Art History



Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work

Qualifying paper


Michelle Nordtorp-Madson

Second Advisor

Craig Eliason

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Kindall


This analysis explores how the accessibility of the newly popular Book of
Hours factored into the Protestant reformations in England. Accessibility through
printed books created a demanding reading culture and changed the intent of the
object to represent popularized prayers, as seen in rubrics. The results of this
examination demonstrate that the increasing use of the Book of Hours by large
numbers of laymen within public settings drew attention to the laity’s lack of
understanding of theology and depth of spiritual interiority; this heightened awareness
created another reason for Protestant reform and its teachings. The reception of this
object by evangelical reformers was met with contempt; the content of these books
were recognized as potentially regressive to foundational theology and the spiritual
intellect of lay individuals. Evangelical reformers designed alternative books to
mitigate their anxieties, some of which were legally officiated. Ownership of the
Book of Hours as a platform for the practice of devotion was a step toward
humanism, and its evolution and later reformed versions presented material to
deepen the faith and intellectual participation of the laity. The slowly rising
authority of the laity following the collapse of papal authority was complemented by
the change in reformed church services from gazing at the Eucharist to more
engagingly listening to sermons, as well as reformed books that abolished ritual
rubric promises while offering content reflecting the bible as a whole rather than
singling out the psalms and clerically-selected scripture.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.