This essay represents a new approach to the highly conflicted responses of scholars from the period of the English Reformation to medieval religious literature. Recent studies of sixteenth-century antiquarian engagements with medieval literature have thrown much light on the attitudes of bibliophiles like John Leland, John Bale, and the circle of antiquarians connected with Archbishop Matthew Parker. However, there has been little detailed documentation of post-Reformation engagements with actual books and the productive rehabilitation of texts that had become doctrinally problematic in Elizabethan England. This essay analyzes the engagements of Stephen Batman and an anonymous ecclesiastical annotator with the Pricking of Love, a deeply affective late fourteenth-century devotional treatise. The medieval text, infused with fervent Christological and Marian piety, would seem an unlikely source for reformed Elizabethan readers in which to recognize valuable religious lore. But, in fact, these readers go far beyond repudiating “papistical” errors to demonstrate both the past roots of their own reformed theologies and the continuing pastoral utilities of much of the medieval text.

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