Explore ‘Ancrene Wisse’ on the British Library website. The similar structure and content of the Ancrene Wisse to Aelred’s work suggests the latter as a clear model. At the same time, Ancrene Wisse develops complex. Essays and criticism on Ancrene Wisse – Critical Essays.

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Ancrene Wisse also known as the Ancrene Riwle [1] or Guide for Anchoresses is an anonymous monastic rule or manual for female anchorites “anchoresses” written in the early anrene century.

The work consists of eight parts.

Parts 1 and ancreene deal with what is called the “Outer Rule” relating to the anchoresses’ exterior lifewhile Parts 2—7 deal with the “Inner Rule” relating to the anchoresses’ interior life. The didactic and devotional material is supplemented by illustrations and anecdotes, many drawn from everyday life. The adoption of an anchorite life was widespread all over medieval Europe, and was especially popular in England.

By the early thirteenth century, the lives of anchorites or anchoresses was considered distinct from that of hermits.

The hermit vocation permitted a change of location, whereas the anchorites were bound to one place of enclosure, generally a cell connected to a church. Ancrene Wisse was originally composed for three sisters who chose to enter the contemplative life.

In the early twentieth century, it was thought that this might be Kilburn Priory near the medieval City of Londonand attempts were made to date the work to the early twelfth century and to identify the author as a Godwyn, who led the house until An important step forward was taken by Geoffrey Shepherd in the production of his edition of parts six and seven of the work, in which he showed that the author’s reading was extensive.


Shepherd linked the author’s interests with those of a generation of late twelfth-century English and French scholars at the University of Paris, including Peter the Cantor and Stephen Langton. Shepherd suggested that the author was a scholarly man, though writing in English in the provinces, who was kept up to date with what was said and being written in the centres of learning of his day.

EJ Dobson produced the most influential modern reassessment of the origins of the work, however.

Ancrene Wisse Preface: text and translation

Dobson argues that the anchoresses were enclosed near Limebrook in Herefordshire, and that the author was an Augustinian canon at nearby Wigmore Abbey in Herefordshire named Brian of Lingen. The revision of the work contained in the Corpus manuscript [ clarification needed ] used by most modern translations can be dated between and Shepherd believes that the work does not show such influence, and thinks a date shortly after most likely. Dobson argues for a date between andafter the council and before the coming of the Dominicans to England.

The general contours of this account have found favour in modern textbook assessments of the text. Manuscript Bodley 34 contains a set of texts that have become known as the “Katherine Group”: Tolkien as “a faithful transcript of some dialect Wisee Wisse is often grouped by scholars alongside the Katherine Group and the Wooing Group —both collections of early Middle English religious texts written in AB language.


There are seventeen surviving medieval manuscripts containing all or part of Ancrene Wisse.

Ancrene Wisse

Of these, nine wises in the original Middle English, four are translations into Anglo-Normanand a further four are translations into Latin.

The shortest extract is the Lanhydrock Fragment, which consists of only one sheet of parchment.

Although none of the manuscripts is believed to be produced by the original author, several date from the first half of the 13th century. The Ancrene Wisse was partly retranslated from French back into English and reincorporated in the late 15th-century Wizse of Love.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also Anchoritic Spiritualitytrans Anne Savage and Nicholas Watson,who follow Dobson’s account of the origins of the text.

New York University Press, pp. Middle English devotional literature. Lambeth Palace, Trinity B. Retrieved from ” https: All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from March Wikipedia articles needing clarification from March Views Read Edit View history.

Ancrene Wisse – Wikipedia

In other projects Wikiquote. This page was last edited on wiisse Aprilat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Cotton MS Cleopatra C. Cotton MS Nero A. Cotton MS Titus D. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. MS Royal 8 C. Wikiquote has quotations related to: