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Regularis Concordia

Regularis Concordia

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1055

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Tiberius A III

Item number: f.3r

Length: 28.5

Width: 22

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

This manuscript is known for its copy of the 'Monastic Agreement of the Monks and Nuns of the English Nation' ('Regularis Concordia') and a copy of the Rule of St Benedict. The 'Regularis Concordia', probably written by St Aethelwold (Bishop of Winchester, 963-984) , was part of the 10th-century reform of monasteries which took place under the guidance of Aethelwold, St Dunstan (archbishop of Canterbury, 959-988) and St Oswald (Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York, died 992). Based on the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia (6th century), which set out the goals and daily activities for monasteries, the 'Monastic Agreement' was issued at a meeting of England's monastic leaders called in 970 by King Edgar. It confirms that the king was the protector of monks and the queen of nuns, linking monasteries to the crown. This manuscript, a later, illustrated copy which belonged to Christ Church, Canterbury, also includes prayers, homilies and material on the dramatic rituals of late Anglo-Saxon church services on major feast days.

The 'Regularis Concordia' begins with praise of Edgar and continues with a discussion of its purposes. Between the lines of the latin text, a word-by-word Old English translation or gloss has been written to aid the understanding of monks and nuns who were not fluently literate in Latin. The Anglo-Saxons had already been translating parts of the Bible since at least the 8th century and the practice strengthens in the 10th and 11th centuries, with Old English translations of a variety of types of book sometimes appearing without the original Latin. This, too, was part of the drive to improve learning and literacy in late Anglo-Saxon England.

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