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CUA Medieval Texts in Translation (9 vols.)

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The Catholic University of America’s Medieval Texts in Translation series provides English translations from a variety of ancient sources. Including letters, histories, biographical sketches, and more, this collection contains insights into the world of the Middle Ages. Covering topics including monastic communities, political life, sacraments, preaching, these resources offer interest to the general reader, students, and pastors.

  • Includes biographies, histories, letters, and sermons
  • Contains helpful introductions to orient readers to the material
  • Provides representative examples of preaching through the Church year from Advent to the Sundays after Easter
  • Title: CUA Medieval Texts in Translation (9 vols.)
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Volumes: 9
  • Pages: 2,375
  • Christian Group: Catholic
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In the Logos edition, these volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Anchoress and Abbess in Ninth-Century Saxony: The Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen and Hathumoda of Gandersheim

  • Translator: Frederick S. Paxton
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 216

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Around the year 840, Liutbirga, the adopted daughter of a noble Saxon widow, asked to be walled into a cell in a church at one of the family’s cloisters for religious women. She spent the last thirty years of her life in her cell, doing penance for her sins, fending off attacks by the devil, and instructing women in religion and handiwork through its one small window. Hathumoda, the daughter of a noble Saxon couple whose progeny would establish the first German empire, became abbess of a similar community of women when she was twelve years old. She too spent the rest of her life there, dying at the age of thirty-four in the course of an epidemic that swept across northwestern Europe. In spite of their confinement, both women made so great an impression on those who knew them that substantial biographies appeared within a few years of their deaths.

In the growing field of early medieval texts in translation, this book presents the first full English translations of the Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen, the first anchoress in Saxony, and Hathumoda, the first abbess of Gandersheim. The introduction and notes tell the story of the remarkable survival and transmission of the Lives and describe the ninth-century Saxon world that produced them and their authors.

Although praised by their biographers for their holiness, Liutbirga and Hathumoda are not presented primarily as wonder-working saints, but as real flesh-and-blood women, pursuing sanctity in a world driven by family and ecclesiastical politics as much as spirituality. Histories of the women’s families as well as memorials to their heroines, the Lives of Liutbirga and Hathumoda shed new light on a vibrant corner of Christian Europe in the century after Charlemagne.

The two historical works are important for the study of women’s spirituality in the Middle Ages. They are important for the life of canonesses and medieval family monasticism. These two works are important because of the transition of Saxon culture to Frankish culture and life. Finally, the two Lives move us from religious life to social transformation.

—Cyprian Davis, American Benedictine Review

Frederick S. Paxton is Brigida Pacchiani Ardenghi Professor of History at Connecticut College. He is the author of several works, including The Cluniac Death Ritual in the Central Middle Ages (forthcoming) and Christianizing Death: The Creation of a Ritual Process in Early Medieval Europe.

Deeds of the Saxons

  • Author: Widukind of Corvey
  • Translators: Bernard Bachrach and David Bachrach
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Pages: 216

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Widukind, a monk at the prominent monastery of Corvey in Saxony during the middle third of the tenth century, is known to posterity through his Res gestae Saxonicae, an exceptionally rich account of the Saxon people and the reigns of the first two rulers of the Ottonian dynasty, Henry I (919-936) and Otto I (936-973). Widukind, likely of noble birth, received a thorough education in both biblical and classical texts. When writing the Gestae, Widukind also had available the extensive library at Corvey, with its large collection of ancient texts as well as numerous works from the eighth and ninth centuries. Widukind drew on these, and even more contemporary written sources to complement and inform orally transmitted information that he received from many sources including people closely associated with the Ottonian royal court. Widukind wrote the Res gestae from the 950s to the 970s, incorporating additional material as he obtained further information and as major new events took place in the German kingdom and beyond. After providing a historical background for the Saxon people Widukind devotes most of his attention to the political and military affairs of the German kingdom, concentrating heavily on affairs of the royal court. Widukind provides information that can be found in no other source. His close relationship with the royal court enabled him to provide an “insider’s” view of the people and events that shaped the political and military history of the most powerful kingdom in Europe. As a consequence, the Res gestae is an indispensable account for the history of the German kingdom during the tenth century. Bernard S. Bachrach and David S. Bachrach provide an introduction to the text that contextualizes the author, his historical methods, and the information that he provides. They draw on a large number of other written sources of information, including both narrative works and the political, economic, social, and military affairs of the day, and provide an extensive apparatus of notes.

