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An Anglo-Norman Reader

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Jane Bliss

Religious Writings

Hagiography

Texte intégral

  • 1 Prologues from another three are included in the preceding ‘Miscellany’ section.
  • 2 They appear together with other Lives in the Campsey manuscript (see notes below), but not exclusi (...)
  • 3 See, inter al., Legge, Cloisters, pp. 49–51, for these three nuns.
  • 4 Grange, ‘Review: Bouchard, Rewriting Saints’: rather than think about forgery or authenticity, we (...)

1Passages from three saints’ lives have been chosen to represent this important corpus.1 They are all by women, making a neat set,2 but I have not attempted to compare them as specifically women’s writing, which I feel would be reductive.3 Instead, I am taking passages from each that differ widely in genre within the life and miracles of the saint in question. From the first, I have chosen a miracle that is not one of the saint’s own; for the second, I have focused on the writer’s historical passages; from the third I extract passages illustrating the protagonist’s rhetorical brilliance. The three saints in this chapter are extremely different from one another, representing a variety of saintly ‘types’ as well as authorial styles, as will be seen. There is not space here to give a summary of each, but ODS may be consulted, as well as introductions to the edited texts. A creative attitude to historical truth is to be expected and even celebrated in medieval saints’lives; see for example Bouchard’s Rewriting Saints and Ancestors: Memory and Forgetting in France, 500–1200.4

La Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur, by a Nun of Barking5

  • 5 Dean 523
  • 6 In later times, Washington Irving added this very same story to his article about Westminster Abbe (...)
  • 7 Legge, pp. 60–66 (and 246–7).
  • 8 vv. 2477–80.

2The story of Mellit and the Fisherman is inset among passages about Edward’s vow to make a pilgrimage, and about his re-founding of Westminster Abbey. He carries out the latter, instead of the pilgrimage, because his people are afraid to let him go to Rome in case he never comes back. It complements the passage chosen from the Roman de Rou, above, because Wace does not give us this story as part of his account of Edward.6 The Nun introduces it by saying Edward had heard of many wonders that took place ‘in the good old days that were now passed away’, and she wants to digress from her main narrative so that we can enjoy this favourite of hers. Her style is much more conversational and personal than that of her primary source, which was written for a reading rather than a listening audience. This miracle differs from other miracles in saints’lives because it is not performed by the saint in question but is a flashback to a miracle, performed by somebody else, that took place in legendary history.7 The Nun admits it does not belong to her ‘matire’, but is confident that ‘Nuls nel purra senz joie oïr Pur quei qu’il ait de Deu desir’.8 She envisages a pious (and mixed) audience who will delight in this good story.

  • 9 Edouard, p. 50.
  • 10 Although it sounds proverbial, all efforts to track it down in Dictionaries of Proverbs have been (...)
  • 11 p. 3, lines 11–13; Edouard, p. 23
  • 12 GL p. 23, lines 819–20; Edouard p. 147 The sentiment with its poetic antithesis, in both vernacula (...)
  • 13 See the GL introduction to Edward (p. 1).

3This is not the place for a detailed study of Edward’s Lives, but some contextual remarks may be of interest. The Nun’s version was until recently considered a mere translation of her original, the Vita by Aelred of Rievaulx. I have shown elsewhere that she certainly had other sources, and some details of her version have come through into later English lives of Edward.9 It is clear she knew a life of Edward the Martyr that Aelred, if he knew it, did not use. There is also the possibility she knew Old English poetry, because of a couplet that looks very like an echo of lines in the Battle of Maldon.10 Both these details reappear in a much later Life: the writer of GL (Supp) knows that Edward the Martyr was said to have been murdered at the behest of his step-mother;11 and its description of Edward’s dying sentiments resembles that in the Nun’s version.12 Some of her differences from Aelred may be because she used different manuscript(s) from the one edited in PL;13 some recent work on this is described in my translation of the Nun’s life cited here.

  • 14 Folio numbers are those of the base manuscript (Vatican, MS Reg. Lat. 489). I include some variant (...)
  • 15 It has been slightly modified here and there.

4The text is copied from La Vie d’Edouard, ed. Södergård;14 the translation is my own, almost exactly as previously published in Edouard,15 except that it was without the text on each facing page as here. My Introduction to it may be consulted for further background; I have included a number of my footnotes here. The chapter comprises two ‘sections’, each marked in the edition with a capital in bold and a line-break.

Text

[f.7c] Al tens lu bon rei Edelbert
E al tens sun nevu Sexbert,
Ices reis furent cunverti
Par Augustin, le Deu ami ; [2484]
Li uncles reis en Kent esteit,
Li nevus en Lundres maneit.
De sun regne ert le mestre sié.
Puis fud li reis acuragié [2488]
De dens les murs faire une iglise
Ki el num seint Pol fust asise.
Sié d’evesquë i vuleit faire
Pur l’iglise a grant onur traire. [2492]
Saint Mellit ad evesque fait
Od grant onur e od grant hait. [f.7d]
Saint Mellit fud forment
produmme,
Od saint Augustin vint de Rume, [2496]
Ki Engletere a Deu turna,
Le quel saint Gregorie envea.
Li reis Sexbert fud pruz e sage
E si refud de grant curage. [2500]
Puis vint al rei en volenté,
Si cum saint Pol ot honuré,
Que saint Piere honurer voleit,
Une eglise en sun num fereit. [2504]
Dehors les murs de la cité
Vers le west ad li rei fundé
Une eglise en l’onur saint Piere
La quele a tuz jurz puis out chiere. [2508]
Li reis i ad granz teres mises
E mult riches rentes asises.
Puis vint un tens que a Deu plout
Qu’ele dedïee estre dut. [2512]
Vienent i genz de pres e de luin,
Aparaillent quanqu’ ad busuin
A l’uvrainne de si halt jur
Pur le liu e pur Deu amur. [2516]
Saint Mellit fud mult pensis
E tute la nuit ententis
D’ordener e d’aparilier
Qu’al demain li avreit mestier. [2520]
Li poples fud liez endreit sei,
Ja seit qu’il fussent luinz de fei.
Le dedïement attendirent,
Ja seit qu’il en Deu ne creïrent, [2524]
Plus pur la merveille veer
Que pur devocïun aveir
Ne qui qu’unkes mais le veïssent
E pur ço de plus s’esgoïssent. [2528]
Icele nuit dedenz Tamise
Aveit un peschur sa nef mise,
Ki curt tut dreit suz le mustier.
Cil i fud entrez pur peschier. [2532]
Vers l’altre rive estiet alee [f.8a]
Sa nef e pres fud arivee.
La li est saint Piere aparu,
Cume pelerin fud vestu, [2536]
Dist lui qu’il avreit bon luier
S’ultre l’eve le vult nager.
Cil li ad volentiers granté,
Saint Piere est puis a lui entré. [2540]
Quant de l’altre part sunt venuz,
L’apostle est de la nef eisuz,
Puis est dedenz l’ eglise entrez,
Li peschur l’ad tut esguardé. [2544]
Puis que l’apostle entrez i fu,
Se demustra tost la Deu vertu.
Del ciel decent une clarté,
Ki le liu ad enluminé. [2548]
Tant fud ample sa resplendur
Que la nuit est turnee en jur.

Translation

  • 16 The abbey was originally built on Thorney Island. Södergård notes ‘west’ as an anglicism, but Fren (...)
  • 17 Although the Nun translates Aelred’s text fairly closely much of the time, she allows herself a go (...)

5In the time of good King Edelbert and of his nephew Sexbert, these kings were converted by Augustine, the friend of God. The uncle king was in Kent; the nephew stayed in London. It was the principal seat of his realm. There the king was inspired to make a church within the walls, to be established in the name of Saint Paul. He wanted to make it a bishop’s seat, so as to bring great honour to the church. He made Saint Mellit bishop, with great honour and great joy. Saint Mellit was a very good man: he came from Rome with Saint Augustine, whom Saint Gregory sent and who converted England to God. King Sexbert was worthy and wise, and also he was of great virtue. Then the king had an idea, that as he had honoured Saint Paul he wanted to honour Saint Peter: he would make a church in his name. Outside the walls of the city, to the west,16 the king founded a church in honour of Saint Peter, which he ever after held most dear. The king granted it great lands and established many rich rents. Then came the time when it pleased God it should be dedicated. People came from near and far; they prepared whatever was necessary for the proceedings of such a high day, for the place and for the love of God. Saint Mellit was very thoughtful, and all night was attentive to the ordering and preparation of what he would need next day. The people were happy about it all, though they were far from true faith. They attended the dedication, even though they did not believe in God — more to see the marvels than out of devotion — and because they had never before seen anything like it they were the more joyful.17

  • 18 ‘nager’ is to transport, or be transported, in a boat (not ‘swim’).

6That night a fisherman had put his boat into the Thames, that ran right there beneath the church. He got into it, to go fishing. The boat went towards the other bank and arrived quickly. There Saint Peter appeared to him, dressed like a pilgrim, and told him he would have a good reward if he would take him across the water.18 He willingly agreed, and Saint Peter got in with him. When they came to the other side, the apostle got out of the boat, then he went into the church — the fisherman saw it all. When the apostle had entered, he soon showed the power of God. From Heaven came a brightness that lit up the place. Its splendour was so abundant that night was turned to day.

  • 19 This couplet is added in one of the other MSS.

A l’apostle vint en aïe
Cele tres noble cumpanie [2552]
Des citeens del ciel la sus
Les quels maintent li reis Jesus.
Li angle e li saint vunt devant
Od grant clarté e od dulz chant. [2556]
En tere n’ad buche ki die
Cum fud dulce la melodie,
Cum cele joie fud plenerie,
Cum bele fud cele lumiere. [2560]
Ki puet dire cele dulçur
De la celestïene odur,
Quant les nobles celestïens
Furent asjuins as terrïens ? [2564]
Tute la tere en fud joiuse
E des glorïus glorïuse.
Li angele i muntent e descendent,
Le chant del ciel a tere rendent. [2568]
[Li lieus fu toz saintifiés
Et des sains angeles dediés.]19
Quant saint Piere od sa cumpainie
Ot bien dedïé l’abbeïe
E fait quanque il faire dut
Qu’al dedïement afferut, [f.8b] [2572]
Dunc s’est vers la nef returné
Al peschur qui l’ aveit passé.
Cil avait tel poür eü
Que pur poi out le sens perdu. [2576]
Sun fieble cors ne pot suffrir
Tel chose veeir ne oïr.
Dunc le conforte dulcement
Saint Piere e sun sens puis li rent. [2580]
Cil ad sa nef vers tere trait
E l’un peschur od l’altre vait.
Li dui peschiere i sunt entrez
Mais de diverses poëstez. [2584]
L’un peschot pur anemes guarir,
L’altre pessuns al cors nurir,
Li uns les anemes de la gent,
L’altre del cors sustienement. [2588]
Mult furent divers lur voleirs
Et nun semblables lur pueirs.
A saint Piere est dunc suvenu
Des duz diz sun maistre Jesu. [2592]
Cument poust ses diz ublïer
Qu’il sot tant dulcement amer?
Cument poust ubliance aveir
De ço u tut fud sun vuleir? [2596]
Tant li fud dulz li dulz Jesu
Que sun quoer si addulci fu
Que l’amertume de pechié
N’i prist puis la dulçur sun sié. [2600]
Pur ço ne pot metre en ubli
Les duz diz de sun duz ami.
Sun cumpaignun prist a reigner,
Si li dit : ‘N’ as tu que mangier ?’ [2604]
‘N’ aie par fei,’ cil respundi.
‘Rien ne pris, kar ci t’atendi.
Cert fui de mun pramis luier,
Pur ço ne me vuoil travaillier.’ [2608]
De rechief li ad dit saint Piere
Od dulz semblant, od piue chiere :
‘Lasche tes reis, met les em prise !’
[f.8c]
Cil ad fait sulunc sa divise. [2612]
Tost fu chargiee si la rei
Qu’a peine la pout traire a sei.
Les pessuns a la rive trait,
En sa nef les met od grant hait. [2616]
Saint Piere ad dit al pescheür :
‘Prens des pessuns le tut greinur,
A saint Mellit le porteras.
De ma part li presenteras. [2620]
Les altres seient tun luier
Que te promis pur tun nagier.
Jo sui numé Pieres, ami,
Od mes piers del ciel descendi [2624]
Pur dedïer la meie eglise,
Ki ci est en mun num asise ;
E par la mei’auctorité
Ai jo cest liu sanctefié. [2628]

  • 20 This question-form, with the notion of inexpressibility, is an example of the Nun’s dramatic style (...)
  • 21 Aelred has ‘as if on Jacob’s ladder’(Gen. 28:12); the Nun prefers the idea of giving back the song

7To join the apostle came that noble company of citizens of Heaven above, over whom reigns King Jesus. The angels and saints go ahead, with bright radiance and with sweet song. In earth there is no mouth that can tell how sweet was the melody, how complete was the joy, how beautiful was this light. Who can tell the sweetness of this heavenly fragrance, when the celestial nobles accompanied the terrestrial?20 All the earth rejoiced at it, and gloried in the glorious. There the angels go up and down,21 and give back the song from heaven to earth. [The place was sanctified from top to bottom, and dedicated by the holy angels.] When Saint Peter with his company had dedicated the Abbey, and done what he had to do that pertained to the dedication, then he turned back to the boat of the fisherman who had transported him.

