Texts for Studying Old English and Anglo-Saxon Monasticism

As part of my continued efforts to make available more obscure resources for understanding the cultural, intellectual, and religious context of the culture in which Old English poetry was copied down, this page will feature translations of texts that do just this and are difficult to find.

The two installments below (no more are planned right now, but if folks find them helpful for themselves or students and let me know, I’d be happy to do more) are both documents providing some background to the early moves of the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Reform, both of which I had heard referenced in classes once or twice throughout my studies, but never actually read. I found out recently that at least part of why I never read them is that there aren’t readily available Present Day English translations.

These pieces can help interested readers and students of western monasticism and Old English literature understand a bit more of the institutional conduits through which the majority of Old English, and lots of Anglo-Latin, was copied, preserved, and passed down the centuries. For more texts like this and more substantial commentary, see my book The Old English Rule of St. Benedict.

***

Refoundation Charter of the New Minster, Winchester (Manuscript: British Library, Cotton MS. Vespasian A viii)

After St. Æthelwold (904/9-984), with the blessing of King Edgar (943/4-975), ejected the canons (priests who live in community) from the Old Minster in Winchester on February 20, 964, we find out from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that he did the same at Winchester’s New Minster later in 964. This refoundation of the New Minster is commemorated in a strikingly extravagant charter. Its singularity comes from its being a small book (rather than a single leaf as most charters were), its being written in gold, its impressive illustration of King Edgar (situating royal power as central and ordered under God), and its length.

In the charter, the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Reform is set within the context of salvation history, King Edgar explains his project of reform as one of piety and proper ordering of his kingdom, the monastic life (in the persons of the newly installed monks) is exalted over the depravity of the secular clergy that had fallen from its calling (in the persons of the secular canons of the New Minster), and those who would alienate property from the monasteries are cursed. These are all elements very close to or identical with features of “King Edgar’s Establishment of Monasteries,” another text almost certainly written by Æthelwold and translated in my book The Old English Rule of St. Benedict. It is my hope that this charter can in some small way provide a valuable perspective for and enrich the background knowledge of readers, teachers, and students of Old English literature.

The text is edited and translated in Property and Piety in Early Medieval Winchester: Documents Relating to the Topography of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman City and its Minsters, edited by Alexander R. Rumble (Clarendon Press, 2002). I have checked my own translation against Rumble’s, for which I am grateful.

+ King Edgar promulgated this privilege for the New Minster and granted the same to the all-powerful Lord and his mother Mary, praising his mighty deeds.

☧ The all-powerful Creator of the whole scheme of things marvelously guides with unspeakable holiness all that he has created.

He, through the coeternal Word, clearly, brought forth certain things from nothing and made other things from unformed matter like a fine craftsman.

Then, an angelic creation was formed by divine influence from unformed matter while no other creatures existed; it shone brightly with a brilliant countenance.

Sadly, using its free will for sorrow, making undue claim in haughty arrogance, not deigning to serve the Creator of the universe, making himself equal to his Creator, he plunged into the eternal fires of the infernal regions with those others who were complicit. There they are tormented with continual and merited misery.

And so the sin of every evil finds its origin in this theme.

I. Why He Created Humanity and What He Committed to Them

When the abode of the skies had been emptied and the filth of swollen arrogance had been put out of doors, the supreme Judge of all goodness did not permit the bright abode of the heavens to remain still without an inhabitant, but, after forming diverse species of creatures from unformed matter, he at last created humanity from the clay, formed with the breath of life in his own likeness.

Then he subjected all that he had created across the surface of the entire universe to him, and subjected the first man and all his descendants to himself, so that his subsequent progeny might replace the number of the angels, swollen in their pride, expelled from the abode of the heavens.

II. How We Should Have Dwelt in Paradise without Sin

When he was placed in the delight of the paradisiac pleasure, the first man suffered the lack of nothing, but the ability of the whole world supplied for his needs.

And while he enjoyed the abundance of all goodness, no hostile thing opposed him.

Indeed, while he yielded to the One enthroned on high, all creatures were his servants.

Greatly rejoicing, he enjoyed the Creator’s festivity, and eagerly enjoyed the company of the angels.

Bodily weakness did not did not weaken him, nor did anxiety of soul afflict him.

He was not ravaged by the emptiness of fickle pride, but, united to his Maker, he stood strong marvelously in humility.

Vainglory did not trouble him or puff him up, but memory of the Creator made him more devoted.

