Book Series Studies in the Early Middle Ages, vol. 30

Textus Roffensis

Law, Language, and Libraries in Early Medieval England

Bruce R. O'Brien, Barbara Bombi (eds)

  • Pages: 419 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:10 b/w, 16 tables b/w., 1 Map
  • Language(s):English, Old English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54233-1
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54262-1
  • E-book
  • Available

Twenty experts in law, linguistics, literature, history, and religion analyze one of the most important books produced in medieval England.


“It is a valuable addition to the arsenal of any scholar interested in law and society of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England.” (Rory Naismith, in The Medieval Review, 2016.10.05)

“This volume (…) is the most important contribution in some time, and serves as a useful compendious introduction to the subject, as well as a stimulus for fresh debate. The editing and production is of a high standard, and the indexing is full and well organised.” (Greg Waite, in Parergon, 33/1, 2016, p. 236-237)

“Der Band bietet insgesamt eine intensive Annäherung an die Überlieferung im Textus Roffensis, die der Forschung interessante Anregungen und neue Einsichten über das angelsächsische England vermittelt.” (Jürgen Sarnowsky, in Deutschen Archiv, 74/2, 2018, p. 760)




Textus Roffensis, a Rochester Cathedral book of the early twelfth century, holds some of the most significant texts issued in early medieval England, ranging from the oldest English-language law code of King Æthelberht of Kent (c. 600) to a copy of Henry I’s Coronation Charter (5 August 1100). Textus Roffensis also holds abundant charters (including some forgeries), narratives concerning disputed property, and one of the earliest library catalogues compiled in medieval England. While it is a familiar and important manuscript to scholars, however, up to now it has never been the object of a monograph or collection of wide-ranging studies. The seventeen contributors to this book have subjected Textus Roffensis to close scrutiny and offer new conclusions on the process of its creation, its purposes and uses, and the interpretation of its laws and property records, as well as exploring significant events in which Rochester played a role and some of the more important people associated with the See. The work of the contributors takes readers into the mind of the scribes and compiler (or patron) behind the Textus Roffensis, as well as into the origins and meaning of the texts that the monks of early twelfth-century Rochester chose to preserve. The essays contained here not only set the study of the manuscript on a firm foundation, but also point to new directions for future work.


Textus Roffensis: An Introduction — BRUCE O’BRIEN

The Book

The Textus Roffensis: Keystone of the Medieval Library at Rochester — MARY P. RICHARDS

Textus Roffensis and Its Uses — NICHOLAS KARN

The Other Book: MS Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 383 in Relation to the Textus Roffensis — THOMAS GOBBITT

Scribal Malpractice and the Study of Anglo-Saxon Law in the Twelfth Century — STEFAN JURASINSKI


The Laws of King Æthelberht of Kent: Preservation, Content, and Composition — NICHOLAS BROOKS

The Earliest English Texts? The Language of the Kentish Laws Reconsidered — CAROLE HOUGH

Drihtinbeag and the Question of the Beginnings of Punishment — DANIELA FRUSCIONE

Archbishop Wulfstan’s ‘Compilation on Status’ in the Textus Roffensis — ANDREW RABIN

Episcopal Power and Performance: The Fugitive-Thief Rite in Textus Roffensis (Also Known as the Cattle-Theft Charm) — TRACEY-ANNE COOPER

Fathers of Uncles? A Problem in the Old English Tract Known as Wergeld — JULIE MUMBY

Who Wrote Alfred’s Laws? — LISI OLIVER


Who Introduced Charters into England? The Case for Theodore and Hadrian — BEN SNOOK

The Religious Elements in the Textus Roffensis Charters — DAVID A. E. PELTERET


King Æthelred the Unready and the Church of Rochester — SIMON KEYNES

Doing Business with William Rufus: the Haddenham Narrative — RICHARD SHARPE

Gundulf of Rochester and the Influence of the School of Bec at Rochester — SALLY N. VAUGHN