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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 Most of the latter are translated here for the first time, and a significant proportion are taken from previously unpublished sources.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

independent figures that people would turn to for advice, or merely to share a problem or a confidence. 15 The law of charity required that they should do their best to be good listeners. Julian of Norwich seems to have fallen into this category. She was visited towards the end of her life, in 1413, by Margery Kempe, who spent ‘many days’ telling her about her experiences, and in particular her ‘many

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

Cornhill, St Benet Fink, St Clement Danes, and the Dominicans’ church of Blackfriars [ 6b ]; hermits in the parishes of St Clement’s, St Lawrence Jewry and Charing Cross, and solitaries dwelling in or near the city wall at Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate [ 40 ], [ 62 ], All Hallows in the Wall [ 6a ], [ 35b ], and at the Tower of London. 16 In Norwich between Julian of Norwich at the end of the fourteenth century and

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

Julian of Norwich. Four fifteenth-century wills contain bequests to Julian (either by name or beyond reasonable doubt); two of those mention her servant: in 1404 Thomas Emund left 12d to Julian, anchorite at the church of St Julian, and 8d to Sarah who lives with her, and in 1415 John Plumpton left 40d to the anchorite at St Julian’s, 12d to her maidservant, and 12d to her former maid, Alice. 11 As we saw in Chapter I , an

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

been anxious that a resident solitary could become a nuisance, a distraction or a financial burden [ 6b ]. On the moral and spiritual questions, our sources are generally quieter, though a tempting hypothesis suggests that Julian of Norwich may have prepared the Short Text of her Revelations in connection with such an enquiry into her suitability for the anchoritic life. In some cases the bishop would

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

in the record [ 61 ] she denounced the bishop of Lincoln as Antichrist and scornfully refused to answer the charges against her. Palmer was a contemporary of Julian of Norwich, just as Richard Rolle was a contemporary of the charismatic Yorkshire preacher Henry Staunton [ 59 ]. It is easy to think of the heretic and the mystic as opposites, but these examples suggest that it may also be worth considering what they might have in common

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

remembered by Waterman. 26 He also made bequests to two former anchoresses: Margaret Kydman, last in a long line of anchorites attached to Carrow Priory, 27 and the unnamed occupant of the cell at St Julian’s Conisford where, half a century earlier, the mystic Julian of Norwich had lived. His description of the latter anchorite, which refers to her chastity and locates her still at St Julian’s, suggests that (like the former Carrow nuns) she was doing

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
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P. J. P. Goldberg

purposes. Many anchoresses were associated with (often poorer) urban parishes [8a] and appear to have served as spiritual counsellors to the lay community. Margery Kempe, to cite the best known example, consulted the anchoress Julian of Norwich, author of the Revelations of Divine Love , but lay patronage is perhaps reflected more generally in the evidence of alms and bequests to anchoresses [8b], [9

in Women in England c. 1275–1525
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Monasticism in late medieval England, c. 1300–1535
Martin Heale

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered by the sources in this book. The book surveys the internal affairs of English monasteries, including recruitment, the monastic economy, standards of observance and learning. It looks at the relations between monasteries and the world, exploring the monastic contribution to late medieval religion and society and lay attitudes towards monks and nuns in the years leading up to the Dissolution. In the preservation and dissemination of learning, the spread of Christianity throughout Europe, the periodic reform of the Church, the stimulation of the economy and much else, the monastic contribution to the medieval world needs no elaboration. The later middle ages was an era of evolution in English monastic life in late medieval England. In comparison to earlier centuries, the later middle ages witnessed few new monastic foundations and few major grants of property to existing religious houses.

in Monasticism in late medieval England, c. 1300–1535
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Craig Taylor

holy woman who claimed to be guided by God through the medium of angels and saints. In this regard, she was not a unique figure, as she followed in the footsteps of a number of famous individuals who enjoyed great influence and spiritual authority in late medieval Europe. These included the Dominican tertiary Catherine of Siena (d. 1380), the Beguine nun Mechthild of Hackeborn (d. 1298/9), the anchoress Julian of

in Joan of Arc