Abbot Simon, from 'Acts of the Abbots', in a Miscellany From St Albans
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
This manuscript contains a collection of writings and documents that relate to St Alban's monastery. It begins with a series of histories, including one about its late 8th-century founder, Offa, king of Mercia, and includes accounts of the life and miracles of St Alban, the first Christian martyr of Britain in 304. Mostly made up of documents and administrative material, it would have combined monastic reference-book with promotion of its role in Britain's Christianity. After the history and sections on St Alban's martyrdom and miracles, the 'Acts of the Abbots of the Monastery of St Albans' tells of each abbot, from the first, Willegodo, to Thomas de la Mare. The monastery's 13th-century house author and foremost medieval English Chronicler, Matthew Paris, wrote the earlier part and Thomas of Walsingham--precentor and head of St Alban's scriptorium--compiled the rest.
The 12th-century abbot Simon is unflatteringly depicted here as an administrator. Portrayal of his face, half-hidden behind his upturned black coat collar, may indicate his notoriety due to the debts he left the monastery and his accounting practices which directed funds to his relatives. He appears to wear gloves patterned with red embroidery.