Now finally, thanks to Bernard Bachrach and David Bachrach, we can welcome a modern and accessible English translation of arguably the best political and military source of the tenth-century East Frankish/German realm, Widukind’s Deed’s of the Saxons Bachrachs have produced a superior translation both in accuracy and in its pleasantly readable modern English... they have provided an extensive apparatus of notes and commentary that utilize the most current state of scholarship in the field... the immense service that Bernard Bachrach and David Bachrach have offered to students and teachers of medieval Germany by providing to an Anglophone audience this excellent translation and commentary of Widukind’s Deeds of the Saxons, one of the most important sources of the tenth century.

—John W. Bernhardt, San José State U, Early Medieval Europe

Bernard S. Bachrach is professor of history, ancient studies, religious studies, and Jewish studies at the University of Minnesota.

David S. Bachrach is associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire.

Handbook for Curates: A Late Medieval Manual on Pastoral Ministry

  • Author: Guido of Monte Rochen
  • Translators: Anne T. Thayer and Katharine J. Lualdi
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 384

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Guido of Monte Rochen’s Handbook for Curates became the most popular pastoral manual at the close of the Middle Ages as thousands of copies were printed in Europe. Composed of a mixture of practical “how to” and theological instruction, the Handbook taught pastoral basics to everyday priests. As such, it is an essential and vibrant source on late medieval religion and parish practice, which this full-length translation makes available in English for the first time.

The Handbook is divided into three parts: sacraments and their administration, the sacrament of penance, and basic catechesis. Together they reflect Guido’s mission to facilitate the fundamental duties priests were expected to fulfill for souls under their charge. Guido explains constituent parts of each sacrament, how each is done, who receives it, and what problems might arise in its practice. In step with broader religious currents of his day, Guido treats penance extensively, addressing topics from instances of the deadly sins to how to question penitents in confession. His Handbook concludes with explanations of the Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments for the benefit of his readers and their flocks.

To help contemporary students and scholars understand fully the Handbook’s richness as a historical source, the introduction situates it within the intellectual milieu of late medieval Christianity. Guido is well acquainted with the vagaries of real life in a parish and a sense of compassion underlies his directives. Evidence of readers’ hands-on engagement abounds in the annotations that were written in the book’s margins. Examination of both the content of such comments and their location within the text suggests how Guido’s readers sought to translate his advice into practice.

This excellent translation provides an invaluable window into the late medieval culture of parish life and expectations about priestly knowledge and activity, as well as a resource for exploring the transformation of scholarly expertise for practical use. Anne Thayer and Katharine Lualdi follow Guido’s lead in creating a volume that offers both neophytes and advanced audiences a distillation of deep learning in an engaging, user-friendly compendium.

—Anne L. Clark, Professor of Religion, University of Vermont

Anne T. Thayer is the Paul and Minnie Diefenderfer Professor of Mercersburg and Ecumenical Theology and Church History at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Katharine J. Lualdi is professor of history and on the faculty of the Honors Program at the University of Southern Maine. Thayer and Lualdi share an interest in late medieval and early modern Christianity, particularly at the parish level, and have collaborated on the edited volume Penitence in the Age of Reformations.

Letters of Peter Abelard, Beyond the Personal

  • Author: Peter Abelard
  • Translator: Jan M. Ziolkowski
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 232

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

The romantic tale of Peter Abelard and Heloise has been widely known for centuries. The legend relates in part to the letters exchanged between the two, years after Abelard had been castrated at the behest of Heloise’s vindictive uncle, Fulbert.

