Rubrics, Images and Indulgences in late Medieval Netherlandish Manuscripts


What role did images play in the mania for indulgences during the decades prior to the Protestant Reformation? Rubrics, Images and Indulgences in Late Medieval Netherlandish Manuscripts considers how indulgences (the remission of time in Purgatory) were used to market certain images. Conversely, images helped to spread indulgences, such as those attached to the Virgin in sole and the Mass of St Gregory. Images also began depicting the effects of indulgences: souls escaping Purgatory. Drawing on numerous unpublished sources, Kathryn M. Rudy demonstrates how rubrics modified behaviour and expectations around image-centred devotion. Her work is the first to analyse systematically the way that indulgences and images interacted – indeed, shaped each other – prior to the Reformation.

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Kathryn M. Rudy, Ph.D. (Columbia), is Professor of Art History at the University of St Andrews. She has also published Piety in Pieces: How medieval readers customized their manuscripts (Open Book Publishers, 2016) and Postcards on Parchment: The Social Lives of Medieval Books (Yale University Press, 2015).
“A really beautiful, insightful and original book. Any Reformation historian who wants to understand the importance of indulgences will want to read it.”
Andrew Pettegree, University of St Andrews

“300 pages of original scholarly research that reshapes disciplinary boundaries in the field.”
Elizabeth Savage, London. In: The Library, Vol. 19, No. 2 (June 2018), pp. 231–232.

“a truly outstanding study.”
Mark Trowbridge, Marymount University. In: HNA Reviews, October 2019.

“a product of enormous effort and remarkable expertise […]. It would be remiss to snub the aesthetic appeal of this volume: rubrics are laid out in red text to reflect the manuscripts they reference, and Rudy’s discussion is beautifully illustrated with 152 impressive, often large format, predominantly full-colour images, which in the modern sense make this book quite an indulgent read.”
Jenneka P. C. Janzen, Leiden University. In: Quaerendo, Vol. 48, No. 1 (2018), pp. 88–91.


Part 1: Rubrics and indulgences
Chapter I: Rubrics and the performance of prayer
Latin, the vernacular, and rewards for proselytizing
Functions of rubrics
Performing prayer in a church
Linguistic structure of prayers
Chapter II: Indulgences
Math of eternity
Immeasurability of nature
Praying and paying
Mileage credit
Size and complexity of indulgences
The ever-changing meaning of carenen

Part 2: Christological images and prayers
Chapter III: Arma Christi
Arma Christi, reproduced
Indulgenced Veronica
Cross, Wounds, and Measuring String
Other arma Christi
Chapter IV: The Body of Christ
Prayers for the Baby Jesus
Five Wounds of Christ
Chapter V: The Mass of St Gregory, the Man of Sorrows, and prayers for the arma Christi
From Man of Sorrows to Gregorian Mass
Adoro te in multiple lengths
Rubricated instructions made manifest in images
An idealized mass
The Adoro te rubrics as models for other rubrics

Part 3: Marian images and prayers
Chapter VI: Prayers and miracles before the Virgin’s image
Milk bath
Cults of the virgins
Our Lady of Milan
Salve Regina
Images and miracles
Chapter VII: Marian indulgences
The Virgin in Sole
The Virgin in Sole and the rosary devotion
The Virgin’s body parts
The Pietà

Part 4: Implications
Chapter VIII: Images that thematize indulgences
Images of terror and salvation
Images of purgatorial release
Advertising indulgences on church walls
Other subjects of salvation
Objects of veneration in Sole
Indulgenced images
A Place for the donor



Academics in Art History, Reformation History, Book History, text & image studies; academic libraries, post-graduate students.
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