Book Series Toronto Medieval Latin Texts, vol. 27

Gautier de Châtillon

Saints' Lives by Walter of Châtillon

Brendan, Alexis, Thomas Becket. Lives of Brendan and Alexis edited from London, British Library, MS. Cotton Vespasian D.ix. Thomas Becket edited from Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS. Reginensis latinus 344

Carsten Wollin (ed)

  • Pages: 104 p.
  • Size:140 x 215 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2002

Temporarily Out of Stock
  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-477-6
  • Paperback
  • Temporarily Out of Stock


This volume presents an edition of three poetic Vitae, the lives of saints Brendan, Alexis, and Thomas Becket, all written anonymously but here ascribed to Walter of Châtillon (c. 1130-1200). A full critical edition is in preparation for the series Corpus Christianorum, continuatio medieavalis; the single manuscript edition offered here has been prepared to make these texts quickly and easily available to the public and more accessible to students. The ascription of the Vita S. Brandani, Vita S. Alexii, and Vita S. Thome to Walter of Châtillon is based primarily on a great number of common stylistic features; all three poems have parallels both with one another and with other of Walter's known works.

Dedicated to Pope Alexander III, c. 1163/64, the Vita S. Brandani is a poetic translation of the Anglo-Norman Voyage de Saint Brendan (also in verse) by Benedeit, using the Latin prose Navigatio to fill in gaps in Benedeit's version. The Vita S. Alexii is based on a Latin prose translation, made at the end of the tenth century in the monastery of St Boniface in Rome, of the Greek version of the legend of St Alexis. The Vita S. Thome was written after the murder of Thomas Becket on 29 December 1170 but before his consecreation as a saint on 21 February 1173 and makes use of oral and written accounts by Becket's friends. It is dedicated to a high ecclesiastic, perhaps the archbishop of Reims (William 'of the White Hands'), or even Pope Alexander III.

The Latin of all three poems, which employ the 'goliardic' line and stanza, is difficult, and the texts are supported by numerous notes to aid translation. The edition is also accompanied by an introduction, textual notes and an appendix listing selected parallels with other works of Walter of Châtillon.