Lay Piety and Religious Discipline in Middle English Literature


This book was first published in 2009. In late-fourteenth-century England, the persistent question of how to live the best life preoccupied many pious Christians. One answer was provided by a new genre of prose guides that adapted professional religious rules and routines for lay audiences. These texts engaged with many of the same cultural questions as poets like Langland and Chaucer; however, they have not received the critical attention they deserve until now. Nicole Rice analyses how the idea of religious discipline was translated into varied literary forms in an atmosphere of religious change and controversy. By considering the themes of spiritual discipline, religious identity, and orthodoxy in Langland and Chaucer, the study also brings fresh perspectives to bear on Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales. This juxtaposition of spiritual guidance and poetry will form an important contribution to our understanding of both authors and of late medieval religious practice and thought.


 Reviews:

"In a slim, yet richly dense, volume, Nicole Rice provides an important discussion of prose devotional texts written in Middle English expressly for lay readers."
--Speculum

'Rice has provided a valuable study … well worth reading … richly contextualized analysis provided …' Speculum


 Prizes:

Winner Medieval Academy of America's John Nicholas Brown Prize for 2013

Reference Type: notes

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Reference Type: notes

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Mixed Life (English Mystics of the Middle Ages [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994], 109)
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Nicholas Watson, “Ancrene Wisse, Religious Reform, and the Late Middle Ages,” in A Companion to “Ancrene Wisse,” ed. Yoko Wada (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003), 209
Rita Copeland, Pedagogy, Intellectuals, and Dissent in the Later Middle Ages: Lollardy and Ideas of Learning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 22
Ralph Hanna, London Literature, 1300–1380 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 185
Moira Fitzgibbons, “Jacob's Well and Penitential Pedagogy,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 27 (2005): 226
Jacob's Well: An Englisht Treatise on the Cleansing of Man's Conscience, ed. Arthur Brandeis, Early English Text Society (OS, Original Series, ES, Extra Series) OS 115 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1900)
“The Subject of Piers Plowman,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 1 (1987): 4
“Theology: The Vocabulary of Teaching and Research 1300–1600: Words and Concepts,” in Vocabulary of Teaching and Research Between Middle Ages and Renaissance: Proceedings of the Colloquium, London, Warburg Institute, 11–12 March 1994, ed. Olga Weijers (Turnhout: Brepols, 1995), 120
Kantik Ghosh, The Wycliffite Heresy: Authority and the Interpretation of Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 149
Little, “‘Bokes Ynowe’: Vernacular Theology and Fourteenth-Century Exhaustion,” English Language Notes 44.1 (Spring 2006): 110–11
A. J. Perry, ed., Dialogus inter Militem et Clericum, Richard FitzRalph's Sermon: “Defensio Curatorum” and Methodius: “þe Bygynnyng of þe World and þe Ende of Worldes” by John Trevisa, vicar of Berkeley, Early English Text Society (OS, Original Series, ES, Extra Series) OS 167 (London: Oxford University Press, 1925), 2.12–4.2, 20.1–23.7
Anne Hudson, ed., Selections from English Wycliffite Writings (Toronto: Medieval Academy, 1997, reprint of Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 96
Seth Lerer, Boethius and Dialogue: Literary Method in “The Consolation of Philosophy” (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985)
W. A. Davenport, “Patterns in Middle English Dialogues,” in Medieval English Studies Presented to George Kane, ed. Edward Kennedy et al. (Wolfeboro, NH: D. S. Brewer, 1988), 139
E. C. Ronquist, “Learning and Teaching in Twelfth-Century Dialogues,” Res Publica Litterarum 13 (1990): 239
Helen M. Moon, ed., “Þe Lyfe of Soule”: An Edition with Commentary, Salzburg Studies in English Literature, Elizabethan and Renaissance Studies 75 (Salzburg: Institut für Englische Sprache und Literatur, 1978), li
Elisabeth Dutton, “Compiling Julian: The Revelation of Love and Late-Medieval Devotional Compilation” (Ph. D. diss., Oxford University, 2002), 95–105
Domenico Pezzini, “How Resoun Schal Be Keper of þe Soule: Una Traduzione del Quattrocento Inglese Dalle Rivelazioni (VII, 5) Di S. Brigida Di Svezia,” Aevum 60 (1986): 265
Consuelo Dutschke, Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1989), 1:237–39
Cultures of Piety: Medieval English Devotional Literature in Translation, ed. Anne Clark Bartlett and Thomas H. Bestul (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999)
A. C. Paues, ed., A Fourteenth Century Biblical Version (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904)
