[London, British Museum, Cotton Ms. Vespasian A. 25, ca. 1440]

 

[Chapter 26]

 

Vt non communicent cum ex-communicatis33

 

1a [If] None or nouese, mor or lese,

Comyn with þam þat cursed es,

Or cum vntyl hir whar sche dwels

To ete or speke or do oght els,

 

2 Þe same payn sal þai vnderly

Þat sche suffers for hir foly,

Vntil þai haue þat mys amend,

 

1b Bot if þar souerayn haf þam send:

Þan may þai baldly speke & do

Als far os þai haf leue vnto.

 

Note to Chapter 26.

33. 26:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

 

 

[Chapter 27]

 

De pertinentibus ad custodem.

 

1 Ane Abbot or a priorese,

Þat so ouer oder kepers es,

Aw besily for to be-gyn

To hele þam þat er hurt with syn,

Thurgh haly lernyng þam to lech,

Als crist þus in þe gospel tech;

[93v] He sais: "to hel folk es no nede

Ficiciens her for to bede,

Bot þo men þat er seke & sore

Nedes for to haue medcyns mor."

 

2 A souerayn aw þarfor to send

To þe synful, þair mys to mend,

Of þe eldest & þe most wise,

 

3 Bi þair resons to ger þam rise,

And tech þam turmentes for to take

And suffer þam for godes sake,

And so assay bi þer soft saw

The synful to meknes at draw.

 

4 For ane sinful al sulf þai pray

Þat god wise hir to better way.

 

5a Ilka hir aw to do þis,

So þat non of his schep perise.

 

8 And in case þat on perist were,

Ensaumpil of crist may we ler

To comford þam at our power.

For he tels vs on þis maner

Bi ensaumpil how a hird-man

A febil schepe warest & wane:

He left al his flok os him list

And went to seke ane þat he myst;

 

9 [94r] And sune when he had fon þat same,

A-pon his bak be broght it ham;

 

a And þerof wos he so wele payd,

Þat to his neghburs þus he said:

Congratulamini mihi quia inueni ouem quam & c. -34

Bes glad & makes mery with me!

My schep wos lorn, & fun es he."

 

5b So aw a souerayn for to seke

Þam þat dose wrang, with wordes meke,

And fathly faund with myght & mayne

To get þam til þe flok ogayne.

 

Note to Chapter 27.

34. 27:a. Entire line is written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

 

 

[Chapter 28]

 

1 And if it fall, als god for-bede,

Þat ony haue don gret mysdede

And wil not mend her bi no way

For noght þat men may do or say,

For fair wordes ne for chaistying,

Ne for dred of þe gret cursyng,

 

4 Þan sal þe souerayn nyght & day

Ger al hir sisters for hir pray.

 

6 And if sche non wise wil amend,

Þan, als þe appostil hase vs kend,

Sche salbe catchid fro cumpany,

Þat oþer bi not hermyt hir by.

 

8 For thurgh a schep þat rote hase hent

May many schep with rote be schent.

 

a [94v] So may a synful man do scath

Vnto him-self & oþer bath.

Swilk foles es best forto for-sake,

Sen þat þai wil no mercy take.

 

 

[Chapter 29]

 

1 And if ane so for wikkid dede

Leue hir abbay & hir wede,

And lif in world efter þer wil,

And sine wold turn þe hows vntil,

Þe penance to hir sche sal restore

Of þat dede þat sche went oute fore,

And profer hir-self to suffer payne

At þe ordenance of hir sofferayne,

So þat men may hir meknes knaw

Thurgh hir lifyng, if it be law.

 

3 And if sche eft a-way wil go,

Eft sal sche be resauyd so.

And þe third tyme if sche be gone,

A-gayn hir aw not to be tone,

Bot whar hir list þan lat hir pas,

Als sche þat neuer of order was.

 

 

[Chapter 30]

 

1 Chastying aw measured to be

To ald & ung in sere degre.

