The Doctrine of the Hert was the fifteenth-century English translation of De doctrina cordis, the thirteenth-century Latin devotional treatise addressed to nuns. The text progressively pairs the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit with seven key actions of the heart, leading readers toward contemplative unity with God. The text was a religious bestseller. It circulated widely throughout Europe between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries and was translated into numerous vernacular versions. This book consists of ten essays from an international group of scholars of medieval religion discussing the Middle English text alongside its Latin forebear, and other European vernacular translations (French, German, Spanish and Middle Dutch). Despite its medieval popularity, The Doctrine of the Hert has largely escaped the attention of scholars until recently. Yet it has much to offer regarding our understanding of late medieval female spirituality. University of Exeter Press's new edition (published June 2009) opens up the field by providing access to the text, and this companion further establishes scholarship on this text.
Denis Renevey is Professor of Old and Medieval English Literature and Language at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He has published widely in the field of vernacular theology and female religious writings. Christiania Whitehead is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at the University of Warwick. Her fields of interest lie in medieval allegory and female spirituality.