This volume examines the Birgittine Order of nuns as producers and
readers of texts in Britain from the fifteenth to the early
sixteenth century, through an analysis of medieval manuscripts and
early printed books. It highlights the community's response to
teachings of St Birgitta, the dissemination of Birgittine texts,
and Lady Margaret Beaufort's role as intermediary between Syon and
the outside world.
The Birgittine Order of nuns, founded by St Birgitta herself, was first established at Vadstena in Sweden in 1384, six years after the order had received papal recognition and eleven years after the saint’s death. It only ever established one house in Britain, but that was a significant one. The house was founded by Henry V in 1415 and was peopled by daughters of the most influential English families, who formed the sisterhood, and some of the most learned and intellectual English priests, who formed the complementary brotherhood.
This book considers the role of the Birgittines of Syon as producers and readers of texts through an analysis of both late medieval manuscripts and early printed books. It focuses on the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the most fruitful period of Birgittine outreach, when the printing press had opened up new opportunities of mission and transmission. It considers the community’s response to the teachings of St Birgitta herself in relation to the Birgittines’ preaching, for which Syon was nationally famous, as well as their authorship of works in both manuscript and printed format. It also examines the relationship between the Syon community and the nearby Carthusians of Sheen and London. In particular, it highlights the intermediary role of King Henry VII’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who was an important link between the Birgittines, the Carthusians, and the printing houses of the late Middle Ages.
A Note on the Bibliography of Syon Abbey and the Birgittine Order
Abbreviations and Short Titles
Chapter 1: The Birgittines of Syon Abbey
Chapter 2: Preaching at Syon Abbey
Chapter 3: A Rare Survival of Sermons Preached at Syon Abbey?
Chapter 4: Links to Syon Abbey in Caxton’s Editions of John Mirk’s Festial
Chapter 5: Manuscript and Print at Syon Abbey
Chapter 6: Lady Margaret Beaufort: Books, Printers, and Syon Abbey
Chapter 7: Syon Abbey in the Reign of Henry VIII and Beyond
A. A Bibliography of Syon texts before and after 1519
B. A List of Woodcuts In Syon Productions (In Chronological Order)
Index of Archives, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books