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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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Susannah Crowder

beguines and groups of laywomen living a religious life.7 At least four communities of pucelles were located in Metz during the later Middle Ages; this meant that the figure of the pucelle – in the form of a spiritually inspired laywoman – formed part of the linguistic and cultural backdrop to Claude’s performances. By modelling her Pucelle character on Joan and reproducing her lay religious practice, Claude mirrored a local paradigm for pucelles. This likeness positioned the actor within an existing tradition and primed the audience to recognise certain elements of the

in Performing women
Le Bone Florence of Rome and bourgeois self-making
Felicity Riddy

-till-marriage were conceptually differentiated, as Florence’s story shows. Much of the action consists of a concerted male alliance to put her virginity to the test, and although she spends time in a nunnery, at the end of the poem she is reunited in Rome with her husband, Emere. The reader knows that the religious life is not the goal of Florence’s story – it is not about a consecrated virgin but about the other, temporary, kind. The nunnery is a detour en route to the wedding feast with which the poem ends. So the story focuses on a particular phase in a woman’s life: her

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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Tim Shaw

-century recasting of religious life – occupied the position of keystones for pre-Reformation liturgical life and experience. However, the model of liturgical practice offered for such emulation has still not been investigated in any detail. Westminster Abbey was undergoing substantial structural expansion by the late fourteenth century, enlarging its sphere of influence to serve both its immediate surroundings (the

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
Reading the virtue of soldier-saints in medieval literary genres
Andrew Lynch

Nevertheless, the story is structured to make a blunt political point: the ‘authority’ of lordship on earth is nothing to the service of Christ; the heavenly servant is incomparably higher than the earthly lord. The South English Legendary life of St Francis goes even further in translating chivalric prestige directly into religious life by treating the Friars Minor as the highest order of Christian knighthood. After giving his own clothes to an impoverished knight, the young Francis has a dream vision of a noble palace belonging to him and his ‘knights’, with arms and a

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Anna Siebach Larsen

key proofs of sanctity.8 The second problem encompasses the first, pointing back to the limitations of the existing template of the learned saint: if the primary generic marker of hagiography is its ‘lack of specificity’ and its aim ‘to suppress individualizing detail and to bring out the saints’ resemblance to one another and to Christ’,9 how does one write of a saint whose historical specificity is not buried in the past, but whose life and traumatic death are still reverberating through contemporary political and religious life? How does one square the demands of

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
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Christine Carpenter

secular business, including the local lord’s. 41 We must conclude that, while Duffy may overdo the communitarianism of gentry religious life, the argument that their faith was divorced from that of ordinary parishioners either ideologically or physically is far-fetched. But, even if we accept that many of the gentry participated, at least to some extent, in a vibrant communal faith, it

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
Joshua Davies

religious life of England, Wales and Scotland, Roman Catholicism moved in the Victorian period to a position of civil equality and calm acceptance by the majority of the British people, and to a position within the religious life of the nation which –​though it was not to become clear until the twentieth century –​amounted to being the major alternative to the established churches of England, Wales and Scotland.100 St Augustine’s Cross forms part of this process by simultaneously celebrating the Roman missionaries who brought Christianity to Britain and what its plaque

in Visions and ruins
Laywomen in monastic spaces
Susannah Crowder

written by Pierre of Luxembourg for his sister, Jeanne of Luxembourg.48 He advises Jeanne on how best to pursue her own religious life, within the constraints of her social role as an elite laywoman. Jeanne’s social and political obligations did not bar her, in Pierre’s framing, from pursuing devotional and spiritual goals even as she continued to function in the world. Moreover, the library possessed a copy of the vernacular life of the visionary Ermine of Reims, by Jean le Graveur.49 This text characterises Ermine’s visitations positively, framing them as the product

in Performing women
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Bede on the Flood
Daniel Anlezark

’s extension of this idea to the life of consecrated virginity is clearly aimed at a very narrow audience, and is the fruit of his own reflections on the religious life he lived. 85 The glory of this way of life also requires the perseverance of the martyrs, and is couched by Bede in the same apocalyptic language (II, 2020– 3). The life of virgins is also symbolized in Noah’s offering, and their holocaust is

in Water and fire