  • 22 The Nun makes much of this point, following Aelred (Matt. 4:19), but she goes on to elaborate the (...)

8This man had been so frightened he was nearly out of his wits. His frail body cannot endure to see or hear such things. So Saint Peter gently comforts him and brings him back to his senses. He brought his boat to land, and one fisherman went with the other.22 The two fishermen went into the boat — but with differing powers: one fished to cure souls; the other, fish to feed bodies. One, sustenance for the souls of the people, the other for their bodies. Very different were their intentions, and their powers were not the same. Then Saint Peter remembered the dear sayings of his master Jesus. How could he forget his sayings, whom he knew how to love so sweetly? How could he lose the memory of that wherein his whole desire lay? So sweet was the sweet Jesus, his heart was so sweetened that the bitterness of sin nevermore took the place of the sweetness. Therefore he cannot but remember the sweet sayings of his sweet friend.

  • 23 This conflates episodes in Luke 5:1–7 and John 21:5–11

9He addressed his companion and said to him: ‘Haven’t you anything to eat?’23

10‘No, indeed,’ he replied. ‘I caught nothing, because I was here, waiting for you. I was certain of my promised reward, and so I didn’t want to go to work.’

11Immediately Saint Peter said to him, with gentle look and kindly manner: ‘Let out your nets, put them in position.’

12And he did so, as [Peter] wished. Quickly the net was so laden he could scarcely draw it towards him. He pulls the fish to the bank, and puts them in the boat with great satisfaction. Saint Peter said to the fisherman:

  • 24 Aelred’s Peter mentions ‘fellow-citizens’ without punning.

13‘Take the very biggest of the fish — you shall carry it to Saint Mellit. You are to present it to him, from me. The others shall be your reward, that I promised you for your crossing. I am named Pierre, friend; with my peers24 I came down from Heaven to dedicate this, my church, which is established in my name; and by my own authority I have sanctified this place.

Plus de l’evesque me hastai,
Kar einz de lui la dediai.
Tut li dirras demain, ami,
Quanque veü as e oï. [2632]
Tel enseigne el mustier verra,
Par quei les tuens diz bien crera.
N’estueit mais que la main i mette
Ne del dedïer s’entremete, [2636]
Mais tant qu’il face le servise
Demain cel jur desdenz l’eglise,
Puis die al pople le sermun,
Si lur duinst ma beneïçun. [2640]
Bien les acert e bien lur die
Qu’il en cest liu avrunt m’aïe.
Des feeilz Deu ki ci savrai
Les prïeres suvent orrai, [2644]
Si overai a mes amis
La grant porte de pareïs.
Ceos ki chastement ci vivrunt
Ja close ne la truverunt,’ [2648]
Saint Piere a itant s’ en ala,
Aprés ço tost l’albre creva. [f.8d]
Saint Mellit est matin levé,
Ki mult aveit la nuit pensé [2652]
De faire le dedïement
Qu’il plust a Deu e a la gent.
Li peschieres l’ ad encuntré,
Le peisun li ad presenté. [2656]
Puis li ad tut par ordre dit
Que de saint Piere oï e vit.
Li evesquë en fud mult liez,
Forment s’en est esmerveilliez. [2660]
Les us del mustier uvrir fist,
Vit que veirs fu que cil li dist.
Les deos abeces unt truvez,
Ki furent mult bien cumpassez. [2664]
Les. XII. cruiz truvees unt,
Ki del saint’olie uintes sunt.
Des dudce cirges unt truvee
La remasille as cruiz fermee. [2668]
De l’evoe beneite jetee
Fud l’iglise encore arusee.
Des que tut cest ourent veü,
Si unt tut l’altre bien creü. [2672]
Nuls ne poeit aveir dutance
Dunt Deu lur fist aseürance.
Saint Mellit est al pople alé,
Cest miracle lur ad cunté. [2676]
Trestut cum ala lur dit,
Puis lur fait veeir ço qu’ einz vit.
Le rei del ciel trestuz aürent
E de joie e de pité plurent, [2680]
K’il par cel saint dedïement
Ad duné creance a sa gent.
Le peschur e tut sun linage
Soleient par dreit eritage [2684]
Le guain de lur pessuns dimer
E a Westmustier aporter.
Mais nepurquant uns le retient
[f.9a]
Ki de sun guain issi avint [2688]
Qu’unques ne pot prendre peisun,
Desqu’a saint Piere enquist
pardun.
Despuis que saint Ædward oï
Le miracle qu’ai conté ci [2692]
Par escrit e par recunter,
Mult se pena del liu amer.
Fist le mustier, fist maisuns faire,
Riches rentes al liu atraire. [2696]

  • 25 Aelred cites Titus 2:12 here; the Nun’s mention of friends is a typical theme with her.
  • 26 Edward was celebrated for his chastity (Edouard, passim).

14I hastened more than the bishop did, for I dedicated it before him! You will tell him tomorrow, friend, all you have seen and heard. He will see such a sign in the church, by which he will believe your words. It will no longer be necessary for him to set his hand to it, nor undertake to dedicate it, but as soon as he performs the service that day — tomorrow — in the church, and then says the sermon to the people, thus he gives them my blessing. Let him reassure them and tell them that in this place they shall have my help. I shall often hear the prayers of God’s faithful, whom I know to be here; and I shall open the great door of Paradise to my friends.25 Those who live here chastely shall never find it closed.’26With this, Saint Peter went away; soon afterwards, the dawn broke.

  • 27 This conforms to the ritual of consecrating a church. The alphabets may have been painted or drawn (...)

15Saint Mellit rose in the morning; he had thought much during the night about performing the dedication so as to please God and the people. The fisherman met him and presented him with the fish. Then, from beginning to end, he told him what he had seen and heard of Saint Peter. The bishop was overjoyed, and marvelled greatly at it. He had the doors of the church opened, and saw that what he had told him was true. They found the two alphabets, which had been properly set out. They found the twelve crosses, that were anointed with holy oil. Of the twelve candles, they found the remainder fixed to the crosses. The church was still wet with the scattered holy water.27 As soon as they had seen this, they believed all the rest completely. None could have any doubt, now God had assured them of it. Saint Mellit went to the people and recounted this miracle. As soon as he went, he told them, then he showed them what he had already seen. Straightaway they praised the King of Heaven, and for joy and piety they wept — that by this holy dedication he had given faith to his people.

  • 28 A tithe was properly a tenth of one’s income, supposed to be offered by everybody to the Church as (...)
  • 29 Aelred’s chapter ends here; he begins the next with a rather longer account including several Bibl (...)

16The fisherman and all his lineage, father and son, thenceforth used to reckon the tithe of their fish and take it to Westminster.28 But nevertheless one of them held this back, for his own gain, and it so happened that he was never able to catch fish again until he had begged for Saint Peter’s pardon.29

17When Saint Edward heard of the miracle I have told here — by writing and by re-telling — he took much trouble to cherish the place. He made the church, and he had houses built, to draw rich rents for the establishment.

La Vie Seinte Audree, by Marie30

  • 30 ed. Södergård; Dean 566
  • 31 I have consulted The Life of Saint Audrey, ed. and tr. McCash and Barban; I continue to use the ol (...)
  • 32 Seminar paper delivered to the Oxford Medieval French Seminar, 28th April 2015: ‘Comment naît un a (...)
  • 33 Inter al., McCash, ‘A Fourth Text?’; Griffin, ‘Gender and Authority’; Landolfi’s essay in Anglo-fr (...)

18The Life of Saint Audrey contains extensive historical passages, claiming to be taken from Bede. I have chosen it for this reason, in accordance with my preference for selecting passages untypical of their genre: history can be found in fiction. Its author names herself Marie, and it has recently been attributed to ‘Marie de France’.31 However, Richard Trachsler has even more recently examined the development of this composite ‘author’ and her stubborn resistance to being dismembered.32 Although I would naturally prefer to see two (or more) women writers instead of one, it is not my intention to involve myself further in the question; the field of Marie studies is already very well covered by numerous scholars.33

  • 34 See Edouard, for the Nun of Barking and her audience.
  • 35 The text begins ‘Ici comence la vie seinte Audree, noneyne de Ely’, but the first mention of her a (...)
  • 36 See Bede, History, tr. Shirley-Price et al. (and notes below); Leyser, Beda, gives some historical (...)
  • 37 History, tr. Shirley-Price et al., also cited frequently in notes below; here, see for example pp. (...)
  • 38 tr. Fairweather, cited passim in my notes below. The story is found on pp. 12–16; even to the comp (...)
  • 39 Blank lines in the edited text are reproduced here as a row of dots.
  • 40 Variant readings in their edition (see also their Appendix 1) do not in my view affect the sense o (...)

19For an introductory discussion of this work, which exists in only one MS, see first Legge (pp. 264–6). Like that of the Nun of Barking, this nun’s style is chatty and personal; our third nun Clemence says much less to her audience than either of these two do. The Life can be found, with others in the ‘Campsey’ manuscript, online (https://uwaterloo.ca/​margot/​). This collection was put together for the purpose of mealtime readings in a nunnery; whatever the original audience envisaged, this version of the text had an audience of nuns together with their household and any guests. Religious houses were much more open than might today be supposed: visitors both clerical and lay came and went, bringing news, letters, books.34 There are numerous appeals to a listening audience, where the writer addresses them in the second person, or makes chatty explanations. Like other religious women who produced saints’lives, Marie is literate in Latin and has translated from a Latin source or sources. The saint is Etheldreda, a nun of Ely and a queen.35 It begins with what purports to be historical narrative.36 However, it is clear from a glance at Bede’s History that Marie cannot be drawing directly from it,37 especially since a glance at Liber Eliensis shows a much closer similarity in the arrangement and style of the narrative.38 It is also interesting for the story behind our word ‘tawdry’, and for the author’s name (rarely found among women writers for a number of reasons) placed at the end of the text. Three passages are therefore reproduced here, with translation and notes. References are to ODS as well as to text and notes in the edition; Södergård provides both Analyse and IPN.39 The spelling of names in modern English, not to mention Södergård’s French, varies from one source-book to the next, so I have generally adopted spellings given in ODS. The table in The Life of Saint Audrey, ed. and tr. McCash and Barban, p. 11, is useful; reference to notes in this volume are added with an asterisk, as they are marked on the page.40

Text

Audrey’s Family and Birth41

  • 41 vv. 29–228; pp. 57–62 in the edition. New sections are marked by capitals in bold type and a space (...)
  • 42 * MS ‘Sire gilberz’.

