The Ten Commandments as an instrument of vernacular moral instruction in the Low Countries (c. 1300-1420)

De Tien Geboden als instrument van volkstalige morele instructie in de Nederlanden (ca. 1300-1420)
Start - End 
2014 - 2017 (ongoing)
Department of History
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The project aims to contribute to the changing perspective on the history of Christian ethics by investigating the way in which economic, political and social developments influenced vernacular renditions of the Decalogue. It examines the hypothesis according to which moral teaching contained in Middle Dutch treatises on the Ten Commandments developed as the result of a negotiation between, on the one hand, theological accuracy and, on the other hand, the reality of daily life in highly urbanised and wealthy areas of the Low Countries (Brabant and Flanders in particular). Both religious and lay authors were willing to stray from their Latin sources and to make doctrinal concessions in order to formulate ethical rules that were applicable and feasible for members of various social groups. Their interpretations of individual precepts consisted mainly of seemingly practice-based instructions regarding correct, yet pragmatic conduct in a variety of social situations, such as trade transactions, testimonies in courts etc. The observance of these rules was thought not only to lead to individual prosperity and social cohesion, but also to be a crucial condition for achieving salvation. Understood in this way, the Decalogue texts can be seen not merely as instruments through which the Church tried to enforce certain behaviour upon society, but rather as practice-oriented rules for the maintenance of social cohesion shaped by the economic, social, and political reality. 



Phd Student(s)