[Chapter 2]

 

Vlterius de priorissa et eius condicionibus.

 

1 A Priores aw for to be

Principall in gude degre

Both in þe abba & with-oute,

Whar so sche ganges or rides o-boute,

And to be honored euer hir aw;

 

a Bot in her-self sche sal be law,

[73r] Pryde in hert for to haue none,

Bot loue god euer of al his lone

And wirchip him werld al-wais,

 

3 Als þe apostel plainly sais

Vn-to all folk, who so it be,

Þat takes swilk staite of dignite:

"Accepistis spiritum adepcionis."

He sais: "e take Þe gaste of mede,

Þat lele folk vnto lif suld lede,

In þe whilk gaste we call & cry

Vnto our lord god al-myghty,

And `fader, abbot,' pus we say."

 

4 Bi er wordes vnderstand we may

Þat soueranse aw no thing to do

Bot anely als crist kens þam to,

Ne no thyng suld þai tech ne lere,

Ne no thyng bid by þaire power,

Bot þat myght turn in feld & towne

Þair sogetes to saluacioune.

 

5 Techyng sal be to þam it beres

Als gastly sede sawn in þair eres,

And to teching þai sal be bayne

Als gude soietes to þair souerane.

 

6 For wele wit sche, & so wit þai,

[73v] Þat in dome, on þe dredful day,

Sal reknyng by, how sche þam leres,

And als who wele hir lessons heres,

And both þan sal þai haue þair mede

Efter þair lif þat þai here lede.

7 A priores may knaw wele þan,

Sche beres þe charch of a hird-man.

And als a graue bihoues hir be,

Þat cure hase tayn to kepe hir fe.

 

8 And hir awn sawle wele may sche saue,

Al if hir schepe vnryght wyl raue:

If scho gude techyng tell þam to

And chastes als hir aw to do,

Efter þe rewle þat crist hase kend,

And þai wil not þair mys amend,

Bott reklisly hir rede refuse,

To crist þan may scho hir excuse

 

9 In dome, a-pon þe dredful day,

And with þe prophet þusgate say:

"Iusticiam tuam [non] abscondi in corde meo,

Veritatem tuam & salutare tuum dixi."

Þus for hir werk scho may haue mede,

 

10 And þai dampned for þair mysdede.

 

11 [74r] Also we se it to þe same:

Of priores who takes þe name,

In dede and saw her bus assent

To fulfil it to duble intent;

 

12 Þat es, scho sal in wark fulfyll

Al þat scho sal tech oþer vntill,

So þat al hir doghters dere

Þat godes law lightly wil lere,

Bi wordes allayn may haue knawyng,

How þai sal do in al thyng,

And oþer, þat of hertes er herd

And oute of mesure more fraward,

Mai be informed bi hir dede

And lere how þai þair lif suld lede.

Þus aw hir-self in dede to do

Al þat scho sal tech oþer vnto.

 

13 And when scho hir sugetes reproues,

On al maners luk hir be-houes,

So þat scho hafe not done þo dedes

Whilk scho vntil oder for-bedes.

For þan hir lare is not to prays,

 

14 And crist þan vnto hir þus sais:

"Quare tu enarras iusticiam tuam-"

Whi teches þu in rightwisnes,

[74v] And þu þi-self mor synful es?

Þu hates my techyng & my lare,

Sen þou þi-self hase sined mare,

And my wordes putes þou þe be-hinde,

For my teching ert þou blind.

 

15 Ful wele þou may perceaue & se

A litil mote in þi sister ee,

Bot a grete balk in þin awn

Vnto þi sight may not be knawn."

 

b Þus nedes þam-self for to be clere,

Þat oþer folk sall tech & lere.

 

16 A Priores aw to be slike,

Þat scho luf ilkon in-like

And noght til on for fauor spare

And mak a-noþer to trauel mare,

Bot serue ilkon in þair degre

Samen, als sister aw to be.