Pour sainte Audree la roine
Cui bien ne faut ne decline
Hay comencé ce livre a faire. [f.100d]
Ici m’estuet dire et retraire [32]
De quel linage ele fu nee
Et com deus foiz fu mariee.
Ainz ke paroil dou mariage,
M’estuet moustrer de son linage. [36]
Solom l’estoire as anciens
En icel tens ke Marciens
Hout de Rome la seignurie,
L’empire et tute la baillie, [40]
Une genz, Engleis sunt nomez,
En Bretaine sunt arivez.
Cinqante sis et bien cent anz,
Si come saint Bede est disanz, [44]
Ainz ke saint Austin venist,
I furent les Engleis, ceo dist,
Treis maineres de compaignons,
Godlondeis, Engleis et Seixons. [48]
Furent icil qui de Germaine
Esteient venuz en Bretaine.
De la lignee as Godlondeis
Furent engendreis li Kenteis ; [52]
L’autre partie des Estreis
Furent engendrez des Engleis,
L’autre partie des Seixons
Ke Seixons Estreis apelons. [56]
Estaungle a non cele partie
Dont Engleis eurent la seignurie.
De cele genz fu engendree
La glorieuse sainte Audree [60]
Ke mut fu de grant sainteté
E de real dignité.
Redwald fu en icel tens reis,
Ce dist l’estoire des Kenteis. [64]
Titulus out son pere a non, [f.101a]
Ulf son aol, issi le trovom.
De cest Ulf furent apellé
Ulfinges li reis et nomé. [68]
Aprés icel rei Redwald
Regnat un sen fiz Erkenwald
Ke par le bon rei Edwine
Se torna a la ley divine. [72]
Cist Edwins estoit reis,
Sire et mestres de Norhombreis.
Par son seint amonestement
Converti cist liu et sa gent. [76]
Occis fu, poi de tens dura.
Sigilberz,42 son frere, regna,
Bons cristiens fu sanz dotance,
Cist jeta le pais de errance [80]
Par saint Felix, un sen ami.
Eveskes fu, mut le crei.
En France ert a lui acointez,
Dementres qu’il fu eissilliez. [84]
Kant de son essil vint ariere,
Felix manda, par sa priere
Vint a lui et eveske le fist
De Dounemoc ou il le mist. [88]
Par precher et par sainteté
Converti il cele cité.

Translation

Audrey’s Family and Birth

20I have begun to make this book for Saint Audrey the Queen, who never fails or fades. Here I must tell and record what lineage she was born from, and how she was married twice. But before talking of marriage, I must show her lineage.

  • 43 (Eastern) Roman Emperor 450–57
  • 44 * In Old French this word was used for both English and Angles.
  • 45 ‘Gotlanders’.
  • 46 Essex; the sentence is confusing because Marie calls both lots ‘Estreis’. Audrey was of Anglian (n (...)
  • 47 Compare this with Description, above.
  • 48 See Bede, note to p. 171 (on p. 369), for dates of Redwald and his immediate successors.
  • 49 The IPN says he was son of Redwald and brother of Sigebert. Bede (note on p. 369) does not give th (...)
  • 50 See ODS for Edwin (584–633).
  • 51 * After the death of Edwin, the East Angles reverted to paganism.
  • 52 vv. 77–8 must refer to Earpwald (Sigebert’s brother), not to Edwin. Such confusion of pronouns, or (...)
  • 53 ODS contains entries for both these figures. Felix of Dunwich was a Burgundian by birth. Sigebert (...)

21According to the history of ancient time, in the days when Marcian was lord of Rome and held the empire and dominion over all,43 a people called the English44 had arrived in Britain. A hundred and fift-six long years, as Saint Bede says, before Saint Augustine came, there were said to be three companion peoples: Jutes,45 Angles, and Saxons. These were the people who came from Germany into Britain. From the Jutes, the Kentish people sprang. One section of the Eastern people were engendered by the Angles; the other section by the Saxons, whom we call the East Saxons.46 East Anglia is the name of the region where the Angles were in power.47 These are the people from whom the glorious Saint Audrey was born, who was so saintly and so royal in her dignity. Redwald was king at that time, as the history of the Kentish tells us.48 His father was Titulus and his ancestor was Ulf, as we find there. From this Ulf, the kings [who followed him] were called by the name Ulfings. One of Redwald’s sons ruled after him; this was Earpwald,49 who was converted to Christianity by the good king Edwin. This Edwin was king, and he was lord and master of the Northumbrians; by his holy admonition he converted this region and its people.50 He did not rule long, for he was killed.51 His brother Sigebert reigned;52 he was a good Christian without any doubt! He led the country out of sin with the help of his friend Saint Felix. This man was a bishop, I’m certain. He got to know him in France while he was in exile.53 When he came back from exile, he sent for Felix, who came to him at his bidding and he made him bishop of Dunwich. By his preaching and by his saintliness he converted the city.

  • 54 * Notes here and passim (for example, to v. 99) discuss the scribe’s spelling.
  • 55 Södergård notes (p. 182) a word missing here.

En icel tens que ge vus di
Sigilberz son regne gerpi. [92]
En Bedrichesworde l’ai oi54 Qu’a moinage se rendi,
Egeriz, le suen parent,
Dou reiaume la cure rent [96]
Ki en cel tens une partie
Del reiaume avoit en ballie.
Mut soffri cist bataillie et guerre
[101b]
D’un rei Penda qui en la terre [100]
Vint ocians de Merchenelande ;
Sa pousté vout qu’ele espande.
Quant Egeriz ne pout contendre
Ne la terre vers eus defendre, [104]
Sigilberz voleient faire issir
De son moinage et partir
Pur eus aider et conforteir
Et lur corages afermeir. [108]
De sa abeie le geterunt
Et a force ou eus le menerunt
En la bataille ou cil esteient
Ki encontr’aus se combateient, [112]
Membra lui par religion
De sa sainte profession.
Autre armeure ne voloit
Fors une verge ke il tenoit. [116]
Occis fu en cele bataillie
Et Egeris li reis sanz faillie.
Totes lur hoz et leur mainees
Hont occises et detrenchees. [120]
Trente set anz furent passés
Et sis cenz puis que Deus fu nees.
Quant ceste aventure avint si
Que jeo vos ay cunté ci. [124]

Le fiz ainnez, un noble vassal,
De noble linage et de real
Regna aprés le occision.
Anne le rei l’apelloit hom. [128]
Cex rois fu pere sainte Audree,
La roine bonnuree.
Kant le regne out bien en justise,
Si honura mut une eglise [132]
Que en Cnaresburc estoit [f.101c]
Ou Phurseus manoit,
Ke par la grace et par la aie
Sigilberz out cele abbeie. [136]

Anne ert reis de la cuntree,
Sainte vie et bonnuree
Mena et tint mut sagement,
Femme prist al lou de sa gent. [140]
De ceste dame trovom nous
Ke digne fu de tiel espous
Et de linage et de honesteté
Et de bone moralité. [144]
Tant furent de Deu espiré
Ke tost s’ estoient aturné
A Deu servire, lur creatur,
Et a poveres doner de lur. [148]
Tres noble engendrure et digne
Heurent ensemble et mult
benigne.
Deuz fiz e quatre fillies haveient,
Norir les firent cum meuz pooient. [152]
Li uns fu Aldulfs apellez,
Jurmins fu li autres nomez ;
Des fillies ert Sexburg l’ ainznee,
Tres noble dame et alosee. [156]
La secunde out a non Edelberge
En qui toz55 meint et herberge.
La tierce avoit a non Audree,
Saintiesme virge et honuree. [160]

  • 56 IPN has Bury St Edmunds, but see below; and ODS ‘possibly at Burgh Castle’.
  • 57 * The note discusses ‘aventure’ as a favourite word used by Marie de France. However, it is a favo (...)

22At this time I’m telling you about, Sigebert abandoned his kingdom. I’ve heard it was at Bury Saint Edmunds that he went into retreat in a monastery.56 He left the care of the realm to his kinsman Ecgric, who was then partly in charge of it. This king suffered dreadfully from war and attacks by a king called Penda, who came slaughtering into the land from Mercia. His power wished to extend itself! When Ecgric could stand no more of this, and could no longer defend the land against him, he and his people wanted to get Sigebert to leave his monastic life, to come out in order to help and comfort them, and strengthen their courage. They hauled him from his abbey and dragged him forcefully along with them to the battle they were in, against those who were attacking them. But he was mindful, religiously, of his holy profession: he would not have any weapon of war, except only the staff he carried. He was killed in the battle, together with King Ecgric of course: all their hosts and their armies were killed and cut down by the enemy. Since the birth of God it was six hundred and thirty-seven years, that the wonderful things happened which I’ve related to you here.57

  • 58 The saint left for France after Sigebert’s death (ODS, Fursey). The site was indeed Burgh Castle, (...)
  • 59 * The note (p. 250) refers to other ‘Marie de France’ texts in which a young man is urged to marry (...)

23The eldest son, a fine young man of noble and royal lineage, reigned after this killing. They called him Anna the King. This king was the father of Saint Audrey, the blessed queen. When he had got the kingdom under control, he paid great honour to a church at Burgh Castle. Here lived Saint Fursa, who had the abbey by Sigebert’s grace and favour.58 Anna was king of the land, and he led a blessed holy life, behaving himself wisely. He took a wife on the advice of his people.59 We read of this lady that she was worthy of such a husband, both in lineage and in honesty, and of good conduct. They were so inspired by God that they quickly turned to serving him, their Creator, and giving their goods to the poor. Together they were blessed with most worthy and noble offspring. They had two sons and four daughters, bringing them up as best they knew how.

  • 60 See ODS for the latter. It is doubtful whether Anna had any sons, in spite of what Liber says, alt (...)
  • 61 This saint also appears in ODS.
  • 62 Ethelburga became a nun at Faremoutier-en-Brie. The missing word is probably ‘goodness’ or similar (...)

24The first was called Eadwulf, and the next one was Jurmin.60 Of the daughters, Sexburga was the eldest — a very noble and praiseworthy lady.61 The second was named Ethelburga, in whom all […] lives and has dwelling.62 The third was called Audrey, most famous and holy virgin.

La quarte suer Withburc out non,
Mut fu de grant religion.
Sachez ke ceo quatre soers
Deservirent bien en lur jurs [164]
Ke ou les cointes virges pristrent
L’oille k’en lur lampes mistrent
Ke ja meis ne seient estaintes
[f.101d]
Dont les nonsages font les [168]
pleintes.
Et Aldulfs, fiz al rei l’ainznee,
Dist saint Bede qu’ ot grant
bontee.
En Jurmins out grant sainteté,
Devotion et honesteté. [172]
De ceste dame dist ici
Dont si bon linage issi
Ke Hereswide out a non,
Fillie Herici un baron. [176]
Cist fu nefs le rei Edwine
A ki Norhomborlond acline.
Sexburg, la fillie Anne l’ainnee,
A Herchenbert fu mariee, [180]
Sire rois de Kent, si come nos dit
Saint Bedes ke le livere fist.
Aldulfs fu rois puis le decés
Et Edelwold regna aprés. [184]
La mere Aldulf, Hereswid,
Fu suer, ceo conte li escrit,
Sainte Hilde, une bone dame,
Abesse mult de noble fame, [188]
Et furent fillies Herici.
Ceo havé vos bien devant oi.
Alvriz out lur aol a non,
Fiz Edwine le baron. [192]
Hereswide, dont jeo vous di,
Out heu un autre mari
Dont ele out une fillie bele,
Sedrete out non, virge et pucele. [196]
Sexburg par le conseil sa mere
Al quint an del regne son pere
A Erchenberc fu mariee
Ky l’a en Kent ou li menee. [200]
Eldeberge virginité [f.102a]
Promist a Deu e chasteté,
Rendi sei en religion.
En icel tens, dont nos parlom, [204]
Out en Bretaine meinte eglise
Fundé e faite a Deu servise,
Ou plusors lur fillies metoient,
A Deu esposer les fesoient, [208]
Si come il ooent les lois
E les costomes des François.
Fillies e neces e parentes
Fesoient noneines ou grant rentes. [212]

  • 63 All Anna’s supposed children (see Jurmin, above) are in ODS except the eldest.
  • 64 This refers to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, in Matt. chapter 25 ‘cointes’, an unus (...)

