St. Bertin
and Canterbury


The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

GOSCELIN, (d.p. 1107), English hagiographer. He is believed to have been born at or near Thérouanne, in France, and entered the Benedictine monastery of St Bertin at St Omer. Herman, then Bp. of Ramsbury (later Bp. of Sherborne and then Salisbury), came there in exile, and on his return to England in 1058 took Goscelin into his service. Goscelin was also, for a time, one of the chaplains to the nuns of Wilton, and c.1080 wrote the Life of St Edith. At Wilton he was the director of Eve, one of the nuns, who became a recluse at Angers. To her he wrote his ‘Liber Confortatorius’ (1082–3), a work of spiritual direction.

     Before it was written Goscelin had fallen into disfavour with Herman’s successor, Osmund, and he seems to have stayed in a succession of monastic houses (among them Peterborough, Ely, Ramsey, and the nunnery of Barking), writing the Lives of local saints, usually based on earlier material. About 1090 he came to St Augustine’s, Canterbury, where he remained for the rest of his life. He wrote Lives of many Canterbury saints, the chief being a longer and shorter Life of St Augustine and an account of the translation of his relics. The date of Goscelin’s death is unknown, but he was still alive in 1107. He was a skilful writer, but his rhymed prose and highflown vocabulary are an obstacle to the modern reader’s enjoyment. His Lives were the means by which the memory of many Anglo-Saxon saints survived the Norman Conquest.

The longer of his Lives of St Augustine (the Historia Major) is repr. in J. P. Migne, PL 80. 43–94; the shorter (the Historia Minor) is repr. ibid. 150. 743–64, with the account of the translation of his relics, 155. 13–46. Of the other Lives collected in Migne, PL 155. 47–116, that of St Swithun (47–80) is spurious; those of St Ives, St Werburg, St Edith, and St Laurence, Abp. of Canterbury, are genuine. The Life of St Edith is pr. in full by A. Wilmart, OSB, in Anal. Boll. 56 (1938), pp. 5–101, 265–307; Life of St Wulfhild of Barking ed. M. Esposito, ibid. 32 (1913), pp. 10–26; that of St Wulsin (or Wulfsige), Bp. of Sherborne, ed. C. H. Talbot in R. Bén. 69 (1959), pp. 68–85; that of St Mildred, ed. D. W. Rollason, The Mildrith Legend (Leicester, 1982), pp. 105–43, and her translation ed. id. in Mediaeval Studies, 48 (1986), pp. 139–210; M. L. Colker, ‘Texts of Joscelyn of Canterbury which relate to the History of Barking Abbey’, Studia Monastica, 7 (1965), pp. 383–460, with introd.; the Life of St Justus is pr. in AASS, Nov. 4 (1925), pp. 535–7. For the Life of St Milburg, H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester, 1961), pp. 197–216. Lives of female saints connected with Ely, ed., with Eng. tr., by R. C. Love (Oxford Medieval Texts, 2004). It is possible that Goscelin was the author of the anonymous Life of Edward the Confessor, ed., with Eng. tr., by F. Barlow, The Life of King Edward … attributed to a Monk of St Bertin (1962), who gives the best account of his works, pp. 91–111, with further refs. The ‘Liber Confortatorius’ was ed. C. H. Talbot in Studia Anselmiana, 37 (Rome, 1955), pp. 1–117. A. Wilmart, OSB, ‘Ève et Goscelin’, R. Bén. 46 (1934), pp. 414–38; 50 (1938), pp. 42–83.
'The Liber Confortatorius of Goscelin of Saint Bertin', ed. by C. H. Talbot, in M. M. Lebreton, J. Leclercq, C. H. Talbot, Analecta Monastica: Textes et études sur la vie des moines au moyen age, 3rd series, Studia Anselmiana, 37 (Rome: Herder, 1955), pp. 1-117 (esp. pp. 23-25) [an edition of this manuscript].


