Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chronicle Of The Abbey Of Bury St. Edmunds - Jocelin of Brakelond

Chronicle Of The Abbey Of Bury St. Edmunds
Jocelin Of Brakelond
Trans. Diana Greenway & Jane Sayers
Oxford University Press
Copyright: 1989

The product description:
This narrative of events between the years 1173 and 1202--as recorded by Jocelin of Brakelond, a monk who lived in the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, in the region of West Suffolk--affords many unique insights into the life of a medieval religious community. It depicts the daily worship in the abbey church and the beliefs and values shared by the monks, as well as the whispered conversations, rumors, and disagreements within the cloister--and the bustling life of the market-town of Bury, just outside the abbey walls. This edition offers the first modern translation from the Latin to appear since 1949.
 The Chronicle of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds is not a long document, coming in at a hundred and fifty-two pages including the endnotes, but it makes for interesting reading. The book covers daily life in the abbey - gossip, political maneuvering, discipline, dispute and more between the years of 1173 and 1202. There are minor disasters described: Fires and debt are recurring problems - debt especially, and also triumphs.

I'd never thought that religious life could be that politicized, nor really realized just how much secular power the abbeys held in that period: More a feudal lord than anything. Knights, taxes, courts, the abbey at Bury St. Edmunds held all of these, and the Abbot held direct converse with the King more than once.

This translation reads quite easily, being rather relaxed and informal in the language. I quite liked it. Not boring in the least.

I read the Chronicle of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds for my own interest, but also for the Pre-Printing Press Challenge and the Tournament of Reading.

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