Adrian James McCarthy, ed., “Book to a Mother”: An Edition with Commentary, Salzburg Studies in English Literature: Elizabethan and Renaissance Studies 92.1 (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1981), xxxii–xxxiii
Dutton, “Textual Disunities and Ambiguities of mise-en-page in the Manuscripts Containing Book to a Mother,” Journal of the Early Book Society 6 (2003): 149–59
F. J. Furnivall, ed., Political, Religious, and Love Poems, Early English Text Society (OS, Original Series, ES, Extra Series) OS 15 (London: Oxford University Press, 1866), 271
Mary Caroline Spalding, The Middle English Charters of Christ (Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr College, 1914)
Emily Steiner, Documentary Culture and the Making of Medieval English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 49–90
Helen Barr, ed., The “Piers Plowman” Tradition: A Critical Edition of “Pierce the Ploughman's Crede,” “Richard the Redeless,” “Mum the Sothsegger,” and “The Crowned King” (London: J. M. Dent, 1993), 61
De Imagine and De Utilitate are printed in Walter Hilton's Latin Writings, ed. J. P. H. Clark and Cheryl Taylor, Analecta Cartusiana 124 (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1987)
Michael G. Sargent, ed., The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: A Full Critical Edition, based on Cambridge University Library Additional MSS 6578 and 6686 with Introduction, Notes and Glossary (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2004), 82–83
Lesley Smith, “The Theology of the Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Bible,” in The Early Medieval Bible, ed. Richard Gameson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 223
“Et haec quidem sapientia scripta est in Christo Iesu tanquam in libro vitae, in quo omnes thesauros sapientiae et scientiae recondidit Deus Pater.” Bonaventure, Decem Opuscula ad theologiam mysticam spectantia, ed. Patres Collegii S. Bonaventurae (Quaracchi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1949), 202
“It is by means of these distinctions I have understood Scripture to be indestructibly true according to the literal sense.” On the Truth of Holy Scripture, trans. Ian Christopher Levy (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001), 102
“per istas distincciones intellexi scripturam infringibiliter veram ad literam.” De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae, ed. Rudolf Buddensieg (London: Wyclif Society, 1905), 1:114.18–19
Mary Dove, The First English Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 29
“iste liber non potest solvi, cum deitas ac humanitas septiformi gracia copulantur insolubiliter in eadem persona. illum librum debet omnis cristianus adiscere, cum sit omnis veritas. unde ut doceamur in hoc dicto intelligere illum librum et non opera hominum ordinavit spiritus sanctus in correctis codicibus hoc relativum ‘quem’ et non ‘quam’ ‖ et patet ex fide scripture, quod oportet esse scripturam summe autenticam preter signa sensibilia.” De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae, 1:109.21–110.20
Richard H. and Mary A. Rouse, “From Flax to Parchment: A Monastic Sermon from Twelfth-Century Durham,” in New Science out of Old Books: Studies in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books in Honour of A. I. Doyle, ed. Richard Beadle and A. J. Piper (London: Scolar, 1995), 1–13
Regula Pastoralis 2.5. S. Gregorii Magni Regulae Pastoralis Liber, trans. H. R. Bramley (Oxford: James Parker, 1874), 70–71
David Lawton, “Englishing the Bible,” in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. David Wallace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 454–82
Geoffrey Shepherd, “English Versions of the Scriptures Before Wyclif,” in The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 2, ed. G. W. H. Lampe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 363
Trialogus, ed. Gotthard Lechler (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869), 240.12–13
Ralph Hanna, “English Biblical Texts before Lollardy and their Fate,” in Lollards and Their Influence in Late Medieval England, ed. Fiona Somerset et al. (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2003), 152
Margaret Deanesly, The Lollard Bible and Other Medieval Biblical Versions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920), 401–37
Anne Hudson, “The Debate on Bible Translation, Oxford 1401,” The English Historical Review 90.354 (January 1975): 1–18
David Wilkins, ed., Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae (London: R. Gosling, 1737), 3:317
Josiah Forshall and Sir Frederic Madden, eds., The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, with the Apocryphal books, in the Earliest English Versions Made from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his Followers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1850), 3:226.17
Ralph Hanna III, “The Difficulty of Ricardian Prose Translation: The Case of the Lollards,” Modern Language Quarterly 51 (1990): 337
Sancti Aureli Augustini, De Utilitate Credendi, De Duabus Animabus Contra Fortunatum, Contra Adimantum, Contra Epistulam Fundamenti, Contra Faustum, ed. Joseph Zycha [Prague: F. Tempsky, 1891], 645–46)

