The role of Noah’s wife in the Chester play of Noah’s Flood
Lawrence Besserman

This chapter focuses on the role of Noah’s wife as a radical, impious questioning of both patriarchal and divine authority in the Chester play of Noah’s Flood. Lawrence Besserman argues that in the performative foregrounding of this character, through her refusal to board the Ark, can be seen as coinciding with the emergence of outspoken female critics (e.g. Margery Kempe, Joan White, anonymous female Lollard ‘preachers’) of a male-dominated Church hierarchy.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Abbey, court and community 1525–1640
Author: J. F. Merritt

Early modern Westminster is familiar as the location of the Royal Court at Whitehall, parliament, the law courts and the emerging West End, yet it has never been studied in its own right. This book reveals the often problematic relations between the diverse groups of people who constituted local society - the Court, the aristocracy, the Abbey, the middling sort and the poor - and the competing visions of Westminster's identity which their presence engendered. There were four parishes in Westminster at the turn of the sixteenth century. The parishes of St Martin's and St Margaret's have been identified as two of only eighteen English parishes for which continuous and detailed parish records survive for the turbulent period 1535-1570. Differences in social organization, administrative structure and corporate life in the two parishes also provide a study in contrasts. These crucial differences partly shaped forms of lay piety in each parish as well as their very different responses to the religious reformations of Henry VIII and his children. The death of Henry VIII heralded important changes in Westminster. Most strikingly, however, this was a period of major religious change, in stark contrast to the piecemeal changes of Henry's reign. The dissolution of Westminster's abbey gave rise to special problems. The book examines individuals who wielded the most influence at the local government; as well as the social identity of these parish elites. Finally, it explores the interaction of religion with the social and political developments observed in the post-Reformation town.

This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates, conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.

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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Christine Carpenter

If this chapter had been written a mere quarter-century ago, it would have contained an almost entirely different account both of gentry religion and of the Church which ministered to the late medieval English laity. For in the mid-1970s the reaction against the longstanding ‘Protestant’ account of the Church and lay piety was only just beginning. The late medieval English

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
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E.A. Jones

lives across western Europe in this period (with a particular focus on enclosed anchorites) is provided by the essays collected in Anchoritic Traditions of Medieval Europe edited by Liz Herbert McAvoy (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010). 12 On these phenomena, see P.H. Cullum, ‘Vowesses and Female Lay Piety in the Province of York

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
Jonathan Stavsky

celibacy and misogamy. 5 For Colin Fewer, the ‘rise of the Lollards after 1382 was only the most visible manifestation of a popular discontent with ecclesiastical corruption that intensified steadily after the 1350s’. 6 Consequently, he argues that whether or not their authors saw themselves as Wyclif's followers, the N-Town plays employ typology in order to equate the Old Law with the Church authorities and the New Law with private lay piety. 7

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
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The parable of the Good Samaritan
Mary Raschko

relationship between cleric and lay pupil in favour of horizontal, collaborative sharing of knowledge. See Lay Piety and Religious Discipline, p. 52. 33 Rice, Lay Piety and Religious Discipline, p. 75. 34 Rice, Lay Piety and Religious Discipline, pp. 68–75. See especially pages 72–3 where Rice compares the dialogic form of Þe Lyfe of Soule with the dialogic character of the Piers Plowman Samaritan episode. 35 The names of the two figures differ among the three manuscripts. The titles ‘Frend’ and ‘Sire’ appear in Laud Misc. 210. In MS HM 502, the two figures are ‘Fader’ and

in The politics of Middle English parables
Mairi Cowan

ensure that the Magdalen Chapel and Hospital remain a strong centre of civic religion and good works. To do so, she entrusted her foundation to several overlapping groups, all connected to her through kinship. The later medieval trend of increased individualization in lay piety is evident in Scottish towns, but it did not beget a weakening of the bonds of communal lay piety. In fact, several religious

in Death, life, and religious change in Scottish towns, c.1350–1560
Salvador Ryan

Ireland and many more established communities also allied themselves to the cause of Observant reform.4 Henry Jefferies surmises that this burgeoning increase in mendicant clergy, who were certainly better educated and trained than their secular counterparts and were highly esteemed for their preaching skills, ‘did not simply reflect an increase in lay piety in late medieval Ireland, but contributed to that increase’.5 Yet, allowance must be made for both; for, as we shall see from the evidence of surviving manuscripts, the concerns of the lay members of wealthy Irish

in Irish Catholic identities