Abstract and Keywords
This article focuses on the primer or the Book of Hours, the most popular reading material for women in England during the medieval period. The primer was at once a first book of prayer and the layperson's primary devotional manual. An abbreviated form of the divine office designed specifically for lay use, the primer emerged in the mid-thirteenth century as a costly aide to the devotions of the elite. It contained the basic prayers that all children were supposed to learn written in easy-to-read letters and often accompanied by an alphabet, as well as a full programme of daily devotions, organized around the hours of the Virgin. The earliest surviving English book of hours, the de Brailes Hours.
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