Andrew D. Brown

in Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780198205210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs


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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • History of Religion


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In 1465, during the month of May, Sir Edmund Leversedge of Frome, a ‘wretched and sinful creature’, was struck down with ‘the plage of pestylence’. His face turned black as coal, his swollen tongue black as pitch, and in his fevered state he had a horrible vision. Fortunately, Edmund's devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and his invocations to the name of Jesus and to the Virgin Mary spared him from eternal torment. Immediate light ought to be thrown on ‘popular piety’ in the diocese of Salisbury in late medieval England. This study concentrates much more on collective forms of religion, the local activities, loyalties, and cults of lay people mostly below the rank of gentleman. This is not to assume that the religion of the gentry was essentially different. ‘Popular piety’ may indeed imply a distinction between it and an elite form of religion that was socially superior, more learned, clerical, or even ‘unpopular’.

Keywords: Edmund Leversedge; diocese; popular piety; religion; lay people; cults; England; Salisbury

Chapter.  10377 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; History of Religion

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