 

20 For haly writ sais wele þair-bi:

"In crist we er all o body."

And all þat serues vnto a lord,

In anhede aw þam to a-corde.

And right als god takes no rewarde,

For riches þat no man be sparde,

[75r] Ne non put doun for pouerte,

So suld it emang sisters be.

 

c For crist on cristyn folk es heued

And we his lyms þat here er leuyde;

 

22 And godes seruandes in haly kirk,

Þat er ordand his werk to wirk,

Aw to be lufid in ewyn degre

Of hir þat sal þair souerayn be.

 

 

De eadem6

 

23 A Priores þat wil wirchep win

Aw to chastes on maners th[r]in

Þam þat scho sese wil be schrews,

Als þe apostil playnly schews;

"Argue, obsecra, & increpa!"

 

24 Þat es to mene on þis manere:

Þai þat er herd & lath to lere,

Þam sal scho chasti with hardnes

Of werk & word, als worthy es.

 

25 And þay þat er meke & obedient

And to hir saws wil euer assent,

Þai sal be chastede, when þai sin,

With fair wordes þam forto wyn.

And þai þat wil hir lare despise

Or als rebels o-gans hir rise,

[75v] With þam aw hir for to trete

With preson & with penance grete;

 

26 And sone when þat scho mai persaiue

Þair syn, lat noght þe tym ouer wayue,

Bot chaistese þam & tery noght

Efter þe wark þat þa[i ha]ue wroght

For parel þat mai fall þarby,

Als wos proued of þe prophet hely

And oþer mo þat men may tell,

How grete drede es yn sin to dwell.

 

27 Bot first hir-self, & right non els,

Sal councel þam, als crist vs tels,

Bi wordes warli anes or twis.

 

28 And if þai wil not þair-for rise,

To chastese þam scho sal not spare

With penance hard, als I said aire.

For hali writ sais on þis wise:

"Þe fole with word may non chastese."

For þai wil set bi no man saw,

Þarfor þam bus haue harder aw.

 

29 And to þis sam, als clerks may kun,

þe wiseman sais: "chastise þi sun

And bete him with a wand, I rede,

Þan liuers þou his saule fro drede."

 

 

[76r] De eadem7

 

30 A Priores aw for a wite,

Als beres witnes in haly writ,

Who mekel takes in town or felde,

Of mekil be-houes þam rekni[n]g elde.

31 And so hir aw to vnderstand

What hard wark scho takes on hand

To gouerne þe saules of sere women

And all þair erthly maners ken:

 

32 Sum gude, sum ill, sum eueyn bitweyn,

Als es in ilk a-semble sene.

And þair-for scho þat eme þam sall

Bus haue hir euynly vntil all

And fully knaw what falles þam to,

Als a gude hird aw for to do,

So þat al hir flok may proue

And encrese vnto cristes bi-houe.

 

33 No gude hirdes sal set þair thoght

On erthli gudes, þat gase to noght,

Mor þan þe saules for to saue

Of wham þai sal here keping haue.

 

34 For mor we suld ern hele of saule

Þan of bodi, os sais sant paule.

 

35 And also crist in his godspell

[76v] Of þis same makes minde o-mell:

"Primum querite regnum dei-

First sal e seke þe blis of heuyn

And þe rightwisnes of it ful euyn,

And þan all þat nedes ou vntill

Sal e haue at our awne wyll."

 

36 And forþermare it may men rede:

Oure lord here if we luf & drede,

Þan sal no thing here fro vs fayle

Þat to our saule hele may a-vaþle.

 

37 And man or woman þat here wil haue

Cure of saules fro syn to saue,

Vnto reknyng sall þai cum

For þo saules on þe day of dom.

 

38 For al þe saules þai hase in welde

And for his awn saule all he elde

Reknyng to crist, þe domes-man.