These “personal” letters form the basis for bestselling compilations of works by Abelard and Heloise in translation, such as the recently revised Penguin The Letters of Abelard and Heloise or the new Hackett Abelard and Heloise, The Letters and Other Writings. They hold fascination for the light they shed on the relationship between the man and woman, as teacher and student, lovers, husband and wife, monk and nun, abbot and mother superior, and much more.

The popularity of the “personal” letters has generated considerable fanfare for the publication of another set of correspondence printed under the title The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard. The authorship of all these letters has been contested repeatedly, with the last-mentioned collection being the center of a present firestorm.

Generally ignored have been nearly a dozen other letters or letter-like texts, unassailably the work of Peter Abelard. Jan M. Ziolkowski’s comprehensive and learned translation of these texts affords insight into Abelard’s thinking over a much longer sweep of time and offers snapshots of the great twelfth-century philosopher and theologian in a variety of contexts. One group shows him engaging with Heloise and nuns of the Paraclete, another with Bernard of Clairvaux, and a third with four entirely different addressees on four entirely different topics. Broadening our panorama of the twelfth-century Renaissance, the picture presented by these texts complements, complicates, and enriches Abelard's autobiographical letter of consolation and his personal letters to Heloise.

No comparable book brings together this entire range of materials. Ziolkowski’s book is an impressive addition to Abelardian scholarship and will be welcomed enthusiastically.

—Peter Dronke, professor emeritus, University of Cambridge

Jan M. Ziolkowski is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard University and director of Dumbarton Oaks. His publications include thirteen books, nearly one hundred articles and essays, and more than fifty book reviews. The books encompass critical editions of Medieval Latin texts (such as The Cambridge Songs; Jezebel: A Norman Latin Poem of the Early Eleventh Century; and two of poetry by Nigel of Canterbury), as well as literary histories such as Alan of Lille’s Grammar of Sex and Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry.

Preaching in the Age of Chaucer

  • Translator: Siegried Wenzel
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 334

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Introducing modern readers to the riches of preaching in later medieval England, distinguished scholar Siegfried Wenzel offers translations of twenty-five Latin sermons written between 1350 and 1450. These carefully selected and previously untranslated sermons demonstrate how preachers constructed them and shaped them to their own purposes. The sermons provide representative examples of preaching through the Church year from Advent to the Sundays after Easter; also included are sermons for saints and pieces preached on such special occasions as funerals, convocations, visitations, professions, and academic lectures.

Taken together, the sermons provide a view of the wide variety of styles and rhetorical appeals that were used by well-known medieval preachers, such as FitzRalph, Brinton, Wyclif, Repingdon, Felton, Mirk, Philip, and Dygon; a number of anonymous sermons are included as well. All but one (Mirk) have been preserved in Latin and are translated here for the first time into modern English.

The book also contains a general introduction and short historical notes on the individual selections. Besides attracting the attention of students of preaching and of Western Church history, the material will be of great interest to medieval historians and to students of Middle-English literature, especially of Chaucer, the Pearl-Poet, Langland, fifteenth-century drama, and the lyric.

These sermons are difficult to acquire, often hard to translate, and very hard to teach. Wenzel’s collection will go a long way toward enhancing the classroom experience of many teachers and students. Wenzel is a superb translator. The texts are a pleasure to read, written in a light, accessible style that flows beautifully.

—Maura Nolan, University of California, Berkeley

Siegfried Wenzel, a longtime professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is author or editor of ten books and numerous articles. He received the Medieval Academy of America’s prestigious Charles Homer Haskins Medal for his contributions to medieval literature and religion.

Robert of Abrissel: A Medieval Religious Life

  • Author: Bruce L. Venarde
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 155

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Contemporaries hailed the preacher and reformer Robert of Arbrissel (ca. 1045-1116) as a thunderclap of holy eloquence that lit up the Church—or they castigated him as a sponsor of sexual license. Robert has remained a controversial figure ever since, seen as a missionary to all manner of Christians, a heretic, a feminist, a founder of the ideal of courtly love, or a libertine. His preaching was so renowned that he was invited to speak before Pope Urban II; many were inspired to take up religious life after exposure to his charismatic asceticism and evangelical gifts. Best known as the founder of Fontevraud, a monastery for women and men in Western France that became the prosperous head of an order of nearly 100 religious houses, Robert of Arbrissel never became a saint.

