The History of Saint Edward the King by Matthew Paris

French of England Translation Series (FRETS), Vol. 1

The History of Saint Edward the King by Matthew Paris

Translated by Thelma S. Fenster (Fordham University ) and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (University of York )
2008 | 166 + xvi pp. | 1 ills. | 978-0-86698-389-1 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 341 | $40 | £24 |

Matthew Paris (d. 1259), Benedictine monk of St. Albans Abbey, is a well-known artist, mapmaker, and Latin chronicler of English history and English and European affairs at large, who also composed and illustrated a number of verse saints’ lives in the French of England. His History of Saint Edward the King, dedicated to Queen Eleanor, is an important representation of the values and dynastic concerns of King Henry III’s reign. Paris’s life of Edward the Confessor emphasizes Edward as married virgin king, dispenser of wisdom and courtesy, miraculous healer, and harmonious ruler, and it asserts dynastic and cultural continuity between Edward the Confessor and Henry III. The life is also notable for its portrayal of Anglo-Danish relations, its vilification of Harold Godwinson’s brief reign before the Battle of Hastings and the taking of the English throne by the Norman duke William, and its creative adaptations of romance, epic, historiography, and hagiography.

In addition to a prose translation of the life’s narrative verse and the rhymed rubrics accompanying its text and manuscript illustrations, this volume contains a full introductory discussion of the historical, cultural, literary, and stylistic contexts in which Paris wrote Edward’s life. An appendix of passages from the original text, a generous selection of suggested further reading, and an index of proper names facilitate use of the volume in teaching.

Reviews

"Careful, accurate, emininently readable [translation] ... ample space [devoted] to historical concerns … should interest not only readers new to Insular hagiography but also scholars working with the medieval French text, for which this volume could easily double as a commentary." Speculum