USML45

Oral and Written Communication in the Medieval Countryside: Peasants – Clergy – Noblemen, ed. Anna Adamska and Marco Mostert (Turnhout, 2020: USML 45), ISBN 978-2-503-58905-3.

Much has been published over the last decades on the uses of literacy by the clergy, nobility, and town dwellers of the Middle Ages. By comparison, very little attention has been devoted to the use of writing by the inhabitants of the medieval countryside. This book aims to remedy this situation. In many different regions of medieval Europe, the vicinity of even the smallest of towns and market places suggested the use of the written word. Even peasant communities and individual peasants came into contact with writing, and on occasion wrote texts themselves — or had texts written for them. The professionals and semi-professionals of the kinds of writing we associate mainly with urban literacy proved to be real ambassadors of pragmatic literacy in the European countryside. The Church was present there as well, with clergy engaged in pastoral care. And the landowners, many of whom belonged to the lower nobility, also played a role in the process by which the countryside slowly but steadily acquired literate mentalities. These fundamental developments are seen against the background of the persistence of those oral and non-verbal forms of communication that continued to be vital in peasant societies. This book offers a selection of scholarly work made available for the first time in English; in addition, articles have been commissioned to augment what has been available for some time in other languages.

The Contents will be added upon publication.