Death and the Prince: Memorial Preaching Before 1350

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This is a study of medieval de mortuis sermons in memory of kings and princes. It examines medieval kingship and attitudes to death, and identifies a period in which this-wordly and other-wordly interests were held in a relatively stable equilibrium. David d'Avray's conclusions are based on unpublished medieval sermons from fourteenth century Europe. After an outline of the genre's development, he argues that the portrayal of individual personalities seemed to convey a message about kingship. The message is shown to be much the same as that of fifteenth century humanist preaching so far as the external goods of wealth and nobility are concerned. Aristotelian influence enhances the secular character of the ideology. The secularity, however, is harmoniously balanced by a more predictable emphasis on death and the afterlife. Furthermore, in drawing this balance the sermons are representative of an outlook widely current in the real world of a fourteenth century kingship. Death and the Prince mixes political history with history of mentalities in an original and scholarly study. The relation of its argument to recent French and German historiography is spelled out, and critical transcriptions of a significant selection of unpublished sources are appended.