In an age when the printed book was still in its infancy, the pulpit was the mass medium. A vital part of religious life, sermons were the chief occasions on which the church attempted to bridge the gap between high theology and popular religious culture. The preaching event provided the opportunity for men and women to socialize, flirt, dispute with or mock the preacher and, in a more positive way, to heed the preacher's words and change their lives. Larissa Taylor has examined over 1600 sermons given by the leading lay preachers in France between 1460 and 1560, and examines the social context of preaching and the sermon while reconstructing popular attitudes towards original sin, free will, purgatory, the Devil, the sacraments, and the magical arts.
Previously published by Oxford University Press, 1992. Winner of the 1996 John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America.