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  • Europe after Wyclif eds. by J. Patrick Hornbeck II and Michael Van Dussen
  • Jeremy Catto
Europe after Wyclif. Edited J. Patrick Hornbeck II and Michael Van Dussen. [Fordham Series in Medieval Studies.] New York: Fordham University Press. 2017. Pp. x, 313. $55.00. ISBN 978-0-8232-7442-0.

While the emerging younger generation of students of Wyclif, Wycliffites, and Hussites has emphasized as much as their predecessors Wyclif's seminal role in the philosophical and religious thinking of the late medieval period, they have seen him and his followers less as proto-Protestants through a retrospective glass, and more as integral participants in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Europe-wide debates. Europe after Wyclif is a welcome addition to the literature on the European context of the evangelical doctor. The editors introduce the theme by citing a letter of Pope Martin V which firmly located the root of the heresies which had infected central Europe in England; Thomas Netter's massive refutation of Wyclif, written in the 1420s, was in part an attempt to assuage English shame at having allowed the infection to fester. Netter's work, compiled when Hussite fortunes were at their peak, was certainly addressed to a European readership. John van Engen considers the many diverse communities in which it might have been read, together with multiple other influences on their religious ideas and practices: brothers and sisters of the common life, Brigittine communities, the congregations who heard Vincent Ferrer and Bernardino of Siena preach, the masters of Paris and Prague Universities. This essay is a strong corrective to a binary analysis of controversies between Hussites and their various opponents; it is a pity its message is obscured by an over-allusive style and a structure which is difficult to follow. The other contributions are largely confined either to English or Bohemian themes. Kathleen Kennedy locates a group of English vernacular bibles in a surprisingly cosmopolitan context, suggesting that their owners were higher clergy who traveled extensively in the 1430s and 1440s. Mishtooni Bose draws attention to the fortunes of Guillaume de Deguileville's jeu de savoir in the English versions of his work, The Pilgrimage of the Sowle and The Pilgrimage of the Lyfe of the Manhode. Jennifer Illig recognizes a liturgical order in the English Wycliffite sermons, emphasizing their concern with the reception of communion at Easter rather than with transubstantiation. Fiona Somerset [End Page 801] places Wyclif's focus on the sin of consenting to another person's sin in the context of a moral theology deriving from Peter the Chanter. Louisa Fouroughi analyses the tract Chrystys Wordys, found only in a late fifteenth-century manuscript, which associates biblical translation with the idea of an English nation. Mary Raschko reassesses the Wycliffite gospel harmony Oon of Foure as one variety of several methods of presenting the gospels, in this case highlighting its use as moral guidance. Other contributions link Wyclif with the Hussites: Ota Pavlíček presents a particularly clear account of Wyclif's early reception in Prague, and Paulína Cermanová traces the progress of English and Bohemian apocalyptic thinking through the proliferation of manuscripts of the Wycliffite Opus Arduum among the Czechs. Luigi Campi compares Wyclif's determinism with the much cruder version of Peter Payne. Ian Levy considers the responses of Catholic theologians to the challenge of Hussite utraquism, and Pavel Soukup explains the implications of the various labels given to the Czech reform party, Wycliffites, Hussites, and the more diplomatic Bohemians, conferred on them in the more propitiatory atmosphere of the Council of Basel.

These papers concentrate on the Anglo-Bohemian axis which formed the main path by which Wyclif's ideas affected continental thinkers. While it would be interesting to trace their effect in Italy, France, and Spain—where Wyclif's philosophy was not entirely unknown in the fifteenth century (as numerous manuscripts attest)—this book is a good beginning to the task of assimilating them in the main currents of thought of a particularly lively age.

Jeremy Catto
Oriel College, Oxford


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