Printer Friendly

William Taylor's 1406 sermon: a postscript.

William Thorpe in 1407 asserted that the notorious sermon that his co-religionist William Taylor had preached at St Paul's Cross in London on 21 November 1406 was 'writun bothe in Latyn and in Engelisch, and many men haue it and thei setten greet priys therbi'.(1) Despite Thorpe's claim to its wide dissemination, Taylor's sermon has hitherto been known only from a single English copy, now Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 53, fols [1.sup.r] - [30.sup.r]; it was from that copy that I produced the first edition of it in 1993. A few months after publication I found a second copy, this time in Latin, in Prague, National (formerly State and University) Library, MS III.G. 11, fols [99.sup.v] - [109.sup.v]. My previous oversight of this copy is particularly reprehensible in that I had earlier used the manuscript for its copies of some of Wyclif's works, including a handful of his sermons, and for the text of Richard Wyche's letter, which survives there but nowhere else. The only partial mitigation is that the manuscript is a collection of short texts, not always clearly divided from each other, and that Taylor's sermon is not attributed to him anywhere in the volume.(2) The addition of the Latin version makes Taylor's sermon an even closer parallel to Thorpe's Testimony, with which I printed it, since both now exist in two linguistic forms, and both are now known to have travelled from their original home in England to Bohemia.

The Prague MS is a collection of material, all of Hussite interest, and mostly composed either by Wyclif or by Hus himself. It falls into three sections, though all share the same concerns;(3) the material is paper (as usual in Hussite books), and the number of hands is not entirely clear since slight differences could be attributable to writing over a period of time rather than by different scribes.(4) A medieval scribe has provided a list of contents on a parchment flyleaf at the start, and a modern list which is less accurate appears on a folded piece of paper now pasted to the front cover. The medieval list includes Taylor's sermon as 'Item Pulcrum quid et incipit: Unde ememus panes ut manducent hij', but the compiler of the modern list evidently missed the item entirely, since he proceeds straight from the preceding to the following texts.(5) In the manuscript the preceding item is headed 'Gesta cum Richardo wycz presbitero in Anglia'; this has no final colophon, and Taylor's sermon begins without any heading after a gap of only the second half of the preceding line and ends without colophon on the last line of fol. [109.sup.v]. The only indication of a new item is a marginal modern pencil cross against the start. The absence of Taylor's name is not remarkable: nearly three dozen items by Wyclif appear, almost all of them anonymously, though Wyclif is overtly mentioned in some of the Hus texts included.(6)

The Latin text completely replicates the material found in the English, with no changes to the dating given by lines 719-21, and no modifications to bring the thought closer into line with Hussite interests. The question immediately arises of whether this is the version mentioned by Thorpe, certainly originating in England and probably produced by Taylor himself, or whether it is a later translation of the English sermon for a foreign, specifically Czech Hussite audience. In the case of the two versions of Thorpe's Testimony the decision between them concerning originality and translation was a difficult one to make: as I argued in my edition (pp. xli-xlv), external probability in this particular case of a Lollard text was in favour of English as the original language, though formal proof from within the texts was not available. One of the difficulties in analysing Thorpe's language was that his patristic citations, as opposed to his biblical quotations, are not of sufficient proximity to their source to be useful as checks (understandably, given the circumstances of the conversation with Arundel). That problem does not arise with Taylor's sermon: there are a number of extensive patristic quotations, some of which are of high accuracy. In the newly discovered Latin version those quotations appear almost verbatim as their originals, without the verbal reordering that would be expected if the Latin were a retranslation of an English rendering. Even if an erudite later translator of the English text might have gone back to his Vulgate, or even to his Augustine or pseudo-Chrysostom, it seems improbable that he would have checked back to Grosseteste or to AElred. To give a single example:

Lyncolne in the nyntenethe dicte puttith this caas, that if a nedy man that vnnethe hath plente of oo loof bynde streitly himsilf to feede plenteuously and gloriously a ful greet puple perisshinge for hungre, and he puttith herto also that he thus boundun be necgligent to seke mete notwithstondinge that he hath but ful litil, and it be litil what he haue ghit he castith it awey folily, is not sich oon gilty of the deeth of hem that perisshen for hungir, whom bi his boond he is hooldun to feede?(38-45)

ponit Linconiensis dicto 90 talem casum Quod si sit alius inops qui nec forte vnus panis habet copiam obliget se discrete ad pascendum copiose et splendide turmam [sic] plurimam fame periclitantem adito eciam quod sic obligatus negligens sit ad querendum cibum cum tamen nil aut paruissimum habeatis et si forte quid paruum cibi habeat stulte abicit, nonne hic talis reus est mortis fame parencium quos ex obligacione sua pascere tenetur?

(Prague MS III.G.11, fol. [100.sup.r])

pone aliquem cibi inopem, qui nec etiam forte unius panis habet copiam, qui se obliget districte ad pascendum copiose et splendide turbam plurimam fame periclitantem: adjice et quod sic obligatus negligens sit ad querendum cibum, cum autem nil aut parvissimum habeat, et si forte qui parvum cibi habet, illud stulte abjicit, nonne hic talis reus est mortis fame pereuntium, quos ex obligatione sua pascere tenetur?(7)

In view of this and similar cases, it would seem reasonable to think that the Prague copy is not a later derivative, but is a copy of the Latin text that Thorpe avers was available within a year of the sermon's preaching. The closeness also suggests that that Latin version was indeed made by Taylor - the argument that a later translator would hardly resort to Grosseteste's text is valid for a contemporary translator as well.

Did Taylor, then, write his sermon first in Latin, and only subsequently translate it into English? Whatever the precise chronology, it seems clear that the sermon at St Paul's Cross was preached in English - only on that assumption can the resulting public scandal be understood, even though Walsingham in his account does not mention language. The insult offered to Richard Alkerton, who answered Taylor's sermon the day after its delivery, by Robert Waterton's sending of his servant to the preacher with a curry-comb as a flatterer of prelates is only comprehensible on the assumption of an immediate public response to the two sermons.(8) The preparation of two versions of the sermon for written dissemination in two languages is evidently part of Taylor's attempt to maintain the public profile of the argument. Whether Taylor first wrote in English or in Latin is irrecoverable; he preached in English, and circulated the text in both languages immediately.

If this is right, then the two texts have equal validity: both are authorial in origin, though both the Douce copy of the English and the Prague copy of the Latin have scribal errors. The places where the Prague copy can be shown to be in error are relatively small in number: at 420 the misnaming of veniaunce as manhood in the English is preferable to the Latin humilitatem; at 451 the Luke chapter number is given as 9, in place of 14, which the English correctly has; at 522 the necessary number for Paul's epistle to Timothy is wrongly omitted; at 548 the place-name Eboracencem has been muddled to Elorum; at 573 the whole line is omitted; the reference to Augustine in 715 gives the reference Johannis 6 in place of the question number.(9) The scribal errors that could be discerned from the English version alone are few, and can be observed from the places where I emended the text. Through comparison with the Latin version a few more may be recognized: thus a line has probably dropped out of the English version after farisees 587, equivalent to 'cum ceteris qui occupauerunt domos viduarum longa oracione'; the slightly elliptical, if possible, English at 687-8, 'And as to Bernard or Alrede his clerk answerith Ardmakan and seith that it is seid bi maner of meuyng and not bi maner of affermyng', is elucidated by the fuller Latin in the first part: 'et quantum ad dictum Bernhardi et Alredi clerici sui ubi videtur Christum innuere per hoc tempus mendicasse, dicit sanctus Armacanus quod hoc dixit excitatiue et non assertiue' - and the sanctus before FitzRalph's name is likely to be correct.(10) The Latin clarifies the syntax of 75-83, which I attempted misguidedly to emend in the English: 'the noumbre of hem that shulden be saued fulfillid, the day of doom shulde anoon be present' is shown to be correct by Prague 'impleto numero saluandorum instaret dies' (fol. [100.sup.v]).(11) In a few cases the English seems to have double renderings of a single Latin term: 130 occasioun or ensaumple (occasionera), 170 confluct or striif (fluctu); 173 wounde or the myscheef (plaga); 284 discrasyng and siknesse (discrasiam); 494 heepynge and encreecynge (accumulantes); 543 grucching and rumour (murmur); 617 dede or effect (effectu); 704 preest and bisshop (episcopus); 727 fadris and eldris (parentum). On the other hand at 105 worldly lordship is matched by seculare vel ciuile dominium; 214 myscheef by excessu et defectu; 317 obedient by humiles et obedientes; 508 the werkman by mercenarius vel operarius. There are also a few places where the English and Latin may never have completely matched each other: 640-6 makes good sense as it stands in the English, but the Latin reorders the sentence:

et providencia Spiritus Sancti hoc actum est ut ypocrite volentes mentiri de Christo imponendo sibi mendicitatem ex hoc quod dixit 'Mulier da mihi bibere' ex clausula inmediate sequenti illa. Sed discipuli eius abierunt in ciuitatem ut cibos emerent perciperent non tunc ipsum opportere mendicare.(12)

Of further interest is the vocabulary of each version. Both have typical Lollard words, but not always at the same places: 5 breed of Cristis body, the Lollard formulation, in the Latin is panis eucaristie; 74 the chirche of hem that shulen be saued is more neatly ecclesiam saluandorum; 647 the relatively colourless these enemyes is the more characteristic isti pseudo in the Latin, but at 708 both languages use sect words vngroundly and infundabiliter. The Latin term for the newe deuelrie amongst merchants, castigated in 416-23, is noua prouidencia, against which the English newe cheuyshaunce is more colourful.

Thus the number of Wycliffite texts of English origin that appear in Hussite Bohemia is increasing: Wyche's letter, Taylor's sermon, Thorpe's Testimony, even though the second is presented anonymously, all derive from England in the first decade of the fifteenth century; another briefer fragment is the lament of pauperculi sacerdotes for the persecution of Archbishop Arundel.(13) They followed in the steps of the earlier Lollard compilation, the Floretum and its abbreviation the Rosarium, the long Apocalypse commentary Opus Arduum, and the briefer Sex rationes probandum quod ad regem secularem pertinet punire clericos scilicet mortaliter peccantes.(14) The poem Heu quanta desolacio Angliae praestatur, known in three continental copies of which two are certainly Hussite in origin, attests an interest in the early events in Oxford and London that culminated in the Blackfriars Council in 1382.(15) Whether the juxtaposition within the sole surviving copy of Wyche's letter and Taylor's sermon should be taken as evidence that the two travelled to Bohemia together seems uncertain. Tempting though this is as a hypothesis, it must be admitted that this Prague book is an eclectic compilation. The texts of Wyclif's works that it contains are in several cases eccentric and their order somewhat random: eight of the late Sermones viginti appear in the first part, another three disordered in the final part;(16) in part 2 the so-called De magisterio Christi is immediately followed by the complete Expositio Matthei cap. XXIII of which it is an extract;(17) brief notes and extracts of diverse origins appear throughout.(18) There seems to be no record of direct contact between Richard Wyche and William Taylor, but it would perhaps be remarkable if their paths had never crossed: both were long-standing and persistent Lollards, even if their texts in the present Prague MS date from early in their heretical careers.(19) Neither man, so far as is known, visited Bohemia to escape persecution. So, even if the juxtaposition of their texts is indicative of common transit from England, an intermediary carrier must be sought. Two possibilities are perhaps worth consideration. One is that the two Bohemians in Oxford in 1406-7, Nicholas Faulfis and Jiri Knehnic, might have taken these two short pieces back to Prague along with their other trophies - Taylor's sermon of November 1406, albeit delivered in London, evidently gained sufficient notoriety for its availability in Taylor's home in Oxford to be certain; Wyche's earlier letter likewise might have been supplied by that resourceful Lollard Peter Payne (who equally could have taken both with him when he fled to Bohemia c. 1414).(20) A different possibility involves William Thorpe, who seems to have known both Taylor and Wyche. Within his own Testimony, as has been mentioned, he refers to the scandal of Taylor's sermon.(21) But Wyche in his letter appears to mention Thorpe: the recipient is referred for help to one Henricus de Topcliff, from whom assistance is apparently assured since his brother had married the sister domini Wilhelmi Corpp. As I have argued, Corpp is an easy mistake for Torpp, itself with a comprehensible simplification in Bohemian script for a peculiarly English consonant.(22) Thorpe could then have put the two texts together. Whether he or another, possibly Peter Payne, took the two to Bohemia remains, even with this new evidence, unfortunately enigmatic.(23)