 

39 It nedes þat þai a-vise þam þan

For to do þat in þam es;

For if ony of þair schep peris,

And þe faute be not in þam fun,

Þair awn saule þen haue [þai] vn-bun.

 

40 And souerans it sal haue þer mede

For saules þai wyn with word or dede,

[77r] With gude ensampil þat þai gife,

Or with gude lifying þat þai lif

Or els with rightwise chastisyng;

Þam falles gret mede for al swilk thyng.

 

Notes to Chapter 2

6. 1:Title. Title added; written in margin at the end of the previous line.

7. 1:Title. Title added; written at the end of the line below.

[Chapter 3]

De adhibendis ad consilium sororibus.

 

1 In all tymes, when oght es to do

Þat any grete charge fals vnto,

Þe priores sal to-geder call

All þe conuent, grete & small,

Þat orderd er, both old & ing,

And ask þair counsel in Þat thing.

 

2 When ilkon hase said þair a-vise,

Þe priores þan, if scho be wise,

Sal se who a-cordes reson vnto,

And efter þair rede sal scho do.

 

3 And god schews his myght, be e bald,

Als wele in ong folk als in ald;

And þairfor sal in swilk a thing

Samyn com both olde & yng,

 

4 And mekely ilkon sai þair saw

And nother let for luf ne aw.

 

5 And when þai al þer sawes hafe saide,

Als scho assentes þai sal be paide,

[77v] Als gude discipels sall al-ways

Be paide, what so þair maistres sais.

 

6 And scho with gude descrecioun

Sal rewle hir wordes bi right reson,

And all þai aw be day & night

To saue þis rewle in all þer myght,

 

7 And in no ponte, for gude ne ill,

To wirk efter þair awn will,

Bot euer to be bowsum & bayn

Vnto þe sawes of þair sufferance.

 

10 And who so wil not for grete harte,

With greuauns aw to be gart.

 

11 Bot luke þe priores for no thing

Pase þe right rewle of chastising,

Bot soberly to wirk al-way

For drede of dome in þe last day.

 

12 When oder lese thynges er to do,

Þan may þe priores cal hir to

iii or iiii wysest women,

And do als þair counsl wil ken,

 

13 So þat scho hase witnes al-ways,

Als þe wise man witnes & says:

"Fac cum consilio, et post factum non penitebis!-

Do al þi dedes be gude counsell,

[78r] Þan sall þe noght rew þi trauayle."

 

a Þair-for a souerayn sal not do,

Bot if scho ask counsel þair-to

Owþer of sum or els of all,

Efter þe thyng es grete or small.

 

 

[Chapter 4]

 

De vij-tem operibus misericordie8

 

a Here er þe warkes on raw to rede

Þat sesis oure sins & makes mede.

 

1 First sal we luf god loud & still

With al our hert & al our will,

 

2 And syen our neghburs sal we luf

Als our-self for our saul be-houe;

 

3 No man ne women slay with wrang

Noþer with word ne wapyn strang.

 

5 Of oþer mens we sal not steyl

 

6 Ne couet here no wordly wele.

 

7 Fals witnes we sal non bere,

 

8 Bot honor al þat cristynd ere.

 

b Godes naym we sal not tak in vayn,

Ne swer in bot for thyng sartayn.

 

9 And to non here sal we do

Bot als we wold war don vs to.

 

10 Oure awn self we sal deny,

And folow oure lord god al-myghty,

 

11 Pine oure flesch with penance grete,

 

12 And couet non delicius mete,

 

13-14 [78v] Fast & do gude almus-dede,

 

15 And cleth þe naked þat hase nede.

 

16 Seke men suld we viset wele,

 

17 And bring þe dede vn-to biriele,

 

18 Help al þo þat harmes haues,

 

19 And counsaile þam þat counsele craues,

 

20 And rek not of þis erthli gude,

 

21 But vnto [crist] turn al our mode.

 

22 In our hertes sal we hold non ire,

 

23 Ne vengeance sall we non desire.

 

25 Fals frenschep we sal non make,

 

26 Trew charite so for to sake.

 

27 We sal not swer on euyn ne morn

 

28 For fardnes for to be for-sworn.

 

29 Euyl for euyl we sal not elde,

 

c Bot mayntene right in town & felde;

 

30 And if we wranges of oþer take,

We sal it suffer for godes sake.

