Ancrene Wisse: From Pastoral Literature to Vernacular by Cate Gunn

By Cate Gunn

Ancrene Wisse and Vernacular Spirituality within the center a long time is an creation to the Ancrene Wisse—an vital thirteenth-century advisor for recluses who, for non secular purposes, withdrew from secularity to be able to lead an ascetic and  prayer-oriented existence. This quantity considers the vast spiritual context during which the Ancrene Wisse was once written and broadens that context via addressing problems with readership, drawing comparisons among lay piety and sermons, and not easy many of the long-held perspectives on Ancrene Wisse’s in particular lady readership, articulating a spot for the monastic vintage within the constructing literature of vernacular spirituality.

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Additional resources for Ancrene Wisse: From Pastoral Literature to Vernacular Spirituality

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In Middle English, the term lay tended to indicate non-clerical or non-learned: the first reference to the adjective lai in the Middle English Dictionary is from around 1400 and gives the meaning of ‘unlearned, uneducated’ or ‘non-clerical, not belonging to the priesthood’.

On the Continent, the Waldensian movement, which is discussed below, could be considered an example of the outcome of such social change; but it is in England that we find evidence of pastoral reform and a programme of teaching and preaching encouraged by bishops and other members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Within the Church, reform had largely taken the form of new monastic orders, most notably the Cistercian and Carthusian orders, which were founded in the last years of the eleventh century, and new orders of Augustinian canons, including the Premonstratensians and Arrouaisians, which were founded during the twelfth century.

Women’s ability to follow a religious vocation was to a large extent at the mercy of male patrons, and vacillation between acceptance and rejection, enthusiasm and caution, is typical of male response to women’s desire to enter the religious life. Women were often seen as a distraction from, if not a threat to, the orderliness of the religious life, yet there were always some individual men prepared to champion their cause and establish houses for them. The apparent misogynistic attitudes of church leaders need to be treated with some caution, and within historical context.

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