Translation, Education, and Salvation in the Thirteenth Century


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project examines the translation of learned culture, especially religious teaching, from Latin into the French vernaculars of thirteenth-century France and England. Lay demands for, and the church’s efforts to supply, basic spiritual knowledge were given focus by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which emphasized the importance of frequent preaching and yearly confession. Both didactic handbooks and genres like miracles of the Virgin, fabliaux, debate poetry, and retellings of the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus engage with the intertwined issues of status and learning as they convey and explore Christian knowledge for a non-Latinate audience, and provide a window onto the early rise of lay expertise and mass education.