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A Companion to 'The Doctrine of the Hert'

A Companion to 'The Doctrine of the Hert': The Middle English Translation and its Latin and European Contexts

Denis Renevey
Christiania Whitehead
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to 'The Doctrine of the Hert'
    Book Description:

    The Doctrine of the Hert was the fifteenth-century English translation of De doctrina cordis, the thirteenth-century Latin devotional treatise addressed to nuns. The text progressively pairs the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit with seven key actions of the heart, leading readers toward contemplative unity with God. The text was a religious bestseller. It circulated widely throughout Europe between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries and was translated into numerous vernacular versions. This book consists of ten essays from an international group of scholars of medieval religion discussing the Middle English text alongside its Latin forebear, and other European vernacular translations (French, German, Spanish and Middle Dutch). Despite its medieval popularity, The Doctrine of the Hert has largely escaped the attention of scholars until recently. Yet it has much to offer regarding our understanding of late medieval female spirituality. University of Exeter Press’s new edition (published June 2009) opens up the field by providing access to the text, and this companion further establishes scholarship on this text.

    eISBN: 978-1-78138-041-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Notes on Editors and Contributors
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Denis Renevey and Christiania Whitehead

    AlthoughDe doctrina cordismay not be the sole textual witness to a pan-European devotional phenomenon in late medieval Europe, its wide dissemination, in Latin and several vernacular languages, invites a serious and sustained study of the text and its contribution to medieval religious culture. This volume, which accompanies the edition of the Middle English version ofDe doctrina, aims to introduce readers to the Middle English version at the same time as providing, through the history of the dissemination of its different versions in Latin and vernacular languages, a broader view of the devotional landscape of late medieval Europe....

  7. Part I: De doctrina cordis

    • 1 The Authorship of De doctrina cordis
      (pp. 19-56)
      Nigel F. Palmer

      Does authorship matter? The old-fashioned view, that it does matter, was well expressed by Richard Sharpe in the opening words of his recent essay on an evidence-based approach to the way we refer to medieval texts: ‘Everyone who studies a text needs to be able to place its composition in a context of time and place and audience. […] Who wrote the text is often the fundamental clue to its understanding: knowledge of the author allows us to place the text in the intellectual milieu, perspective, and even personal aims and interests of its creator, and beyond that to read...

    • 2 De doctrina cordis: Catechesis or Contemplation?
      (pp. 57-82)
      Christiania Whitehead

      In important work upon the LatinDe doctrina cordisin the 1980s and 1990s, Hendrix identified two distinct versions of the text – a long and a short, characterized by differing prologues (the HV and IP), which Marleen Cré discusses in greater detail in her essay in this volume. It has since proved convenient to utilize these distinctions as primary categories in discussions focused upon the text. However, these categories by no means offer complete or even adequate insight into the many different textual manifestations ofDe doctrinathat survive in Latin manuscripts; on the contrary, they have the often uncomfortable...

  8. Part II: The Doctrine of the Hert

    • 3 The Doctrine of the Hert: A Middle English Translation of De doctrina cordis
      (pp. 85-108)
      Anne Elisabeth Mouron

      John Trevisa, in an epistle to Thomas, Lord of Berkley, says the following about his translation of Higden’sPolychronicon:

      For to make this translacioun cleer and pleyne to be knowe and understonde, in somme place Y shal sette worde for worde, and actif for actif, and passif for passif, arewe right as thei stondeth, without chaunging of the ordre of wordes. But in somme place Y mot chaunge the rewe and the ordre of wordes, and sett the actif for the passif, and ayenward. And in somme place Y mot sett a resoun for a worde and telle what it...

    • 4 ‘Comfortable Wordis’ – The Role of the Bible in The Doctrine of the Hert
      (pp. 109-130)
      Annie Sutherland

      In the 1548 Book of Common Prayer, we read: ‘Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him.’² Following the Confession and prefacing the administering of the sacrament of Holy Communion, these ‘comfortable words’ take the form of quotations from Matthew 11:28 (‘Come unto me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you’), John 3:16 (‘For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting’),¹ Timothy 1:15 (‘A faithful saying, and worthy of all...

