Sin and Society in Fourteenth-Century England
Penetrating behind the seal of medieval confession is among the most formidable historiographical challenges. One route is through confessors' manuals. This is the first full-scale scholarly study of a fourteenth-century confessor's English example. It contributes significantly to the European-wide research on pre-Reformation confessional practice and clerical training. On another level, the Memoriale Presbiterorum's peculiarly intense concern with social
morality affords pungent commentary on contemporary English society.
Michael Haren analyses a remarkable treatise both as a vehicle of social doctrine and as a mirror of the milieu to which it is directed. While presenting it against its general intellectual background, continental and English, he also argues for its setting within a vigorous and largely neglected episcopal regime, that of Bishop Grandisson of Exeter. His wide-ranging exposition will interest students of moralizing literature - including Chaucer and Piers Plowman - as well as