25The fourth was named Withburga, who was very religious.63 You are to understand that these four sisters in their time richly deserved to take oil with those clever virgins; they put the oil in their lamps so that they should never go out, unlike the foolish virgins who bewailed theirs.64

  • 65 Södergård notes (p. 182) that the lady was Æthelhere’s wife, not Anna’s (a mistake already in the (...)
  • 66 Södergård notes (to v. 184) a mistake here: Æthelweald succeeded his brother Æthelhere, who theref (...)
  • 67 See ODS for Hilda; this is the first time she is mentioned in the Life.
  • 68 This Eadfrid ‘lur aol’ was their father, according to the IPN; but we have been told that Hereric, (...)
  • 69 According to ODS the girl was said by Bede to be Anna’s daughter, although modern scholars make he (...)

26Eadwulf, the king’s elder son, was a very good man according to the holy Bede. In Jurmin too was great holiness; he was devoted and honest. Of this lady from such a fine lineage, he says here she was called Hereswith.65 She was daughter of a baron named Hereric; he was the nephew of Edwin, the king to whom Northumberland was subject. Sexburga, Anna’s eldest daughter, was married to Erconbert; he was lord king of Kent, as Bede says who made the book. Eadwulf was king after the death [of his father], and Æthelweald reigned after him.66 The written document says that Eadwulf’s mother, Hereswith, was sister to Saint Hilda. She was a good lady and a famous abbess; they were daughters of Hereric. You have heard all about this before.67 Eadfrid was the name of their kinsman, and he was son of the noble Edwin.68 Hereswith, whom I’ve been telling you about, had had another husband and from him had a lovely daughter called Saethrith, a virgin maid.69 On the advice of her mother, Sexburga was married to Erconbert in the fifth year of her father’s reign, and he took her to Kent with him.

  • 70 This appears to suggest that marriage with God was a French idea, but it probably refers to the ne (...)
  • 71 In theory, a woman brings a ‘dowry’ to the nunnery when she enters it.

27Ethelburga promised her virginity, and chastity, to God: she took the religious life. In those days I’m telling you about there were many churches in Britain, founded and built for the service of God. Many people put their daughters into them, making them brides of God, as if they understood the laws and customs of the French.70 They made nuns of their daughters and nieces and other female relations, which raised good rents.71

A Calke, a Briges e alliors
Furent rendues des meilliors.
A Briges fu mise Sedree
Ky de l’autre seignur fu nee [216]
Et Eldeberge ensemble ou li
Ky fu del naturel mari.
Wythburg, ki la puisné fu,
Espiré estoit de vertu. [220]
Fiz des rois la voleient prendre,
Mes ele ne voleit mie entendre.
Richesce e parentee despit,
En solitaire liu se mist. [224]
Pur avoir la Deu compagnie
Voit avoir solitaire vie.
Aprés la mort son pere Anna
A Dereheam se herberga. [228]

Audrey’s Death72

  • 72 vv. 1871–950; pp. 106–8 in the edition.
  • 73 * d’Ely.

[f.114b] En cel tens furent mut seuz
Signes et miracles veus [1872]
De la roine, sinte Audree,
Et de cele seinte assemblee.
En cors ou erent li dieble
Delivra la virge mirable [1876]
Et de plusurs enfermetez
Delivra Deus les enfermez
Et cil ki loinz furent de ly
73Par li nomer furent gary. [1880]
De totes gens estoit amee
Ceste roine et honoree.
Par la devine demoustrance
A ses noneines dist en oiance [1884]
Ke une pestilencie vendroit Ke suer la maison decenderoit.
Pur ce lur a devant moustree
Ke lur quers seient affermee [1888]
Et ke lur poors soient mendre
En cele pestilence atendre.
En Elge ou icele abbeie
Fu ordenee et establie, [1892]
Sainte Audree ki dame fu
Par seinteté et par vertu
Tint le covent en honesteté
Et garda bien tot son heé. [1896]
Pur une grant dissencion
Ke nos ici vos mostrom
Que fu entre le rei Egfrid
Et le ercevesque, seint Wolfrid, [1900]
Ki le roy de son sé geta, [f.11c]
Ou seinte Audree sejorna
Treis anz com en exil fu.
Ceo est par seint Bede coneu. [1904]
Sainte Audree enveia a Rome
Pur lur bosoignes ce seint home
Pur lur abbeie amender
Et lur dignitez comfermer. [1908]
Come seint Wolfrid de Rome vint
Par Suxesse son chemin tint.
Cel pais par unt i passa
A crestieneté atorna. [1912]
Saint Wolfrid quant fu veneu,
En Ely fu bien receu.
Tel previlege i aporta
Ke tut tens iert et durera. [1916]
En meisme cel an finy
Seinte Audree ke tint Ely.

  • 74 ‘naturel mari’ sounds as though Saethrith was the daughter of an ‘unnatural’ marriage, although th (...)

28At Chelles, at Brie, and other places, they were sent the best of them! Saethrith, the one who was daughter of the other husband, was sent to Brie. And Ethelburga went with her, who was the daughter of the current husband.74 Withburga, the youngest, was inspired by virtue. The sons of kings wanted to take her, but she would not hear a word from them. She despised riches and family, and took herself offto a solitary place. To have the company of God, she wanted to live a solitary life. After the death of her father Anna, she made her home at Dereham.

Audrey’s Death

  • 75 These are her nuns; the previous passage describes the convent of Ely (see also the Analyse, p. 15 (...)
  • 76 This line may have been miscopied by Södergård: the later edition prints ‘d’ Ely’without noting a (...)
  • 77 Södergård’s Analyse says the women could comfort one another, and also take the necessary precauti (...)
  • 78 * Note to this line (on p. 253) discusses Marie’s use of ‘Elge’ meaning Land of God. See Liber, p. (...)

29In these days there were many well-known signs, and miracles seen, of Saint Audrey the Queen and also her saintly company.75 The marvellous virgin delivered many bodies that were possessed by devils, and God delivered many sick people of their afflictions; those who were far away [from Ely] could be cured just by saying her name!76 This queen was loved and honoured by everybody. Thanks to a divine warning, she was able to tell her nuns, for all to hear, that a pestilence was imminent and was going to descend upon their house. This is why she told them about it beforehand, so their courage would be fortified and their fears would be alleviated, while they awaited the coming of this pestilence.77 In Ely,78 where this abbey had been ordained and established, Saint Audrey who was their abbess kept the convent honestly thanks to her saintliness and virtue; she kept it well all her days.

  • 79 ODS does not mention Audrey in connection with Wilfrid. Liber agrees that he spent time at Ely (p. (...)

30Because of a dreadful quarrel, which we shall now tell you about, between King Egfrith and the archbishop Saint Wilfrid, the king threw him out of his see, and for the three years of his exile he stayed with Saint Audrey.79 Bede knows all about it! Saint Audrey sent this holy man to Rome on their affairs, to help the abbey and to confirm their privileges. When Saint Wilfrid came [back] from Rome, he took his way through Sussex, and he converted to Christianity all the country through which he passed. When Saint Wilfrid came to Ely he was warmly received; he brought privileges with him that will be and endure for all time. In this same year Saint Audrey, who held Ely, died.


Lemal dont la dame moreut
Fu d’une grant enfleure ke li creut. [1920]
Soz la gorge entur le col fu,
Dont la dame a tel mal eu
K’ele jeut et fu en languor,
Tant fu grevee en la dolur [1924]
Ke tuz furent desesperé
De sa vie et de sa saunté.
La virge en oroison manoit,
Sa char dantoit et destroinoit. [1928]
A Deu rendi grace et merci
De la dolur qu’ ele sueffri.
Ele entendi ke Deu flaele
Ceuz k’il eime et ke il repele. [1932]
Les riches homes sunt tant mari
Et les povres tut autresi :
Les riches pur lur seingnorie,
[f.114d]
Les povres pur lur grant aie [1936]
De ceo ke lur donoit suvent
Ses asmones mut largement.
La seinte virge ert mut heitee
Et de son mal joieuse et lee [1940]
Et dist sovent par son deserte
Li ert ceste dolur aperte
Pur les nuesches k’ ele portoit
D’or, ou sovent se delitoit. [1944]
Entur son col creoit seinte Audree
Ke par cel malfeit fust grevee.
Mes ele espera et crei
Que par cel mal espeni [1948]
Le suerfait et la vanité
De l’or qu’ele avoit porté.

Marie’s Sources, and her Name80

  • 80 vv. 4540–620; pp. 179–81 in the edition.
  • 81 This line is numbered 4545 in the later edition; see their p. 15 for lines skipped in the earlier (...)

[f.134a] De un bon moine reconte [4540]
ci81
Ke estoit del covent de Ely
Ke leut la vie seinte Audree
En un livre ou il l’ out trovee.
En engleis ert la vie escrite [4544]
Ou li moine mut se delite.
Un bieu miracle i a trovee
Ke il a bonement recontee
De la roine, seinte Audree, [4548]
Ki primes fu a Tonbert donee,
Un duec ke ert de grant valur
Et mut bien de nostre seigniur.
Ensemble furent seintement [4552]
En bone vie et chastement.
Par un jur la roine estoit
En sa chambre ou ele entendoit
As puceles ke la servoient [4556]
Et as overes ke eles fesoient.
Le duc ala a li parler
Par une bosoigne mostrier.
Kant il li out dist et mostré [4560]
Et conseil quis et demandé,
Pur ce ke ele ne vout otreier,
La prist le roi a manacier.
La seinte virge en pes suffri [4564]
Si que un seul mot ne respondi.
Homblement et en pes se tint,
De l’ewangelie li sovint
Ke dist ke pacience veint [4568]
Malice et tres grant ire esteint.
La seinte virge estoit pensant,
[f.134b]
En son quer Deu orant.

  • 82 ‘Soz’ ought to mean ‘under’, but ‘on’ makes more sense in the context, unless the meaning is ‘unde (...)

31The lady was dying of an illness in the form of a great swelling that grew upon her: it was on her throat and around her neck.82 It gave the lady such pain that she lay powerless. She was so racked with this pain that everybody was in despair for her life and her health. The virgin remained in prayer, and she daunted and disciplined her flesh.

  • 83 ‘seingnorie’ is their position; the abbey had been generous to them. ‘The populace was afraid of l (...)
  • 84 The finery referred to was sold at Saint Audrey’s Fair (OED, ‘tawdry’).

32She gave praise and thanks to God for the suffering she was going through; she understood that God scourges those he loves and calls to him. All the rich were in distress, and so too were all the poor: the rich because of their right to receive rents,83 and the poor [were in distress] because of the great help she gave them by frequently donating generous alms to them. The saintly virgin was well content; she was glad and joyful in her sickness. She often said she deserved this malady that had come upon her, because of the ornaments of gold she used to wear and delight in. She believed she was being punished around her neck for this sin. But she hoped and believed she was expiating, through this very sickness, the pride and vanity of the gold she had worn.84

Marie’s Sources, and her Name

  • 85 Later in this passage Marie calls Audrey’s first husband ‘roi’ (v. 4563); the ‘prince’ (in Bede) i (...)

33Here I shall tell about a good monk who was of the convent of Ely, and how he read the Life of Saint Audrey in a book where he found it. He delighted in the book, which was written in English. He found a beautiful miracle in it, which he retold very well. It was about Saint Audrey the Queen, who was given first to Tondbert. He was a duke,85 most valiant, and beloved of Our Lord. They lived a holy life together, both good and chaste.

