Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life

John Van Engen studies the Devotio Moderna, or Modern Devout, within their own time and space, the social and religious conditions that marked towns and parishes in northern Europe during the fifteenth century, and their challenge to received notions of religion within the widespread upheavals in cultural and religious life of the period.

Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life
The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages

John Van Engen

2008 | 448 pages | Cloth $65.00 | Paper $32.50
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Devotio Moderna and Modern History

1. Converts in the Middle Ages
—Conversion as a Medieval Form of Life
—Converts in the Low Countries
—Circles of Converts at Strassburg and Brussels
—Converts Under Suspicion: Legislating Against Beguines and Free Spirits

2. Modern-Day Converts in the Low Countries
—The Low Countries
—Households of Devout Women
—Societies of Devout Men
—Modern-Day Conversion

3. Suspicion and Inquisition
—Suspicion of Devout Practices
—Charge and Counter-Charge in the Mid-1390s
—Sisters Under Inquisition, 1396-1397: Friar Eylard Schoneveld Intervenes
—Resisting the Inquisitor: Legal Tactics
—Awaiting the Bishop's Decision, 1398-1401

4. From Converts to Communites: Tertiaries, Sisters, Brothers, Schoolboys, Canons
—Tertiaries "Living the Common Life"
—Sisters of the Common Life
—Brothers of the Common Life
—Windesheim Canons and Canonesses
—An Option for Enclosure: Male Canons and Female Tertiaries

5. Inventing a Communal Household: Goods, Customs, Labor, and "Republican" Harmony
—Living Together Without Personal Property
—House Customs and Personal Exercises
—Obedience and Humility in a Voluntary Community
—Labor: Living from the Work of Their Own Hands
—Communal Gatherings and a "Republican" Impulse

6. Defending the Modern-Day Devout: Expansion Under Scrutiny
—Women's Houses and Converting Schoolboys: Burgher Critics at Zwolle
—Friar Matthew Grabow and the Council of Constance
—The Sisters and the Aldermen in Conflict at Deventer: The Women's Narrative
—Institutionalizing Under Scrutiny

7. Proposing a Theological Rationale: The Freedom of the "Christian Religion"
—Place in Society: Taking on the "Estate of the Perfect"
—John Pupper of Goch (d. 1475)
—Gospel Law and the Freedom of the Christian Religion

8. Taking the Spiritual Offensive: Caring for the Self, Examining the Soul, Progressing in Virtue
—Reading, Writing, and the Lay Tongue
—Exhortation in Public and Correction in Private
—Spiritual Guidance and Mutual Reproof
—Modern-Day Devotion: Examining the Self, Making Progress, Experiencing Peace

Conclusion: Private Gatherings and Self-Made Societies in the Fifteenth Century
—The Question of an Afterlife