A look at a medieval “bestseller”

frenchbookThe Book of Hours was the most commonly produced and owned book in medieval and early modern Europe. In her book French Books of Hours: Making an Archive of Prayer, c. 1400-1600 (Cambridge University Press), Boston College Associate Professor of History Virginia Reinburg chronicles how the book of hours shaped religious practice and achieved popularity because it served as a bridge between liturgy and the home. Reinburg explores the book of hours’ prestige and how it was acquired, how it was read to guide prayer and teach literacy, and what it meant to its owners as a personal possession. An expert in early modern European history and religious life in early modern France, Reinburg based her account on the study of over 500 manuscripts and printed books from France. A review has been published in H-France Review, which calls French Books of Hours an “important contribution to the history of late medieval and early modern French history. First and foremost, however, it is a major contribution to the history and anthropology of religion in general.”

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