    • 5 Meat, Metaphor and Mysticism: Cooking the Books in The Doctrine of the Hert
      (pp. 131-158)
      Vincent Gillespie

      A major rhetorical concern of much anchoritic literature is the cramming of infinite imaginative riches into the little rooms of an anchorhold or reclusory. The metaphorical empowerment of those who lead lives of reclusion from the world is both a convenient didactic enrichment of the limited space they occupy and the creation of a series of parallel imaginative landscapes layered onto their actual locus to endow them with a set of resources that are necessary both for their psychological well-being and for their long-term spiritual development.² Monks and nuns, encouraged to follow the example of Mary at the Annunciation, are...

    • 6 The Doctrine of the Hert and its Manuscript Context
      (pp. 159-182)
      Catherine Innes-Parker

      The Doctrine of the Hertis a fifteenth-century translation of the thirteenth-centuryDe doctrina cordis, intended as an instructional text for ‘symple soules, which oure lord bought with his precious blode and therto also hathe chosyn to his spouses, as ben thoo that dwellyn in religioun’² – in other words, nuns. The place of the Middle EnglishDoctrinein the broader corpus of vernacular theology in fifteenth-century England has yet to be addressed, but its manuscript context suggests that it has much to teach us concerning both the rise of vernacular theology among female religious readers and the appropriation of devotional...

  9. Part III: European Vernacular Translations

    • 7 The French Translations of De doctrina cordis
      (pp. 185-207)
      Anne Elisabeth Mouron

      In the first quotation, fromThe Manere of Good Lyvyng, a fifteenth-century Middle English translation of the thirteenth-centuryLiber de modo benevivendi, the author advises his reader, a nun, to ‘kepe [her] hart’. Sharing the same biblical quotation, this advice reflects the major concern of the second quotation, which is taken from a fifteenth-century French translation of another thirteenth-century Latin text,De doctrina cordis.⁴

      In his survey of the surviving manuscripts and early editions ofDe doctrinain Latin and in European vernaculars, Hendrix lists two manuscripts ofDe doctrinain French: Troyes, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 1384 and Douai, Bibliothèque...

    • 8 A Middle Dutch Translation of De doctrina cordis: De bouc van der leeringhe van der herten in Vienna, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, MS 15231
      (pp. 208-222)
      Marleen Cré

      Of all the vernaculars into which the mid-thirteenth-century Latin treatiseDe doctrina cordiswas translated, Middle Dutch is the only vernacular to offer translations of both the long (IP) and short (HV) versions of the text, whereas the translations into English, German, French and Spanish are all made from the short version (HV) of the Latin original, and the translation into Italian may well have been made from the IP-version.² The Middle Dutch HV-translation survives in two fifteenth-century manuscripts³ and a rewriting of the translation into the Cologne dialect in a manuscript dated 1465.⁴ As it is intriguing that it...

    • 9 De doctrina cordis and Fifteenth-Century Ecclesial Reform: Reflections on the Context of German Vernacular Versions
      (pp. 223-237)
      Karl-Heinz Steinmetz

      De doctrina cordiswas composed, either by Gerard of Liège or Hugh of St Cher, in the first half of the thirteenth century.¹ The continuous tradition of this text of spiritual instruction testifies to its enduring success; in addition, a closer look at the provenance of extant manuscripts substantiates our understanding of the impact thatDe doctrinahad in Germany, particularly after the Councils of Constance and Basel, which supported monastic reform programmes. Many of the Latin manuscripts were produced in prominent monastic, mendicant or canonical houses in mid- or late-fifteenth-century Germany and Austria.² Furthermore, most manuscripts with an abbreviated...

    • 10 The Spanish Translation: Del enseñamiento del coraçon (Salamanca, 1498)
      (pp. 238-263)
      Anthony John Lappin

      The small, anonymous bookDel enseñamiento del coraçon, published in Salamanca in 1498, has attracted a certain amount of critical attention, but not for its text, which has remained unanalysed, and, for all I know, unread during the twentieth century. Three copies survive of that printing, all in the Iberian peninsula: El Escorial, 31-V– 49 (2°), and Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional, Res. Inc. 502 and 503. The work was subsequently reprinted in a revised edition with modernized text and attributed to St Bonaventure, by Juan Varela de Salamanca, asDoctrina cordis de sant buena ventura en romance: nueuamente corregido y enmendado...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 264-282)
  11. Index
    (pp. 283-294)