Envy did not torment him in others’ success, but he was gladdened continually by the stillness of charity in being long-suffering.

Anger did not torture him, he wasn’t disturbed, but he flourished in the potent hope of spiritual joy.

He was not incited by avarice to be greedy, but, being most lavish, he was driven on by zeal for generosity.

The man-like creature was not enticed by illicit food, but, content with frugality, he enjoyed what was allowed to him.

Abominable extravagance did not rouse him, but proper continence constrained him for her own gifts.

Exceedingly powerful in every virtue, lacking every vice, flourishing in all prosperity, he was rightly able to be noble.

III. How He Trusted that He Would Climb to Heaven without Death and the Envious Devil Prevented Him so He Could not Ascend

He, the long-living, trusted that when his progeny made up the number of the prideful angels and his whole family accompanied him without death, he would be able to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree and he would be raised up to the ethereal realms of eternal bliss, ruling the three realms with the Lord.

The envious devil therefore, understanding all this, overpowered by excessive envy and cleverly cunning, began to study by what insidious means he might deceive him so that he, being pure, might not climb to such great glory.

Considering all these gifts as nothing, praising illicit goals with too much pleasure, he seduced a very weak woman.

She, however, not content with her own destruction, defeated the man in her womanly ways and enticed him flatteringly with persuasion, making him like herself when the small apple was tasted.

IV. How They Are Cast Down in This Misery, Deprived of Every Virtue, and Then Taken away by the Flood

Then both, deprived of the aforesaid gifts, are discharged from the limits of paradise and cast down into the affliction of this present life most wretchedly.

Scorning their Creator, they are followed by the rest of creation.

Life ceased; death grew.

The troop of virtues receding, a pile of vices arrived.

When a family of descendants succeeded them, it did so with a larger company of sins. All except eight from both sexes were carried off with their sins by the Flood. They grew weak as they wasted away.

Vices arose in abundance and the Creator grieved that he had made humanity.

Merciful at the last, he came to the aid of mortals as he had promised.

V. How Christ Was Born, Redeemed Us through His Passion and Climbed up to the Heavens

The Morning Star, which would make the shadows of the world flee with its ray, appeared.

Blessed Mary shone forth, from whose virginal womb Christ was ineffably conceived. A most merciful Mediator, he removed the shadows of our sins.

Filled with the virtues, Christ gained strength. Judea blazed forth, filled with immoderate hatred.

Taking on flesh, he desired to suffer for us.

This wish unhappy Judea boldly fulfilled with his permission.

Indeed, he redeemed humanity, who had been destroyed by a tree, by ascending a gallows made of a tree.

For the demon, abusing all the nations of humanity for his sport, possessing them by right as one might possess the transgressor of a command, was punishing them with eternal death.

But, rising up from the dead he crushed the avenger by the victory of the cross, He took the spoils from the mouth of the deceitful lion, and, bearing it with him into the ethereal realms, he shared it with a supernal company of angels so that they might reign with him without end after the Day of Judgment exulting in restored bodies, enjoying a common habitation, evident in goodness, filled with the abundance of every virtue, free from sin, deprived of every contamination.

Without doubt, he promised this particular glory to all those believers who pursue the faith of the Trinity and true Unity, sweating over their good works. He threatened those who do not believe with eternal punishment, promising to them most justly perpetual fires in the infernal regions.

VI. On the King’s Benevolent Project

And so, I, Edgar, king of all Albion [England] while divine grace favors me, had begun zealously to investigate what work I might cultivate with zeal, that, reaching such great glory, established in the heaven of Christ and the saints, crowned, I might enjoy the common dwelling and avoid the terrible misery of hell.

And so it occurs to me at the inspiration of our kind Lord that I should withdraw from all sins and, pursuing good works and having been made a model for the flock, I should gain [for that flock] all those living in the governance of our kingdom,

enticing some to gifts then with exhortations, compelling others to glory through terrible threats, building up good things and destroying the bad, as I have been able according to the Lord’s doing.

Indeed, I recall what was written by the prophet Jeremiah:

“Behold, I have set you to reign over nations and over kingdoms this day, that you might root out and destroy and ruin and scatter and build and plant.”

Exhorted by such teachings, therefore, by which the Lord has admonished us mercifully through the prophet, and doing on earth according to Christ’s doing what he himself has justly done in heaven, namely, extracting from the fields of the Lord the filth of sins, an attentive farmer I have planted the seeds of the virtues.

