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


[Chapter 41]


In quibus horis reficiantur42


a Of time of mete now es to lere,

In times & sesons of þe ere.


1 Fro pas right vnto witsunnday

At þe sext our ete sal þai,

Þe whilk es midday for to mene,

And sine sal þai soupe bedene.


2 [102v] In somer, fro witsunday be past,

Wedinsday & friday sal þai fast,

Bot if þai oþer swink or swete

In hay or corn with trauel grete.

And if þai non slike trauel done,

On þos days sal þai fast to none.


3 And on oþer days, als I air saide,

At mydday sal þer mete be graide.


4 Bot al þis salbe purued playn

At þe ordinance of þer souerayn


5 What seson so scho putes þam to,

With-outin groching sal þai do.


6 Fro time þat december be-gin

Vntil clene lentyn cum in,

At hi none sal þai ete;

Þer lesons sal þai not for-gete.


7 In lentyn sal non to mete gang,

Or efter þe our of euyn-sang;


9 And al seruys þan sal þai sai

Efter mete bi light of day,

So þat al be rewlid right

At wend to bede bi dais lyght.


Note to Chapter 41

42. 41:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.



[Chapter 42]

Vt non loquantur post complectorium.


3 In times when þai sal soup infere

Þen sal þai set efter soppere

[103r] Al in a stede, whor þai wil sit,

And rede lessons of hali writ

Or els of liues of hali men

Þat gastly comfort may þam ken.


4 Tales of trofils þai sal non tel,

Ne oþer maters þan of mel,

Þat may let haly orisoun

Or driue þam fro deuocioun.


5 On fastyngdais, in ilka place,

Efter euynsang a litil space

In a stede þai sal set down

And mak a schort colaciown.


8 And als son os þai haf done,

Al samen sal þai wend ful son

Vnto complin, mor & myn.

And efter þe our of complin

In þer hertes al sal þai hurd,

And non haue lef to spek a word,


10 Bot gestes or oþer þinges it gar--

Bot þai spek it myght be-war--

Or if þer souerayn say þam to

Nedeful thinges þai er to do.

a Vnto hir sal þai answer þan

Als curtesly als euer þai kan.

And preuely so sal þai say,

[103v] Þat non þam here bot scho & þay.

And oþer speking salbe none

Fro tyme þat þai haue complyn done.



[Chapter 43]


Vt cito veniant ad missam & ad mensam.


1 Als son als þai here þe beles

To mes, matyns, or oght els,

Þan sal þai hast þam on al wise

Sone to com to godes seruyse.

Wheder so euer þai sit or stand,

Al thyng sone sal þai lef of hand

And wightly to þe kirk at win;


2 Bot neuer-þe-les þai sal not ryn.


4 And who es not redy grayd,

When gloria efter þe first saulm es said,

In order þen þai sal not be,


5 Bot stand in þe lawest degre,

Þat þai be of þer souerayn sene

And of þair sisters al be-dene.


6 And so þai sal with repentans

Mak amendes for swilk a chanch.


7 For in þam-self þai sal haue schame43

Þat þai er worthi to ber slik blaym.

In þe quer sal þai stand algate,


8 And al if on cum neuer so late;

[104r] For els sum wold take no kepe,

Bot oþer ianglyng or els slepe,


9 And als for þai þat standes in quere

Sal haue part of al þat þai here.


10 And if on dwel so lang oway

At ony of þe houres of þe day,


11 Þe same þan salbe þeir mede,

And noþer sal þai sing ne rede.


12 In þe lawest stede sal þai stand,

Bot if þeir souerayn þam command.


13 At þe mete so sal it fair

Of þam þat er not redi þair

To say þe grace & take þer sete;

Þai sal bide to þe latter mete.


15 And who so wil not be chastid,

Til langer efter sal scho bide


16 And sine be hir allayn to sit,

And sum seruice sal hir want it

Of mete or drynk þat myght hir glade,

Vntil scho haue amendes mayde.


17 Þe same payn es to þam puruayde

Þat bides [not] til þe grace be sayde

Efter mete, als it es vsed,

Bot þai haue caus to be excused.


Note to Chapter 43

43. 43:7-8. This and the following 3 lines were written in the order 2, 4, 1, 3. The letters a,b,c,d were then added in the left margin to indicate the correct order.



[Chapter 44]


[104v] De modo satisfaccionis44


1 Scho þat es for cursed kend

And wilfully wil hir amend,

Scho sal wait þe tyme of þe day

When þe couent in þe schapiter pray,


2 And doun scho sal fall in þe flore

Opon hir face be-for þe dore,

And oblis hir vntil þer fete

Murnand sore hir mys to bete.


3 And ilk day sal þis be hir mese,

Vntil hir souerayn bid hir sese.


4 And if hir souerayn þedir hir call,

Vntil hir fete first sal scho fall,

And sine lig in hir aller way

Besekand þam for hir to pray.


5 If hir souerayn, þat hase power,

Gif hir leue to cum in quer,


7 O hir knes doun sal scho fall,

Þat scho may be sene of þam all.


