiritual practices. At the same time, the Struensee regime evaluated the Moravians favourably with reference to their confession. The regime accepted their claim to be considered as true Lutherans, and on the moral level they were thought to serve as role models for their neighbours.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries
Open Access (free)
The piety of Enlightenment – much more than rationalism
Anders Jarlert

In the Nordic countries, the concept of ‘enlightened’ was used in at least three senses: the enlightenment conveyed by the Holy Spirit in the Lutheran understanding; the Enlightenment of rational philosophy; and the special knowledge transmitted by secret rituals. Men and women of the eighteenth-century European North used the terms ‘enlightened’ and ‘enlightenment’ in ways that could simultaneously be associated with a pious Lutheranism, with rational reform and with a clandestine esoterism. By way of a conceptual analysis, this epilogue explores the tensions that arose from these different uses, and how a pious Enlightenment ultimately paved the way for Romanticism.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries
Ecumenical visions and Catholicizing strategies
Yvonne Maria Werner

This contribution analyses how Catholic piety – as it was practised in the eighteenth century – appealed to a highly influential individual: King Gustav III of Sweden. The chapter examines the King’s relation to Catholics around his court in Stockholm, his journey to Rome in 1783 and restorative elements of his ecclesiastical reform policy for both liturgy and the role of the bishops. Against this background, the chapter proposes and discusses the hypothesis that the Edict of Tolerance issued in 1781 was not only motivated by economic reasons – as suggested by previous scholarship – but also by Gustav III’s fascination with Catholic liturgy and church life.

in Religious Enlightenment in the eighteenth-century Nordic countries