Aldhelm on Virginity


This manuscript contains the prose version of Anglo-Saxon author Aldhelm’s De uirginitate (‘In Praise of Virginity’). It was written for Abbess Hildelith of Barking and other women (Justina, Cuthburh, Osburh, Aldgethe, Scholastica, Eadburh, Byrngithe, Eulalia and Thecla).

The manuscript also contains a copy of a letter from Aldhelm to his former student Heahfrith, criticising him for heading to Ireland instead of Canterbury for his education.

Aldhelm (died 709) was one of the most learned and influential Anglo-Saxon authors. He was born into the West Saxon royal family, and became abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne. His education took place first at Malmesbury under the influence of Irish teachers, and then at the extraordinary school at Canterbury established by Archbishop Theodore, the newly-appointed Greek-speaking Archbishop (died 690), and Abbot Hadrian (died 709). 

The manuscript was used for many centuries after it was first made. A poem on the death of Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester (died 1171), was added in the 12th century on a blank page. The endleaves are taken from a 13th-century manuscript of theological commentaries and treatises.

Full title:
Commentaries on the Song of Salomon and a theological treatise; Aldhelm’s letter to Heahfrid, Epistola ad Heahfridum with glosses; Aldhem, De laudibus Virginitatis with glosses
4th quarter 10th century–1st half of 11th century
Latin / Old English
Aldhelm of Sherborne
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Royal MS 6 A VI

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