ANNE HUDSON Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford


1 Two Wycliffite Texts, ed. A. Hudson, EETS, ES 301 (London, 1993): The Testimony of William Thorpe, lines 1983-5; for the circumstances of Taylor's sermon and of Thorpe's witness to it, see ibid., pp. xiii-xvii.

2 See the description in J. Truhlar, Catalogus codicum manu scriptorum latinorum qui in c.r. Bibliotheca Publica atque Universitatis Pragensis asservantur, 2 vols (Prague, 1905-6), 1 536-8; the Wyclif texts are listed in W. R. Thomson, The Latin Writings of John Wyclyf (Toronto, 1983), p. 314; Wyche's letter is fols [89.sup.v]-[99.sup.v], whence it was printed in F. D. Matthew, 'The trial of Richard Wyche', EHR, 5 (1890), 530-44.

3 The contents are listed by Truhlar, though he did not identify the Taylor sermon. On the cover appears the medieval pressmark 'A.2', but the library concerned is not clear; the contents do not agree with the volume of that pressmark in any of the Prague catalogues reproduced in J. Becka and J. Benda, Katalogy knihoven koleji Karlovy university (Prague, 1948).

4 The makeup is 1-[24.sup.12], [25.sup.10] (in the third quire folio 27 is mistakenly used twice); part I covers quires 1-13 (fols 1-153), part II quires 14-20 (fols 154-233), part III quires 21-5 (fols 234-6), with each part ending with blank unnumbered leaves; at first glance it appears that each section is in a different hand.

5 A transcript of the medieval list (correct apart from one or two insignificant modernizations) was made by J. Loserth, and is printed in his edition of Iohannis Wyclif Sermones, IV (London, 1890), pp. ix-xi.

6 Thomson, Latin Writings, no. 53 was first attributed by the colophon to Linconiensis, that is Grosseteste, but was corrected by another medieval hand to Ewangelici doctoris Wikleff; no. 44 ends on fol. [238.sup.r] with the colophon 'Explicit tractatus de confessionibus editus a magistro Johanne Anglico'.

7 Grosseteste's Dict 90, quoted from E. Brown, Fasciculus rerum expetendarum, II (London, 1690), p. 265.

8 For this, see Two Wycliffite Texts, ed. Hudson, pp. xiii-xiv.

9 Further fairly certain instances are 233, where Prague MS III.G. 11 gives the chapter number as septimo, the English as lxxix, but where the modern edition has '75'; the omission in the Prague MS of as seint Poul ... Cristis lawe (256-7), of the reference to Parisiense ... book of Vicis (333-4) and of Go and calle ... seide (631-2).

10 See K. Walsh, A Fourteenth-Century Scholar and Primate: Richard FitzRalph in Oxford, Avignon and Armagh (Oxford, 1981), pp. 452-68. Prague's fuller biblical quotation at 362 may be right, though at 430 the Latin manuscript curtails another in comparison with the English.

11 Emended in the printed text to 'the noumbre of hem that shulden be saued [shulde be] fulfillid [and] the day of doom shulde anoon be present' - the absolute construction is more idiomatic in Latin but possible in English.

