The Limburg Sermons: Preaching in the Medieval Low Countries at the Turn of the Fourteenth Century


For a long time it was thought that there were no Middle Dutch sermons dating from the thirteenth century. It was only after J.P. Gumbert had redated the manuscript from The Hague containing the Limburg Sermons that its contents could be assigned to that century. Most of the Limburg Sermons appear to be translations of the Middle High German St. Georgen sermons. But sixteen of these texts are known only in Middle Dutch, and among these is to be found material drawn from the works of Hadewijch and Beatrijs van Nazareth. Thus the Limburg Sermons emerge to take their place in the famous tradition of Brabantine mysticism.
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Biographical Note

Wybren Scheepsma, Ph.D. (1997), Leiden University, works as a post doc researcher at Leiden University. He has published extensively on the role of vernacular religious literature in late medieval Europe.

Review Quotes

"This excellent, thorough monograph provides the Anglophone world with a richly-detailed account of one of the earliest collections of Middle Dutch prose, The Limburg Sermons...To say the least, this is an exhaustive treatment of this corpus, and the translator is to be commended for making it available in English." – Steven Rozenski, Jr., Harvard University, in: Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2010, pp 307-9
"Scheepsma's study is a major contribution to sermon research. It can be viewed not only as an exceptionally diligent and learned book on one Middle Dutch sermon collection, but also as a history of religious literature in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in the interfaces between the Dutch-, French-, and German-speaking areas." – Regina D. Schiewer, Universität Augsburg, in: Medium Ævum 77/2 (2008), pp. 358-60
"This meticulous, encyclopedic and minutely observed study elicits well-earned respect, and gratitude from English-speaking scholars for making this area of literary study accessible. [...] The insights Scheepsma's analysis of these sermons provides [...] will be of interest not only to literary historians but also to church historians, and art historians as well." – Judith Oliver, Colgate University, in: The Medieval Review, 16 July 2009

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

I. Introduction
1. The Hague Manuscript
2. The Medieval Sermon
3. The St. Georgen Sermons and the Limburg Sermons
4. A Cistercian Literature in the Vernacular?
5. The Historical Context

II. The Textual Corpus
1. The Table of Contents in MS H
2. The Translated St. Georgen Sermons
3. Dets dbuec van den palmboeme (Ls. 31)
4. Seven Passion Sermons (Ls. 32-38)
5. Dbuec van den boegaerde (Ls. 39)
6. Dbuec van den twelf frogten (Ls. 40)
7. Dit leert ons negenrehande minne (Ls. 41)
8. Det sin seven maniren van minnen (Ls. 42)
9. Dbuec van den gesteleken winkelre (Ls. 43)
10. Dets dbuec van heren Selfarts regelen (Ls. 44)
11. Dets van der heilger selen (Ls. 45)
12. Dets wie onse vrouwe een besloten boegaert es (Ls. 45)
13. Laudate dominum in sanctus eius (Ls. 48)
14. The Maastrichtse Passiespel
15. Preliminary Review

III. Form and Function
1. An Example: The Spiritual Wine Cellar
2. The Fiction of the Sermon
3. Bible and Allegory
4. Damsels of Jerusalem
5. Memoria and Meditation
6. Rhyme, Prose and Rhyming Prose

IV. Backgrounds
1. The Later Transmission
2. The Letters of Hadewijch
3. Minne and Mysticism
4. Old French Religious Literature
5. Connections in the Old French Transmission
6. Mystical Networks

I. Codicological Description of Manuscript H
II. The Limburg Sermons According to Manuscript H
III. Concordance
IV. ‘Brothers’ in Manuscript H
V. Two Limburg Sermons in Translation



All those interested in Middle Dutch literature, the history of medieval sermon literature, and vernacular religious literature of the thirteenth century.