St Margaret of Antioch, supposedly martyred by the pagan tyrant Olybrius in the third or fourth century, was renowned in the later centuries of the Middle Ages for being swallowed by Rufo the Dragon and bursting out of the monster’s belly safe and sound. Her antics caused her to be venerated as the patroness of childbirth in the later Middle Ages, her devotees going as far as carving her story into apples and wrapping parchment featuring the text around their stomachs. Margaret’s story circulated extensively in French and Occitan between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. But not all vernacular hagiographers were as tolerant of the exploding dragon episode as others.
More than a dozen biographies of St Margaret have come down to us in French or Occitan, for the most part renderings of the Latin text known as the ‘Mombritius’ life. Most of the prose versions, which are even more numerous, are renderings of the entry for Margaret in Jacobus of Voragine’s ubiquitous Legenda aurea. All are listed below, classified initially by language and medium (i.e. verse/prose) and subsequently by source and approximate date of composition.
Transcriptions of each unpublished version will appear in due course. Use the buttons at the top to toggle between diplomatic and regularized editions.
Verse lives in French
- Cambridge. Late-C12 Insular version in 69 monorhymed stanzas of between 3 and 9 alexandrines (402 vv.). [ed. Spencer 1890]
- Cambridge, UL, Ee.vi.11, pp. 1-11
- Additional. C13 Insular version in 85 monorhymed, decasyllabic quatrains (340 vv.). [ed. Reichl 1975]
- BL, Add. 38664, ff. 1r-3r
- Sloane. C13 Insular version (though the sole witness in Picard) in highly irregular couplets (630 vv.). [ed. Meyer 1911]
- BL, Sloane 1611, ff. 147v-152v [ed. Meyer 1911]
- Fouque. Mid-C13 continental version by Fouque in octosyllabic couplets (498 vv.). [ed. Tammi 1958, 109-36]
- BnF, naf 13521, pp. 37-43
- Escotez, tote bone gent. Mid-C13 Insular version in octosyllabic couplets (478 vv.) [ed. Joly 1880, 229-35]
- BnF, fr. 19525, ff. 141v-145r
- Aprés la sainte Passion. Late-C13 continental version in octosyllabic couplets (661 vv. in edition). [ed. Joly 1880, 215-22 (from BnF, fr. 1555)]
- More than 100 witnesses
- Escoutez tuit par tel couvent. C14 reworking of Aprés la sainte Passion in octosyllabic couplets (786 vv.) [ed. Tammi 1958, 137-74]
- BnF, naf 6352, ff. 1r-17v
- D’une vierge lit on. Abbreviated C15 continental version in irregular hexasyllabic couplets and enclosed rhyme (72 vv.).
[B] Caligula, or Mombritius and Caligula
- Wace. Mid-C12 version in octosyllabic couplets by Jersey-born chronicler Wace (716 vv.) [ed. Keller 1990]
- Tours, BM 927, ff. 205v-216v
- Paris, Bibl. de l'Arsenal 3516, ff. 125r-126v
- Troyes, BM 1905, ff. 155v-175v
- York. Early-C13 Insular version in 68 monorhymed stanzas of between 5 and 9 alexandrines (437 vv.). [ed. Spencer 1890]
- York, Minster Library, XVI.K.13, ff. 126v-135r
- Knoll. Fragment of a late-C13 (?) Insular version in octosyllabic couplets (80 vv.). [ed. Zingerle 1891]
- Location of mansucript unknown.
[C] Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea, or Mombritius and Legenda aurea
- Bozon. Early-C14 Insular version in octosyllabic couplets attributed to Nicholas Bozon (330 vv.). [ed. Klenke 1947]
- London, BL, Cotton Dom. A.XI, ff. 97r-99r
- Soleil. C15 continental version in octosyllabic couplets (1332 vv.). [Extracts in Soleil 1885]
- Location of manuscript unknown.
Verse lives in Occitan
- Toulouse. C13 version in octosyllabic couplets (570 vv.), also surviving in two Catalan witnesses. [Jeanroy 1899]
- Toulouse, BM 1272, ff. 1r-27v
- Aurillac. Abbreviated C13 version in octosyllabic couplets (125 vv.). [ed. Brunel 1926]
- Location of manuscript unknown.
