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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the rich and vibrant devotional culture of late medieval England, expressed in liturgy and collective religious practices, and in the development of a wide-ranging lay literature of spiritual and theological ambition, from writers such as Walter Hilton, Nicholas Love to energetic promoters of orthodox theology such as Margaret Beaufort. While acknowledging the emergence of Wycliffism, the heresy associated with Oxford theologian John Wyclif, the chapter argues that Wycliffism and its perceived off-shoot, ‘Lollardy’, should be read as part of a spectrum of reformist thinking that characterized the late medieval Church’s conception of its evangelical mission. The chapter problematizes notions of medieval religious culture as either atrophied or homogeneous, arguing instead that the variety and vitality of medieval English religious culture should complicate any quest for origins in accounts of the English Reformation.

Keywords: devotionalism, printing, lay culture, pastoralia, catechesis, Walter Hilton, Nicholas Love, Margaret Beaufort, lives of Christ

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