The mirror broken anew : the manuscript evidence for opposition to Marguerite Porete's Latin 'Mirror of simple souls' in the later Middle Ages

by Justine Lida Trombley

Institution: University of St. Andrews
Year: 2015
Keywords: 304 ; Marguerite Porete ; Heretical texts ; Manuscripts ; 'Mirror of simple souls' ; Germany ; Italy ; Porete, Marguerite, ca. 1250-1310. Miroir des simples âmes ; Mysticism – France – History – Middle Ages, 600-1500 ; Christian heresies – France – History – Middle Ages, 600-1500 ; French literature – To 1500 – History and criticism
Record ID: 1391621
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/6313


This thesis examines three manuscripts which demonstrate negative attitudes towards the Latin translation of the fourteenth-century Old French mystical work The Mirror of Simple Souls, written by Marguerite Porete. Marguerite was burned at the stake for heresy in Paris in 1310, and her Mirror was also condemned and meant to be destroyed. The Mirror survived inquisitorial efforts to exterminate it, was translated into Italian, Middle English, and Latin, and became accepted and valued by many religious circles in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Examination of the Latin manuscripts, however, demonstrates that there was also a continuing trend of opposition towards and condemnation of the Mirror, even after its original Parisian condemnation was forgotten. This level of opposition is not seen in the Mirror’s other vernacular circulations, making the Latin tradition unique in the amount of censure it received. This demonstrates a multi-faceted tradition in the Mirror’s circulation, showing that the Mirror, rather than entering definitively into either the realm of orthodoxy or heresy, instead had a place in both, occupying a grey area between the two. This thesis provides new and detailed information on manuscripts which have never been studied in their own right by Mirror scholars, and examines these codices’ implications both for the circulation of the Latin tradition and for the history of the Mirror’s post-condemnation circulation as a whole.