The Influence of Humanism on Post-Reformation Catholic Preachers in France

By Taylor, Larissa Juliet | Renaissance Quarterly, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

The Influence of Humanism on Post-Reformation Catholic Preachers in France


Taylor, Larissa Juliet, Renaissance Quarterly


Prior to the reformation, most sermons given in France were structured according to the "modern method" of division and subdivision, which proceeded in rather artificial fashion from theme to protheme, then to the elaboration of theological points and exempla. Those who deviated from this form, such as Jean Vitrier, were lavishly praised by humanists such as Erasmus, but were often sufficiently heterodox in other respects to attract the attention of the Paris Faculty of Theology.(1) In the first decade after the outbreak of the Reformation in France, the modern method persisted, but by the 1530s it had been replaced almost completely by a much freer and more expressive rendering of theological and Biblical material. This was accompanied by an equally major change in the language of printing: by the mid-sixteenth century, almost all popular sermons were primed in French, whereas their earlier counterparts had been printed exclusively in Latin. Many of these changes can be attributed to the effects of the Protestant Reformation, when Catholics changed their style and structure out of a positive realization of the need for simplification, and more negatively to combat the Protestants on their own turf. But to see the changes in sermons as simply a result of the Reformation is to ignore the rich intellectual heritage of the last decades before the Reformation in France. The seeds of change were first sown in a group of men born roughly between 1490 and 1510, whom I will refer to as the "generation of 1490." They were the intellectual elite, most of whom studied in Paris, and whose lives and outlooks were permanently changed by a conjuncture of political, cultural and intellectual events that began in the last decade of the fifteenth century. Although I would not call these men "prereformers" for a variety of reasons, my debt to Augustin Renaudet and some of the themes he first enunciated are substantial.(2)

The French Renaissance did not simply happen during the reign of Francis I (1515-47), for many of the "new" literary and artistic currents had been present since the fourteenth century. But the pioneering efforts of the Savoyard Guillaume Fichet (d. 1480) and Robert Gaguin (d. 1501) truly introduced Italian humanist thought to the University of Paris. In the 1490s, several developments took place that would permanently mark off a new generation from its predecessors. The monastic Observantine movement made important progress in France especially after 1494, through the work of such religious reformers as Olivier Maillard, Jean Cleree, Jean Raulin and Jan Stan-donck. In that same year, the Italian Wars began, exposing a whole generation of princes, nobles and soldiers to the cultural achievements of the Italian Renaissance. And last, but certainly not least, a 29-year-old scholar named Erasmus came to Paris in 1495. I will show that humanism, especially the Christian humanism espoused by Erasmus, had a critical effect even on men whom we would not call humanists, and who might have been expected to be hostile to it in view of two factors: humanism's early, albeit tenuous, links to Protestantism, and its emphasis more on human potentiality than soteriological concerns. It is significant that the two most inveterate opponents of humanism at the University of Paris, Noel Beda and Pierre Cousturier, were both born in the 1470s and died in 1537. Most of those born after 1490, even when they publicly disavowed humanism, were nevertheless changed by it in ways that separated them inexorably from the formal scholastic past.

I will examine these changes in the lives of four men whose careers as popular preachers reached their peak in the years between 1530 and 1560. The first three will be discussed briefly: Jean de Gaigny (1495-1549), the king's librarian and chancellor of the church of Paris and the University of Paris; Claude Guilliaud (1493-1551), canon and theologus of Autun cathedral, for whom there is one funeral oration and an inventory of his 1500-volume library; and Etienne Paris (1495-1561), a provincial of the Dominican order and auxiliary bishop of both Rouen and Orleans, who has left twenty homilies.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Influence of Humanism on Post-Reformation Catholic Preachers in France
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.