Gathering the major medieval sources for the first time in any modern language, this book traces Robert of Arbrissel’s multifaceted life from humble origins to dramatic death and burial. Two short biographies, Robert’s one surviving letter, an account of Robert’s preaching in a brothel, and two highly critical letters addressed to Robert together illustrate his activities, personality, and impact. The documents explore themes of reform, preachers and preaching, monasticism, patronage, literary genre, gender, and sexuality in a dynamic era of historical and cultural change. The translations are highly readable and the book is abundantly annotated with an introduction, thorough notes to each document, a map, and a chronology. Robert of Arbrissel: A Medieval Religious Life invites students and teachers of the Middle Ages and general readers to draw their own conclusions about this fascinating medieval holy man.

The book as a whole is an exciting introduction to the religious problems of the eleventh century, when the clergy were suddenly cut off from marriage, while divorce remained inadmissible.

—K. Janet Ritch, Modern Language Review

Bruce L. Venarde is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of Women’s Monasticism and Medieval Society: Nunneries in France and England, 890-1215 (1996).

The Chronicle of the Czechs

  • Author: Cosmas of Prague
  • Translator: Lisa Wolverton
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 294

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

The Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague (d. 1125) is a masterwork of medieval historical writing, deeply erudite, consciously researched, and narrated in high rhetorical style. Regarded as the foundational narrative of Czech history, it is the source of the oldest stories about the land, people, and rulers of Bohemia and Moravia. Lisa Wolverton provides the first annotated English translation of this eminently enjoyable and teachable work.

The first of the three books of the Chronicle describes the earliest people to arrive in Bohemia, the first rulers and the origins of the Premyslid dynasty, the founding of Prague, and the early phases of Christianization. Book Two covers the period from 1037 to 1092, the age of Duke Bretislav I and his five contentious sons. Book III treats events contemporary with the author’s writing, a time of great political upheaval, both internally and in relation to neighboring Germans, Poles, and Hungarians. Preeminently concerned with rulers and political life, the chronicle is striking for its narrative brilliance, vivid characters and scenes, dramatic dialogues, evocative soliloquies, and deep classical and Biblical erudition. In composing it, Cosmas sought to define the Czechs as a nation through history, compel them to think about their political culture, and urge reform, justice, and responsibility.

The oldest history of a Slavic people written by a Slav, the work rivals any medieval chronicle in its verve, accessibility, and insight into the very nature of political power. The Chronicle of the Czechs will be indispensable for medieval specialists wanting to extend their reach into Eastern Europe, as well as for college instructors in search of a lively and insightful text on medieval political life generally.

The book’s clear introduction, well-drawn maps, and generous notes serve as gentle but essential guides for students and scholars alike. Cosmas’s medieval masterwork deserves no less than this impressive and accessible translation.

—David Mengel, Xavier University

Lisa Wolverton is associate professor of history at the University of Oregon, coauthor of Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet, and author of Hastening toward Prague: Power and Society in the Medieval Czech Lands.

The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona

  • Author: Luidprand
  • Translator: Paolo Squatriti
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 296

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

This modern English translation of all the surviving literary compositions ascribed to Liudprand, the bishop of Cremona from 962 to 972, offers unrivaled insight into society and culture in western Europe during the “iron century.” Since Liudprand enjoyed the favor of the Saxon Roman emperor Otto the Great, and traveled to Constantinople more than once on official business, his narratives also reveal European attitudes toward the Byzantine Empire and the culture of its refined capital city. No other tenth-century writer had such privileged access to the high spheres of power, or such acerbic wit and willingness to articulate critiques of the doings of powerful people.

