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The Virgin Mary in High Medieval England, A Divinely Malleable Woman: Virgin, Intercessor, Protector, Mother, Role Model

Cara Elizabeth Furman

TRICERATOPS: TriCollege Digital Repository, History Senior Thesis, Haverford College. Dept. of History, April 13, (2003)


This thesis examines the significance of the Virgin Mary in England between the late fourteenth century and early fifteenth century. In my investigation of three primary sources, Robin Hood talesthe Mystery Play s, and the Mary Play at N-Town, Mary served distinctly different purposes. Yet, in identifying what each group required from Mary, broader tensions in English society become apparent. For those disenfranchised from the Catholic clergy, Mary was another route to God. The Catholic Church, losing power as an institution, employed the ideal of Mary to teach parishioners to be a good Christian and later to defend Catholicism against reformist movements. One trait that remained constant for Mary was role as intercessor. For Catholics, she had a direct connection to God and could plead on people’s behalf. For Protestants, she saved souls as a model of faith. Though all technically Catholic texts, the primary sources in this chapter show both Catholic and Protestant ideas. Mary’s intercessary role illustrates how people were struggling between the ideals of the two religions.

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(via Medievalists)