Medieval Monday -- way more fun than the average, run-of-the-mill Monday!
While researching medieval diaries, I discovered an extraordinary website.
Epistolae: Medieval Women's Letters
Professor Joan M. Ferrante, Professor Emeritus of Columbia University, has collected hundreds of letters to and from medieval women, 4th to 13th centuries, and translated them from the original Latin. There are 83 pages of links on the website at present. For each letter, Professor Ferrante provides her English translation, followed by the original Latin text, a brief explanation of the letter, and her source(s). If so inclined, you can search for letters by both sender and receiver.
I stopped at page 15 or so, having found the following letter from the year 1104. It's from Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Matilda of Scotland, Queen of the English. He is maaad. He and Queen Matilda's husband, Henry I, had some serious differences of opinion. You will note that at the end of his epistle, he prays for the queen and her children -- not the king!
I realized only after reading the letters and doing a little more research that Matilda of Scotland was Good Queen Maud and that Archbishop Anselm was eventually canonized. They are both fascinating figures.
Here's the letter, copied from the website:
To his reverend lady, his dearest daughter Matilda, by the grace of God queen of the English: Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, sending his faithful service, his prayers and the blessing of God and his own, if it is worth anything. I give boundless thanks to your Highness by loving and praying for you for the magnitude of your holy love towards my humble self which I perceived in your letter.(1) In it you clearly displayed with what affection you love me when you received and treated my parchment in the way you describe. Your dignity raised my spirits so much by declaring that what nature denies me your grace bestows, that those who are mine by kinship are yours by adoption and love.(2) By trying to soften the heart of my lord the King towards me because of your desire for my return I perceive that you are doing what is fitting for you and advantageous for him. For if he has any bitterness of heart towards me I am not aware of ever having deserved it in any way at all, as far as I can see. If at any time I served him he knows it, and I think he will not consign it to oblivion. If in some respects he dislikes me without cause it would be advantageous for him to drive this rancor away from him lest he sin before God. You promise me that the King will in future grant me better and more abundant access to our revenues, of which at present he allows me a small amount.(3) I should not be ungrateful to your benevolence because you are doing this, as far as you are able through your goodwill. But it should not be necessary to make me such a promise because no confiscation or decrease of them should take place against my will. Whoever advised him to appropriate any of these revenues advised him to commit a sin which is no slight one, nor one that should ever be tolerated. For whoever despoils a bishop of his goods can in no way be reconciled to God unless he restores to him all his goods intact. You should know that however small a part of these goods I am deprived of, it is as if I were deprived of everything. I do not say this for love of money but for the love of God's justice. Your kindness prays me not to take my love away from my lord the King but to intercede for him, for yourself, for your offspring and for your realm. I have always done this up to now. But as to the future I commit myself to the providence of God, with whom "the son does not bear the iniquity of the father"(4) nor the wife that of her husband. I hope in God that I may not harbor any rancor against anybody in my heart which could separate me from God. May almighty God guard you and your offspring(5) forever in his grace.(6)
Epistolae is a wonderful resource. Many thanks to Professor Ferrante, her colleagues, and Columbia University for making it available to the public. If you visit the website, along with the letters, you will find a few short, excellent videos with the professor. She is enthusiastic, generous, and clearly loves what she does.
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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