Literary Echoes of the Fourth Lateran Council in England and France, 1215–1405
Papers in Mediaeval Studies 31 • 2019 • x, 322 pp. • ISBN 978-0-88844-831-6 • Cloth • $95
The thirteenth century saw a blossoming of religious literature aimed at the laity composed in the vernacular as well as in Latin for the preachers who ministered to them. It has been traditional in literary history to attribute this vernacular creativity to the Fourth Lateran Council. Although the Council was part of a longer tradition of Church reform, it nonetheless crystallized theological and ecclesiastical thought in a form that was a spur to composition by writers and preachers for more than a century. The aim of this volume is not to attempt a comprehensive account of the Council or its reach in religious writing of the period but to further our understanding of how lay people, largely neglected by earlier councils, received Lateran IV’s doctrinal definitions and disciplinary rules. The essays gathered here concentrate on England, where bishops enacted the Council’s reforms with particular enthusiasm, and France, where the earliest instructional literature appeared.