  • 86 * Note remarks that the Book of Proverbs (chapter 15) is a better source for this passage than the (...)

34One day the queen was in her chambers, where she was listening to the girls who served her and supervising their work. The duke came in to speak to her about something that needed doing. When he had told her and explained it, he asked for her help and advice; then because she didn’t want to agree with him he began to threaten her. The holy virgin suffered him calmly, not answering him a single word. She stayed quietly and humbly, remembering the Gospel where it says Patience conquers Malice and restrains furious Anger.86 The holy virgin stood there, thinking, and praying to God in her heart.

  • 87 * Note (p. 257) that the last couplet is incomplete, and there is no ‘amen’ or other formal ending (...)

Ses ganz a de ses meins hostés, [4572]
Si les a par devant li getez.
Seur un rai de soleil avint
Ke amedeuz les ganz sostint.
En pes i ont les ganz geu. [4576]
Cel miracle a le duc veu
Et tut cil ke ou li vindrent
Ke a grant miracle le tindrent.
Le duc de ce ke il a leidi [4580]
Mut durement se repenti.
Merci li cria bonement
Ke ele ne out ver li maltalent
Et bonement li pardonast [4584]
Ke vers li ne se corouçast.
Ducement pur humilité
Li ad la virge pardoné.
Icist coruz dont ge vos di [4588]
Ne vint pas de ovre de enemi,
Mes pur mostrier de Deu la gloire
Et de la virge la victoire.
Cist moine ke leut en sa vie [4592]
Ce miracle ne creoit mie.
La nuit aprés, quant il se geut,
Seinte Audree li apareut
Et dist li ke il n’ out dotance [4596]
Del miracle ne mecreance
Ke il avoit en livre trovee.
Bien le seut pur veritee
Et ce estoit ele, seinte Audree, [4600]
Ke a li estoit demoustree.
L’endemain le moine le dist
Et al covent saveir le fist. [f.134c]
De cele revelation [4604]
Mercierent Deu et son non.

Issi ay ceo livere finé,
En romanz dit et translaté
De la vie seinte Audree [4608]
Si com en latin l’ ay trové
Et les miracles ay oy,
Ne voil nul mettre en obli.
Pur ce depri la gloriuse [4612]
Seinte Audree la precieuse
Par sa pité ke a moy entende
Et ce servise a m’ ame rende
Et ceus pur ki ge la depri [4616]
Ke ele lur ait par sa merci.
Mut par est fol ki se oblie.
Ici escris mon non Marie,
Pur ce ke soie remembree.87[4620]

  • 88 This delightful idea is not unique to Audrey: there are two examples in GL (Supp), one for Saint B (...)

35She took her gloves off her hands, and tossed them away in front of her. Then it happened: there was a ray of sunshine, and it supported both the gloves so that they hung there quietly!88The duke saw this miracle, and so did all those who had come in with him; they thought it the greatest of marvels! The duke sincerely repented the hard things he had said to her, and he gently begged her forgiveness, so that she would not feel badly towards him, and that she would generously pardon him and not be angry with him. In her humility, the virgin most sweetly forgave him.

  • 89 It is an interesting comment here, that a sin is not caused by the Devil.

36This Anger I’m telling you about did not come from the Devil’s works, but in order to show the glory of God and the virgin’s victory.89

37The monk who was reading this miracle in her Life did not believe it! But the night after, when he was in bed, Saint Audrey appeared to him; she told him not to doubt the miracle, nor disbelieve what he found in the book. So he knew it was true, and that it was Saint Audrey herself who had been shown to him. He told the story in the morning, and made it known to the whole convent. They all praised God and his Name for making this revelation to them.

  • 90 It is clear that if she was a nun of Ely Marie heard the miracles told orally, including perhaps t (...)
  • 91 She is asking not only for herself but also for her companions in the convent.

38There, I have finished this book. I have translated it, telling in French the Life of Saint Audrey, just as I found it in the Latin; and the miracles, as I heard them.90 I don’t want any of it to be forgotten. Therefore I pray to the glorious and precious Saint Audrey, to listen compassionately to me, rendering this service to my soul and to those on whose account I pray to her, to help them in her mercy.91 It would be very foolish to let oneself be forgotten, so I am writing my name here — Marie — so that I shall be remembered.

The Life of St. Catherine, by Clemence

  • 92 Legge, pp. 66–72 Clemence of Barking, ‘The Life of St Catherine’, tr. Wogan-Browne and Burgess, ha (...)
  • 93 See pp. xv–x of the edition.

39This text, Dean’s 567, is Clemence of Barking, The Life of St Catherine, ed. MacBain (ANTS 18).92 It survives in three manuscripts: MacBain edits from MS A (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, nouv. acq. fr. 4503); W is Welbeck, now known as the Campsey Manuscript; P is Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fr. 2311293 I have copied MacBain’s text very closely, but I have not reproduced variants printed at the bottom of his page.

  • 94 ed. Wright, and ed. Offord, chapters 90 & 89 respectively.

40The focus of this life is very largely on the saint’s intellectual abilities, and my passages are chosen to reflect the fact. Much of the text is dialogue; little is concerned with miracles, posthumous or not, compared with (for example) the Nun’s life of Edward. Catherine has attracted a good deal of scholarly interest, and the published translation is now out of print and hard to obtain. This saint is among those admirable women who are held up as an example, in books of instruction and nurture: in the Knight’s book she is used an an argument for sending girls to school to get an education, in spite of the fact that she came to what most would consider to be a sticky end.94

  • 95 Her name is spelt with a K where it appears in the text, although spelt with a C in the edition’s (...)
  • 96 Thomas d’Angleterre, Tristan, ed. Wind; and Legge, p. 6⒎
  • 97 See my introductions to the Nun’s work, and to Audree, above.
  • 98 [Piers] The Vision of Piers Plowman, ed. Schmidt; and Piers the Ploughman, tr. Goodridge (and thei (...)
  • 99 I Cor. 15, esp. 21–2

41MacBain’s introduction comments on the sub-genre of a Saint’s Life built around a disputation, although we cannot positively identify the origins of the apologetic material in this legend of Katherine (pp. xi–ii).95 He also remarks on a particularly nuanced portrait of the Emperor (p. xiv); other scholars have identified the influence of Tristan stories, especially in versification that recalls the poem by Thomas.96 However, courtly influences notwithstanding, I no more identify the Nun of Barking with Clemence than I identify one Marie with all the others.97 Katherine’s arguments about God and Man, in which she plays on the paradox of the tree in the Garden of Eden and the tree that was the Cross, are comparable with arguments on this subject in Piers Plowman, passus XVIII.98 This is a favourite theme, and can be traced in a number of places: for example Golden Legend, Jacobus de Voragine, tr. Ryan (vol. I, p. 209, in ch. 53).99

Text

Introduction to Katherine

  • 100 MS W adds a few lines of extra description at this point.

[44v] D’escripture la fait aprendre,
Opposer altre e sei defendre.
El munt n’ out dialeticien
Ki veintre la poust de rien. [144]
Sages ert de mult de choses
mundaines,
Mais sun desir ert as suvereines.
[En Deu mist tute sa entente…100

The Convocation101

  • 101 When Maxence, the pagan emperor, realises he cannot win Katherine over, he sends for learned clerk (...)

[47r] ‘Ço sachent tuit e pres e loin
Que l’emperur ad grant besoin
— E meimement rethorien
Ki parler seivent e bel e bien — [332]
Que tuit a l’emperur viengent,
S’onur e sa lei maintiengent,
Kar une plaideresse ad forte
Ki de sa lei guerpir l’ enorte. [336]
Si [il] ceste poent cunfundre,
Que ne lur sache mais respundre,
Que devant tuz seit recreante
Del desputer dunt tant se vante, [340]
De ses cunseilz les frad privez
E sur tuz serrunt honurez.’

The Battle102

  • 102 The whole exchange is very long, but very informative about many questions of medieval theology; I (...)

[52r] ‘Segnurs, cumbien sufferum
nus
Ceste fole ci entre nus?
Malement a noz deus rendum
Le bien que nus de els recevum, [740]
Se nus tost nes venjum de li
Ki lur nun ad si escharni.
De lui quidai grant sens oir,
E pur ço nus fist l’um venir. [744]
La fable nus dit de Jhesu
Ki ja [dis] fud en croiz pendu.
Un suen disciple le trahi
Ki as mals Judeus le vendi. [748]
Par esguart le crucifierent
E meins e piez li encloerent.
Il ne pot de sa mort fuir
Car destresce li fist suffrir. [752]
Al tierz jur pois resuscita.
Aprés ço el ciel munta.
Iço vunt crestien disant
E sil tienent pur tut poant. [756]
Ceste recreit en lur errur,
Si dit que cist est criatur.
De lui sa raisun cumença,
Mais d’altre finer l’ estuvera. [760]
Ele ad tel chose cumencie [ 52v ]
Dunt guaires n’iert avancie.’
Quant ço out dit, ele respunt,
Oant ices ki oie l’unt : [764]
‘Par Deu, fait ele, ‘si cume entent,
De lui oi bon cumencement,
De lui ki criad tute rien
E cumencement est de tut bien. [768]
Bon cumencement oi de lui,
Par ki tu es e par ki sui.
De ço ne me deis tu pas reprendre
Se tu vels raisun entendre. [772]
Pur ço me vels mes diz falser
Quant tu les tuens ne sez pruver.
Puis que mes diz tiens a fable,
Mustre dunc pruvance raisnable [776]
Pur quei me vels issi blasmer,
Quant tu ne me sez amender.
Or m’en di la veire pruvance,
Car jo l’escut senz dutance.’ [780]

Translation

Introduction to Katherine

  • 103 It is notable that her education and skill in dialectic and rhetoric are forcefully stated first, (...)

42He [her father] made her learn her letters, and to put questions to others, and to defend herself against them. There was no dialectician in the world who could overcome her. She was wise in all worldly things, but her desire was for heavenly things: she bent all her thoughts upon God.103

The Convocation

  • 104 Once the fifty learned clerks arrive, they are scornful of being set against a mere woman.

43‘Be it known to all far and wide that the Emperor is in dire need — of rhetoricians, especially, who can talk well and convincingly. Let them all come to the Emperor, to uphold his honour and his law! For there is a powerful orator here, and she is urging him to abandon his faith! If they can manage to confound her so that she can never answer them, and make her admit defeat in front of everybody, and deny this litigiousness she is so proud of, then he will make them his privy counsellors and they shall be given the highest honours.’ 104

The Battle

44‘Gentlemen, how long must we put up with this madwoman in our midst! We do our gods a disservice in return for the benefits we receive from them, unless we can take vengeance for them upon her for the way she has vilified their names! We thought we’ d hear great wisdom from her, and that’s why we were sent for. But she tells us fairy stories about Jesus! Who was hung on a cross long ago, because one of his disciples betrayed him and sold him to the wicked Jews. They decided to crucify him, and stuck nails through his hands and feet. He couldn’t run away from his death; it was necessary for him to suffer. Then, on the third day, he came alive again; after that he went up to Heaven. This is what the Christians go round saying, and they call him Almighty. This woman believes it too, and calls him Creator; her arguments begin with him. But she’ll have to think again before she’s finished! She’s started something, and not got very far with it!’

45When he had said this, she replied in the hearing of all who listened to her: ‘By God,’ said she, ‘as I understand it I’ve had a very good start: from him. From him who created all things, and who is the beginning of all good things, I’ve had a good beginning from him by whom you are, and by whom I am. So you have no right to contradict me, if you will just listen to reason. For you are trying to falsify what I say, when you can’t prove what you say! Because you think what I say is fairy stories, now show me sufficient proof why you should blame me when you’ve no idea how to correct me. Go on, prove it; I’m listening!’