VII. By What Reasoning He Installed the Monks after Expelling the Clerks

Fearful lest I might incur eternal misery if I do not do, after assuming power, what he wishes who himself performs all things in heaven and has become known on earth as a just Judge by his warnings, I, the vicar of Christ, have expelled the crowds of sinful canons from the different monasteries of our kingdom.

Because they have been of no profit to me in their intercessory prayers, but, rather, as blessed Gregory has said, they had “provoked the vengeance of the just Judge,” they who were contaminated with different blemishes of vices were not doing what God desired in his commands and rebelliously doing all those things that God did not, I, being an insightful investigator and turning my attention to these matters, as a faithful servant have installed in the monasteries in our jurisdiction crowds of monks pleasing to the Lord, monks who will intercede for us without hesitation.

VIII. Why He, Goaded on by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, Installed an Abbot and Monks in the New Minster

And so, for this reason, when I was touched by the breeze of the Holy Spirit and cleansing the Lord’s place, I refounded the monastery of the New Minster of the church of Winchester, dedicated to our Savior and his ever-virgin mother Mary and all the apostles, with other saints.

Having knowledge of what is written–“those who consent to things and those who do them are equally constricted in punishment”–and not supporting those who rebel against the will of the all-powerful in usurping the Lord’s property, I have driven away those indecent clerks. And I, subject to the One enthroned on high, have chosen an abbot with Christ’s help and devotedly appointed there true worshippers of God, discharging their monastic life, who might intercede for us and for our people who lie there in death through their attentive service, so that, defended by their intercessions, our kingdom might flourish.

Depending on the eagerness of my request, I beseech that what I have done for his people, he will do for me and for those he has gathered together under me, namely, in ejecting our enemies, he will carry our friends on high, as I, suppressing the enemies of the holy Church of God, have blessedly vindicated his friends, namely, the monks.

IX. On the Excommunication of Those Who Conspire against the Monks

And if it should happen at any time, by the devil’s instigation, that, glorying in the haughtiness of arrogance, the ejected canons should desire to conspire to eject the flock of monks I have installed respectfully with their shepherd in God’s property, let it be done to them and all others who might offer them help, blinded by some form of bribe, as it was done to the proud angels and that first created man who was seduced by the devil’s trick, namely, that they be cast out from the boundaries of paradise and the sublime regions of the kingdom of the heavens and let them be thrust down into the fires of the infernal regions together with these others who spurn the Lord’s service, and let them be tormented in endless misery.

Nor should they be pulled out from there to glory in evading those torments, but with Judas the traitor of Christ and his comrades they shall be joined together in the Underworld, shrieking with cold, burning with boiling heat, deprived of joy, disturbed by lamentation, shackled in chains of fire, dismayed by fear of their attendants, bewildered by the memory of their sins, removed from the recollection of all goodness, grievous, they will be punished with eternal torments.

X. Also, On the Excommunication of Those Who Conspire

And let all be excommunicated who in their presumption desire to expel the aforesaid monks of the New Minster of the church at Westminster, or any of the same order living in our kingdom, from the monasteries I have acquired, purging the filth of vices through our Lord Jesus Christ, the devil being lain low. And let him be held guilty by that same curse by which Cain has been adjudged a parricide, he who was spiteful of his brother Abel due to the urgings of envy and killed him with a scourge. And, persisting in God’s continual persecution, let him obtain no honor of merit in this life, nor let him persist in the future without misery, but along with scurf of Ananias and Sapphira let the Styx embrace him, wailing.

XI. On the Blessing of those Who Honor the Monks

Whoever desires to enrich the aforesaid monks, making them wealthy with all good things, let the Creator who mercifully supports all things make them and their descendants wealthy, enriching them with abundance of prosperity here and in the future age.

May those who have honored his monks, whom he is master of and has gathered together in our times, whether in words or in deeds, with zeal in holiness, have a share with Christ in the dwellings of heaven, their names written in the Book of Life, as is fitting.

XII. What Sort of Monks Should Live in this Monastery and How

Therefore, let regular monks, not seculars, living in the aforesaid monastery with Christ as companion, obey the customs of the Rule.

Honoring this life, let the spiritual fathers imitate the examples of the holy fathers, doing nothing lest the common Rule of the monastery or the pattern of the elders recommended it.

Removed from worldly pomps, therefore, let them preserve purity with the full exertion of body and soul.

