(ii) Commission to enquire into the regimen, governance and
conversation [ behaviour ] of a certain hermit in the hermitage of St
James beyond the bridge in the city of Chester
The King [Henry VI] etc. to the mayor and sheriffs of the city
of Chester, greetings.
Whereas by our letters patent we have recently ordained and
constituted [by a bill in the English Exchequer] 33 Ieuan ap Bleth ap Carewet to be the hermit in
two interlocutors in the first book, Allabigus and Cremes, have their names spelled out. The letters designating the three chief discussants are in red uncial script, so they do stand out, but in no way is the liveliness of their conversation reflected in the layout of the manuscript. This suggests that it was meant for personal perusal by a reader, rather than for any kind of performance.
Figure 5 The opening pages of the one extant manuscript of the Epitaphium Arsenii (Paris, BnF lat. 13909, ff. 1v–2r), with later indications of ownership (Saint
educate the young, to be troubled about the upkeep of
relatives or friends, nor to be occupied with unprofitable or vain
conversations. But since you have food and something with which to cover
yourselves if the occasion demands, be content with these, in accordance
with the counsel of the Apostle [1 Tim. 6:8], so as to be totally free for
those things which pertain to the salvation of your souls – and do
not let anger impede
strict on this point, requiring silence on three days of every
week in the year [ 19 ]; even for
communication with their servants, anchorites should rely on sign-language
[ 24 ].
Although their conversation might be limited, servants offered
companionship. Ancrene Wisse also allows a cat, 13 and the visionary anchoress of Winchester has a
young girl (presumably a maidservant) who keeps her company when she is
of his good conversation [ behaviour ], to the custody of the hermitage
by Cripelegate, London, provided that he behave himself well and honourably,
that he devote himself to his sacred office, minister to brother Robert, the
hermit of the place, who is feeble, and maintain him in a fitting manner for
as long as he lives.
(iv) 11 December 1292
Grant to William de Wyntreburne of the hermitage by
particular, as well as anyone else with an interest, you are
diligently to exert yourself to discover the truth, by means of
trustworthy men (both clerics and laymen) under legal oath, who have
fuller knowledge of the said matters, as to whether this same
Richard is of good behaviour [ conversation ] and honest life,
such that he is capable of fulfilling his intention of leading this
a sin is a slave to sin .
Similarly, the blessed Peter the apostle says: Indeed , whatever
has mastered someone: to that he has become a slave.
And also as Augustine says, a sinner is a slave to as many masters as
he has vices .
The philosopher Diogenes demonstrates this in a conversation with
perpetual tenth 18s 9d.
and so there remains clear to the
chantry priest yearly £7 17s 4½d.
John Steward is now incumbent and chantry priest there, of the
age of 40 years, indifferently learned and of honest qualities and behaviour
[ conversation ], and [he] has not any other living besides the same
There is a vicar already endowed within the parish church
there, and there is 280
different sorts of affairs are being brought up in conversation, the style is becoming muddled, the order of speaking is not preserved, nor does a flood of tears spring abundantly from the well of the heart. 166 For this reason, I would like you to open up these warm springs to us and indicate what sort of person he was when he entered monastic life. For even though virtues retain their beauty when hidden beneath a cloak and flourish amidst the allurements of the world, nonetheless they become fairer still in a school of virtue, where, when the vices have been cut away
from the others. See Vita Columbani 2.16, pp. 135–6.
259 James 1:12.
260 Matthew 25:21.
261 Only a little of the text has been lost, as David Ganz pointed out in an email conversation of 2011: ‘It now has 111 folia; 14 regular quires of 8 leaves would make a volume of 112 folia.’
262 Matthew 20:13: Amice, non facio tibi iniuriam. Nonne ex denario convenisti mecum? Matthew 20 tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard: at various hours of the day a householder hires labourers to work in his vineyard, but all receive the same daily wage (a penny, or