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Popular Religion Notes

History Notes > General History III: 1400–1650 (Renaissance, Recovery and Reform) Notes

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GIII Revision Notes.

Popular Religion.

1. How 'popular' was the Church in the later middle ages?
- Trad view = laity did not really participate in worship e.g. Clifford Flanigan spoke of 'alienated liturgy'."It is all too easy to approach the pre-Ref laity with a patronising stance" (Swanson)
- However, faith ultimately always going to include people. Such central part of life in later mid ages/had such power that it had to reflect and mirror people's wishes.
- Gavin Langmuir has talked of diff between religion and religiosity.
- "The faith itself is essentially atomistic, dependent on individs creating their own relationships with the divinity" (R N Swanson).
- "Pre-Ref Cath was... a 'demand-led' religion" (R N Swanson).
- "The 'elite' and the 'clerical'... were often a veneer over the 'lay' and 'popular'" (R N Swanson).How distanced were lay people from the clergy?Background: 'Gregorian reform' of late C11th intended to make priesthood v distinct from laity. E.g. X family - cut ties to anyone outside of ecclesiastical authority.Priests had central role in conducting mass:
- Priests only ones w/ power to consecrate Host ('eche prest hath of Cristis geft power forto make this sacrament'
[Festial]).
- This "implied an enormously high doctrine of priesthood" (Eamon Duffy).
- No layman/woman could touch the sacred vessels.
- CA: Daily masses = conducted at low altars often within arm's reach. E.g. Ranworth, Norfolk and Bramfield, Suffolk - use rood screen as backdrop to 2 smaller altars.Some ev for AC/anti-pope:Talks of "much anti-papal feeling" (R C Finucane) coming from papal rights to tax, apt fgn bishops to Eng sees.
- CA: Pt about anticlericalism: disliking spec activities of spec priest = diff to opposing clericalism on all grounds.
- "What is notable... is the general lack of complaints about the theological activities of the clergy" (Swanson).

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