Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Call to Read: Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Call to Read: Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities

Article excerpt

The Call to Read: Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities. By Kir sty Campbell. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 2010. Pp. xi+, 311. $38.00 paperback. ISBN 978-0-268-02306-5.)

Reginald Pecock has the reputation of being a difficult and idiosyncratic writer. During his lifetime, he went from being an influential and apparently well-regarded cleric attached to the Whittington Hospital in the City of London to become bishop, first of St. Asaph in Wales in 1444 and then of Chichester in 1450. But from 1447 he seems to have aroused hostility among the clerical authorities because of his teaching; in the 145Os he was charged with heresy on various scores, recanted, and was forced to consign many of his writings to be destroyed; he was deprived of his bishopric in 1459 and died a year or two afterward. Work done by Wendy Scase has done much to elucidate both Pecock's life and more particularly the London environment in which he moved in his earlier career. But the precise stages behind his alienation from that environment and the details of the charges against him are still not entirely clear; the very poor survival of some of his works and the complete absence of others (whether because they were incomplete or because all copies were destroyed remains unclear) are two of the factors that make an overall view of his career hard to perceive. Kir sty Campbell, rather than searching for further details of Pecock's life, gives an account of the content of his writings (p. 5) and aims to show through them how far Pecock conformed to normal medieval lines of discussion and how far his views and modes of expressing them were individual.

Pecock saw himself as providing a series of writings that would answer and defeat those whom modern historians usually call "Lollards" but that Pecock described by a variety of terms, most frequently as "the lay party" or "Bible men. …

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