Soldiers of Christ: Preaching in Late Medieval and Reformation France

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Oxford University Press, 1992 - Medical - 352 pages
In an age when the printed book was still in its infancy, the pulpit was the mass medium. A vital part of medieval religious life, sermons were the chief occasions on which the church attempted to bridge the gap between high theology and popular religious culture. The preaching event provided the opportunity for men and women to socialize, flirt, dispute with or mock the preacher and, in a more positive way, to heed the preacher's words and change their lives. Sacred bonfires, mass conversions of prostitutes, and confessional violence all testify to the active involvement of audiences which often numbered well into the thousands. A new look at late medieval religious values and practices through the sermons of the day, Soldiers of Christ offers intriguing insight into the beliefs and behaviors of ordinary Christians in the crucial era that saw the onset of the Protestant Reformation. Studying over 1,600 sermons given by the leading preachers in France between 1460 and 1560, Taylor examines the social context of preaching and the literary structure of the sermon to provide the background for a thorough analysis of the popular theology of the sermons, the preachers' attitudes toward men and women, and the preaching of and response to heresy in the decades after 1520. She reconstructs popular attitudes about such issues as original sin, free will, purgatory, the devil, the sacraments, and the magical arts. Offering original and often surprising analysis of a pivotal time in history, Soldiers of Christ will appeal not only to those interested in European history during the late Middle Ages and the Reformation era, but also to students of religious, social, and women's history and literaryspecialists interested in the development of the French language and the sermon as a genre.
 

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Contents

The Sermon as Event
15
The Life of a Preacher
37
The Study of Sermons
52
The Quest for Salvation
83
The Religious Cosmos
102
The Life of the Christian Believer
120
The Orders of Society
141
The Preachers and Women
156
Heretical Preaching after the Reformation
189
The Catholic Response to Early Protestant Heresy
210
Conclusion
226
biographical sketches
235
notes
243
bibliography
327
INfDF X
345
Copyright

Challenge and Response
179

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About the author (1992)

Larissa Taylor, Professor of History, Colby College.

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