2004
Volume 126, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

The succesful vernacular work Le livre de bonnes meurs (c.1404/1410) by the Augustinian monk Jacques Legrand undermines several historical commonplaces about the late Middle Ages: it made parts of the Bible accessible to laypeople in the vernacular (laypeople are even strongly encouraged to read the Bible); and the author openly criticizes the behaviour of the religious and political authorities. Le livre de bonnes meurs has often been characterized as a mirror of princes, but this article argues that it should rather be considered as a civic mirror, because it helped its readers to improve their personal lives, and it provided them with directions as to how they should behave in society. The author gives advice to all three orders of society (clergy, nobility, and working people), and, consequently, provides a mirror in which the reader can judge his or her own behaviour and that of others. Because of the central role of the vernacular Bible as a spiritual, moral, and practical guide, sacred scripture itself is also turned into a civic mirror.

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2013-05-01
2022-01-26
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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