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Editor: E.A. Jones

This source book offers a comprehensive treatment of the solitary religious lives in England in the late Middle Ages. It covers both enclosed anchorites or recluses and freely-wandering hermits, and explores the relation between them. The sources selected for the volume are designed to complement better-known works connected with the solitary lives, such as the anchoritic guide Ancrene Wisse, or St Aelred of Rievaulx’s rule for his sister; or late medieval mystical authors including the hermit Richard Rolle or the anchorite Julian of Norwich. They illustrate the range of solitary lives that were possible in late medieval England, practical considerations around questions of material support, prescribed ideals of behaviour, and spiritual aspiration. It also covers the mechanisms and structures that were put in place by both civil and religious authorities to administer and regulate the vocations. Coverage extends into the Reformation period to include evidence for the fate of solitaries during the dissolutions and their aftermath. The material selected includes visual sources, such as manuscript illustrations, architectural plans and photographs of standing remains, as well as excerpts from texts. Most of the latter are translated here for the first time, and a significant proportion are taken from previously unpublished sources.

E.A. Jones

household and regulate access to the solitary, and a younger one to do the manual work [ 12a ]. Ancrene Wisse likewise recommends two serving women, one of whom will not normally leave the enclosure of the reclusory. They are to follow some religious observances as well as catering to the material needs of the anchorite, and she is to act as their religious superior as well as the head of their household. 10 Indeed

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
Abstract only
C. E. Beneš

's wealth of archival documentation, much of which is still unexplored. 9 Hence the abyss between the well-known and extensively analysed GL and the much less well studied career of its author. A few efforts over the years have attempted to bring the two back into alignment. In 1935, E.C. Richardson published two volumes of Materials for a life of Jacopo da Varagine , without ever actually writing the

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
Abstract only
E.A. Jones

absence of mechanisms associated with canonicity or orderliness (such as vows, rules, registration), are a recurrent feature in the history of the solitary vocations. For anchorites, such procedures were securely in place by the point that this book begins, and examples are given in Chapter I . For hermits, by contrast, these were active and increasingly urgent questions during the period covered here, and the materials included in Chapter VI give

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
C. E. Beneš

which is gold, the second silver, and the third wooden. With regard to the costliness of their material, the gold and silver keys will be worth more than the wooden one; but if the wooden one opens the door best, the wooden one will be worth more than the gold and silver with regard to the task of opening [the door]. Therefore let us imagine three men, one of whom is very powerful; he is like the gold key. The next is wealthy or wise; he is like

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
E.A. Jones

Introduction The life of an anchorite was not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly. The aspirant would assuredly want to spend some time pondering his or her vocation; seeking the views of friends, family and spiritual advisers; and ensuring that all material arrangements had been put in place, before making the momentous entry into a life of strict and irrevocable enclosure. Over time, it came

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
C. E. Beneš

Creator . 27 He who falsifies the truth of judgment because he has been corrupted by material greed changes the truth of God into a lie. He who forsakes God for money serves the creature more than the Creator. Heretics who sow many errors contrary to the truth of faith falsify the truth of doctrine, regarding which the Apostle says: In the last days some will depart from the faith , following spirits of error and

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
E.A. Jones

offers a fascinating insight into the place of images in the devotion of people from a wide range of society, and the institutional memory, keyed to specific material objects, that kept the names of benefactors in remembrance. As noted in the Introduction to this section, the hermit was probably the chapel’s caretaker; he may also have collected alms or tolls for the maintenance of the bridge. Modernised from the English text in

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
E.A. Jones

Thomas Gascoigne (1404–58) was an Oxford theologian, and sometime chancellor of the University. 7 His wide-ranging collection of preaching materials, the Dictionarium Theologicum , is famous for its story of Geoffrey Chaucer lying on his deathbed and repenting of the sinful poetry he had written, and could not now unwrite. (Gascoigne places the story in his section on repentance that comes too late; his other example under this head is Judas

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
C. E. Beneš

. 1 Most of the material for this chapter comes from Isidore, Etymologies 8.11.1–16, but see also Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram 2.17 and Isidore, Sententiae 1.10.17. 2 Sirach 37.18. 3

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa