book that was used in rituals. Two such textus were employed by Hubert de Burgh (d. 1243), and link Masses with oath-rituals, leading us into the realm of courts of law and oath-books. Court records, canon and common law treatises, and MiddleEnglish literary narratives all portray the elusive nature of oath-books, which were used in complex rituals. A few surviving manuscripts, and the oaths of medieval Jews, assist in defining the nature of these books, which followed appearance and antiquity. After exploring each of these issues, the conclusion of this chapter
Christi, attributed to St Bernard. A devotional work comprising a literary dialogue between St Anselm and the Virgin Mary on the subject of
Christ’s Passion, Dialogus Beatae Mariae et S. Anselmi de Passione,
was first translated to Irish at the end of the fourteenth century and
was repeatedly copied through the fifteenth century.13 Religious texts
from England were similarly absorbed into fifteenth-century Gaelic Irish
devotional culture. One good example is the Carta Humani Generis or
‘Charter of Christ’; this is a MiddleEnglish allegory which presented the
Reformation, revision, texts and nations 1500–1700
his court. Other texts related to crusading translated into English
and printed included Richard Pynson’s 1520 edition of Prince
Hayton’s Flowers of the History of the East (1307).38 There was
also a market for new crusading texts, such as the MiddleEnglish
romance poem Capystranus, a fictionalised description of the
events surrounding the successful defence of Belgrade by
crusaders in 1456, which survives in three printed fragments
dating from 1515, 1517 and 1520.39 Scholarly and ecclesiastical
libraries retained numerous manuscripts of crusade texts, some
argued for the moral primacy of defending the patria: ‘a
man’s truly valiant who defends his own inheritance; no castle
stormed, no battle in the field can equal this’.52 Soon, national
holy war competed with crusading for more than men or money;
it secured the enthusiasm of national churches and provided a
new source of glorious chivalric anecdotes. The Arthur of
Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 1130s was a sort of crusader
against pagan Saxons; the Arthur of the fourteenth-century
MiddleEnglish poem Morte d’Arthur was a sort of an Edward III,
hammer of the French.53
-creating the Gospel narrative. Palm Sunday was widely depicted on church walls and lavish manuscripts; its texts reverberated in MiddleEnglish literature; and its performance was re-created in civic processions. What makes the day even more significant for the study of biblical mediation is the fact that this memorable biblical story does not lend itself easily to liturgical re-enactment. Liturgical processions were made to emulate Christ’s reception at the outskirts of Second-Temple Jerusalem in the towns and villages of medieval Europe. Transforming the biblical event
journey of the faithful serves as a coda to the sermon. Copies of this sermon were extant in libraries both in England and the Continent; its dissemination and popularity are attested by a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century rendering. Written in MiddleEnglish, possibly by an adherent of Wyclif, this version engages in dialogue with Odo’s sermon through its choice of themes and words while serving as a rare witness to the afterlife of the Latin sermon.
The second sermon dates to the late thirteenth century, and its sole copy exists in an early fourteenth
scheme see B. E. Whalen, Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2009), esp. 1–8 and 72–124.
16 For example, Peter Comestor’s sermon, De adventu domini , PL.198.1736–7; a similar anonymous twelfth-century sermon is found in BL, Royal MS 6 A XIII, fos 173r–174r. For the later history of the legend in English, K. Sajavaara, The MiddleEnglish Translations of Robert Grosseteste’s Chateau d’Amour (Helsinki, 1967).
17 Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Parker Library, CCCC MS 481, fos
biblical studies and dissemination, where innovations in the layout of biblical manuscripts and new forms of preaching were practised. The Anglo-Saxon past was evident in Gospel books used in monasteries and cathedrals, as in the ancient stone crosses towering over churchyards. Common law treatises and MiddleEnglish literature convey unique insular traditions with a distinct iconography. The English example, however, was never detached from the wider European setting. The biographies of Stephen Langton (d. 1228) or the preacher Odo of Cheriton (d. 1246) tell of lives
Sunday, placing this Bible at the heart of liturgical celebration. The joining of media is evident in other places as well. MiddleEnglish texts were an important means of transmitting biblical knowledge to less-Latinate audiences. These literary narratives convey liturgical traits alongside preaching techniques, demonstrating how different forms of biblical aesthetics came together. Thus, in Piers Plowman the latter is evident in the divisions of the Tower of Truth and the Castle of Care (Passus 1 and 5), as in the portrayal of biblical events in their medieval
laity, see Mary Agnes Edsall, ‘From “Companion to the Novitiate” to “Companion to the Devout Life”: San Marino, Huntington Library, ms HM 744 and Monastic Anthologies of the Twelfth-Century Reform’, in Nicole R. Rice (ed.), MiddleEnglish Religious Writing in Practice: Texts, Readers, and Transformations (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 115–48.
135 Giraud, Spiritualité et histoire des textes , pp. 227–79, 471–2.
136 The manuscript contains only chapters 1–24 of the Manuale ; see Rouen, BM, ms. A528 (555), fols 40vb