La Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur by a Nun of Barking Abbey

BookLa Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur by a Nun of Barking Abbey

La Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur by a Nun of Barking Abbey

Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies


June 19th, 2014

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The twelfth-century Anglo-Norman verse Life of King Edward the Confessor is presented here in modern English for the first time, and with a full introduction and notes. Its author, an anonymous Nun of Barking Abbey, offers a many-faceted and absorbing portrait of the celebrated king and saint, together with legendary material found in no other version of this hagiographic narrative. There is also a wealth of detail about Edward’s times as well as about the twelfth-century context in which the Nun was writing, making the poem of great interest to historians as well as to literary scholars. This is among the earliest texts in French known to be by a woman, and so will also be of great value to scholars investigating medieval female authorship. Long neglected, perhaps because mistakenly thought to be a mere translation of Aelred of Rievaulx’s Vita in Latin, it proves to be remarkably independent of its main source and raises questions about the freedom and originality of medieval ‘transposition’ or translation.

Dr Jane Bliss is an independent scholar based in Oxford. The book based on her doctoral thesis (Naming and Namelessness in Medieval Romance) was published by D.S. Brewer in 2008; she has published two articles on medieval English romance, and one on Jehan de Saintré. Her essay on the Ancrene Wisse appeared in a collection published by Brewer, and she has also published on the early Breton saint Vignalis. She recently collaborated with Tony Hunt and Henrietta Leyser on a collection of hitherto unedited devotional material.

In addition to providing greater access to this text for English-speaking readers, especially those who are less familiar with Anglo-Norman, the main advantages of this translation lie in its easy use (especially keeping the division in short chapters, each preceded by a critical introduction) and the long and dense introduction of more than fifty pages which offers a thorough and exhaustive discussion of all the questions related to this text, in particular those of his originality in relation to its Latin source, its date of writing or the possible identity of its author. (Translated from French)Olivier de Laborderie, Le Moyen Âge

Author Information

Dr Jane Bliss is an independent scholar based in Oxford.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Edward the Confessor12
The Poem’s Themes14
The Nun and her World44
Translation and Presentation63
The Life of Edward the Confessor66
Prologue (1–10)66
The Introduction to Edward (11–68)68
1 Of his Lineage (69–142)70
2 Edward is chosen King (143–266)72
3 The young Edward (267–354)75
4 Brihtwald’s Vision (355–510)79
5 Exile and Return (511–850)82
6 Description of Edward (851–978)88
7 Edward’s Treasure (979–1080)91
8 Edward and Edith (1081–462)94
9 The Vision of the Ships (1463–640)101
10 Edward’s Pilgrimage (1641–2018)105
11 Pope Leo’s Letter (2019–108)111
12 Saint Peter and the Hermit (2109–284)113
13 Gille Michel the Cripple (2285–480)116
14 Mellit and the Fisherman (2481–696)121
15 A Visit to Pope Nicholas (2697–960)125
16 Edward and Lievrich (2961–3074)130
17 The King’s Evil (3075–256)133
18 A Blind Man sees Edward’s Beard (3257–438)137
19 The Blind Man of Lincoln (3439–500)140
20 The Blinded Woodcutter (3501–628)142
21 Seven Blind Eyes (3629–92)145
22 The Fate of Godwin’s Sons (3693–766)147
23 The Fate of Godwin (3767–932)149
24 The Seven Sleepers (3933–4164)153
25 King Edward and the Ring (4165–476)157
26 Edward’s Last Illness (4477–638)164
27 The Vision of the Tree (4639–912)167
28 The Tree Explained (4913–5016)174
29 Edward’s Death (5017–295)176
30 Of the Nun Herself (5296–335)181
31 Ralph the Norman Cured (5336–453)183
32 Thirteen Blind Eyes (5454–501)185
33 The Prophecy about Harold Fulfilled (5502–601)186
34 The Bell-ringer (5602–69)188
35 Saint Ulstan (5670–949)190
36 The Saint’s Body Uncorrupted (5950–6071)195
37 The Sewing-Girl (6072–243)198
38 Osbert’s Fever (6244–371)202
39 Gerins Cured Likewise (6372–441)205
40 A Nun of Barking Healed (6442–545)207
41 A Triple Cure (6546–685)210
Dream and Prophecy214
Primary Texts224
Secondary Texts229
Bible References242
Proper Names in Text244
General Index246