Liudprand’s historical texts (the Antapodosis on European events in the first half of the 900s, and his Historia Ottonis on the rise to power of Otto the Great) provide a unique view of the recent past against a genuinely European backdrop, unusual in a time of localized cultural horizons. Liudprand’s famous satirical description of his misadventures as Ottonian legate at the Byzantine court in 968 is a vital source of information on Byzantine ritual and diplomatic process, as well as a classic of medieval intercultural encounter. This collection of Liudprand’s works also includes his recently discovered Easter sermon, a rare early document of Jewish-Christian intellectual polemic.

Readers interested in medieval European culture, the history of diplomacy, Italian and German medieval history, and the history of Byzantium will find this collection of translated texts rewarding. A full introduction and extensive notes help readers to place Liudprand’s writings in context.

Few medieval chroniclers are more enjoyable to read than Liudprand of Cremona, the well-traveled Italian courtier, ecclesiastic, and ambassador. . . . Paolo Squatriti has done scholars and students an important service by offering fresh translations . . . plus the first rendering in English of a homily written by Liudprand. . . . The translator has carefully combed the scholarly literature on Liudprand in English, Italian, and German, with emphasis on work done in the last twenty years. A synthesis of sorts appears in a substantial introduction. . . . There follow four texts, in more or less chronological order, with extremely helpful explanatory and bibliographic notes aimed ‘to ease the task of students in unraveling Liudprand’s culture’ (viii). The translation is accurate and faithful, navigating with considerable success the often choppy structure and precious style of Liudprand. . . . Writer and translator seem to come fully into their own with ‘Embassy,’ a total treat to read here. . . . Students will find much to learn about and chew over in each of these texts and by looking at them as a group. . . . Squatriti has given students and scholars an English Liudprand for the twenty-first century that is an important resource for extending our understanding of the tenth.

—Bruce Venarde, The Medieval Review

Paolo Squatriti, associate professor of history and Romance languages and literatures at the University of Michigan, is author of Water and Society in Early Medieval Italy AD 400-1000 and editor of Natures Past: The Environment and Human History.

The Restoration of the Monastery of St. Martin of Tournai

  • Author: Herman
  • Translator: Lynn H. Nelson
  • Series: Medieval Texts in Translation
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Pages: 248

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

In Flanders in the year 1090, as famine began to spread over the low countries, diseased and dying paupers from near and far crowded into the cathedral of St. Mary of Tournai in hopes of a miraculous cure. When the canons of Tournai ordered that those without hope of survival be dragged outside, they unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the restoration of the abandoned monastery of St. Martin of Tournai. Some fifty years later, Herman, a monk of St. Martin’s and its one-time abbot, wrote the history of those events in his Restauratio sancti Martini Tornacensis. Now this first English translation offers students and general readers the opportunity to enjoy his entertaining and significant account of the period.

A master storyteller, Herman writes with deceptive simplicity and an eye for the telling detail, and the reader is soon drawn into his world, admiring a scriptorium at work, digging for buried treasure, watching a tragic tournament, opening the tomb of a murdered count, searching for purloined parchments, dining on oats and straw during a famine, listening to King Henry and Archbishop Anselm argue about a Scottish princess, tracing a schoolmaster’s erratic path to sainthood. Leading the reader through the courts, bedrooms, cloisters, and kitchens of the twelfth-century renaissance, Herman weaves anecdotes and digressions into an intriguing and suggestive account of the complex personal motives, political undercurrents, and social conflicts that surrounded the establishment of a monastic community just outside of the town of Tournai.

This translation penetrates beneath the surface of Herman’s account to illuminate some of his hidden meanings. In carefully constructed subtexts, Herman depicts the strife that surrounded the monastic restoration and affords the careful reader an intimate look at the values, attitudes, and social tensions of his time. The translator’s introduction provides a context for readers who may be less familiar with the place or period, while a series of appendices offers more extended historical background for some of the central issues in Herman’s account. Insightful explanatory notes provide useful background information regarding medieval customs and practices and identify the work’s many characters. In addition, genealogical charts trace the often complicated familial relationships of the persons involved.

Lynn H. Nelson was professor of history at the University of Kansas

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Collection value: $229.91
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Gathering interest