The essays here collect the author’s further researches since the publication of her pathbreaking Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages in 1969. In part stimulated by responses to the book, they also show the extent to which the field then opened up has now expanded. In the last forty years a cultural shift in the meaning of ’history’ has brought to the forefront an interest in how people have charted their future by the signs given in their historical heritage. Both pessimistic and optimistic readings of history meet in medieval Western Europe and colour the thought, art, even the politics of the Renaissance. In particular, the powerful vision of Joachim of Fiore activated a reading of history which culminates in a flowering of a ’third age’. These essays attempt to portray some of the strange and moving shapes which thronged the imagination as men and women looked to their prophetic future.
Table of Contents
Contents: The development of apocalyptic thought: medieval attitudes; Pattern and purpose in history in the later medieval and Renaissance periods; The Bible and literary authorship in the Middle Ages; The originality and influence of Joachim of Fiore; The Abbot Joachim’s sense of history; Some popular prophecies from the 14th to the 17th centuries; The Vaticinia de summis pontificibus: a question of authorship; Dante and the prophetic view of history; The Third Age: Dante’s debt to Gioacchino da Fiore; Prophecy and history: Edigio da Viterbo’s Historia viginti saeculorum; History and eschatology: medieval and early Protestant thought in some English and Scottish writings; English apocalyptic thinkers (c.1540-1620); Index.
'Marjorie Reeves was the acknowledged master of medieval apocalypticism, and the twelve papers collected in The Prophetic Sense of History in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, [...] shows the range and depth of her scholarship.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History