 

2 For þe trispas of childer ing

Aw men to vse soft schastisyng,

 

3 [95r] Als fastyng & betyng with wande

And noþer strakes of staf ne hande.

 

a And if þai wil of wordes haf drede,

To bete þam þan it es no nede.

 

 

[Chapter 65]

 

De prepocita, id est subpriorissa.

 

1 In þis maner it ordand es,

Þat a president subpriores

Sal non be chosin for no chanch

Bot by þe priores puruyanch.

For [if] it wor done oþer-wise,

Strif & debate myght lightly rise.

 

3 For if sche wor chosin be þo same

Þat chays þe priores by nayme,

 

4 Þan thurgh eggyng of þe fende

A highnes in hir hert myght lend,

 

5-6 Thinkand þus in hir awn rede:

"If þat þe priores wor dede,

Þo same by wham sche chosin es,

Wold ches me vnto priores."

 

7 And so perchanch in swilk a case,

If contek in þe couent rase,

Þe subpriores so with pride

A-gayns hir souerayn suld sone chide,

And gete oþer of hir assent

To maynteyn hir in swilk entent

[95v] And for to supplant hir souerayn;

 

8 And in swilk case myght sum be slayn

And perels fall, als folk may fele.

 

11-12 And þarfor es it ordand wele,

Þat subpriores & segerstone

And oþer offecers ilkon

Sal non be chosin bi no way

Bot als þe priores wil puruay.

 

14-15 And who so oþer-wise hase chose,

Þe priores aw þam to depose

And oþer in þar stede to take

In gude luf & for godes sake.

 

16 Subpriores sal euer be bayne

Vnto þe saws of hir souerayne,

And no thing wirk a-gayns hir wil

Arely ne layte, ne loude ne stil.

 

17 For þe mor high state þat þai haue,

Þe mor þam aw þer rewle to saue.

 

18 And if sche groch oght for to do

Of thyng þat touches þe rewle vnto,

Of if sche maynteyn mor or lese

For to myspay hir priores,

Or els rebel a-gayns hir rise,

Be word sche salbe warnyd thrise,

 

19 And bi þe iiij tyme, bot if sche mende,

Be chasted als þe rewle hase kende.

 

20 [96r] And if sche wil not mend hir so,

Sche salbe pute hir office fro,

And ordand in hir stede to be

On þat es abil þat degre.

 

21 And if sche wil not mend hir it,

Oute of þair flok sche salbe flit.

 

22 Bot euer þe priores bus nede

Haue gude discreciun in hir dede.

Scho bus wirk be non enuy,

Bot for þe luf of god anely,

Be charite & concience clene,

And þe35 rewle right to maynteyn.

And if sche so ordand hir dede,

Of god þan getes sche mykil mede.

 

Note to Chapter 65

35. 65:22. þe: written above the line.

 

 

[Chapter 31]

 

De eleccione celararie.

 

1 A Celerer sal schosin be

Bi counsel of þe comunalte

And fully bi þe hale assent

Of þe priores & þe couent,

Wise & meke & of myld thews,

Not prowd ne lither, like to schrews,

Not slaw ne grochand in hir dede,

 

2 Bot swilk als wil god loue & drede.

 

3 Scho sal tak eme to mor & les

[96v] Bi puruyance of þe Priores.

For al sal cum into her hend

þat salbe in hir offece spend.

Hir offece sal sche gladly do,

And eme wele þat es takyn her to.

 

7 And who so askes hir skilwis thyng,

Sche sal not grue þam with groching.

Bot if it a-cord not with wit,

Mekely sal scho warn þam it.

 

a And if it aw forto be done,

Scho sal it gif gladly & sone.

 

8 So vnto hir gret mede may rise,

Als þe appostel sais on Þis wise:

"Qui bene administrauerit,

gradum bonum sibi adquirit-

Who serues wele, with hertes fre,

Wins to þam-self a gud degre."

