Devotio Moderna And Its Influence On The Ghent Altarpiece

3599 Words Dec 15th, 2014 15 Pages
Sarah Chapman
Professor Luscheck
Honors 322
14 December 2014
Devotio Moderna and its Influence on the Ghent Altarpiece Devotio Moderna is marked by contradictions that render it almost impossible to adequately categorize it. John Van Engen states “historians have had trouble finding ways to fit [Devotio Moderna] in. Fifteenth-century histories tried to place them back in the millennium-old framework of medieval religious orders…sixteenth-century princes and prelates…found little place for [the movement],” and that more modern scholars consider the followers of the movement to be “on the cusp of change…emblems of transition, if not its agents” (Van Engen, Sisters and Brothers, 4). As such, Devotio Moderna has appeared to scholars as a particularly problematic area of study; at once accessible and unapproachable (6), with critical and academic responses throughout the past centuries ranging from considering it to be “a turning point, perhaps the turning point, in European history” (3) to having “little relevance outside local history” (4).
Yet, as Devotio Moderna produced the second-most translated books in human history, the most important devotional work (aside from the Bible) in Catholic Christianity (Miola 285), and as Devotio Moderna was actively practiced for nearly two hundred years in the Lowlands, it is difficult for one not to be curious about this mystifying movement. Surely, if its writings were so wildly popular and far-reaching, the movement was not without…
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