Margery Kempe's spiritual biography is often called the first autobiography in English. A married woman who attempted to live a life devoted to Christ, Margery sought official Church recognition for her status as a spiritual woman and mystic, while continuing to live and travel in the secular world. She experienced intense emotional visionary encounters with Christ, which have at times a strikingly homely quality. Her Book, dictated by her to a scribe, records these visions as well as her travels in Europe and pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her particular spiritual trial, according to her Book, was to be misrepresented, persecuted, and rejected by many of her clerical and lay peers. The recording of her spiritual life, despite severe difficulties and her own illiteracy, became a symbolic act in itself, representing both her claim to spiritual status and evidence of her special relationship with God. Rich in detail about the people and places Margery encountered, the Book is a rich and fascinating record of life in turbulent early 15th century England. Mapping Margery Kempe is a digital library of resources for studying the cultural and social matrix of The Book of Margery Kempe. A goal of this site is to provide access to the material culture of Kempe's 15th century world, and especially the dynamic world of the parish. Materials at this site include a unique and extensive database of images of East Anglican parish churches. Other resources include the Middle English text and related devotional writings and saints' lives; documents about daily life, politics and commerce in 15th century Lynn; maps of pilgrimage routes; a gallery of devotional images; and bibliography and guides for teaching.
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