 

9 A celerer aw to be myld & meke

For to serue þam þat er seke,

And ong childer, & gestes pore,

And oþer þat askes at þe dore.

Vnto al swilk tent sal sche take

And serue þam for godes sake,

Witand of all swilk doing

[97r] On domesday sal [sche] mak reknyng.

 

10 Al þe vessel of þe abbay

Aw hir to eme in right aray,

 

11 So þat non perise ne be lorn

Be hir defaute ne euyn ne morn.

 

12 Scho sal not saue hir-selu vntil,

Bot wirk al be [hir] souerayn wil.

 

13 Fair of answer sal sche be

To euer ilkon in þer degre.

For meke answer es mykil at prays,

 

14 Als hali writ witnes & says:

"Sermo bonus super datum optimum-

Fair wordes in ilka plase

Er oboun oþer giftes of grace."

 

15 A celerer sal gladly fulfil

Al þat fals hir offece vntil,

 

16 And gladly gif when oþer craue,

And mekely ask what so wil haue.

And if scho so rewle al hir dede,

Þan may scho serue ful mykil mede.

 

 

[Chapter 32]

 

De officio sacriste35

 

a The Priores, & oþer nane,

Aw for to ches a segerstane

To ring þe bels in right aray

Til al þer seruys nyght & day.

[97v] And wisely aw hir forto wirk

To kepe enourmentes of þe kirk,

Als chalese, boke, & vestmentes,

Relekes, waxe, & annual rentes.

Er aw to ordan al bedene,

Als vessel, close, & kep þam clene.

Indentures suld þai be ilkon,

 

3 And þe priores sal kepe þe tone,

So þat when on sal out flit,

By þer endenturs may þai wit,

What thynges efter on er left

To hir þat sal resaf þam eft.

 

4-5 And who so wil reklesly wirk

Or files þe þinges of haly kirk,

Þai salbe chasted greuusly

Efter þer warkes es worthi.

 

Note to Chapter 32

36. 32:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

 

 

[Chapter 35]

 

De septimariis coquine37

 

1 In þe kechin sal þai serue oboute,

Ilkon þer wouke with-outyn doute,

And serues sal non refuse,

Bot if skilwis caus þam excuse,

Þat þai til oþer thinges takes tent

Mor profetabil to þe couent.

 

2 And euer þam aw to tak rewarde

 

3 [98r] At euer þe eldest most be sparde.

 

7 And when on hase endid hir wouke,

 

8, 10 Besily hir aw to luke,

Þat al be clene þat to hir fell,

Both howses, clothes, & wessell,

 

11 To liuer os clene os scho kan

Vnto hir þat sal serue þan,

So þat, if oght wantand be,

In whom defaut es, may men se.

 

12 And who so þus salbe seruand

May tak a sop wele be-for-hand,

 

13 So þat þer penance bi not gret

Forto bide til þe latter mete,

And for þai sal with meri cher

Serue ilkon on sides seres.

 

15 When on hase seruyd a wouk to end

And sal oute of þer seruys wend,

Kneland bi-for þe couent

Þus sal scho say with gud entent:

 

16 "Benedictus es, domine, qui adiuuisti me-

Blissid be þou, lord, þat neuer falled,

Þat hase me helpid & counseld!"

 

17 Thris on þis wise sal scho say,

And blisyng take, & wend hir way.

[98v] And scho þat enters in seruese,

Kneland sal say on þis wise:

"Deus, in adiutorium meum intende-

Lord, to my helping þou take hede,

And hast þe hertly me to spede!"

 

18 And with hir hed scho sal bow down

And mekely take hir benysoun;

And on þis wise when sche don has,

Vntil hir serues sal scho pas.

 

Note to Chapter 35

37. 35:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

 

 

[Chapter 45]

 

De delinquentibus in ecclesia.

 

1 If þat on faile in ony thing,

In verses or saulms to rede or sing,

Or in lessons þam er kend,

Bot þai mekely þat mys amend

Þair in presens of company,

Grete payn sal þai vnderly.

