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Author: Laura Varnam

The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

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Reading sacred space in late medieval England
Laura Varnam

. Furthermore, increased competition among the parish churches, cathedrals, and pilgrimage sites of medieval England meant that sanctity was increasingly valuable as a form of symbolic capital that could improve a church’s social as well as sacred status in the world. Sacred spaces such as Canterbury Cathedral were a multimedia project and a community concern. They were constructed out of a fusion of architecture, iconography, material culture, and narrative practice. Master builders and artists worked together to create sacred spaces from stone, stained glass and sculpture

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
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A context for The Faerie Queene
Margaret Christian

directed to the laity. Although Tacitean and other more skeptical modes of history were in competition with popular providentialism in Renaissance England,8 in pulpit discourse, God was usually understood to be responsible for all events, those of secular as well as biblical history.9 Oneself and one’s contemporaries no less than biblical figures were characters in God’s story. The traditional Christian approach to biblical exegesis was already well established when Nicholas of Lyra applied the label “four-fold method” to the range of readings (the four are the literal

in Spenserian allegory and Elizabethan biblical exegesis
Consecration, restoration, and translation
Laura Varnam

The final section of this chapter will show how this map places St Bartholomew’s in direct competition with its ecclesiastical neighbours. Promoting the sanctity of the church as more potent than that of St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey and even Canterbury Cathedral, the text makes clear that St Bartholomew’s is not only the most sacred space in medieval London but in the world of Christian pilgrimage. All roads lead to St Bartholomew’s and to the confirmation of The Book’s assertion that ‘trewly God is yn this place’. The architexture of The Book of the Foundation: The

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
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Brian Sudlow

that the link between pluralism and irreligion is not substantiated by the evidence, or go as far as to claim that competition between religions ‘strengthens religious organisations and increases the overall level of religious participation’. 30 In the long term, neutrality appears as a myth that veils secularising tendencies, not in its intentions but in its sociological effects. Ironically, so many of the political or economic projects of the last few centuries, nationalism, socialism, capitalism, imperialism, as well as the forces of

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Open Access (free)
A late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients
Willem de Blécourt

opinion met with increasing approval. In Drenthe, as in other provinces of the Netherlands, it was the local elite, consisting of schoolteachers, physicians and ministers, who joined in battle against ‘superstition’ or ‘misbelief ’. They constituted an echelon of the Society for the Public Welfare, who had already held a competition in 1798 to eradicate the ‘prejudices about Divinations, as well as those about Charming of Devils, Witchcrafts and Hauntings’.1 In this chapter I want to not just proceed beyond the witch trials, but also beyond superstition. For witchcraft

in Beyond the witch trials
Laura Varnam

(meanings) may vary considerably’ among participants.36 This is compounded because the ritual process also acts as a space for social negotiation and competition, functioning as what Mary Louise Pratt has called a ‘contact zone’ in which ‘peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations’.37 Pratt’s concept is rooted in imperial encounters, which The construction of sacred space 39 frequently involve ‘conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict’, but it can be adapted to see the

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Placing the people at the heart of sacred space
Laura Varnam

churches of the parish in this poem, but stands in direct competition, not only draining the financial resources of the laity but endangering their spiritual lives. The Lanterne declares that ‘þe fendis chirche pursueþ Cristis chirche in malice bi weye of sclaundir & sleeyng’ but Christ’s church ‘pursweþ yuel lyuars in charite bi weye of amendement’ (p. 133). Amendment is a keyword in Pierce the Ploughman’s Creed. The friars try to trick the narrator into ‘amending’ their houses by making financial donations, a purely material interpretation of amendment that compounds

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Open Access (free)
Witchcraft and the symbolics of hierarchy in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland
Raisa Maria Toivo

the prime cause of witchcraft accusations in research. As far as a local community and its social dynamics are concerned, social conflict and competition are obviously important. Yet settling for such an explanation runs the risk of belittling the belief in witchcraft and simplifying it as a scapegoat for something supposedly more rational. To illustrate this point, we can look in more detail at the events surrounding Agata and her prosecutions. An inverted hierarchy and the world of negation Agata Pekantytär had lived in the village for a long time. She had been

in Beyond the witch trials
Sabine Doering-Manteuffel and Stephan Bachter

hands of those who were not so much concerned with philosophical knowledge of the world as with their own immediate applicable benefits.51 In the shadows cast by the light of the Enlightenment, the transmission of magical knowledge was easier than ever before, and its impact far-reaching, with ripples reaching us today in the form of the current popularity of esoteric literature. Not surprisingly, the spread of occult literature was viewed as unwelcome competition by religious authorities. When, in the 1920s, a Munich occult bookshop had advertisements sent out to

in Beyond the witch trials