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Vol. 49 Exornatorium Curatorum

Edition from Wynkyn de Worde’s Text in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, SP. 335.2,

Niamh Pattwell (ed.)

‘Exornatorium Curatorum’ is a Middle English manual of religious instruction which was first printed by Wynkyn de Worde in c. 1516. At first glance, the manual appears to be another version of Pecham’s 1281 Lambeth statute, ‘Ignorancia Sacerdotum’. However, ‘Exornatorium Curatorum’ is more closely modelled on the ‘Opus Tripartitum’, a manual written by the French theologian Jean Gerson at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Both are divided into three distinct sections or tracts: credo and ten commandments, the examination of conscience, and the art and craft of dying well. ‘Exornatorium Curatorum’ is of interest because it deliberately addresses the needs of a lay reader as well as those of the so-called illiterate clergy. Tthere is considerable emphasis on the role of the laity in both the sacrament of penance and in helping people to prepare for death. This first critical edition includes textual variants from the eleven sixteenth-century editions, a commentary, glossary, and bibliography. A detailed introduction compares the various early editions, and also argues for the importance of ‘Exornatorium Curatorum’ to our understanding of late medieval vernacular religious writing.

‘L’Exornatorium Curatorum est … un bon exemple de la vivacité des practiques religieuses médiévales en Angleterre au seuil de la Réforme’ 

["The Exornatorium Curatorum is ... a good example of the liveliness of medieval religious practices in England on the threshold of the Reformation"]
Leo Carruthers
Le Moyen Age: Revue d'Histoire et de Philologie