12 Similarly at 690 the reference to the Rule and Testament is postponed from the beginning to 695. At 308 the Latin emphasizes the warning with its reading 'isto modo stabit aut continue peiorari et peiorari quousque fiat contraria transmutata'. At 354 the Latin is more explicit: 'de propriis quod non est malum si bene expendat etc.'; for 533-4 the Latin substitutes 'ordinauit ut tota sua ecclesia foret sufficiens'.

13 Found in Vienna, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 3932, fols [89.sup.vh]-[90.sup.rb], and printed from London, British Library, MS Cotton Faustina C.vii, fol. [133.sup.r] in Snappe's Formulary and Other Records, ed. H. E. Salter, Oxford Historical Society (Oxford, 1924), pp. 130-2.

14 For the first two, see my paper reprinted in Lollards and their Books (London, 1985), pp. 31-42; for the third, see A. Hudson, 'The king and erring clergy: a Wycliffite contribution', Studies in Church History, Subsidia 9 (1991), 269-78.

15 Vienna, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 3929, fols [223.sup.v]-[225.sup.r], and Prague, Metropolitan Chapter Library, MS D.12, fols [217.sup.r]-[22.sup.r] are certainly Hussite; Rome, Vatican Library, MS Pal. lat. 994, fols [159.sup.v]-[160.sup.r]. The poem is also found in London, British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra B.ii, fols [60.sup.r]-[63.sup.r] (from which it was printed in T. Wright, Political Poems and Songs, 2 vols, Rolls Series (London, 1859-61), I, 253-63) and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 98, fol. [195.sup.r-v].

16 Thomson, Latin Writings, nos 237-9, 241-4 and 247 (between fols 112 and 141), nos 255-6 and 246 in that order (fols [260.sup.v]-[271.sup.v]); for the identity of the Sermones viginti, see my paper 'Aspects of the "publication" of Wyclif's Latin sermons', in Late-Medieval Religious Texts and their Transmission: Essays in Honour of A. I. Doyle, ed. A. J. Minnis (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 126-9.

17 See Thomson, Latin Writings, no. 372, texts in Opera minora respectively pp. 439-49 and 313-53; three other manuscripts preserve the extract alone, and a fourth, Vienna, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 4527, contains both versions but separated (the complete text fols [85.sup.r]-[98.sup.v], and the extract fols [191.sup.r]-[4.sup.v]).

18 Fols [50.sup.v]-[51.sup.v], [110.sup.r]-[112.sup.r], [142.sup.r]-[148.sup.v] in part 1; fol. [160.sup.r-v] in part 2; fols [285.sup.r]-[286.sup.r] in part 3. Truhlar's description wrongly divides fols [263.sup.r]-[264.sup.v] from the preceding sermon (Thomson, Latin Writings, no. 255), of which it is the conclusion.

19 Taylor was eventually burned in 1423 by Archbishop Chichele, following a long sequence of investigations by Bishop Morgan in the Worcester diocese and by the archbishop himself (see the full account in Two Wycliffite Texts, ed. Hudson, pp. xvii-xxv). Wyche escaped with his life after scrutiny by Chichele in 1419, but was burned in 1440 after investigation by Robert Gilbert, bishop of London (see the summary in J. A. F. Thomson, The Later Lollards 1414-1520 (Oxford, 1965), pp. 148-50).

20 For the story of these two, see the entries in A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford, 1957-9), pp. 670-1 and 1059; Payne's history is there briefly reviewed (pp. 1441-3).

21 See lines 1961-93.

22 See Two Wycliffite Texts, ed. Hudson, pp. liii and lviii.

23 See my suggestion (ibid., p. liii) that the absence of Thorpe from English records after 1407 may be explicable by his own flight to Bohemia.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Hudson, Anne
Publication:Medium Aevum
Date:Mar 22, 1995
Previous Article:Gradissa: a fictional female reader in/of a male author's text.
Next Article:The Bible in the Latin West.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters