This paper will argue that at the end of the Middle Ages in England, the spiritual nourishment of medieval English people underwent certain feasts and famines. In particular, I will look at the rates of publishing of traditional devotional books and reformist tracts (such as the Imitatio Christi and Supplication of Beggars) and Books of Hours, based on known printed output and calculated manuscript production. Juxtaposed with the royal and governmental actions taken by Henry VII and Henry VIII, this study will examine the metaphorical feasts and famines of religious trends between c.1475 and 1550.
Medieval punctuation differs distinctly from modern punctuation. It not only looks different, it is also applied differently. So much so, that punctuation in Middle Dutch verse manuscripts has often been considered strange and elusive, without coherence or system. But is it? In 1897 Frans van Veerdeghem, a university professor from Liège, discovered a manuscript in the Royal Library of Copenhagen containing a Middle Dutch saint’s life in verse based on Thomas of Cantimpré’s Vita piae dominae Lutgardis. Numbering over 20,000 lines of verse, this is probably the oldest surviving Middle Dutch verse manuscript of some substance. The punctuation system used in the Copenhagen Lutgard is quite unique. It is the only example of the so-called ‘liturgical punctuation system’ in a Middle Dutch verse manuscript. In this presentation I will look into the way in which this spiritual food was both prepared and consumed by addressing questions as to the origins and use of the ‘liturgical punctuation system’, as well as to the intended users and the intended use of the Copenhagen Lutgard manuscript.
Recent research has led to the acknowledgement that changes in punctuation, word separation, and the layout of the written page have led to changes in the legibility of written texts. The development of the ‘grammar of legibility’ has had important consequences for the development of ‘literacy’. So far, research into this notion has concentrated on the period of the handwritten book. What, if any, are the changes brought about in the grammar of legibility by the printed book? And as the history of reading plays a prominent place in the history of the development of literacy, can we discern any influence of developments in the grammar of legibility of early printed books on the growth in the numbers of literates, or indeed on the numbers of books becoming available?