Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

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"Matthew Paris"


Matthew Paris:
The History of St. Edward the King and The Life of St. Alban


Translated by Thelma Fenster and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne

Matthew Paris (d. 1259), monk of the English Benedictine abbey of St Albans and a knowledgeable reporter of life at the court of Henry III and of thirteenth-century Europe in general, is famous for his illustrated Latin chronicles.  His French texts of the lives of British saints have been undervalued and, apart from some excellent art history scholarship on their illustrations, largely neglected.

The HIstory of Saint Edward the King (FRETS Volume I)

Edward the Confessor (1003-66) was the last Anglo-Saxon king and, until the late fourteenth-century rise in the prestige of St. George, patron saint of England.  He was greatly culted by Norman and Angevin kings, by none so intensely as Henry III.  Continuity with the regnal line of pre-Conquest England began as a legitimating strategy for the Normans and continued as a matter of dynastic identity and prestige.  Paris's French illustrated life is dedicated to "Alianor . . . reine/D'Engletere" (vv.52-3) and was probably designed for presentation to Eleanor of Provence on her marriage to Henry III in 1236, perhaps as an introduction to her husband's dynastic traditions.

This volume includes a translation of the History and the rhymed rubrics Paris composed to accompany his text and images; an introduction on the historical, cultural, literary and stylistic contexts in which Paris wrote about Edward the Confessor; an appendix of passages from the original text; a generous selection of suggested further reading; and an index of proper names. The volume has been designed so that its translations of text and rubrics from the extant manuscript can be used in conjunction with the presentation of the manuscript at

The Life of St. Alban (FRETS Volume II)

This volume presents the first translation of Matthew Paris's Vie de seint Auban, the great thirteenth-century chronicler's life of the patron saint of his own monastery of St. Albans. In addition to its role within the monastery, this key text in Paris’s canon was aimed at elite lay patrons from the court of Henry III. The Life, extant in a single manuscript largely written in Paris's own hand and extensively illustrated by him, offers vivid accounts of conversion and crusading piety, and casts the Romano-Britons of early England as evil Saracens. The manuscript has not been published in detail since M. R. James' black and white collotype prints of 1924. This volume includes a substantial introduction, the first translation of the Life; a new translation of Paris's chief source, the Vita sancti Albani; two essays on the manuscript; and a generous selection of colour images. The volume redresses modern scholarship’s relative neglect of the Life of St Alban and will be of interest to scholars and readers of medieval literature, medieval history and culture, and the history of religion and religious literature. An appendix of original text excerpts adds to its usefulness in both graduate and undergraduate courses.


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