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Peter Howard Languages around the pulpit in Quattrocento Florence Across Europe, mendicant friars were among the most popular preachers from the thirteenth to at least the early sixteenth century. A large corpus of their sermons have survived, but in Latin rather than the vernacular. Initiated by de la Marche and Haureau in the nineteenth century, and more recently taken up by Lazzerini, Gehl, and D’Avray, the scholarly debate about the language of sermon delivery continues. To what degree was preaching vernacular? How much Latin was incorporated, and therefore to what extent were sermons macaronic? My study resumes this debate in relation to the ‘local’ cultures of belief in fifteenth-century Florence and, and on the basis of sermons preached and sermons ‘received,’ will argue that the language of preachers in the period became more classicized, if not Latinized, as the century progressed. In particular, the types of exempla and textual authorities employed by preachers can reveal a great deal about the linguistic and cultural capacities of a Florentine audience at any given moment. They also reveal the role played by preachers in informing innovative aspects of the culture of the day.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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