This paper discusses the emergence of ideas of a vernacular literature in Dutch in the fourteenth century. It seems that the changing attitudes towards the availability of (religious) learning for the laity is one of crucial factors, but also fourteenth-century authors show a new awareness of participating in public debate and opinion making. The shift in intellectual culture from the exclusive Latinate learning to vernacular audiences is most evident in religious literature, also because of the strong ecclesiastical tendencies to limit the dissemination of clergie (the Middle Dutch equivalent of learning) among the laity. A tentative evaluation of the nature of medieval Dutch literature and learning leads to the assumption that the level of learning in Dutch texts of the fourteenth century was determined by rather close connections to Latin texts.
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