Priests and Their Books in Late Medieval Eichstatt (Hardback)
  • Priests and Their Books in Late Medieval Eichstatt (Hardback)
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Priests and Their Books in Late Medieval Eichstatt (Hardback)

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£65.00
Hardback 242 Pages / Published: 23/10/2017
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This book analyzes the acquisition and use of texts by the parish clergy in the diocese of Eichstatt between 1400 and 1520 to refute the amusing, but misleading, image of the lustful and ignorant cleric so popular in the satirical literature of the period. By the fifteenth-century, more widely available local schooling and increasing university attendance had improved the educational level of the clergy; priests were bureaucrats as well as pastors and both roles required extensive use of the written word. What priests read is a question of fundamental importance to our understanding of the late medieval parish and the role of the clergy as communicators and cultural mediators. Priests were entrusted with saying the Mass, preaching doctrine and repentance, honoring the saints, plumbing the conscience, and protecting the legal rights of the Church. They baptized children, blessed the fields, and prayed for the souls of the dead. What priests read would have informed how they understood and how they performed their social and religious roles. By locating and contextualizing the manuscripts, printed books, and parish records that were once in the hands of priests in the diocese, the author has found evidence for the unexpected: the avid acquisition of books; a theological awareness; and an emerging professional identity. This marks an important revision to the conventional view of a dramatic era marked by both the transition from manuscripts to printed books and the outbreak of the Reformation.

Publisher: Lexington Books
ISBN: 9781498548861
Number of pages: 242
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 238 x 156 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Matthew Wranovix's valuable, deeply-informed, and lively book upends old stereotypes of the late medieval parish clergy by exploring their reading habits. His sweeping survey of the pastoral primers, devotional guides, episcopal mandates, and canonical texts available to priests and how they used them is, in effect, a crash course in medieval pastoral care. Beyond that, his granular examination of Ulrich Pfeffel's pastoral and personal library opens an unrivaled window into the mental world of a fairly ordinary fifteenth-century pastor and preacher. What emerges from this important book is a refreshing, intensely humane portrait of the professional and devotional life of parish priests, the workhorses of medieval Christianity. Priests and Their Books in Late Medieval Eichstatt offers us a much-needed ground-level view of the parish clergy and the books they used. -- John Shinners, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame
Several important recent books have begun to reshape our understanding of fifteenth-century religion and culture. Matthew Wranovix has written another. Focusing on the diocese of Eichstatt, this study shows how late medieval parish priests were something other than the stereotypically ignorant and decadent figures so familiar in older scholarship. Through careful reading of a wide range of sources in both manuscript and print, including unedited visitation records and the books and texts owned and used by the priests themselves, Wranovix shows how parish priests, like their lay counterparts, enjoyed broadening educational horizons; how they rose to the demands of increasing bureaucratic responsibilities placed on them by bishops and patrons; and above all how they richly embraced the fifteenth century's culture of books, reading, and writing. Scholars of the later middle ages, the early Reformation, and the history of the book alike will find this study both useful and suggestive for future research. -- James Mixson, University of Alabama
On the surface of Matthew Wranovix's new book is a careful local study of the book ownership of parish priests in one diocese in fifteenth-century Germany. But don't let its modest title fool you. Beneath the surface is a broad and masterful exploration of the social position of late medieval clergy that also makes an important contribution to our understanding of fifteenth-century book culture. Anyone who still believes that decrepit clergy paved the way for the Reformation needs to read this book. -- Daniel Hobbins, University of Notre Dame

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