Reference Type: notes

S. S. Hussey, “Langland, Hilton, and the Three Lives,” Review of English Studies New Series 7.26 (1956): 145
Anne Middleton, “The Audience and Public of ‘Piers Plowman,’” in Middle English Alliterative Poetry and its Literary Background: Seven Essays, ed. David Lawton (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer, 1982), 104
Thomas J. Heffernan, “Orthodoxies’ Redux: The Northern Homily Cycle in the Vernon Manuscript and its Textual Affiliations,” in Studies in the Vernon Manuscript, ed. Derek Pearsall (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1990), 79
Ralph Hanna, “Introduction,” in The Index of Middle English Prose Handlist XII, xii
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Steven Justice, “Langlandian Reading Circles and the Civil Service in London and Dublin, 1380–1427,” New Medieval Literatures 1 (1997): 59–83
Henry W. Wells, “The Construction of Piers Plowman,” PMLA 44 (1929): 123–40
Nevill K. Coghill, “The Character of Piers Plowman Considered From the B Text,” Medium Ævum 2 (1933): 108–35
“The Philosophy of Piers Plowman,” PMLA 53 (1938): 349
“The Origins and Careers of the Canons of Exeter Cathedral 1300–1455,” in Religious Belief and Ecclesiastical Careers in Late Medieval England, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1991), 97
George R. Keiser, “‘To Knawe God Almyghtyn’: Robert Thornton's Devotional Book,” Analecta Cartusiana 106.2 (1984): 118–19
Ruth Nisse, Defining Acts: Drama and the Politics of Interpretation in Late Medieval England (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 128–29
Roger Dymmok, Liber Contra XII Errores et Hereses Lollardorum, ed. H. S. Cronin (London: Wyclif Society, 1922)
John Wyclif, Tractatus de Officio Regis, ed. Alfred W. Pollard and Charles Sayle (London: Wyclif Society, 1887), 28.16–18
Anne Hudson, “Hermofodrita or Ambidexter: Wycliffite Views on Clerks in Secular Office,” in Lollardy and the Gentry in the Later Middle Ages, ed. Margaret Aston and Colin Richmond (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997), 41–51
The Book of Vices and Virtues, ed. W. Nelson Francis, Early English Text Society (OS, Original Series, ES, Extra Series) OS 217 (London: Oxford University Press, 1942), 120.35–36
F. J. Steele, Towards a Spirituality for Lay-Folk: The Active Life in Middle English Religious Literature from the Thirteenth Century to the Fifteenth, Salzburg University Studies in English Literature: Elizabethan & Renaissance Studies 92.23 (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995), 155–56
J. P. H. Clark, “Walter Hilton in Defence of the Religious Life and the Veneration of Images,” The Downside Review 103.350 (January 1985): 19–20
John P. H. Clark and Cheryl Taylor, eds., Walter Hilton's Latin Writings, Analecta Cartusiana 124 (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1987), 2:256.146–49
J. P. H. Clark, “Action and Contemplation in Walter Hilton,” The Downside Review 97 (October 1979): 268
Pastors and Visionaries: Religion and Secular Life in Late Medieval Yorkshire (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988), 174–97
Fasciculi Zizaniorum Magistri Johannis Wyclif Cum Tritico, Ascribed to Thomas Netter of Walden, ed. Walter W. Shirley (London: Rolls Series, 1858), 281–82
S. S. Hussey, “Walter Hilton: Traditionalist?” in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, ed. Marion Glasscoe (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1980), 10–11
Règle pastorale, ed. and trans. Bruno Judic, Floribert Rommel, and Charles Morel (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1992), 1:150
“no one ought to be so leisured as to take no thought in that leisure for the interest of his neighbour, nor so active as to feel no need for the contemplation of God.” The City of God, trans. Henry Bettenson (New York: Penguin Books, 1972), 880
