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French Books of Hours
Making an Archive of Prayer, c.1400–1600

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About the Authors
  • The book of hours was a 'best-seller' in medieval and early modern Europe, the era's most commonly produced and owned book. This interdisciplinary study explores its increasing popularity and prestige, offering a full account of the book of hours as a book – how it was acquired, how it was read to guide prayer and teach literacy and what it meant to its owners as a personal possession. Based on the study of over 500 manuscripts and printed books from France, Virginia Reinburg combines a social history of the book of hours with an ethnography of prayer. Approaching the practice of prayer as both speech and ritual, she argues that a central part of the book of hours' appeal for lay people was its role as a bridge between the liturgy and the home. Reinburg describes how the book of hours shaped religious practice through the ways in which it was used.

    • Combines a social history of the book of hours with an ethnography of prayer
    • This account of prayer as speech and rite fills a gap in our understanding of religious life
    • Shows how the book of hours reflects the varied ways people prayed at the close of the Middle Ages and during the sixteenth century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This significant contribution to the history of Christianity will interest a wide range of students and scholars. Highly recommended." -Choice

    "French Books of Hours brings together in one accessible book a wealth of information, relevant to horae, available in more specialized studies of liturgy, prayer, iconography, religion, and magic." -Elizabeth L’estrange, Renaissance Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139227643
    • contains: 39 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from eBooks.com
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I. A Social History of the Book of Hours: Prologue to Part I
    1. Culture and commerce
    2. Owners and their books
    3. Prayer book and primer
    Part II. An Ethnography of Prayer: Prologue to Part II
    4. Words and rites
    5. A fragment of a religion
    6. Prayer to the Virgin Mary
    Conclusion
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Virginia Reinburg, Boston College, Massachusetts
    Virginia Reinburg is an Associate Professor of History at Boston College, Massachusetts.

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