Lesyng of tyme’: Perceptions of Idleness and Usury in Late-Medieval England.
By the time L wrote, sloth—originally a monastic vice—was applied to laziness in spiritual duties generally. The essay investigates “ideas about idleness and its consequences” in didactic and spiritual literature. In addition to PPl the essay looks at Mirk, the Memoriale presbiterorum, the Fasciculus morum, Dives and Pauper, and the Book of Vices and Virtues among others. Idleness, however, is not merely a spiritual sin; it has social consequences and can be tied to ideas about “not labouring to maintain one’s estate.” Furthermore, idleness may be tied to usury: usurers “did no recognizable work” and expected to receive more than they gave out. Usury is also complicated in the late-medieval period because “in an increasingly monetized society credit and liquid cash were essential” for the economy to function. As the idea of secular work changed to include industry in addition to merely physical labor, however, scholastic thinkers too, over time, modified their attitudes to usury.