8 Þis penance ilk day sal scho do,

Vntil hir souerayn se þerto.


10 And when scho ful mendyng may trow,

Scho sal say: "sese! it suffes now."


Note to Chapter 44

44. 44:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the following line.



[Chapter 48]


De operibus cotidianis45


a All þat wons in religioun

Aw to haue sum ocupacioun

[105r] Ouþer in kirk of hali bedes

Or stodying in oder stedes.


1 For ydilnes, os sais sant paul,

Es grete enmy vnto þe saul.

And þerfor es ordand þat þai

Sum gude warkes sal wirk alway,


2 And sum certane times of þe er

To wirk with hand, os men may her.


3 Fro pase, thurgh al cristyndome,

Til þe kalandes of october cum,

Vnto prime sone sal þai rise,

And sine ilkon wirk on þer wise

What so es most nedeful labore

Vntil þe tyme of þe third oure.


4 And lessons sal þai rede þan next

Fro þe third our vnto þe sext.


5 And efterward thurgh wirchep46

Fro oures & mes wend vnto mete.

And efter mete, þen sal þai slepe,

And silence al samen sal þai kepe,

So þat none do oþer disese,

Bot ilkon paid oþer to plese.


6 Sone eferward, when þis es done

And þai haf said þe our of none,

Vntil þeir werk þen sal þai gang

[105v] Vnto þe tyme of euynsang,

To scher or bind, if it be nede,

Or dike or els do oþer dede.


8 For vnto trauel wor we born,

And al our elders vs be-forn.


9 Bot trauel aw mesurd to be

Til ilkon efter þer degre,

To men or women, old or ing,

Ilkon to do diuers þing.


10 Fro october, os I are sayd,

Vnto lentyn es þus puruayd:

In orisons & in þer oures

And lessons salbe þer laboures.



De obseruanciis in xl-esima47


14 In lentyn tyme þen sal þai rise

Arly, & say þer seruyse

And orisons til godes honoure,

Vntil it be past þe third oure.

Þan to þe tent our sal þai wirk,

And sine til non serue in þe kirk.


15 And in lentyn aw þam to luke

Þat ilkon haue ordand a buke,

Whilk salbe red right to þe end,

Als þe cours of þe rewl hase kend.


a And who so groches oght here-o-gayn

[106r] Salbe punest with greuus payne.


18 Who tentes to trofils & wil not rede


19 And þai ouertayn with þat dede,


20 With payn þai sal amendes make,

So þat oþer ensaumpil take.


Note to Chapter 48

45. 48:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.

46. 48:5. The rhyme word is missing at the end of the line.

47. 48:Title. Title added; written the margin at the end of the preceding line. This really is the title of the following chapter (49).



[Chapter 49]


2 In lentyn aw þam to be clere

Be-for all oþer times of þe ere,


4 In haly bedes þat tyme to lif,

And vnto god haly þam gif,


5 Abstenand þam fro drynk & mete,

And gif þam vnto penance grete,

And fand to fle al flesch likyng


6 And honor god ouer alkines þing.


7 With clene desire so sal þai bide

Þe tyme of paise, þai sal þat tide,


a And kepe þat, lord, so with clene life,

Þat medcyn es to man & wife.



[Chapter 50]

1 Þai þat sal walk bi way, or wirk,

And may not cum to haly kirk,


3 In what stede so þai be sett,

Þeir seruyse sal þai not for-gete,


4 Bot kepe all þe oures of þe day

With als grete honoure os þai may,

And say þer seruyse in ilk seson

[106v] With wil & gude deuocioun.



[Chapter 51]


1 And if on sal on erand wend

Furthward vnto ony frend

A þinkes to com a-gayn þat day,

Al if men vnto mete þam pray,

For to ete sal þai not assent,


2 Bot if þai asked leue, or þai went.


3 And who so trispas in þis þing,

Þai ryn in peryl of cursyng.



[Chapter 52]


De oracione in secretis.


2 In chapiter or kirk who likes to lend,

When godes seruþs is sayd til end,

To mak þeir meditaciouns

In haly prayers & orisouns,


3 So preuely þen sal þai pray,

Þat non oþer here quat þai say.

And preualy furth sal þai wyn,

Þat þai let none þat lefes þerin.

Þus euer ilkon sal hald silence,


4 When þai sal pray in godes precens,

Noght with crying ne voce ful grete,

But with murnyng on brest to bete.


5 Who so wil not do os I tel,

In prayng þai sal not dwel,

Bot furth þai sal be had in hy,

[107r] Þat oþer be not harmyd þerby.



[Chapter 53]


De hospitibus suscipiendis.


3a A Priores aw to be prest

Forto resaue ilka gude gest


2 And at hir myght þam mere make

Soueraynly for godes sake,

Namely þam þat er pilgrams knawn,

And pouer þat hase not of þer awn.


1 For god vntil [vs] þus sal say

In dome, a-pon þe dredful day:

"Hospes eram et colligistis me-48

I wos a gest in my degre,

And in our hous e herberd me."