 

31 Our enmys aw vs for to lufe,

 

32 And noght ban þam þat vs reproue;

 

33 For mekely suld we, mor & les,

Suffer reproue for rightwisnes.

 

34 With pride in hert we sal not rise,

 

38/? Ne be to slaw in god saruyse.

 

39? [79r] No vs aw lightly to lac,

 

40 Ne speke no harme be-hind þair bac.

 

41 In god we sal set al our thoght

 

42 And think þat of our-self es noght

 

43 Bot sin & sorow & wrechidnes,

And ilka gude dede of god es.

 

44 Þe day of dome vs aw to drede,

 

45 And vn-to hell we suld take hede,

 

46 And were vs euer with al our mayn

Fro filth of sin, þat sarues payn,

And couaite heuyn euer inwardly,

 

47 And thynk ilk day þat we sal dy,

 

48 And rewle our warkes by reson ryght,

 

49 And think þai er euer in godes sight;

 

50 If euyl thoghtes our hertes tak,

Kast þam oute for godes sake;

 

51 And kepe our moth fro grete carpyng

Of wikkidnes or of wordly thing.

 

56 Vn-to prayers we sal vs spede,

 

55 And hali lessones here & rede;

 

57 And for our mysdedes don be-forn

Suld we mourn both euyn & morn.

And praers to god we [sal] vs schriue

 

58 And mak a-mendes so in our life.

 

60 [79v] We sal hate to wirk our awn will

 

59 Or our flesch ernyng to fulfill;

 

61 And on al wise we sal be bayn

Vnto þe saws of our souerayn,

Þat we aw our obidience to.

And also if we se hir do

Oþerwise or wer, als god for-bede,

Þan scho teches vs to do in dede,

Þan sal we ordand our wirkyng

Als crist vs teches, in al thyng:

"Secundum opera eorum nolite facere!"

He sais þus: "workes efter þer saw,

And to þair dedes luke e not draw!"

Þat es to say, if þai wirk wrang,

And tech ou grathly for to gang.

 

62 We sal not couet in our mode

With folk for to be haldyn gude.

 

63 Godes bidynges we sal fulfill

Airly & laite and loud & still,

 

64 And luf clennes and chastite,

65-66 And frendly vnto al folk be.

 

67 Fast suld we fle al vayn louyng,

 

70-71 And mak no strif with old no ing.

To old folk suld we do honour,

And febil we sal sucoure.

 

72 [80r] For our enmes sal we pray,

Til a recorde be redy ay,

 

74 And seker help ay sal we haue

Of godes mercy our saules to saue.

 

75 Þer er þe pontes of perfite lifyng

Þat nedful er to old & ing;

 

76 For if we wil þam gladli do,

Ful fair reward fals vs vnto,

Þat es in endles blis to dwell,

 

77 Als crist sais þus in his godspel:

"Oculus non vidit, nec aures audiverunt-

None eghen mai se, ne eris here,

Ne hertes thynk þe blisses clere

Whilk god ordand to þer bi-houe

Þat yn þair liues hym lely luf."

 

d Þarfor es gude þat we tak hede

Hym for to luf & als to drede

Þat vn-to slik blis may vs bryng.

Vn-to þat lord be euer loueyng!

 

Note to Chapter 4

8. 4:Title. tem: written as superscript to vij. Title written in margin at the end of the previous line.

 


 


Continue with Chapter 5
Table of Contents
Feminist Benedictine Rules

 

See "Bibliography" for manuscript, edition, bibliographies and studies.

 


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