This essay investigates how a specific group of laypeople, individuals and groups of literate artisans in late medieval French and Italian towns, participated in distinctive ways in contemporary devotional reading culture. Through an analysis of colophons and ownership marks in manuscripts and a study of wills and book inventories, a distinct artisanal devotional culture can be reconstructed, as it becomes visible in the ways that artisans combined their social, vocational, and religious identities. This is also testified by the artisans’ appropriation of religious texts and their scribal and reading activities as expressions of devotion. Exposed to biblical translations and new vernacular spiritual guides, artisans were stimulated to combine the vita activa with religious activities and to find religious significance in their public and private lives.

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