Sloane MS 3103. 1st half of the 12th century, This manuscript contains the unique extant witness of the Liber Confortatorius (ff. 1r-114v [sic 117v]) written by Goscelin of Saint-Bertin (d. c. 1107) for an English recluse named Eve. Eve left her convent for an anchoritic life in France, under the guidance of Hervé, a monk of Vendôme, near Tours, and spent her life in the Saint Eutrope chapel linked to the priory of Levière affiliated with the Benedictine abbey of the Trinity, Vendôme. Goscelin addressed this book of encouragement and consolation to Eve in order to encourage her to follow the example of saints and martyrs. It also includes an expression of his sorrow on the loss of a friend (see Talbot, 'The Liber Confortatorius' (1955)). The Liber Confortatorius may also be seen as a work of spiritual instruction for a female anchorite (see Hollis, 'Goscelin’s Writings and the Wilton Women' (2004)). The Liber Confortatorius is followed (f. 114v) by a later addition, written by a different hand, of an account of St Thomas Becket's murder (1170), left imcomplete (f. 114v); and material related to St Catherine, including an antiphon (f. 115v) and a hymn (f. 116r).The manuscript ends with the Brevis relatio, written by a monk of the Benedictine abbey of Battle between 1114-1120 (ff. 116v-121v), which is a short history of Normandy and England from 1035 to the battle of Yinchebrai (1106). It includes a list of the kings of England to Henry I (d. 1135) and St Bernard of Claivaux's epistle to Pope Eugenius III (ff. 121v-122r) (imperfect).The two parts (ff. 1r-115v; 116r-122r) were bound separately, but were most probably written in the same Northwestern area of France (likely Normandy). The part containing the Brevis relatio might have been copied at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Vigor, Cerisy-la-Forêt or from an exemplar from this abbey, according to van Houts, 'The Brevis relatio' (1999), p. 9. Both part have a 13th-century ownership inscription of the abbey of Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte. They were bound together at an early date.Contents:ff. 1r-114v: Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, Liber Confortatorius (Book of Encouragement and Consolation), preceded by a prologue (ff. 1r-v), beginning: 'Primus agit questus et consolamina thomus. Pella cum demonibus movet evincitque secundus'; beginning of the text (f. 1v): 'O Luce dilectior anima adest tibi Goscelinus tuus, inseparabili anime presentia'. Additions to the text and corrections have been written throughout by a different hand in the lower margin with the reference sign 'B' (e. g., ff. 5v; 7r).f. 114v: An incomplete account of St Thomas Becket's death, beginning: 'De archiepiscopo Cantuariensis'. f. 115r: An excerpt from a chant on the martyrdom of St Catherine (imperfect). f. 115v: An antiphon with neumes in honour of St Bartholomew.f. 116r: A hymn on St Catherine, beginning: 'Katherine collaudemus, virtutum insignia'. ff. 116v-121v: Anonymous, Brevis relatio (Brief account), beginning: 'Incipit quedam brevis relatio de Guillelmo nobilissimo comite Normannorum, quis fuit et unde originem duxit, et quo hereditario iure Angliam sibi armis quisivit. Pater huius Willelmi fuit Rodbertus dux Normannorum vir omni probitate conspicuus'. f. 121v: A genealogy of the kings of England, beginning: 'Ine regnavit .xxx.vii. annis post eum regnavit Athelbardus annis .xiiii.'.ff. 121v-122r: St Bernard of Clairvaux, Epistula ad Eugenium (Epistle to Eugenius III), imperfect at the end, beginning: 'Amantissimo Patri et domino Dei gratia summo Pontifici Eugenio'. f. 122r: Excerpt from Pseudo-Augustine, De triplici habitaculo (On the triple abode), beginning: 'Tria sunt sub omnipotentis Dei manu habitacula'. f. 122v: An antiphon with neumes, which is close to the Quicumque vult, beginning: 'Quicumque vult salvus esse/ ipsum fidem necesse'.Decoration:Two large initial in green, the first with penwork decoration in red (ff. 116v, 121v), and 1 large initial in red. Large initials in red or green, with a few in yellow, some with penwork decoration in another colour, the red often oxidised (ff. 1r-114v). Small initials in brown, some with simple penwork decoration.Highlighting of letters in red.


Materials: Parchment.
Dimensions: 165 x 110 mm (text space: 125/35 x 80/95 mm).
Foliation: ff. i + 123 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning + at the end); the book-plate pasted onto f. [iii] is foliated as 'i'.
Script: Protogothic.
Binding: British Museum/British Library in-house. Rebound in 1950.