Cil li respunt par mult grant
ire,
Car a peine li sout que dire :
‘Par fei,’ fait il, ‘par ço te pruis
Qu’en tes diz verté nen truis. [784]
Se il est cum tu nus diz,
E Deu e hume e a Deu fiz,
Cument pot le fil Deu murir
Ne nun mortel la mort suffrir ? [788]
Murir ne peut pas par dreiture
Quant nun mortele est sa nature.
Se hume fud, dunc est mortel
E nient a nun mortel uel. [792]
Murir ne pot se il fu Deus
Ne revivre se fud mortels.
Cument puet hume veintre mort ?
E se Deu murut ço fu tort. [796]
Mortel ne puet mort eschiver
Ne nun mortel la mort user.
Cuntre nature te desleies,
C’ors de raisun te forveies. [53r] [800]
Deu u hume granter le puis,
Kar d’ambure le dreit nen truis.
L’un u l’altre estre l’estuet,
Car l’un e l’altre estre ne puet.’ [804]
Quant cist out sa reisun finee,
Ele li dist cume senee :
‘Ci empire ta subtilité
De cuntredire la verité. [808]
Pur ço que creire ne volez,
Unes cuntraires nus mustrez.
Se il est huem, dunc n’est pas
Deus.
Se il est Deus, n’est pas mortels [812].
Granter ne vels que ço seit dreit,
Que Jhesu Deu e hume seit.
Se saveir vels la verité,
Oste la superfluité, [816]
Le grant orgoil de tun fals sens,
Car n’as pas dreiturier defens.
Devien diciple pur aprendre
E jo te frai le dreit entendre. [820]
D’oil ne de cuer ne veiz tu gute
Quant tu de ço as nule dute.
Or esguardez ses criatures
E lur estres e lur natures, [824]
Kar par els purras saveir
Le suen nun disable poeir.
En tutes mustre sa poissance ;
Il sul est a tuz sustenance. [828]
Des qu’il tute rien fist de nient
E tute rien par sei maintient
E sur tute rien est poissant
E tut ad fait a sun talant, [832]
Ne pot cil dunc hume devenir,
Ki tut puet faire a sun plaisir ?
E ne pot il faire de sei
Ço qu’il fist de mei e de tei ? [836]
Par poesté, nient par nature,
Devint li faitres criature.
Hume devint a tuz mustrable,
Kar en sei fud Deu nun veable. [840]
[ 53v ]
Se huem ne fust ne poust murir,
E se Deus, ne poust revesquir.
Briefment te dirrai ci la sume :
L’ume fu en Deu e Deu en l’ ume. [844]
Le fiz Deu en charn mort suffri
E la char en Deu revesqui.
Ne pot il sei resusciter
Ki mortels morz fist relever, [848]
Li quel erent mort par nature
E par destresce de dreiture ?
Lepruz e desvez esmunda,
Enferms e avoegles sana. [852]
Si tu ne creis que Jhesu Crist
Ses miracles el mund feist,
Crei sevels nun que el nun Jhesu
Unt plusurs eu ceste vertu. [856]
Plusurs par lui morz raviverent
E par sun nun enferms sanerent.
Bien deit estre cil Deu creu
Ki dune as suens tele vertu. [860]
Mult est la vertu grande en sei
Quant hume l’ad tele par sa fei.

46He replied very angrily, hardly knowing what to say: ‘Faith,’ says he, ‘this is how I shall prove to you why I find there’s no truth in your words. If it is as you tell us, he is God and man and son of God, how can the son of God die, or any immortal suffer death? It stands to reason, if his nature is immortal. If he was man, then he was mortal and in no way like an immortal. He couldn’t die if he was God, and nor could he come to life again if he was man. How can a man conquer death? And if God died, that would be wrong. No mortal can escape death, and no immortal can experience it. You are arguing against nature, because you are wandering from the truth. God, I can accept, or man. But I can’t see any sense in both; he’s got to be one or the other, because both one and the other is not possible.’

  • 105 Katherine’s speech varies between ‘tu’ and ‘vus’ forms. Sometimes she is addressing the whole grou (...)
  • 106 The editor notes the Campsey MS (W) makes more sense than the base MS here.
  • 107 Katherine is leaning hard on this one clerk, directing much of her argument against him alone. ‘ve (...)

47When this man had finished his argument, she spoke to him wisely: ‘It does harm to thy subtlety, when thou sayest against the truth.105 Because you refuse to believe, you must show us a counter-argument. If he is man, he is not God; if he is God, he is not mortal. You don’t want to believe this is the case, that Jesus is God and man. If you want to know the truth, get rid of the dross which is great pride in your false wisdom, for you have no justifiable defence. Become a disciple, so as to learn, and I shall make you understand the right. You can’t see with your eyes, or your heart, if you have any doubt about this. Now, consider his creatures, their being and their nature, for by them you can know his ineffable power. He shows his power in them all; he alone sustains them. Since he made all things from nothing, and sustains all things himself; since he has power over all things, and made everything as he wished, cannot he then become man, since he can do everything he wants to? Cannot he do for himself what he did for thee, and for me? By power, not by nature, the creator can become creature. He became man, manifest to all, for in himself he is invisible. Had he not been man, he could not have died; had he not been God, he could not have come back to life. I tell thee again, in a few words: the man was in God, and God was in the man. The son of God suffered death in the flesh, and the flesh came back to life in God. Could he not resurrect himself, who resurrected mortal men? They had died, as was meet and right, under the constraint of natural law.106 He cleansed lepers and madmen; he healed the sick and the blind. If thou canst not believe that Jesus Christ performed his miracles in the world, at least believe that many had this special strength in the name of Jesus.107 Many were they who brought the dead to life, and many who healed the sick by his name. This God surely must be believed in, who gave such strength to his own. How great must be the strength in himself, when man has such strength through faith in him!

Bien la puet cil en sei mustrer
Ki as altres la puet duner. [864]
Ci te pruis jo apertement
Que Jhesu est Deu veirement.
Car bien set l’um, si Deu ne fust,
Que ço pas faire ne poust ; [868]
E bien set l’um que hume fu
Jhesu ;
Ore est Deu e huem par vertu.
E se Jhesu la mort senti,
Par fei, pur ço mort nel venqui. [872]
La mort n’ocist pas Jhesu Crist,
Mais Jhesu en sei mort ocist.
E si tu as d’iço dutance,
Encore te frai altre pruvance. [876]
Se vus mei creire ne vulez,
Les enimis sevels creez,
Ki mes diz testimonient
E Jhesu fiz Deu estre dient, [880]
Quant par sun nun sunt cunjuré,
[ 54r ]
Que de li dient la verité.
Mult heent a dire le veir,
Mais sa vertu tolt tut lur poeir, [884]
Que le veir ne po [en] t celer ;
Cuntre voleir lur fait mustrer.
Chaitif, mult as orrible errur
Quant tu ne creis al criatur, [888]
El quel neis li enimi creient
Ki sa vertu criement et veient.
Par Deu mult me merveil de tei
Pur le grant sen que jo i vei, [892]
Que tu nostre Deu si denies
E lui e sa croiz escharnies.
Dous essamples te musterai
Que jo en voz livres truvai, [896]
Que Platun li sages escrist
De la sainte croiz Jhesu Crist.
Il dist que Deu se mustreit
Altrement que dunc n’esteit [900]
E un signe avreit tut runt ;
Ço est la croiz ki te cunfunt.
Sibille de la croz redit ;
— Ço sai, ses diz avez escrit. [904]
Ço dit : “Cil Deu est boneuré
Ki pent en halt fust encroé.”
De sa venue profetiza,
De sa naissance assez parla [908]
E de sa croiz e de sa mort.
Si ço ne creis, dunc as tu tort.
Des tuens oz tu ci regeissance
E de verité veire pruvance. [912]
Il dist que Deus el mund vendreit,
En semblance d’ume appareit.
Sibille dist : “Boneuré fud
Cil Deu ki el fust est pendu.” [916]
Pur ço boneuré le diseit,
Kar bien sout que la mort
veintreit.
Pur ço vus di les diz de voz,
Car pas ne crerriez les noz [920]
Ne en nostre seinte escriture
Ki nus mustre tute dreiture. [54v]
Se les voz creire ne vulez,
Les noz malement dunc crerrez.’ [924]
A tant se taist la Deu amie.
Cil l’ad derechief envaie.
‘Certes,’ fait il, ‘si ço est veir
Que tun Deu seit d’itel poeir, [928]
Ne se laissast ja en croiz metre.
D’iço desdi tei e ta letre.
Quel mestier ot cil de murir
Ki tuz poeit de mort guarir ? [932]
Cument pot mort lui dominer
Ki morz poeit resusciter ?

48‘It must be clearly manifest in himself, who can give so much of it to others! So I prove to thee, openly, that Jesus is truly God. We know full well that if God were not then nobody could do such things. And we know full well that Jesus was man; he is God and man by this strength. And if Jesus suffered death, by God, death did not defeat him, death did not kill Jesus Christ but Jesus in himself killed death. Dost thou still doubt? I have other proof!

  • 108 ‘Enemy’ is a common word for evil spirits, or the Devil (cf. the Hebrew noun ‘satan’, which means (...)
  • 109 The editor notes this is a difficult line even if ‘runt’ is taken to mean ‘plain’; it could mean ‘ (...)

49‘If you don’t want to believe me, then at least believe the demons!108 They can bear witness to what I say, that Jesus is the son of God, when they are conjured by his Name; they tell the truth about him. They utterly hate telling the truth, but his strength robs them of all their power so they cannot hide the truth; it forces them to testify aganst their will. Thou wretch! What hideous error, not to believe in the Creator, in whom even the demons believe, who both see and fear his strength! By God, I am amazed at you, for I can see your great wisdom; that you deny our God and scorn both him and his cross! I shall give thee two examples, that I found in your books that Plato the Sage wrote about the holy cross of Jesus Christ. He said God would show himself other than he was then, and there would be a clear sign:109 the cross that confounds thee!

  • 110 The Sibyl is masculine in gender, but most readers know of this legendary prophet as a female. Mac (...)
  • 111 ‘regeir’ usually means to confess (one’s sins); here it means to confess to a faith (cf. holy men (...)

50‘The Sibyl also spoke of the cross — as I know, because you have her written words.110 She said “This God is blessed, who hangs nailed up on the high wood.” She prophesied his coming; she spoke much of his birth, as well as of his cross and his death. If you don’t believe this then you are in the wrong; you have this confession in your own [books],111 and it is a true witness of the truth. The Sibyl says God would come into the world, appearing in the form of a man. She says “Blessed was this God who was hung on the wood.” She called him blessed because she knew he would conquer death. So, I am telling you about these writings of yours, because you will not believe ours, nor our Holy Scripture, that shows us all righteousness. If you won’t believe your own, then you’re hardly going to believe ours.’

51Then the friend of God was silent; immediately this man attacked her.

52‘Oh yes,’ says he, ‘if it’s true that your God is so powerful, then he would never have let himself be put on the cross. Therefore I despise you and your learning. What need had he to die, who could cure everybody from death? How could death take him, who could revive all men from death?