- Florence. C14 (?) version in octosyllabic couplets (1534 vv.). [ed. Manetti 2012]
- Florence, BML, Ashburnham 40a, ff. 23r-47r
Prose lives in French
- 1. [ed. Orywall 1968, 110-22 (A)]
- Paris, Bibl. Ste-Geneviève 587, ff. 18v-21v
- Chantilly, Bibl. du Château 734, ff. 328r-331v
- Geneva, BG, Com. Lat. 102, ff. 337r-340v
- Brussels, KBR 9225, ff. 87v-90v
- Paris, BnF, fr. 23117, ff. 439v-443r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 183, ff. 86v-89v
- London, BL, Add. 17275, ff. 315r-318v
- Paris, Bibl. Mazarine 1716, ff. 327v-332r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 413, ff. 412r-415r
- 1a. Expanded version, possibly influenced by Legenda aurea.
- Paris, BnF, fr. 20042, ff. 60r-70r
- 2. Heavily abbreviated.
- 3. [ed. Orywall 1968, 123-34 (B)]
- Paris, BnF, naf 4510, ff. 42r-50v
- 4. Abbreviated version of Insular origin.
- Rouen, BM 1430, ff. 57v-58v
- Oxford, The Queen's College, 305, ff. 306r-339r
- London, BL, Add. 41179, ff. 105r-109r
[B] Latin rendering of the Greek Passio a Theotimo
- 7. [ed. Orywall 1968, 135-39 (C)]
- London, BL, Royal 20.D.VI, ff. 220r-221v
- Paris, BnF, fr. 412, ff. 213-214r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 411, ff. 271r-272v
[C] Jean de Mailly, Abbreviatio in gestis et miraculis sanctorum
- 8. [ed. Orywall 1968, 140-42 (D)]
- Paris, BnF, fr. 988, ff. 124v-125v
- Epinal, BM 9, ff. 59v-60r
- Lille, BM 451, ff. 138v-139v
- 8a. Related to the above, perhaps reworked with Mombritius.
- Paris, BnF, fr. 15110, ff. 160r-160v
- Paris, Bibl. de l'Arsenal 570, ff. 183v-185r
- Paris, Bibl. de l'Arsenal 3684, ff. 76r-77r
[D] Vincent de Beauvais, Speculum historiale
- 9. A biography of St Margaret is included in Book 14 of Jean de Vignay's translation of the Speculum historiale. [ed. Orywall 1968, 143-45 (E)]
- Paris, BnF, naf 15942, f. 5r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 315, ff. 320r-321r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 313, ff. 273r-273v
- London, BL, Lansdowne 1179, ff. 244r-245r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 309, ff. 233r-234r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 51, ff. 103r-103v
- Paris, BnF, fr. 324, ff. 106r-107r
[E] Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea
- 10. [ed. Orywall 1968, 146-48 (F)]
- Paris, BnF, fr. 20330, ff. 156v-157v
- Le Puy-en-Velay, Bibl. du Grand Séminaire, unnumbered, ff. 126r-126v
- 11. Version dedicated to Béatrice de Bourgogne.
- Paris, BnF, fr. 23114, ff. 183r-183v [ed. Orywall 1968, 153-55 (H)]
- 12. Jean de Vignay’s translation. [ed. Orywall 1968, 149-52 (G)]
- Dozens of witnesses.
- Brussels, KBR 10203, ff. 98r-100r
- Lille, BM 452, ff. 346r-348v
- Paris, Bibl. de l’Institut 12 (vol. II), ff. 82r-83v
- Cambrai, BM 812, ff. 199r-200r
- Cambrai, BM 210, vol. II, ff. 50r-51v
- Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Charles Fairfax Murray 12, ff. 99r-101r
- Florence, BML, Med. Pal. 141, ff. 173v-174r
- Kraków, BJ, gall. f° 156, ff. 184r-185v
- Tournai, BV 127, ff. 186v-187v
- 15. [ed. Orywall 1968, p. 156 (J)]
- Paris, BnF, fr. 1054, ff. 195r-197v
- 16. Fragment.
- Semur-en-Auxois, BM 38, ff. 227r-227v
- 17. [ed. Orywall 1968, 157-60 (K)]
- Tours, BM 1012, ff. 26r-27v
- Paris, BnF, fr. 15475, ff. 189r-190r
- Paris, BnF, naf 4464, ff. 148r-149r
- Paris, BnF, fr. 1534, ff. 48v-49v
- 20. Perhaps the work of Jeanne de Malone. Fragmentary.
- Leiden, BRU, BPL 46A, f. 11r
Prose lives in Occitan
Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea
- Paris, BnF, fr. 9759, ff. 176v-178r
- 2. [ed. Tausend 1995, 208-10]
- Paris, BnF, fr. 24945, ff. 23r-24r
- Paris, BnF, naf 6504, ff. 80r-81v