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Private devotion in England on the eve of the Reformation illustrated from works printed or reprinted in the period 1530-40

Rhodes, Jan (1974) Private devotion in England on the eve of the Reformation illustrated from works printed or reprinted in the period 1530-40. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Vol. II p.1) - Accepted Version
PDF (Vol. I p. 2) - Accepted Version
PDF (Vol I. p. 3) - Accepted Version
PDF (Vol. I p. 1) - Accepted Version
PDF (Vol. II p. 2) - Accepted Version


This is the first attempt to provide a detailed description of the different types of devotional literature (excluding all liturgical books, biblical translations, doctrinal and polemic works, saintS lives and sermons) available in print to English readers in the years immediately preceding England's break with Rome. It shows that there were far more Catholic works of devotion, many of them written or printed for the first time 1520 - 35, than has previously been recognized. It is also clear that this flourishing literature came to a sudden and decisive end in 1535, although the tradition lived on unofficially to be taken up by the English Recusants. The leading themes of this traditional literature are indicated in chapters on treatises about confession and prayer, the mass, the life and Passion of Christ, on tribulation, death and the Last Things, while more general teaching about the Christian life addressed to religious, contemplatives and lay people, and the humanist and Protestant contribution to this literature is also discussed. The treatises are doctrinally sound and on the whole advocate moderation and common-sense; they avoid many of the weaknesses of popular non-literary devotion, including the Marioleatry and excessive morbidity for which the late middle ages are often condemned. Some of the weaknesses of the Catholic tradition are suggested by comparison with the more rational and secular attitudes of Christian humanist , authors, notably Erasmus, available during the 1530s. The Protestants, whose treatises become increasingly common, despite official censorship, during the decade until they dominate its second half, carry the humanist~ reform much further, and break with the Catholic Church. Traditional devotional topics and audiences are displaced by doctrinal and biblical teaching addressed to lay people. The Bible replaces the Church's authority and there is more emphasis on the spiritual and social dimensions of religion.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 Mar 2011 16:27

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