Ço desdi fiançusement.
S’il est Deu, ne murut naent. [936]
S’il fud hom e mort senti,
Sa resurrectiun dunc desdi ;
E si ço vels vers mei defendre,
Dunc t’estuet d’ altrui sens [940]
aprendre.’
Il est teü, ele li dit :
‘De tei ai jo apris petit.
Sage te tinc, ore i met mais,
Car encuntre dreit es trop engreis. [944]
Nul mestier n’ai de ta science,
E si cuntredi ta sentence.
Par tun sens iés tu ci deceu,
Kar tu n’as pas [bien] entendu. [948]
Ço que enceis dis, uncore dirai
Ja seit que mes diz einz pruvai.
Jo di que Deu nostre salvere
Est par nature uel al pere, [952]
E des qu’il est al pere uel,
Dunc n’est il pas en sei mortel.
Il ne pot en sei mort suffrir,
Ne dolur ne peine sentir. [956]
Pur ço que murir ne poeit
En la nature u il esteit,
Se vesti de char e de sanc
Qu’il reçut d’un virginel flanc. [960]
Sa nature pas ne muad, [55r]
Mais nostre par soe honurad.
La sue ne pot estre enpeirie,
Mais la nostre par soe essalcie. [964]
Le pere ki lui enveiad,
Ki tute rien de nient furma,
Quant hume e femme aveit crié,
De mal de bien poeir duné, [968]
Cist hume par le fruit pechia
Del fust que Deus li deveia.
Par cel fruit fumes nus dampnez
E a cruele mort livrez. [972]
Pur ço que Deus ne velt suffrir
Que hume doust issi perir,
Reçut la fraile charn de l’hume
Pur guarir le fait de la pume. [976]
Par le fruit del fust deveé
Fud tut le mund a mort livré.
Jesu fud le fruit acetable
E a tut le mund feunable. [980]
Icist bon fruit fud en croiz mis,
Si ramenad en pareis
L’ume ki en fu hors geté
Par le fruit ki fud deveé. [984]
Par cest froit fumes nus guariz
Ki par l’altre fumes periz.
N’est tei avis que ço dreit fust,
Que cil ki venqui par le fust, [988]
Que par le fust fust pois vencu,
Par le fruit ki fud pois rependu ?
Se l’Enimi l’ume enginna,
Qu’il le fruit del fust esraça, [992]
E l’ume enginna l’Enimi
Par le fruit qu’el fust rependi ;
E se Deus a l’hume n’aidast,
Ja hume le mund ne salvast. [996]
Mais pur ço que Deus hume fist,
Fud dreit que l’ ume maintenist,
E que par hume venjast l’ume [55v]
E par le froit vengast la pume. [1000]
Bien poust Deus par poesté
U par sule sa volenté
Guarir le mund de l’Enimi,
Mais par greinur dreit le fist si, [1004]
Que un hume l’ ume venjast ;
Ço que hume forfist, hume
amendast.
Saciez que icest amendance
Nus dune de vie esperance [1008]
De revivre aprés ceste mort.
S’ore ne me creis, dunc as tu tort.’

53‘I can confidently refute that! If he is God, he can’t die; if he was man and underwent death, then I deny his resurrection. If you want to argue with that, you’ll have to learn another way to do so.’

54He fell silent, and she said to him:

55‘I have not learned much from you! I thought you were wise — now I’ll qualify that, because you are so violent against what is right. I don’t need your knowledge, and I deft your conclusions. You have been misled by your own thought, because you have not understood a thing! What I said before, I’ll say again, even though I have already proved it.

  • 112 This is a slight but interesting variation on Gen. 2:16–17: God told them not to eat of the tree o (...)
  • 113 Katherine is not only playing with ideas of fruit and wood (or tree), she is punning on ‘fust’ (im (...)

56‘As I said, God our Saviour is by nature equal with the Father. Because he is equal with the Father, he is of course not himself mortal. So he cannot himself suffer death, and nor can he feel pain and torment. Because he could not suffer death in his own nature, as he was, he clothed himself in flesh and blood that he received from a virgin’ s body. He did not change his nature, but honoured ours with his own. His own could not be brought low, but ours is exalted by his. The Father who sent him, who created all things from nothing, when he created man and woman he gave them the power to know good from evil.112 This man sinned by the fruit of the wood that God had forbidden. We were damned because of this fruit, and delivered to cruel death. But because God did not wish to allow man so to perish, he took on the frail flesh of man, to cure the effect of the apple. The whole world was delivered to death, for the forbidden fruit of the wood. Jesus was the acceptable fruit, fertile for the whole world. This good fruit was put on the cross, and so brought man back into Paradise, who had been thrown out because of the forbidden fruit. We are healed by this fruit, as we perished by the other. Don’t you see it would be right, that he who would conquer by the wood, would be conquered afterwards by the fruit that was hung back up on the wood?113 If the Devil tricked man, so that he pulled the fruit from the wood, then man tricked the Devil by the fruit when it was hung up again. If God did not help man, then man could never save the world. But because God made man, it is right he should protect man, and that by man man should be avenged; by fruit the apple should be avenged. God might well, by his might or simply by his will, save the world from the Devil; but he did it with better justice: a man avenged man, and a man redeemed what a man forfeited. You must understand that this redemption gives us hope of life, to live again after this death. If you don’t believe me now, you are wrong!’

Ele s’est teue a itant.
Merveillent sei petit e grant [1012]
De ço qu’ele ad issi parlé,
Sun dit issi par dreit pruvé.

Victory114

  • 114 Predictably, Katherine has won over all fift of the learned clerks. The emperor demands to know ho (...)

[56v]
Un des clers li respunt a tant
Ki sages iert e mult vaillant. [1076]
‘Certes,’ fait il, ‘dreit emperere,
Unques puis que nus porta mere,
N’oimes femme si parler,
Ne si sagement desputer. [1080]
Ne nus mostre pas choses vaines,
Ainz sunt de verté tutes pleines.
Le plus dunt ele ad desputé,
Ço est de la divinité. [1084]
Un [c] mais ne nus pot cuntrester
Nul a qui deussum parler.
Tel se tint sage a l’envair
Qui se tint fol al departir. [1088]
Unc ne vi clerc si vaillant,
Que nel rendisse recreant.
Mais ses diz desdire ne puis
Kar falseté nule n’i truis. [1092]
Ce n’est pas petite chose
Dunt ceste dame nus opose.
Del faitre parole del mund,
E par verté nos deus cunfund. [1096]
Nus ne li savum mais que dire
Car false est la nostre matire.
En sun Deu creum veirement
Ki tute rien fist de neent. [1100]
Puis que ceste dame nus dist
De la sainte cruiz Jhesu Crist,
De sun nun, de sa puissance,
De sa mort e de sa naisance, [1104]
Trestut li sanc nus enfui
E tuit en sumes esbai.
De tus nos cuers en lui creum ;
Altre chose ne te dirrum.’ [1108]

  • 115 The passage continues with a description of the conversation that follows, with people arguing, an (...)

57Now she stops speaking. Everybody, great and small, marvels at how she could speak thus, and prove that her words are right.115

Victory

58One of the clerks, who was wise and worthy, then replied to him.

  • 116 Literally, ‘our blood ran away’.

59‘Indeed, good Emperor,’ said he, ‘never since we were born of our mothers have we heard a woman speak like this, nor debate so cleverly. She shows us no foolish trifles, but things filled full of truth. Most of what she argued was about divinity. Never before could anybody to whom we spoke oppose us. None of us who felt so wise at the outset, but felt fools by the end. I have never seen such a brilliant advocate, who can make anybody admit defeat. But I can’t throw doubt on anything she said, for I can find no falsehood in any of it. It is no small matter, what this lady was disputing with us about: she spoke of the Creator of the whole world, and she has confounded all our gods with her truth. We don’t know what more to say, for our case was false. We believe truly in her God, who made all things from nothing. When the lady told us of the holy cross of Jesus Christ, of his name and his might, of his death and of his birth, all our strength116 drained out of us and we were left stunned. With all our hearts we believe in him, and there is no more we can say to you.’

Notes

1 Prologues from another three are included in the preceding ‘Miscellany’ section.

2 They appear together with other Lives in the Campsey manuscript (see notes below), but not exclusively.

3 See, inter al., Legge, Cloisters, pp. 49–51, for these three nuns.

4 Grange, ‘Review: Bouchard, Rewriting Saints’: rather than think about forgery or authenticity, we appreciate these attempts to revivify the past in the present by the exercise of ‘creative memory’.

5 Dean 523

6 In later times, Washington Irving added this very same story to his article about Westminster Abbey (Sketch Book, pp. 184–200, at 196–8).

7 Legge, pp. 60–66 (and 246–7).

8 vv. 2477–80.

9 Edouard, p. 50.

10 Although it sounds proverbial, all efforts to track it down in Dictionaries of Proverbs have been in vain (discussed in my short ‘Old English Gnome’).

11 p. 3, lines 11–13; Edouard, p. 23

12 GL p. 23, lines 819–20; Edouard p. 147 The sentiment with its poetic antithesis, in both vernacular versions, is not present in Aelred.

13 See the GL introduction to Edward (p. 1).

14 Folio numbers are those of the base manuscript (Vatican, MS Reg. Lat. 489). I include some variants from other MSS (but not rejected readings); minor corrections from the online version (https://uwaterloo.ca/margot/) are silentlyadded.

15 It has been slightly modified here and there.

16 The abbey was originally built on Thorney Island. Södergård notes ‘west’ as an anglicism, but French ‘ouest’ sounds the same so not much can be made of it; Wace uses ‘west’ in his own account. In another chapter of Edouard, I translated ‘Tornei est de jadis numé’ (v. 2168) as ‘it is changed from its former renown’. This was probably wrong (Södergård is also wrong when he locates Thorney in Cambridge, see his IPN); I ought at least to have put a footnote with the alternative. I thank Richard Howard, of the Thorney Island Society, for alerting me to this.

17 Although the Nun translates Aelred’s text fairly closely much of the time, she allows herself a good deal of freedom. The result is often more personal and descriptive; here, she makes more than Aelred does of Mellit’s sleepless night and the people’s ignorant wonder. For this chapter, see ‘Vita S. Edwardi Regis et Confessoris’, Aelred of Rievaulx, ed. Migne, 755D–7C; and The Historical Works, ed. Dutton, ch. 14

18 ‘nager’ is to transport, or be transported, in a boat (not ‘swim’).

19 This couplet is added in one of the other MSS.

20 This question-form, with the notion of inexpressibility, is an example of the Nun’s dramatic style (as is the play on ‘glorious, below).

21 Aelred has ‘as if on Jacob’s ladder’(Gen. 28:12); the Nun prefers the idea of giving back the song.

22 The Nun makes much of this point, following Aelred (Matt. 4:19), but she goes on to elaborate the contrast.

23 This conflates episodes in Luke 5:1–7 and John 21:5–11

24 Aelred’s Peter mentions ‘fellow-citizens’ without punning.

25 Aelred cites Titus 2:12 here; the Nun’s mention of friends is a typical theme with her.

26 Edward was celebrated for his chastity (Edouard, passim).

27 This conforms to the ritual of consecrating a church. The alphabets may have been painted or drawn (one MS has ‘Les letres mult bien painturé’). The crosses are incised, not free-standing, and candles stuck onto them; ‘the remainder’ indicates they had been lit, by no mortal hand, and had been burning all night.

28 A tithe was properly a tenth of one’s income, supposed to be offered by everybody to the Church as a matter of course.

29 Aelred’s chapter ends here; he begins the next with a rather longer account including several Bible references. The Nun ends with a typically personal comment.

30 ed. Södergård; Dean 566

31 I have consulted The Life of Saint Audrey, ed. and tr. McCash and Barban; I continue to use the older edition because I am not convinced of the author’s identification with Marie de France (see also Wogan-Browne, ‘Wreaths of Thyme’, for doubts about this still-contentious attribution).

32 Seminar paper delivered to the Oxford Medieval French Seminar, 28th April 2015: ‘Comment naît un auteur médiéval: le cas de Marie de France’.

33 Inter al., McCash, ‘A Fourth Text?’; Griffin, ‘Gender and Authority’; Landolfi’s essay in Anglo-français: philologie et linguistique; and Burrows, ‘Review: Marie de France: A Critical Companion, Sharon Kinoshita and Peggy McCracken’. There has also been a move to identify ‘Marie de France’ with the abbess of Barking who was Thomas Becket’s sister (Rossi, ‘Name of Marie’). But Marie was a very common name, so the chances that all persons called Marie must be one and the same are somewhat remote; there may well have been more women writers than is generally supposed even now.