 

3 And þe nouices, whils þai er ing,

Aw to be scorid for swilk a thing.

 

 

[Chapter 46]

 

1 And als who so wil fayntly faile

And not trewly do þer trauayle

In kechin, celer, or in cels,

In bakkows, brewhows, or ourels,

 

2 Or els þat loises mor or les

[99r] Bi resoun of þer reklesnes,

 

3 And comes not son to þer souerayne

For þat trispas to tak þer payne,

 

4 Bot layns it stil, os no man wist,

Til it with oþer be puplist,

Þan sal mor payn to þam be layde

Þan if þam-self þe suth had saide.

 

5 For if none wit þerof bot þay,

Vnto þer souerayn suld þai sai

Or til þer confessure in hi,

 

6 Þat may þam mend al preuely.

 

 

[Chapter 47]

De horis assignandis.

 

1 Subpriores, als woman wise,

Sal kepe þe oures of god seruyse,

Or38 els a-noþer bi her assent

Vnto þat office sal tak tent,

So þat seruyse bi day & nyght

In ilk seson be rewlid right.

 

2 And scho sal assigne old & ing

Til all þay þai sal rede or sing,

 

3 And se þat non sal syng ne rede

Bot þat er abil vnto þat dede.

 

4 And dredefully ilkon sal do

Al þat þai er assigned vnto.

 

Note to Chapter 47

38. 47:1. Or ] Er

 

 

[Chapter 39]

 

De mensura ciborum.

 

1 [99v] Who to þe kechin sal tak tent

Sal ordan wele for þe couent

Euer-ilk-a day ij maners of mete,

 

2 Bi-caus þat who so may not ete

Of þe ton for nokins nede,

Of þe toþer þai may þam fede.

 

3 So til a couent suffes may

ij maner of potege ilka day.

If þai hafe appils or oþer thing

Ordand of þeir-awn growyng,

Þen sal þai make seruys of slike

Vnto euer-ilkon in-like.

 

4 To ilka lady suffise may

A pond of bred a-pon a day,

Wheder þai wil ete ons or twise.

 

5 If it be ordand on þis wise,

Þat euer-ilkon wil of hir laue

Þe third part til hir sopper saue,

And to þe celerer wil it seme

Swilk seruys for to sal & eme.

 

6 And who so wendes gret trauel til

Salbe seruyd at þer souerans wil,

With mor or les þat es to mene,

 

8 Bot euer þat non outrage be sene;

[100r] For no thyng es [als] gret enmy

Vnto godes folk als glotony.

 

9 And þarfor þus sais iesus crist,

Als witnes wele þe euaungelest:

"Videte ne grauentur corda uestra

crapula et ebrietate-

Greues not our hartes for no nede

With glotony & dronkenhede."

 

10 And les mesur in ilka thing

Salbe vsid to childer yng.

 

 

[Chapter 40]

 

De mensura potus39

 

5 The mesure salbe of þer drink

Set efter þer souerayn think,

Efter þai trauel arely & late,

And after þe plais es cald or hate;40

 

6a Bot at þai neuer assent vntil

Þair flesch ernyng fully to fil.

Softly sal þai tast, & fair,

Drynk þat may þer hedes inpair,

Als myghty wyne or nobil aile.

 

7 For þe wisman tels slik a taile:

"Wyne þat es myghty & strang

Mase witty men forto wirk wrang."

 

6b Þarfor es wit, to lest & mast,

Wine or aile softly to tast.

 

8 And if þai in slik places be,

[100v] Þat þai of noþer haf plente,

Swilk os þai find þen sal þai fande,

And loue god hertly of his sande.

 

Note to Chapter 40

39. 40:Title. Title wirtten in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

40: 40:1. hate ] hete

 

 

[Chapter 33]

 

Vt nichil proprium habeant.