“Nec sic esse quisque debet otiosus, ut in eodem otio utilitatem non cogitet proximi, nec sic actuosus, ut contemplationem non requirat Dei.” Aurelii Augustini Opera, Part 14, vol. 2, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 48 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955), 686
The Scale of Perfection, ed. and trans. John P. H. Clark and Rosemary Dorward (New York: Paulist Press, 1991), 137–39
Aubrey Gwynn, S. J., The English Austin Friars in the Time of Wyclif (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940), 59–73
Michael Wilks, “Predestination, Property, and Power: Wyclif 's Theory of Dominion and Grace,” Studies in Church History 2 (1965): 220–36
Stephen E. Lahey, Philosophy and Politics in the Thought of John Wyclif (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 68–107
“Illud autem unum est corpus Christi misticum, ex omnibus predestinatis aggregatum” (De Civili Dominio, 1:360.8–9)
Pamela Gradon, “Langland and the Ideology of Dissent,” Proceedings of the British Academy 66 (1980): 185–88
“nunquam tantum scidissent christianorum imperium temporale in civile dominium monstruose atque prepostere surrepentes. Abhinc quidem obliti sunt regule Baptiste 1 Thym. VI, 8” (De Civili Dominio, 2:21.17–22)
“John Wyclif 's Understanding of Christian Discipleship,” in Faith, Ethics and Church: Writing in England, 1360–1409 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000), 132
Christina von Nolcken, “Piers Plowman, the Wycliffites, and Pierce the Plowman's Creed,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 2 (1988): 71–102
“Langland and Lollardy” in The Yearbook of Langland Studies 17 (2003)
Traugott Lawler, “The Secular Clergy in Piers Plowman,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 16 (2002): 98
“Langland and Lollardy: From B to C,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 17 (2003): 21
James M. Powell, “Pastor Bonus: Some Evidence of Honorius III's Use of the Sermons of Pope Innocent III,” Speculum 52.3 (1977): 527–28
Lawrence Warner, “Becket and the Hopping Bishops,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 17 (2003): 107–34
Emil Friedberg, ed., Corpus Iuris Canonici (Graz: Akademische Druk-u. Verlaganstalt, 1959), 151–52
Lawrence M. Clopper, “Songes of Rechelesnesse”: Langland and the Franciscans (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 87–93
Piers Plowman and Christian Allegory (London: Edward Arnold, 1975), 131
On the Trinity, Books 8–15, ed. Gareth B. Mathews, trans. Stephen McKenna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 17
Sancti Aurelii Augustini De Trinitate Libri XV, ed. W. J. Mountain, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 50 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), 283
David Aers, “Justice and Wage-labor after the Black Death: Some Perplexities for William Langland,” in Faith, Ethics, and Church, 58
Aers, “Langland and the Church: Affirmation and Negation,” in Chaucer, Langland, and the Creative Imagination (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 51
John Chrysostom, The Homilies of S. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St. Matthew (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1851), 3:858
“Ne itaque in cassura doleamus, perpetuo furentem, pecuniarum amorem, qui numquam reprimi potest, rejicientes, ad alium appellamus, qui nos possit beatos efficere, quique multam habeat facilitatem, supernosque thesauros concupiscamus. Neque enim hic labor tantus, et lucrum ineffabile est, nec potest qui vigilat et praesentia despicit.” Patrologiae Graecae, ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1828–33)

