Exhibited are the texts of the earliest accounts of the life of St Frideswide, or, in the longer examples, the beginnings of these accounts, together with translations and some reproductions of pages from the manuscripts.
The earliest reference to St Frideswide by name appears to be in a charter of Ethelred the Unready issued in 1004. On display is copy of this charter in the St Frideswide Cartulary (Christ Church MS 340, early 15th century.
Gilte Legende, 1438, was the first more or less complete translation of Legenda Aurea. Two of the surviving MSS contain additional lives, mostly of English saints, including Frideswide. This life is a de-versified version of the longer South English Legendary life, and is therefore ultimately based on the Latin Life B. Displayed are reproductions of the text from BL MS Add. 35298 and MS Lambeth 72.
JOHN OF TYNEMOUTH and NOVA LEGENDA ANGLIE
John of Tynemouth, a monk of St Albans, compiled between about 1325-1350 a Sanctilogium Angliae, Walliae, Scotiae et Hiberniae, in which he included a Frideswide based on Life B.
A severely reduced version of Nova Legenda Anglie translated into English was printed under the above title by Pynson in 1516. Displayed are a page of MS Tanner 15, part of the text of Nova Legenda Anglie from Horstmann’s edition (Oxford, 1901), and the text of the Kalendre from M. Görlach’s edition, Middle English Texts 27 (1994), pp. 102-3
Chaucer’s only reference to St Frideswide is when John the Oxford carpenter invokes her aid when he thinks his student lodger is going mad. In view of the subsequent development of the story she cannot be said to have done John much good. Displayed, Christ Church MS 152.
Also on display are early representations of St Frideswide in illuminations from the ‘Christ Church manuscript lectionary’.
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