 

1 In relegion, als it es knawn,

Sal þai haf no thing of þer awn,

 

2 Ne no ing clame be propirte,

Bot al þing sal in comun be.

No giftes sal [þai] gif ne take

Bot anly for þeir souerayn sake,

Ne no ing sal þai clayme ne craue

Bot als þer souerayn wouches saue.

 

3 Tabels, boke, ne oþer gere

With-outyn hir wil sal þai none were,

 

6 Bot whatkyn þing so on haf sall,

Þat salbe comun vnto þam all.

 

7 Scho þat wil not wirk on þis wise,

Scho salbe warned anes or twise;

 

8 And if scho so mend not hir hert,

With greter payn scho salbe gert.

 

 

[Chapter 34]

 

1 For haly writ witnes & sais

How þai þat wons so in abbais

Aw to haue leuer of al thing

Þat leful es to þeir lifing.

 

3 And ilkon aw in-like to haue,

[101r] And efter mor aw non to craue.

 

4 Bot euer-ilkon, als I air saide,

Of hir part sal hald hir paide.

 

6 And if ony be so vnbayne

In word or werk to groch ogayn,

 

7 And scho þer-of þan be ascried,

With penance sal scho be chastid.

 

 

[Chapter 36]

 

De sororibus infirmis.

 

1 When ony of godes saynd[s] es seke,

All Þe oþer sal with hertes meke

Confort hir & with hir dwell,

 

2 Als crist vs kens in his gospell:

"Seke I wos," suthly sais he,

"And kindly cum e vnto me.

 

3 For þat e did oþer in my name,

Vnto my-self e did þe same."

 

4 Þai þat er seke sal vnder-take

Þat oþer þam serues for gode sake

And forto fulfil charite,

And nothing for þer awn degre.

 

5 In seknes suld þai haf sufferans

And loue god euer of alkyn chanch.

For þe mor þai er meke & stil,

Þe mor mede es ordand þam til.

 

6 And so a souerayn sal euer be meke

[101v] And bowsum to þam þat er seke,

And with gude [wil] alway to spend

On ony þing þat myght þam mend,

 

7 And ordan seruandes þam vntil,

Þat wil þam serue with gude wil,

And honest place for to be in,

Whor þai may [s]it with-outyn dyn.

 

8 Bathes & bawmes sal þai haue

Als oft-sithes os þai wil craue.

 

9 And gladli sal men41 to þam gete

Flesch or fisch, what þai wil ete.

And when þai er fulli amend,

Lif furth als þe rewle hase kend.

 

Note to Chapter 36

41. 36:9. men: written above the line.

 

 

[Chapter 37]

 

1 A souerayn aw forto be-hald

apli vnto ong & ald,

 

2 Þat euer-ilkon in þer degre

Be ordand als þam aw to be,

So þat þe ong may trauel tast,

And þe eldest be hordand mast.

 

 

[Chapter 38]

 

De leccione ad prandium.

 

1 The couent, when þai set at mete,

For to rede sal þai not for-gete.

On þe sunnday sal on begin,

And al þat wouke scho sal not blin.

 

2 [102r] Vnto hir felos sal scho say,

Besekand þat þai for hir pray.

 

3 And sone when þat scho enters in,

Þis vers to say scho sal be-gin:

"Domine, labia mea aparies---

Lord, opin my lippes als gastly lech,

And my moth sal þi louyng tech."

 

4 Hir souerain sal blis hir gud spede,

And so scho sal be-gin to rede.

 

5 Þan of al nose þai salbe stil

And grathly tak entent hir til.

 

7 If any of þam nede oght to haue,

Softly with signes þai sal it craue.

 

11 And scho þat redes sal sithen ete

With þam þat serues at þe mete.

 

12 And in order þai sal not rede,

Bot who so best can do þat dede,

And most likandly tels & leres

Vnto þam þat þe lesson heres.

 


 


Continue with Chapter 41
Table of Contents
Feminist Benedictine Rules

 

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

 


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