34 See Edouard, for the Nun of Barking and her audience.

35 The text begins ‘Ici comence la vie seinte Audree, noneyne de Ely’, but the first mention of her at vv. 17–18 is of ‘la royne bonuree’.

36 See Bede, History, tr. Shirley-Price et al. (and notes below); Leyser, Beda, gives some historical background.

37 History, tr. Shirley-Price et al., also cited frequently in notes below; here, see for example pp. 236–9, and notes on p. 372

38 tr. Fairweather, cited passim in my notes below. The story is found on pp. 12–16; even to the comparison of Anna’s daughters with the wise virgins of the Gospel.

39 Blank lines in the edited text are reproduced here as a row of dots.

40 Variant readings in their edition (see also their Appendix 1) do not in my view affect the sense of the text, therefore I have added only those of special interest. Some asterisks are missing from their text; it may be advisable to go straight to the endnotes beginning on p. 249, but I have copied the sense of the most useful ones.

41 vv. 29–228; pp. 57–62 in the edition. New sections are marked by capitals in bold type and a space on the page.

42 * MS ‘Sire gilberz’.

43 (Eastern) Roman Emperor 450–57

44 * In Old French this word was used for both English and Angles.

45 ‘Gotlanders’.

46 Essex; the sentence is confusing because Marie calls both lots ‘Estreis’. Audrey was of Anglian (not Saxon) stock.

47 Compare this with Description, above.

48 See Bede, note to p. 171 (on p. 369), for dates of Redwald and his immediate successors.

49 The IPN says he was son of Redwald and brother of Sigebert. Bede (note on p. 369) does not give this relationship, but see the genealogy on p. 380.

50 See ODS for Edwin (584–633).

51 * After the death of Edwin, the East Angles reverted to paganism.

52 vv. 77–8 must refer to Earpwald (Sigebert’s brother), not to Edwin. Such confusion of pronouns, or failure to restate the subject, is common (see, for example, Piety and Persecution, ed. and tr. Boulton, p. 59).

53 ODS contains entries for both these figures. Felix of Dunwich was a Burgundian by birth. Sigebert returned from exile in 630 to rule over the East Angles.

54 * Notes here and passim (for example, to v. 99) discuss the scribe’s spelling.

55 Södergård notes (p. 182) a word missing here.

56 IPN has Bury St Edmunds, but see below; and ODS ‘possibly at Burgh Castle’.

57 * The note discusses ‘aventure’ as a favourite word used by Marie de France. However, it is a favourite word used by many medieval writers (a rough count in this book yields about a dozen).

58 The saint left for France after Sigebert’s death (ODS, Fursey). The site was indeed Burgh Castle, in spite of the name’s similarity to modern Knaresborough.

59 * The note (p. 250) refers to other ‘Marie de France’ texts in which a young man is urged to marry by his people. But this topic is not exclusive to texts by ‘Marie’: according to legend, Edward the Confessor was likewise urged. Unlike romance heroes, certain high-placed men who were thought to prefer the holy life needed persuading that an heir would become necessary.

60 See ODS for the latter. It is doubtful whether Anna had any sons, in spite of what Liber says, although it is reasonably clear that Audrey was Anna’s daughter.

61 This saint also appears in ODS.

62 Ethelburga became a nun at Faremoutier-en-Brie. The missing word is probably ‘goodness’ or similar, since she too was a saint (in ODS). ‘the second’ is more commonly written as ‘l’ autre’.

63 All Anna’s supposed children (see Jurmin, above) are in ODS except the eldest.

64 This refers to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, in Matt. chapter 25 ‘cointes’, an unusual word for the former, is more expressive than ‘wise’.

65 Södergård notes (p. 182) that the lady was Æthelhere’s wife, not Anna’s (a mistake already in the Latin text). ‘Edelher’ appears at vv. 702 & 807 as Anna’s brother, and is mentioned in ODS under the entry for Jurmin. The * note, in the later edition, remarks on this confusion.

66 Södergård notes (to v. 184) a mistake here: Æthelweald succeeded his brother Æthelhere, who therefore succeeded Anna rather than Eadwulf. He gives dates of Anna’s brothers’reigns in his IPN: Æthelhere 654–5; Æthelweald 655–64 A * note in the later edition suggests there may be a lacuna in or around this line.

67 See ODS for Hilda; this is the first time she is mentioned in the Life.

68 This Eadfrid ‘lur aol’ was their father, according to the IPN; but we have been told that Hereric, Edwin’s nephew, was their father (Edwin’s son was Eadfrid, and his nephew was Hereric). Södergård’s Analyse makes Eadwulf’s mother the sister of Hereswith (p. 8), which must be a mistake. Eadfrid is not the same as Edfrith of Lindisfarne (in ODS). The copyist may have confused the couplets about Hereswith and Hilda with the couplets about Sexburga and her marriage.

69 According to ODS the girl was said by Bede to be Anna’s daughter, although modern scholars make her his step-daughter. If the latter, Marie is right.

70 This appears to suggest that marriage with God was a French idea, but it probably refers to the next few lines about nuns being sent to French houses. See Liber, p. 15: there were not many monasteries, so people used to go to the monasteries of the Franks.

71 In theory, a woman brings a ‘dowry’ to the nunnery when she enters it.

72 vv. 1871–950; pp. 106–8 in the edition.

73 * d’Ely.

74 ‘naturel mari’ sounds as though Saethrith was the daughter of an ‘unnatural’ marriage, although there is no hint of irregularity elsewhere in the text. Marie means that this husband is the one who concerns us here in Audrey’s story.

75 These are her nuns; the previous passage describes the convent of Ely (see also the Analyse, p. 15).

76 This line may have been miscopied by Södergård: the later edition prints ‘d’ Ely’without noting a different reading in the appendix. I have adopted the correction, as it makes more sense.

77 Södergård’s Analyse says the women could comfort one another, and also take the necessary precautions in good time; this reading between the lines is not unreasonable. For the whole passage, cf. Liber pp. 48–50.

78 * Note to this line (on p. 253) discusses Marie’s use of ‘Elge’ meaning Land of God. See Liber, p. 3: the name came first from the abundance of eels in the place, and later the meaning was changed ‘by way of improvement… a house worthy of God’ (here Elge refers to eels, Ely to God).

79 ODS does not mention Audrey in connection with Wilfrid. Liber agrees that he spent time at Ely (p. 49), but a footnote warns that this is not in Bede (for which see Bede p. 225).

80 vv. 4540–620; pp. 179–81 in the edition.

81 This line is numbered 4545 in the later edition; see their p. 15 for lines skipped in the earlier one.

82 ‘Soz’ ought to mean ‘under’, but ‘on’ makes more sense in the context, unless the meaning is ‘under her jaw’. Anglo-Norman sometimes confuses the forms ‘sur’, ‘sus’, and the like (see Trinity Apocalypse, ed. Short, p. 130).

83 ‘seingnorie’ is their position; the abbey had been generous to them. ‘The populace was afraid of losing its lady…’ (Liber p. 50; their ‘lord’ is female).

84 The finery referred to was sold at Saint Audrey’s Fair (OED, ‘tawdry’).

85 Later in this passage Marie calls Audrey’s first husband ‘roi’ (v. 4563); the ‘prince’ (in Bede) is called ‘ealdorman’ in ODS and Liber.

86 * Note remarks that the Book of Proverbs (chapter 15) is a better source for this passage than the Gospels. Here, as often, Vices behave as if personified.

87 * Note (p. 257) that the last couplet is incomplete, and there is no ‘amen’ or other formal ending. It has been suggested that Marie left it thus deliberately, to focus attention on the word ‘remembree’.

88 This delightful idea is not unique to Audrey: there are two examples in GL (Supp), one for Saint Bride (pp. 144–5) and one for Saint Aldhelm (p. 187). See also Leyser, Beda (pp. 234–5 & 257) for this trait (common in Irish hagiography); the garments in question are those of Cuthman, Bridget, and Aldhelm. In Sir Ferumbras, ed. Herrtage, pp. 184–6 (the end of the poem is missing, so the final section of the French source is supplied), Charles ‘tests’ the relics wrested back from the Saracens by seeing if they will hang unsupported in the air — they do.

89 It is an interesting comment here, that a sin is not caused by the Devil.

90 It is clear that if she was a nun of Ely Marie heard the miracles told orally, including perhaps this last miracle from the monk himself, as well as reading the Life in Latin. ‘romanz’ means French (she does not call her story a ‘romance’).

91 She is asking not only for herself but also for her companions in the convent.

92 Legge, pp. 66–72 Clemence of Barking, ‘The Life of St Catherine’, tr. Wogan-Browne and Burgess, has been consulted but not copied.

93 See pp. xv–x of the edition.

94 ed. Wright, and ed. Offord, chapters 90 & 89 respectively.

95 Her name is spelt with a K where it appears in the text, although spelt with a C in the edition’s title; I use Clemence’s spelling for the saint (and the other for the edition).

96 Thomas d’Angleterre, Tristan, ed. Wind; and Legge, p. 6⒎

97 See my introductions to the Nun’s work, and to Audree, above.

98 [Piers] The Vision of Piers Plowman, ed. Schmidt; and Piers the Ploughman, tr. Goodridge (and their notes). Cf. also the ‘sermon’ preached to Ferraguz by Roland in Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle, ed. Short, pp. 50–54

99 I Cor. 15, esp. 21–2

100 MS W adds a few lines of extra description at this point.

101 When Maxence, the pagan emperor, realises he cannot win Katherine over, he sends for learned clerks to oppose her.

102 The whole exchange is very long, but very informative about many questions of medieval theology; I give the last part. One of the clerks bursts out in exasperation…

103 It is notable that her education and skill in dialectic and rhetoric are forcefully stated first, before the fact of her Christian persuasion.

104 Once the fifty learned clerks arrive, they are scornful of being set against a mere woman.

105 Katherine’s speech varies between ‘tu’ and ‘vus’ forms. Sometimes she is addressing the whole group; here she is clearly attacking just one of her antagonists. I do not reproduce every switch, but the occasional ‘thou’ is very forceful. The clerk calls her ‘thou’ throughout.

106 The editor notes the Campsey MS (W) makes more sense than the base MS here.

107 Katherine is leaning hard on this one clerk, directing much of her argument against him alone. ‘vertu’ means virtue, and also strength.

108 ‘Enemy’ is a common word for evil spirits, or the Devil (cf. the Hebrew noun ‘satan’, which means adversary). It is used for the incubus who engendered Merlin; in Des Grantz Geanz (above, and see my note for Merlin) such spirits are called ‘maufez’ or ‘deables’.

109 The editor notes this is a difficult line even if ‘runt’ is taken to mean ‘plain’; it could mean ‘round’, in which case the sign might be a cross within a circle.

110 The Sibyl is masculine in gender, but most readers know of this legendary prophet as a female. MacBain’s IPN spells her ‘Sybil’, but see OED and OCL; the latter gives an account of ‘prophecies’ surviving into the Christian era. Weiss, ‘Emperors and Antichrists’, contains an overview of Sibylline material in the Middle Ages.

111 ‘regeir’ usually means to confess (one’s sins); here it means to confess to a faith (cf. holy men and women known as ‘confessors’).

112 This is a slight but interesting variation on Gen. 2:16–17: God told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

113 Katherine is not only playing with ideas of fruit and wood (or tree), she is punning on ‘fust’ (imperfect subjunctive of verb ‘to be’), as well as the meaning ‘wood’.

114 Predictably, Katherine has won over all fift of the learned clerks. The emperor demands to know how on earth a little woman can have got the better of them; later he will have them all put to death.

115 The passage continues with a description of the conversation that follows, with people arguing, and with Clemence’s own thoughts. Katherine’s account of the Fall differs very markedly from that in the Creation (above): two writers are treating the subject in different contexts and for different purposes.

116 Literally, ‘our blood ran away’.

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