Exerting themselves in zeal for humility, strengthening the body with the vigor of frugality, let them be restrained by an eager mind.

Let them blush—by perpetual edict—at becoming table companions with those in the city [Winchester].

Let those charitable people living in the city make use of licit foods in the refectory, being in doubt about, like melancholy, the splendid and lascivious luxuries of the world.

And let them not eat outside of the refectory at all unless they are bedridden and sick in the infirmary. Let them eat only food that is permitted.

Let them invite with utmost caution any guests of a sacred or the highest rank, if reason requires it, and well-ordered pilgrims coming from far-off places to the abbot’s table in the refectory.

Let kindness be shown to the laity in the guesthouse.

And let none of the monks eat or drink with them, according to the decrees of the fathers.

And let the laity not be led into the refectory to eat or drink.

Let the poor be received as Christ, with great joy of heart.

XIII. On the Election of the Abbot

Most brilliantly learned in the study of the divine Scriptures, incessantly busy with the recitation of prayers, joyful in the embrace of charity, most willing in the exercise of faith, most sincere in the exalting hope, harmoniously fixed in peace, adorned with the flower of every virtue, enduring to the end from the beginning of such goodness begun with Christ’s help, let those glorious [monks] enjoy the same freedom their blessed patron BENEDICT instituted for all those subject to the teaching of the Rule.

Namely, [that freedom that] after the death of the abbot then ruling, they may appoint an abbot from their own community, whom the whole community as one, or a small part of the community, will have chosen in wholesome deliberation.

XIV. How the King Should Protect the Abbot and Worshipping Monks

And so, whichever kings will be our successors, let them impose no alien person exercising the power of a tyrant over the monks, lest God condemn them and strip them of both kingdom and life.

Let them instead support the vicar of Christ elected by the brothers and, set aflame by the fire of charity, revere them by enriching them.

Let them offer however much help is needed, eagerly pricked on by the love of Christ.

Indeed, comforted by mutual help, disobeying the Rule in no way, not as hirelings but as most faithful shepherds let them, undaunted, defend the Lord’s flock, saving it from the jaws of wolves.

XV. How the Abbot and Monks Should Rescue the King from the Temptation of the Devil

More, let the abbot, girded with spiritual arms and defended all round by a crowd of monks, drenched with the dew of heavenly gifts, assaulting the crafts of the demons of the air, skillfully defending with the sword of the spirit, safeguarding with the subtle shield of faith as protection, doing battle as a fearless solider in hardy triumph, rescue the king and the clergy in all his realm from the raging persecution of invisible enemies, with the help of Christ, in whose power they fight.

XVI. How the King Should Defend the Abbot and the Monks from the Persecution of Others

Similarly, let the earthly king, reinforcing the camp of the celestial King with the strongest fortification, assaulting visible enemies with worldly arms and bringing the madness of raging enemies to nothing by striking them down, protect his Creator’s pastures and flock with attentive watch, unconquerable. In this way, coming to the reward of life, he, rejoicing, may enjoy eternal goods which neither human eye has been able to see nor to which the human heart has been able to ascend, which God has prepared for those who love him.

XVII. On the Freedom of Monastic Property

May the land and all the property of the aforesaid monastery, in great matters or in modest matters, internal or external, in the city or in suburban estates, fields, meadowlands, pasturelands, forests, mills, or waterways, be enriched with eternal freedom in the name of Christ and his Mother.

XVIII. That no Secular Person Should Illicitly Usurp the Monastery’s Property

Let no secular person, presumptuous in a reckless attempt, exercise a tyrannical power in the fields of Christ.

Let him not diminish, at the devil’s instigation, what has been granted with freely flowing bounty at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by myself and my predecessors, and by orthodox people of both sexes.

XIX. On the Blessing of Those who Increase [It]

Let the Maker of all things grant to the one who increases [the monastery’s property] a quite end to the present life, a long life in this present time, a future gift of eternal happiness,

a sufficient abundance of sustenance, an endless increase of prosperity, and the copious help of every virtue.

XX. On the Curse on Those Who Diminish [It]

Let perpetual misery take hold of the one who diminishes [the monastery’s property].

Remaining in the Lord’s persecution, let him meet with the hatred of his Mother and all the saints.

Let adversity always befall him in this present life.

Let no prosperity of goodness alight upon him.

Let ravaging enemies plunder all his property.

In the future, too, let eternal torments condemn him, placed most miserable upon the left with the goats, unless he make amends with an appropriate reparation for all that, usurping, he removed from the Lord’s property.

