Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Robert McMahon


This dissertation is a critical edition of the Passion and Advent chapters of the Middle English Gilte Legende based an MS Lambeth Palace 72 in collation with other manuscripts. Editions of the Legenda aurea, the original Latin text, and of the Legende doree, an intermediate French text, were also consulted. The introduction begins by reviewing the complete research on the Gilte Legende, describing the manuscripts, their handwritings and orthographies, presenting their affiliations in a stemma, and detailing the editorial process. The transmission of the text is traced from the Legenda aurea (c.1266), the Latin legendary of James Varagine, through the Legende doree (c.1334), the French translation by Jean de Vignay, to the Gilte Legende (1438), the English translation made anonymously by someone who identified himself as the Synfulle Wrecche. There is also a brief account of the Legenda aurea's immediate and unprecedented popularity, and its equally swift and complete plummet into obscurity. Finally, the edited chapters, the Passion and Advent, are summarized and critiqued. Because no prior study had been done on these non-hagiographic chapters of the legendary, they have been called treatises. However, the editorial process revealed that these chapters are not prose treatises; instead, they are detailed outlines, complete with sequentially numbered points and sub-points. Therefore, the edited texts are presented in outline form with the modern outline conventions supplied. Emendations are noted in the text; variant readings, as well as the minimum amount of information necessary for sensible readings, are given at the bottom of the pages. More thorough textual notes and detailed commentary follow each of the edited chapters. This edition has contributed to scholarship by making accessible two previously unedited chapters of the Gilte Legende in outline format. It also offers evidence to corroborate the theories that the Legenda aurea was intended as a handbook for the educated clergy and presents a remote and wrathful image of God. Finally, it suggests that the indeterminacy of the edited texts and the relationship between the theology of the Legenda and the attitude of the Inquisition are areas for further study.