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An Alphabetical Treatise and Ownership Inscription, in a Collection of Preaching Materials

An Alphabetical Treatise and Ownership Inscription, in a Collection of Preaching Materials

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1450

Shelfmark: Harley MS 5369

Item number: f.2r

Length: 16

Width: 11.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Medieval priests and monks had always been preachers, but in the late middle ages preaching became an especially important activity for them. Society was becoming more complex, especially in the growing towns and cities. Laity who were wealthy, politically influential and often literate but outside the traditional three social categories (rulers, fighters, serfs) were growing in numbers. The church had to take a more direct approach to communicate with these urban, secular people, who often desired more personal religious participation. More effective preaching was one of the responses to the new needs. This manuscript from St Augustine's monastery, Canterbury, contains a handy thematic range of preaching materials which a monk or canon could mine for moralising anecdotes to incorporate into his sermons.

The book begins with an alphabetically organised writing on biblical personages. In the upper margin an inscription identifies the manuscript as a book from the library of Saint Augustine's, Canterbury.

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