XXI. In What Ways These [Gifts] Should Be Subject to Secular [Commands] and That No One’s Guilt Should Be Able to Diminish This, the Lord’s Privilege

Let these [gifts] be subject to secular commands with respect to the three burdens, namely, established military service and the building of bridges and strongholds. In other matters, let them glory, enriched by eternal freedom.

If the abbot or any of the brothers should commit a crime in their weakness, seduced by the by the devil’s urging—which God forbid!—let him be condemned, destroyed by purging justice according to the teaching of the Rule. But let the freedom of the aforesaid donation remain inviolable, pleasing in eternal freedom, offered by the One enthroned on high through our humility for the use of the monks freely serving him. Because God, who possesses this abundant donation of the privilege and the place along with the whole family of monks and all the lands subject to the holy monastery, never committed a crime, nor will he ever commit one at any time.

Therefore, let the aforesaid freedom be eternal, for God is the eternal Possessor of freedom.

XXII. How Many Times and Why This Privilege Should be Read to the Brothers in the Course of the Year

*[the text of this chapter is missing]*

The document of this privilege was written in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 966, with these witnesses acting in agreement whose names are written below.

+ I, Edgar, king of the English while the divine grace grants, bestowing the gift of this privilege to our Redeemer and his most holy place, first of all the kings to establish a company of monks in that place, and marking the sign of the cross with my own hand, confirm [this].

+ I, Dunstan, archbishop of the church of Canterbury, honoring the benevolent king’s generous donation, have corroborated [this] with the sign of the cross.

+ I, Eadmund Ætheling, the legitimate son of the aforesaid king, flourishing in young age, have spread the sign of the cross with my own hand.

+ I, Eadweard Ætheling, begotten of the same king, have solidified the aforesaid generosity of my father with the sign of the cross.

+ I, Ælfthryth, the legitimate wife of the aforesaid king, with the king’s approval establishing the monks in the same place, by my ambassador, have made the cross.

+ I, Eadgifu, the grandmother of the aforementioned king have solidified this illustrious work by the sign of the cross.

+ I, Oscytyl, archbishop of the church of York, have confirmed [this].

+I, Æthelwold, bishop of the church of Winchester, have blessed with the sign of the cross the benevolence of the most glorious king, commending to him in my mediocrity the noble abbot and students I have educated.

+ I, Æflstan, pontiff of the church of London, solidify [this].

+ I, Oswulf, bishop, have confirmed [this].

+ I, Oswald, bishop, have subscribed [to this].

+ I, Ælfweald, bishop, have solidified [this].

+ I, Beorhthelm, bishop, have confirmed [this].

+ I, Ælfstan, bishop, have solidified [this].

+ I, Eadhelm, bishop, have confirmed [this].

+ I, Æthulf, bishop, have subscribed [to this].

+ I, Wynsige, bishop, have confirmed [this].

+ I Æscwig, abbot, have solidified [this].

+ I, Osgar, abbot, have subscribed [to this].

+ I, Ordbeorht, abbot.

+I, Ælfstan, abbot.

+ I, Æthelgar, ordained for this place as its first abbot have acquired strength with Christ as my guide.

+ I, Ælfhere, ealdorman.

+ I, Ælfheah, ealdorman.

+ I, Ordgar, ealdorman.

+ I, Æthelstan, ealdorman.

+ I, Æthelwine, ealdorman.

+ I, Beorhtnoth, ealdorman.

+ I, Ælfwine, thegn.

+ I, Beorhtfrith, thegn.

+ I, Osweard, thegn.

+ I, Æthelweard, thegn.

+ I, Ælfweard, thegn.

+ I, Leofwine, thegn.

+ I, Ælfwine, thegn.

+ I, Wulfstan, thegn.

All of us who are seen described by name in this privilege by the king’s command humbly request the family of our posterity that they should in no way, violating, make invalid the surety of our hands strengthened by the cross of Christ. If any successor should, in their rashness, presume to violate [it], let them be excommunicated, deprived of participation in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and condemned with perpetual destruction, unless, by the propitiation of divine regard and recovering their senses, they should be turned toward humble satisfaction.

