|Mary of Burgundy in Prayer|
The Hours of Mary of Burgundy are an exceptional representation of the increase of lay piety and private devotion in the late middle ages. Books of hours were designed specifically to met the specifications set by those who had them commissioned. By allowing for a greater customization of their intended books, the laity could now specify what they desired to see depicted within the books they had ordered to be made. While Mary’s book of hours was not commissioned by her and was most likely a gift to Mary, the manuscript can, nevertheless, be seen as a reflection of some elements of medieval society’s preferences in their books. Mary herself is depicted in several scenes from the book, most notably in a picture of her reading her book of hours in front of what appears to be a mirror that shows another scene of the Virgin and Child in a church (above). The extent of private devotion that is reflected in such illustrations shows how in depth the relationship with their faith medieval peoples desired. They desired to reach a personal connection through their individual actions of piety that they themselves were in charge of, rather than seeing their relationship with God bourn through the devotions of monks in far off monasteries and priests in their churches. The increase in urbanization, the wider availability of books, increasing “literacy” among lay peoples and even the arguments made by members of heretical orders throughout Europe in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries allowed people to take on a new role in relation to their religious practices. Though book ownership was still a practice that was dominated primarily by the wealthy due to the cost of making books, the books of hours are a notation of a definitive ideological shift in late medieval culture that placed a greater emphasis on individuality and inclusion in religion outside of the members of the clergy.
|Christ Nailed to the Cross|
|Mary's beads in Christ Nailed to the Cross|