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2 Mysticism and Aesthetics in French Evangelical Humanism (1450–1536)

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Chapter Summary

The author relates how the letters bring together humanist and Evangelical discourses on secrecy. They do so by mining ancient and medieval mystical philosophy and by developing extensive meditations on Scripture and on Saint Paul. This chapter focuses on numerous sources for Guillaume Briçonnet's literary thought but focuses on its Augustinian and pseudo-Dionysian backgrounds. The French reformers' interest in medieval mysticism diverged from Erasmus's interest in ancient Greek culture and literature. Briçonnet used his political and ecclesiastical power to bring humanist Evangelical thinkers together to pursue reforms in his diocese because of the perceived decadence and corruption that had beset the French Church. When Marguerite de Navarre sought spiritual advice from Briçonnet through an exchange of letters, he agreed to serve as her spiritual advisor. Augustine's alliance of Christian rhetoric with philosophy serves, along with pseudo-Dionysian aesthetics, as an important literary model for Briconnet's correspondence with Marguerite de Navarre.

Keywords: Erasmus; French Church; Guillaume Briçonnet; humanist; Marguerite de Navarre; mysticism; pseudo-Dionysian aesthetics



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