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The Canon of John Lydgate Project

The Lives of Ss. Edmund and Fremund: Introduction

The Revised Version of the 1440s
Sometime after 1444 an additional section was added to Book 3 of the Lives of Ss. Edmund and Fremund, recounting several miracles (children raised from the dead) which occured in London and Bury in 1441 and 1444, and which miracles were attributed to St. Edmund. This addition, being 58 8-line stanzas (though the Lives was written in Rhyme Royal, which is 7-line stanzas), is known as the Miracles of St. Edmund (Index of Middle English Verse no. 1843; also see the Manual of the Writings in Middle English 6: 1829-1830 and 2096). It appears as part of the Lives in four manuscripts: The Miracles also appear alone, separate from the longer work, in Most critics have taken the Miracles as Lydgate's own addition to and revision of his Lives; Heale, for instance, declares that these additional stanzas "provide a fascinating final insight into the quality of the cult at Bury in the later middle ages"; further, "it is clear that they [these recent miracles] made a very strong impression on Lydgate himself, and gave him a much greater faith in the virtue of his theological exposition of the legend than he had hitherto really felt" (184). By contrast, M. C. Seymour seems somewhat sceptical about the attribution of the Miracles to Lydgate: although they "are written in Lydgate's style (d. 1449), . . . it is not certain that he wrote them" (10).

The text of the Miracles included here is that of the Ashmole manuscript as edited by Carl Horstmann in his Altenglische legenden (1881), pp. 440-445.

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© 1995 Stephen R. Reimer
English; University of Alberta; Edmonton, Canada
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Last revised: 23 Nov. 1995

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