Origin: ?Northwestern France.Provenance: The Benedictine abbey of St Sauveur-le-Vicomte, Manche, Normandy: added late 13th-century ownership inscriptions ‘Iste liber est de abbatia Sancti Salvatoris Vicecomitis, Constantiensis diocesis’ (ff. 80v, 114v, 116r); a 15th-century list of names of monks, written in Middle French 'Ce sont les nons des gens qui sont en ce moustier [...] Le Vaquier, Colin Vesin, Jehan Gonbert, Colin Bigot, Michel Lemonnier, Michel Delahogue' (f. 123v); an erased late 15-century inscription 'Moustier est [...]' (f. 123v); a 16th-century list of names (f. 123v).Added, late 12th-century or early 13th-century pen trials written by 4 different hands repeating the same excerpt from a grammatical poem 'Pendeo suspensus, pendo dum sullevo pondus (f. 123r).Nicholas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), marquis de Magny, statesman and archaeologist: his book-plate with the legend 'EX BIBLIOTHECA | NICOLAI JOSEPH FOUCAULT | COMITIS CONSISTORIANI' with his arms [sable] a lion rampant, dexter, crowned [argent], as supporters two lions [argent]; a couronne de marquis surmounting the shield (f. i recto).Jean-Jacques Charron (b. 1643 d. 1718), vicomte, then marquis de Ménars (Ménars sur Loire, near Blois), baron de Conflans Sainte Honorine, Seigneur de Neufville: his sale: Abraham de Hondt, The Hague, 10 June 1720, possibly no. 33: see Bibliotheca Menarsiana, ou Catalogue de la Bibliotheque de feu Messire Jean Jaques Charron, Chevalier, Marquis de Menars [...] Dont la vente publique se fera par Abraham de Hondt, le 10 juin et suivant 1720 (The Hague: Abraham de Hondt, 1720), p. 4.Sir Hans Sloane (b. 1660, d. 1753), baronet, physician and collector. Purchased as part of the Sloane collection from Sloane's executors and incorporated into the newly founded British Museum in 1753.

Catalogue of Additional Manuscripts: Sloane 2907-3104 (London: British Museum unpublished manuscript of unedited descriptions, no date), no. 3103.
Dom A.Wilmart, 'Eve et Goscelin', Revue Benedictine, 1 (1938), 42-48.
'The Liber Confortatorius of Goscelin of Saint Bertin', ed. by C. H. Talbot in Analecta Monastica: Textes et études sur la vie des moines au moyen age, ed. by M. M. Lebreton, J. Leclercq and C. H. Talbot, 3rd series, Studia Anselmiana, 37 (Rome: Herder, 1955), pp. 1-117 (esp. pp. 23-25) [an edition of this manuscript].
Elisabeth M. C. van Houts, 'The Ship List of William the Conqueror', in Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1987, ed. by R. Allen Brown (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988), pp. 159-84 (pp. 181-84).
Elisabeth M. C. van Houts, 'The Brevis Relatio de Guillelmo nobilissimo comite Normanorum written by a Monk of Battle Abbey, edited [and translated] with an Historical commentary', in History and Family Traditions in England and the Continent, 1000-1200, ed. by Elisabeth M. C. van Houts (Aldershot: Ashgate Variorum, 1999), article VII, pp. 1-48 (pp. 9-10).
W. R. Barnes and Rebecca Hayward, ‘Note on the Translation of the Liber conforatorius’, in Writing the Wilton Women: Goscelin’s Legend of Edith and Liber confortatorius, ed. by Stephanie Hollis and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), pp. 97-98 (p. 97).
Stephanie Hollis, ‘Goscelin’s Writings and the Wilton Women’, in Writing the Wilton Women: Goscelin’s Legend of Edith and Liber confortatorius, ed. by Stephanie Hollis and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), pp. 217-44 (pp. 236-37).
Stephanie Hollis, ‘Introduction’, in Writing the Wilton Women: Goscelin’s Legend of Edith and Liber confortatorius, ed. by Stephanie Hollis and others (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), pp. 1-13 (p. 12).
Monika Otter, Goscelin of St Bertin, Liber Confortatorius: The Book of Encouragement and Consolation (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004), pp. 15-16 [translation and studies of the Liber Confortatorius].
Marie Hughes-Edwards, Reading Medieval Anchoritism: Ideology and Spiritual Practices (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2012), pp. 15-16.
Marie Hughes-Edwards, 'The Role of the Anchoritic Guidance Writer: Goscelin of St Bertin', in Anchoritism in the Middle Ages: Texts and Traditions, ed. by Catherine Innes-Parker and N. Kukita Yoshikama (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013), pp. 31-45 (pp. 32, 177).





PL Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne (221 vols., Paris, 1844–64).

Anal. Analecta Bollandiana (Paris and Brussels, 1882 ff.).


MS BOOK 2:   [59] Women of Wilton p. 139 The Multitude of the Holy Virtues up to 145 [64];

 BOOK 3 The Nourishment of the Scriptures  pp.162 [79] - 166, [83]

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