Miscellany on the life of St. Edmund

Collection in Focus: St. Edmund

Take a closer look at this 900 year old English manuscript with Dei Jackson, Assistant Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts as she tells the story of St. Edmund.

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Accession number: 
MS M.736
Miscellany on the life of St. Edmund
Bury St. Edmunds, England, ca. 1130.
19th-century olive-brown morocco, gold-tooled to a Renaissance design and lettered on upper cover: Vita Martyrium et Miracula Sancti Eadmundi Regis Angliae Codex M.S. Saec. XII.
Purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867-1943) in 1927.
Curatorial Comments: 

One of the earliest illustrated biographies of an English saint, this lavish volume was a testimonial to patron saint and abbey alike. Most miniatures are based on the passion text of Abbo of Fleury (945-1004); the posthumous miracles depend on Osbert of Clare's text, composed for Anselm shortly before this manuscript was made. In this image, eight thieves are miraculously paralyzed when they attempt to break into Edmund's burial place. The miniatures are attributed to the Alexis Master, founder of the St. Albans school. Named after his St. Alexis cycle in the St. Albans Psalter, he skillfully combined Anglo-Saxon, Ottonian, and Byzantine influences to create England's earliest Romanesque style.

100 leaves (1 column, 32 lines), bound : vellum, ill. ; 274 x 187 mm
Probably made at the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds; George Roche (16th century signature on fol. 2); W. Stonehouse (17th century signature on fol. 1 and 5); John Towneley (his sale, London, R.H. Evans, June 8, 1814, lot 904) to Booth; Payne & Foss; sold to R.S. Holford (catalogue 1841, lot 1); Sir George Holford; purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867-1943) for the Pierpont Morgan Library from the Holford Estate in 1927.

Ms. miscellany on the life of St. Edmund; written and illuminated in the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, ca. 1130
Texts: Henry I, King of England, letter to Anselm, abbot of Bury St. Edmunds, forbidding him from going on a journey (fol. 2); Talebot, prior of Bury St. Edmunds, letter to Anselm, abbot of Bury St. Edmunds begging him to return from Normandy (fol. 2-3); records of pittances given to the monks by Anselm, abbot of Bury St. Edmunds (fol. 3-4); offices of the Catholic Church for St. Edmund (fol. 5-6); Miracula Sancti Edmuni regis et martiris (fol. 23-76); Passio Sancti Edmundi (fol. 77-86); offices of the Catholic Church for St. Edmund (fol. 87-100).
The Miracula Sancti edmundi regis et martiris has been attributed to Osbert of Clare, but it is based on an earlier compilation by Herman the Archdeacon--Cf. PML files.
Musical notation: the offices of St. Edmund contain 3-line staves in red ink with neumes.
Artist: the Alexis Master and his workshop.

Variant Title: 

Vita martyrium et miracula Sancti Eadmundi regis Angliae