R.N.Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe c.1215-c.1515 (Cambridge, 1995)
This is the first one – volume survey in English of religion and devotion in Europe between the fourth and fifth Lateran councils. It provides essential background for a proper appreciation of medieval western society. After an outline of the basic beliefs of catholicism in the period, there follows a series of thematic chapters which detail and analyse the nature and significance of various manifestations of religious concern. Underlying the discussion are basic questions about the format of medieval religious experience, ranging from the nature of authority to the relationship between priests and laity, and how far it is actually possible to talk of a monolithic catholicism. The book also responds to recent historiographical debates, about whether there was a divorce between ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ religion, whether medieval catholicism was deep rooted or superficial, and the relationship between catholicism and other Christianities and non – Christian faiths.