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Penitential Literature and Practices
Medieval Handbooks of Penance by
Publication Date: 1990
Guidelines for medieval clerics on how to assign appropriate penances for particular sins, in readable translations with detailed introductions.
Miserere Mei by
Publication Date: 2012
In Miserere Mei, Clare Costley King'oo examines the critical importance of the Penitential Psalms in England between the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. During this period, the Penitential Psalms inspired an enormous amount of creative and intellectual work: in addition to being copied and illustrated in Books of Hours and other prayer books, they were expounded in commentaries, imitated in vernacular translations and paraphrases, rendered into lyric poetry, and even modified for singing. Miserere Mei explores these numerous transformations in materiality and genre. Combining the resources of close literary analysis with those of the history of the book, it reveals not only that the Penitential Psalms lay at the heart of Reformation-age debates over the nature of repentance, but also, and more significantly, that they constituted a site of theological, political, artistic, and poetic engagement across the many polarities that are often said to separate late medieval from early modern culture. Miserere Mei features twenty-five illustrations and provides new analyses of works based on the Penitential Psalms by several key writers of the time, including Richard Maidstone, Thomas Brampton, John Fisher, Martin Luther, Sir Thomas Wyatt, George Gascoigne, Sir John Harington, and Richard Verstegan. It will be of value to anyone interested in the interpretation, adaptation, and appropriation of biblical literature; the development of religious plurality in the West; the emergence of modernity; and the periodization of Western culture. Students and scholars in the fields of literature, religion, history, art history, and the history of material texts will find Miserere Mei particularly instructive and compelling.
The Old English Penitentials and Anglo-Saxon Law by
Publication Date: 2015
Some of the earliest examples of medieval canon law are penitentials - texts enumerating the sins a confessor might encounter among laypeople or other clergy and suggesting means of reconciliation. Often they gave advice on matters of secular law as well, offering judgments on the proper way to contract a marriage or on the treatment of slaves. This book argues that their importance to more general legal-historical questions, long suspected by historians but rarely explored, is most evident in an important (and often misunderstood) subgroup of the penitentials: composed in Old English. Though based on Latin sources - principally those attributed to Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury (d.690) and Halitgar of Cambrai (d.831) - these texts recast them into new ordinances meant to better suit the needs of English laypeople. The Old English penitentials thus witness to how one early medieval polity established a tradition of written vernacular law.
A New History of Penance by
Publication Date: 2008
Between the third and sixteenth centuries, penance (the acts or gestures performed to atone for transgression, usually with an interest in the salvation of the penitent's soul) was a crucial mode of participation in both society and the cosmos. Penance was incorporated into political and legal negotiations, it erupted in improvisational social dramas, it was subject to experimentation and innovation, and it saturated western culture with images of contrition, suffering, and reconciliation. During the late antique, medieval, and early modern periods, rituals for the correction of human errors became both sophisticated and popular. Creativity in penitential expression reflects the range and complexity of social and spiritual situations in which penance was vital. Using hitherto unconsidered source materials, the contributors chart new views on how in western culture, human conduct was modulated and directed in patterns shaped by the fearsome yet embraced practices of penance. Contributors are R. Emmet McLaughlin, Rob Meens, Kevin Uhalde, Claudia Rapp, Dominique Iogna-Prat, Abigail Firey, Karen Wagner, Joseph Goering, H. Ansgar Kelly, Torstein J rgensen, Wietse de Boer, Ronald K. Rittgers, Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, and Jodi Bilinkoff.