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Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
Alan J. Fletcher, “A Hive of Industry or a Hornet's Nest? MS Sidney Sussex 74 and its Scribes,” in Late-Medieval Religious Texts and Their Transmission: Essays in Honour of A. I. Doyle, ed. A. J. Minnis (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1994), 154–55
Claire Waters, Angels and Earthly Creatures: Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 19
Summa de Arte Praedicandi, ed. Franco Morenzoni, CCCM 82 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1988), xli. Translated by Waters, Angels and Earthly Creatures, 21
Alastair Minnis, “Chaucer's Pardoner and the ‘Office of Preacher,’” in Intellectuals and Writers in Fourteenth-Century Europe, ed. Piero Boitani and Anna Torti (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1986), 99
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Thomas-Marie Charland, ed., Artes Praedicandi (Ottawa: Publications de l'Institut d’études médiévales d'Ottawa, 1936), 241–42
H. Leith Spencer, English Preaching in the Late Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 173
“Seminare autem verbum Dei ad edificacionem ecclesie est authonomatice christiana religio” (De Civili Dominio, 3:3.3–4)
“John Purvey: A Reconsideration of the Evidence for his Life and Writings,” in Lollards and Their Books (London: Hambledon Press, 1985), 88
K. B. McFarlane, John Wycliffe and the Beginnings of English Nonconformity (New York: MacMillan, 1953), 107–20
Alastair Minnis, “‘Respondet Waltherus Bryth…’: Walter Brut in Debate on Women Priests,” in Text and Controversy From Wyclif to Bale: Essays in Honour of Anne Hudson, ed. Helen Barr and Ann M. Hutchison (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), 229
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Registrum Johannis Trefnant, Episcopi Herefordensis, ed. William W. Capes (London: Canterbury and York Society, 1916), 345
“in a loose and metaphorical sense, and private rather than public instruction is assumed.” Fallible Authors: Chaucer's Pardoner and Wife of Bath (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 332
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Alcuin Blamires, “The Wife of Bath and Lollardy,” Medium Ævum 58.2 (1989): 232
Eve Salisbury, ed., The Trials and Joys of Marriage (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2002), 191–201 (see 192–93)
Shannon McSheffrey, Gender and Heresy: Women and Men in Lollard Communities, 1420–1530 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), 148
Tuttle Hansen, Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 27
Mary Carruthers, “The Wife of Bath and the Painting of Lions,” PMLA 94 (1979): 209–22
Nicholas Watson, “Chaucer's Public Christianity,” Religion and Literature 37.2 (2005): 112
Jean-Baptiste Molin and Protais Mutembe, Le Rituel du mariage en France du XIIe au XVIe siècle, Théologie historique 26 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1974), 323
A. I. Doyle, “Books Belonging to the Vere Family and Barking Abbey,” Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society New Series 25.2 (1958): 241–42
John Fleming, “Muses of the Monastery,” Speculum 78.4 (2003): 1085–86
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Marshall Leicester, The Disenchanted Self: Representing the Subject in the Canterbury Tales (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 25

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“the diversity of medieval intellectual and spiritual experience and the tolerance accorded it by a host of authorities: ecclesiastical, secular, authorial, scribal, personal.” Books Under Suspicion: Censorship and Tolerance of Revelatory Writing in Late Medieval England (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 15
Seth Lerer, “Medieval English Literature and the Idea of the Anthology,” PMLA 118.5 (2003): 1253
Julia Boffey and John J. Thompson, “Anthologies and Miscellanies: Production and Choice of Texts,” in Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375–1475, 279
Ralph Hanna III, “Miscellaneity and Vernacularity: Conditions of Literary Production in Late Medieval England,” in The Whole Book: Cultural Perspectives on the Medieval Miscellany, ed. Stephen G. Nichols and Siegfried Wenzel (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), 37–38
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Julia Boffey, “The Charter of the Holy Ghost and its Role in Manuscript Anthologies,” The Yearbook of English Studies 33 (2003): 127
A. S. G. Edwards, “Fifteenth-Century English Collections of Female Saints’ Lives,” The Yearbook of English Studies 33 (2002): 135
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Felicity Riddy, “‘Women Talking About the Things of God’: A Late Medieval Sub-Culture,” in Women and Literature in Britain, 1150–1500, ed. Carole M. Meale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 110
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Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology, ed. R. T. Davies (London: Faber and Faber, 1963), 146–48
The Index of Printed Middle English Prose, ed. R. E. Lewis et al. (New York: Garland, 1985)
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Carl Horstmann, ed., Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole, An English Father of the Church and His Followers (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1895), 1:157
M. C. Seymour, “Secundum Iohannem Maundvyle,” English Studies in Africa 4 (1961): 148–58
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