***

Letter of Pope John XII on Replacing the Canons of the Old Minster in Winchester (Original manuscript lost)

On February 20, 964, St. Æthelwold (904/9-984), with the blessing of King Edgar (943/4-975), ejected the canons (priests who live in community) from the Old Minster in Winchester. This moment is often thought of as a pivotal one in the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Reform, when Æthelwold and the king really set to changing the face of religious life in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom and changing institutions that had been in place for a long time in favor of reformed Benedictine monks.

This action was authorized by Pope John XII (930/7-964) in a letter he sent to King Edgar. Given the Benedictine Reform’s importance for the cultural history of Anglo-Saxon England and the literary texts we still possess from that time, and the inaccessibility of this letter for interested readers of Old English, I provide a translation of the text below. It is my hope that the letter can in some small way provide a valuable perspective for and enrich the background knowledge of readers, teachers, and students of Old English literature.

The letter is generally accepted as a genuine. Pope John XII likely dispatched the letter before his flight from Rome in November of 963. The letter calls Æthelwold “coepiscopus” in Latin; but while Æthelwold was only consecrated as a bishop on November 29th of 963, Dorothy Whitelock points out that if Æthelwold was already announced as bishop-elect, the papal draftsman may have used the title coepiscopus before his actual consecration. Since the letter here is clearly a reply to a letter by St. Dunstan (d. 988), it seems likely that Dunstan described Æthelwold’s status and the title was seen as unproblematic. The letter grants permission for the canons to be ejected, for monks to be instated, and for the monks to elect the bishop of Winchester, a unique administrative configuration in the medieval Western church.

The letter is also important for how it attests to the involvement of other high-ranking churchmen in the ejecting of the canons. Æthelwold is often taken as a violent and uncompromising reformer compared with Dunstan and St. Oswald (d. 992), and the expulsion of canons from the Old Minster is one touchstone for this way of thinking. However, in this letter we see that King Edgar, Pope John XII, and Archbishop Dunstan are all in league with Æthelwold’s actions at Winchester, and so the letter can temper our perception of the event and Æthelwold’s role in it.

The text is edited and translated in Property and Piety in Early Medieval Winchester: Documents Relating to the Topography of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman City and its Minsters, edited by Alexander R. Rumble (Clarendon Press, 2002). I have checked my own translation against Rumble’s, for which I am grateful.

Bishop John, servant of the servants of God, sends to the most excellent King Edgar, as well as all his bishops, ealdormen, thanes, abbots, and all the faithful of the English people Christian salutations and apostolic blessing.

Since that which is asked for in reasonable requests always ought to be granted, it is fitting that the eagerness of your godly petition should not at all be offended in the privileges to be granted. For we know, most glorious son, the dignity of your authority is so strengthened on all sides by zeal for the divine law that it ceaselessly takes thought of the stability of venerable places, how study of the Lord’s service might be multiplied by future work, and how thousand-fold fruit might be repaid abundantly to God, the Giver of all things. And so, renowned king and most illustrious son, we grant in every way from this apostolic see, over which we preside undeservedly, everything that your excellency requests through our brother and fellow bishop Dunstan, confirming with apostolic authority that the canons be ejected from the monastery in the city of Winchester built in honor of the Holy Trinity and the most blessed apostles Peter and Paul, which is called the Old Minster in contrast to the New Minster which is next to it, since they are hateful to the Lord and his bishop as well as all the Catholic faithful because of the open shamefulness of their crimes and their persisting shamelessly in the same crimes through their impenitent heart along with their prior (surely the vessel of the devil). And, as your highness requests, let Æthelwold, our dearest brother and fellow bishop, who is supremely imbued with the disciplines of the Rule, nurture a flock of monks who live according to the precepts of the Rule. And let him establish a perpetual abode for them in that place. Let him thus adorn their life with a holy manner of living, such that, when the shepherd is called to the reward of his labors, another might succeed to his place of authority only from that community. But if, on account of the obstruction of sins—which God forbid—no suitable candidate can be found in that same community for the episcopal office, we instruct that, by the authority of the Prince of Apostles Peter to whom our Lord and Savior gave the power both of binding and loosing, no one from the order of clerics should be promoted to rule this church. Rather, a monk who is worthy should be found from another community, accepted into the community, and put in charge of this church.

If anyone meanwhile—which we do not believe—should presume to invalidate these decrees of the privilege given by the apostolic see and defile those things that have been piously granted by us, let him know that, by the authority of that same Peter, the keeper of the heavenly keys, and all his successors, he will be bound by the chain of excommunication and damned perpetually on that great Day of Judgment.

Farewell my lord and son, in Christ.

***