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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Faith, religion and observance before the Reformation

This book seeks to explore the nature of religious belief and practice in pre-Reformation England. For most people in England the main access to the Bible, and indeed to instruction in the faith, would be through hearing priests from their pulpits. The book demonstrates with immediacy and potency the diverse expressions of faith and observance. It discusses the varieties of spirituality in later medieval England and the ways in which they received expression, through participation in church services, actions like pilgrimages, charitable foundations, devotional readings and instruction. Opposition to prevailing spirituality, expressed through 'Lollardy', is also considered. There is a great deal of written evidence for both the theory and the practice of late medieval English religion and spirituality. The mass was the central ceremony of the Church: the consecration of the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ. Within Christianity, the principal focus of devotion was necessarily the divinity, in particular Christ, the second person of the Trinity. While there was considerable concern to accumulate spiritual benefits during life, the most important issue was to secure salvation after death. For those who sought advanced domestic spiritual satisfaction, an episcopal licence for the celebration of divine offices within a private chapel or oratory was necessary.

of ‘Lollardy’. Neither can be adequately achieved within the space available. The complaint material is highly disparate. The letter regarding the priest at Saltash must be one of the most comprehensive attacks levelled against an individual cleric in this period. It provides evidence of what the laity thought was wrong with some of their priests

in Catholic England

away from associating lollardy with communitarianism. Only a few texts even mentioned the association: Thomas James’s An apologie for John Wickliffe (1608) clears the schoolman from this charge, instead drawing a comparison between the Anabaptists of his own day and the priest John Ball in Wyclif’s day; he deftly moves the radicals of the past and present to one side while upright members of the Church of England such as Wyclif and himself are aligned on the other. 31 Even nearly seventy years later, after the appearance and demise of movements dedicated to the

in Lollards in the English Reformation

. 1–16, and were constructed to be delivered on the same Sunday, Septuagesima (the date varies according to the occurrence of Easter, from 19 January to 22 February) . They show the differences in treatment between preachers and sermon compilers, giving differing layers of penetration of the meaning of the text. Despite the links with Lollardy which are well

in Catholic England

The lowercase ‘l’ also signifies some distance between twenty-first-century understandings of lollardy and what Foxe thought of the lollards. As will become clear in this chapter, Foxe had his own opinions about who the lollards were and why they were historically significant. While this book focuses on Foxe’s opinions of the lollards and the way he edited their narratives, it should be made clear from the outset that Foxe’s thoughts differed from some of his contemporaries, and may have deviated from the way lollards considered themselves. His understanding of

in Lollards in the English Reformation
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In search of pre-Reformation English spirituality

, towns thus acquire a certain degree of spiritual autonomy, meriting detailed investigation in their own right, and perhaps requiring differing degrees of appreciation. 21 To jump forward some way in the arguments, it is not impossible that some of the religious debates raised during the course of the period under consideration – linking in with issues of ‘Lollardy’ – may reflect conflicts between the

in Catholic England
Discovery

even in the York diocese. It also saw continuities between Lollardy and Protestantism and believed that this was significant in urban communities. He extended this argument to the national arena in his The English Reformation (1964). Felicity Heal’s balanced assessment of Dickens’s work observed: This told the story of religious change ‘from above’ in the clear and lively prose that was Dickens’s hallmark, but its originality lay in its concern with the impact of reform ‘from below’. Ordinary men (not usually women) were agents of change, as well as experiencing its

in The Debate on the English Reformation
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Lollardy’s most conspicuous feature. 3 The Biblical prohibition of graven images prompted Wyclif to argue that an image could lead people astray when ‘undue delight was taken in its beauty , expense or connection to external circumstances ’. 4 Furthermore, there was the danger of mistaking the divinity of holy figures with the form of their pictorial representations, an error leading to idolatry. Most

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England

, however, testament to the vitality and depth of traditional beliefs. By contrast, there is very little evidence of heresy – of real religious dissidence – in Scotland before the arrival of Protestantism. The English heresy of Lollardy was noticed north of the Border in the early fifteenth century, but the handful of cases does not suggest any deep penetration of the country.40 Lollard activity surfaces only twice in Scotland after the 1430s. In 1494, a group of Ayrshire lairds were accused of Lollard heresies. One of the suspect families, the Campbells of Cessnock, was

in The origins of the Scottish Reformation