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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the change and continuity of the English sermon before the year 1250. It explains that the early history of the English sermon is out of step with the history of the European sermon as a whole because the skills of reading and writing in this period were normally the preserve of clerical and monastic communities, and literacy among the laity was rare. It suggests that the political and institutional changes which followed the Norman Conquest had a major impact on sermon production in English and mentions that there is very little evidence for the production of new written sermon-material in English in the century after the Conquest. The earliest surviving manuscripts of sermons in Old English is the Vercelli Book.

Keywords: English sermon, monastic communities, literacy, laity, Norman Conquest, sermon production, Vercelli Book

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