Manuscript books as a structuring factor of the Devotio Moderna religiosity

Margarita Georgievna Logutova PhD in History, senior scientific researcher, manuscript department of the National Library of Russia (ploshad’ Ostrovskogo, 1/3, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 191023),

Logutova M. G. Manuscript books as a structuring factor of the Devotio Moderna religiosity, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2016, vol. 5, pp. 94–115.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2016-00006

Language: Russian

The Devotio Moderna movement (late 14th – 15th centuries) was aimed at the restoration of the Apostolic Church’s rules of living and at reformation of the society by means of the individuals’ work on self-perfection in order to transform oneself to the image of God. There were two organizational structures in the movement: semi-secular brotherhoods of common life and Augustinian monasteries of the Windesheim Congregation. From its very beginning the Devotio Moderna movement was closely related to manuscripts, and this relation permeated all aspects of the common life brotherhoods’ activity and that of the Windesheim canons. Copying the ethic and religious literature necessary for the society became a structuring factor, which did not let the spontaneously emerging communities sharing the same ideas dissolve. And it was the bookcopying that ensured the success and durability of the efficient phase of this movement that lasted more than a century. Anticipating the appearance of book printing, its leaders keenly caught the need to expand the means of influence on people, and preached by both written and oral word. Copying popular works and composing new ones, they provided public with «spiritual food», i. e. with religious literature easy for understanding and addressing to believers. The books created at the «Modern Devotion» scriptoria were read. The book «De imitatione Christi» by Thomas a Kempis became the most claimed. After the book printing had been spread, the manuscript book lost its importance and Devotio Moderna gave way to the new religious and cultural phenomena.

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Key words: Late Medieval Religiosity, Devotio Moderna, manuscript book


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