The Ten Commandments and the ideal of introspective individuation in the late Middle Ages (c. 1300-c. 1550)

De Tien Geboden en het ideaal van introspectie en individuatie in de Late Middeleeuwen (ca. 1300 – ca. 1550)

PhD-Student : Marta Bigus
Supervisor : Prof. Dr. Youri Desplenter
Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pieters

Earlier research posits the historical occurrence of two prototypical phenomena of the era that separates the Middle Ages from the Early Modern period: 1) the rise to prominence of the Ten Commandments in vernacular culture; 2) the gradual development of cultural processes of introspection and individuation, culminating in the idea(l) of the Renaissance individual. More recent research has stated that new insight could be gained in the formation of the notion of introspection through the study of confessional texts in vernacular. Within that genre, writings on the Ten Commandments are taken to advance the cultural ideal of introspective individuation to a clearer extent than writings on the Seven Sins.

Starting from these insights, we aim to determine the relationship between the two phenomena singled out above, by means of a study of Middle Dutch texts on the Decalogue (c. 1300 – c. 1550) against the backdrop of a corpus of early modern equivalents. A cultural and formal analysis of these writings should enable us to single out similarities and differences in treatment, and, on the basis of this comparative approach, to show that in the specific context of the Low Countries, the ideal of introspective individuation occurred earlier than elsewhere.