The prologe of the translatour of this lytell treatyse in the seconde boke.

stanza 1

1Now whan we consyder / with mynde dylygent with a careful mind
The merueylous maners / & synguler condycion marvellous manners, habits / particular way of life
Of the comyn people 1 / symple and neclygent,negligent, slovenly
Whiche without lytterature / and good informacyon
Ben lyke to Brute beestes / as in comparyson,are like brute animals
Rude / wylde / and boystous / by a prouerbe, certan,rough / according to a proverb
'Good maners and conynge / maken a man'. 2 Good manners and knowledge make the man

stanza 2

8 Saynt Paule sayth / shewynge to the Romans 3 demonstrating to the Romans
How all thynge wryten / in holy scrypture
Is wryten for our doctryne / and ghostly ordynans , 4 for our instruction / spiritual guidance
For our great conforte / and endeles pleasure.
All thynge is knowen playnly / by lytterature,through literature
Morall vertues / be noted by it full playne Moral virtues are very clearly represented by it
From vyce and neclygence / to abstayne, certayne.vice / negligence

stanza 3

15 What were mankynde / without lytterature? 5 What would mankind be without literature?
Full lytel worthy / blynded by ignoraunce.Very unworthy
The way to heuen it declareth ryght sureheaven
Thrugh perfyte lyuynge / and good perseueraunce;perfect living / perseverance
By it we may be taught / for to do penaunce
Whan we transgresse / our lordes commaundyment;
It is a swete cordyall / for mannes entent.cordial, refreshment / aspiration

stanza 4

22How shulde the seuen / scyences lyberall 6 seven liberal arts
Haue ben preserued / vnto this day,
The wysdome / of the phylosophers all,
But alone by lernynge / it is no nay.there is no doubt
The notable actes / of our fathers, I say,
(yf litterature were nat) myght nat nowe be tolde,if literature did not exist
Nor auncient histories and cronycles olde.chronicles

stanza 5

29 The lawe of ciuile / and of holy canon 7 Civil law and holy canon law
By study be preferred with moche honouresteemed
To execute iustice / and for due reformacion;justice / punishment, correction
The most blessed doctrine of our sauiour,
The actis of the apostoles / with the doctours four ,Acts of the Apostles / the four teachers (i.e. Gospels)
Be preserued by wrytyng / and put in memorie,
With the lyues of saintes many a noble storie.

stanza 6

36Of whiche histories 8 we purpose speciall
To speke of saint Werburge / vnder your protection, 9 under your patronage
Declaryng the ende of her lyfe historiall her historical life (on earth)
As we haue begon / and made playne mencion told explicitly
In the fyrst volume by breue compliacion, 10 brief compilation, composition
There playnly descriuyng her liniall discens describing / line of descent
Of .iiii. myghty kyngdomes by true experience; 11 From four powerful kingdoms

stanza 7

43Also we haue shewed in the sayd littell boke
Her goodly maners / and vertuous disposicion
Of her yonge age / who-so lyst theron to loke;whoever wishes to look there (i.e. in Book I)
And howe her bretherne suffred martyrdome; 12 family
Of her fathers realme a litell discripcion:A little description of her father's realm
Howe she was professed in the place of Ely; 13
Of her conuersacion within the sayd monastery;manner of living

stanza 8

50After for her vertue / howe she was made abbasse because of / abbess
Of diuers monasteries, 14 flouryng in vertue;flowering in virtue
And of the great miracles whiche there done was
For her great charite / by the grace of Iesu;
Howe diuers of her kynrede dyd clerely exchewe many of her family completely rejected
All wordly pleasures and honours transetory,transitory
Professyng obedience at the place of Ely;


Bradshaw's use of the terms 'comyn people' here may imply a specific allusion to the medieval social theory of the 'three estates': church, nobility and 'commoners'. Bradshaw defines the commoners by their lack of access to literature and learning - and thus to good manners and refined behaviour. For a discussion of the 'three estates' in medieval social ideology and literature, see Mohl, 1962 and 'Medieval Estates and Orders: Making and Breaking Rules: An Overview', Norton Topics Online. Back to context...
Variants of the phrase 'manners make the man' occur in a range of Middle English texts, including the Proverbs of Wisdom or Wise Man's Proverbs. See Schleich, 1927, 222. Back to context...
Romans 15:4 Back to context...
Ultimately deriving from Paul's Letter to the Romans, the assertion that 'all is written for our doctrine' is a commonplace in later medieval English literature. See for example Chaucer's Retractions to The Canterbury Tales or Caxton's Preface to Malory's Morte Darthur See Benson, 1988, 328 and Vinaver, 1971, xv. Back to context...
Christopher Cannon has commented on the innovative use of the term 'lytterature' here, and the role of Bradshaw's discussion in establishing a new 'category of literature'. See Cannon, 2008, 150-1 and Cannon, 2002, 321 and 345-7. Back to context...
The seven liberal arts were the combined disciplines of the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and Quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, music, astronomy) as taught in the medieval university, and formed the basis of medieval knowledge and learning. See Rait, 1912, or for a more detailed discussion Wagner, 1983. Back to context...
Bradshaw makes a basic distinction between civil (secular) law and ecclesiastical or ecclesiastical-influenced (canon) law). For an introduction to different systems of law in the Middle Ages, see 'Illuminating the Law: Legal Manuscripts at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge' . Back to context...
Bradshaw locates his Life of St Werburge within the category of hagiography or saints' lives. Back to context...
In this line Bradshaw addresses the reader directly. See also below, line 57, line 64, and line 72. Back to context...
The term 'compilacion' draws attention to the nature of the text as an assimilation of earlier sources relating to the life of St Werburgh. See similarly 'compilacion' below, line 86, and 'abstract', line 65. Back to context...
See Goscelin, Life of St Wærburh, Ch. 1. (Love, 2004, 30-1.) Back to context...
See for example Book I, lines 1982-2275 (Horstmann or via Literature Online - subscription only) and Goscelin, Life of St Wærburh, Ch. 1, pp. 28-33. Back to context...
Following his sources, Bradshaw tells us that Werburgh entered the monastic life at Ely. See Book I, lines 1485-1547 (Horstmann, 1887 or via Literature Online - subscription only) and Goscelin, Life of St Wærburh, Ch. 2 (Love, 2004, 34-7). Back to context...
Werburgh was abbess at Weedon, Trentham, Hanbury, Minster in Sheppey and Ely. See Book I, lines 1982-2611 (Horstmann or via Literature Online - subscription only) Back to context...