This is a study of medieval de mortuis sermons in memory of kings and princes. It examines medieval kingship and attitudes to death, and identifies a period in which this-wordly and other-wordly interests were held in a relatively stable equilibrium. David d'Avray's conclusions are based on unpublished medieval sermons from fourteenth century Europe. After an outline of the genre's development, he argues that the portrayal of
individual personalities seemed to convey a message about kingship. The message is shown to be much the same as that of fifteenth century humanist preaching so far as the "external goods" of wealth and nobility are
concerned. Aristotelian influence enhances the secular character of the ideology. The secularity, however, is harmoniously balanced by a more predictable emphasis on death and the afterlife. Furthermore, in drawing this balance the sermons are representative of an outlook widely current in the real world of a fourteenth century kingship. Death and the Prince mixes political history with history of mentalities in an original and scholarly study. The
relation of its argument to recent French and German historiography is spelled out, and critical transcriptions of a significant selection of unpublished sources are appended.
`Erudite and stimulating book ... d'Avray has put later medieval historians in his debt by providing them both with material as grist for their mills and with sophisticated interpretative techniques as stimulus to reflection.'
`D'Avray's argument presents important insights into the "history of death" in the Middle Ages, as well as into the political history of the period.'
The Medieval World
`D'Avray's plea for continued collaborative work on memorial sermons is characteristic of one who has shown equal generosity in sharing his own insights and acknowlegding the work of others. International scholarhsip should be like this...The style - clear, unpretentios, and direct- reflects the man. D'Avray never patronises. He contrives to write stimulatingly for both fellow experts and students...In the sense that matters, this is a big book'
American Historical Review
`manages to live up to the expectations that it arouses, and provides readers with a sensitive and supple study of memorial preaching about princes before 1350'
Alan J. Fletcher, Medium Aevum, LXV.I