3b Þan aw vs gestes & gud pilgrims

For to releue in al þere lims

And for to refresch in al right,

Als it es det be day & nyght,


4 And oblis þam kissink of pese

Perfite luf forto encres.


6 And when þai cum, bi day or nyght,

And also when þai wend to flight,

Loute vnto þam aw grete & small

Or els vnto þer fete at fall,


7 Witand wele in þat sesoune

Þai honour crist in þer persoune.

For who so resaues þe pure man

[107v] In crist name, resaues crist þan.


8 A souerayn sal ger gestes kepe

With honour & with gret wirchepe


9 Or rede to þam, or ger be rede,

How hali men þer liues lede,

So þat he49 be to þam puplist,

How þai sal lif be þe law of crist.


10 A priores hir fast sal breke,

And silence, when scho suld not speke,

To myrth hir gestes in þat scho may,

Bot if it be dere fasting day

And ymbrin-days or els vigil,

Whilk ilka man os bun vntil.


11 Bot al if scho brek, be e bold,

Þe couent sal þeir right curs hald.


12 Scho sal gif water vnto þer hend

And wesch þeir fete, als crist hase kend.


14 When þai so do, þai sal reherce,

Word bi word, & say þis verce:

"Suscepimus, deus, misericordiam tuam in medio-

We haue resauyd, lord, þi mercy

In þe mydes of þe50 hows haly."


15 On þis maner crist wil vs ken

To resaue pilgrims & pouer men,

[108r] For when we þam resaue with wil,

Crist resaue we vs vntil.


16 Þe gestes kechin salbe set

Allone, þat it no noþer let,

So þat þai be seruyd at ese,

And ilkman redy þam to plese.


21-22 And luk þer bedes ordand bene

With litter larch & clothes clene,


17-18 And swilk seruandes assigned þam til

Þat wil þam serue with gude wil.


23 None aw þam do forto greue,

Ne speke with þam with-outyn leue,

Bot loutand hals þam wher þai go


24 And with blissing pase furth þam fro.


Notes to Chapter 53

48. 53:1. This line is written in the margin

49. 53:9. he: apparently inserted by mistake

50: 53:14. þe: originally written as þi.



[Chapter 54]


Vt nichil accipiant sine lisencia.


1 If litters or bils be sent to rede,

Or oþer giftes of greter mede

Be send fro frendes in feld or toun

Til women of religioun,

Scho sal resaue non hir vntil,

Bot scho first wit hir souerayn wil.


2 And if hir frendes fer or nere

Send hir gudes or giftes sere,

Or scho þam tak for ony nede,

[108v] To þe priores scho sal þam bede.


3 And if þe priores at hir wil

Gif þo giftes a-noder vntil,


4 Scho vnto wham þe giftes whor sent,

Sal not be greuyd in hir entent,

If hir presand be so puruayd,

Bot in hert sal scho hold hir payde.

a For what þer souerayn dose ilk dele

Aw þam to think worthi & wele.



[Chapter 55]


De indumentis51


1 Thay sal be clede ful wele, we wate,

Efter þer place es cald or hate.


2 For in cald stedes who so er sted,

Þam nedes forto be better cled;

In who er in hate cuntre,

Sich clething to þam may be.


3 And al it sal be puruayd playne

At þe ordinance of þeir souerayne.


4 In comun places for alkins note

Sufficis a kirtil & a cote;

And mantels sal þai haue certayne,


5 In winter dubil, in somer playne;


10 And changing kirtils sal þai haue

In nyghtes þer oþer forto saue.


6 Schos þai sall haue, whor þai dwel,

[109r] Swilk os þai may find for to sel.


7 Of þe farest þai sal not by,

Bot þe vilist ful bowsumly.


8 And þeir souerayn aw forto se

Þat þair gere euynly o[r]dand be,

Mete for þam þat sal it fang,

And noþer to schort ne to lang.


9 When þai tak new, þe old sal þen


12 Be partid til pouer women.


13 And when þai sal went to cuntre,

Þair clething sal mor honest be;

And home a-gayn when þai cum eft,

Þen sal þai were slik os þai left.


15 Vntil þeir beddyng sal þai haue

At suffise þam fro cauld to saue.


16 And ofsithes sall þer bed be sene,

Þat no tresure be þam be-twene,

Ne no gude þat to þam may gayne;


17 Who so it hase, sall soffer payne.


18 For whi þer souerayn sal þam bede

All who þam þat es nede.


20 Bot when scho gifes, scho sal be-hald

To þis þat holi writ hase tald

And set to se for certayne

[109v] In þe dedes of þe appostil[s] playne;

"Diuidebatur singulis, prout cuique opus erat."

He tels how crist depairtid hase

Intil ilkon, os myster was.


21 So suld a souerayn in hir daile

Tak reward to seke & haile,

To ing or old, wheder þai be,

And serue ilkon in þeir degre.


Note to Chapter 55

51. 55:Title. Title written in the margin at the end of the preceding line.



Continue with Chapter 56
Table of Contents
Feminist Benedictine Rules


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


Rev. 010103 / www.osb.org/aba/rb/feminine/normetric/normet01.html