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Recent studies of medieval preaching have tended to focus on sermon texts; this is the first full-length scholarly study in English of preaching and its social context in 13th-century Italy. The author reconstructs the "Great Devotion" of 1233, and analyzes its devotional, social, political, and legal elements. He shows how the preachers of this revival crafted an image of divine authority that supported their intervention in factional disputes and faciliated their arbitration in social and political conflicts. They exploited forms from revived Roman Law and developing city statutes to create flexible procedures for mediation, and ultimately were able to revise city statutes to enshrine their message of social harmony. This is a work of original scholarship, carefully researched and lucidly written, which is a valuable contribution to our understanding of religion and politics in the middle ages.
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Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P. (born New York, 1954), is a Catholic priest of the Order of Preachers and Professor of History at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology and member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkleley CA. He holds a Ph.D in medieval history from the Univ. of California, Berkeley CA. Until 2009 he was Professor of Religious Studies and History at the Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville VA. His books and publications focus on medieval Italy and medieval religious history.