"Joy Gars Me Jangell": Affective devotion in the English writings of Richard Rolle
Although largely overlooked today, Richard Rolle of Hampole (1300-1349) was one of the most important writers and spiritual thinkers of 14th-Century England. His writings influenced Walter Hilton and Dame Julian of Norwich among others, and he was a driving force in helping to establish the mystical movement in 14th-Century England. Richard Rolle based his faith chiefly on his emotions, and the expression of this affective devotion found a large audience among Rolle's contemporaries.
This dissertation is the first in-depth study of the affective elements in Richard Rolle's theology and writings. In the importance Rolle places on physical phenomena, in his sensual descriptions of the relationship between Jesus and the believer, in his theology concerning the individual members of the Holy Trinity, and in his attitude toward ecdesiastical and individual authority, Richard Rolle's Christocentric and affective devotion is prominent. An examination of the affective elements in Rolle's works will show that his contribution to mystical thought is just as great-if not greater-than that of the apophatic mystics to whom he is frequently negatively compared. Richard Rolle's understanding of God is based on his own experience, and his written accounts of his encounters with God and what he gleaned from those encounters spoke to the readers of his day more dearly than did any of the writings of the other 14th-Century English mystics.