Seminar III: Letters and Letter Collections

Letters are crucial sources for many different forms of history. As records of acts of communication between the great, they sometimes provide insights into the thinking of those who were directly involved in important events. Routine correspondence often provides evidence of a more mundane but no less precious kind, relating to economic activities and to the nature of social and gender relations. Love letters are in every period a particularly important source for the history of gender and of the sense of self. There is no doubting the tremendous potential of letters as historical evidence; but their value is much affected, as in the case of all the genres discussed in this course, by the conventions and practices which governed their composition, use and preservation.

firebeastThe writing of letters was a rhetorical art whose forms were often applied with considerable rigidity. In the earlier Middle Ages knowledge of this art was mostly acquired as part of the learning of grammar and rhetoric. It often involved the imitation of older examples of the genre which had been gathered together into books known as ‘formularies’ or ‘formbooks’. Since one priority driving their construction was the desire to have an example for most if not every kind of letter that might be required, the surviving formularies give a good impression of the range of issues which engaged the authorities and landowners for whom they were made, but the methods involved in their compilation obscure the relative importance of one form of business as opposed to another. The appearance from the late eleventh-century onwards of manuals devoted to defining and explaining rules for writing letters reflects the growing demand for this kind knowledge, especially among those who did not have access to the full rhetorical training offered by the schools. The art of letter-writing according to the methods set out in these manuals came to be known as the ars dictaminis or ars dictandi. (In this context the phrase ars dictaminis means ‘the art of dictating [a letter]’.) The earliest of the known examples of these manuals, Alberic of Monte Cassino’s Breviarium de dictamine, was composed in about 1075. It is important to note, however, that older-style formularies continued to be used alongside these manuals. Indeed, much official business in the later as well as the earlier Middle Ages was conducted through the use of letters adapted from a few highly influential model-books, such as the various collections which were made of the letters of the Emperor Frederick II’s chief minister, Petrus de Vinea (c. 1190–1249). A collection of his letters was, for example, the formulary of choice for the English chancery in the second half of the thirteenth century.

The rules laid down that letters had to have five parts, which Haskins succinctly defined as follows:

The salutation [salutatio], a point upon which mediaeval etiquette was very severe, the form of address being elaborately fixed for each dignity and station in society; the exordium [introduction] or captatio benevolentie [the grasping of goodwill], designed to put the reader in the right frame of mind and often consisting of a proverb or scriptural quotation; the narrative or exposition [narratio]; the petition [petitio], for a request was always expected and was likely to take the form of a logical deduction from the major and minor premises already laid down in the exordium and narration; and finally the conclusion [conclusio] (C. H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1955), pp. 143–4 [MBM]).

The other dimension of proper epistolary style was the choice of suitable vocabulary and the arrangement of the words in an order that was pleasing to the mind and the ear. Attention to rhyme and cursus, or the metre of the Latin, especially the cadences at the ends of clauses, was particularly important.

The art of letter-writing involved the use, moreover, of the discourse of amicitia or ‘friendship’. Convention required that letter-writers address their correspondents as if they were close friends—as if the affection and intimacy that existed between them was so deep that both parties would always act to serve and protect the other. A fragment of this discourse survives in the way in which modern letters open with the phrase ‘Dear X’, even though the recipient of most business letters is seldom someone for whom the author feels any affection. Since the expressions of warmth in medieval letters are often so elaborate and effusive that they scarcely seem genuine to the modern ear, the question of the authenticity of these words is often central to the interpretation of their letters. Politics, the need to manipulate the recipient for the sake of some cause, is what often seems to govern the deployment of this discourse; but for some writers the cultivation of friendship networks—or perhaps, of a reputation for greatness in the development of this important set of cultural norms—may well have been an end in itself.

Other factors which need to be considered include the ways in which letters were actually sent from one person to another and the role of the messenger in this process. It was possible to fold and bind the sheets on which letters were written using strings and wax seals so that their contents could not be read by third parties whilst in transit—so that the recipient would know if the letter had been read by anyone else. (A breve patens, ‘an open letter’, might be validated with an impression of a seal at the foot of the page, but a breve clausum, ‘a closed letter’, was sealed after folding so that the seal had to be broken in order for its contents to be read.) But in the Middle Ages this precaution was often set aside, permitting third parties to peruse their contents. Indeed, letters in transit were often read out loud to others whilst still en-route to their designated recipients, especially if they were highly engaging, as a kind of post-prandial entertainment that offered the wealthy an incentive to provide hospitality for their bearers. Far from resisting this practice, correspondents, especially those who were engaged in the issues of the day, would often exploit it as a way of gaining publicity for their patrons and their positions. The upshot for present purposes is that the historian needs to consider carefully whether the person to whom a letter is addressed does in fact comprise its primary audience. Many of the letters that have survived, especially those that have been preserved in chronicles, should be seen as attempts to engage élites in the promotion of particular causes, as tools for putting pressure on authority figures (often the authority to whom the letter is addressed) to implement the wishes of particular interest groups.

firebeastThe oral instructions given to the messenger to whom a letter was entrusted were also important, especially when, as was often the case in medieval diplomacy, the letter itself was merely a formal, opening, statement in a larger transaction. Since most disputes were settled by compromise, it is natural to assume that it was often the messenger who revealed the author’s actual negotiating position. Many letters were, as Stubbs observed, little more than credentials whose purpose was to validate the messenger. It follows that the surviving correspondence provides, at best, only a partial record of many diplomatic exchanges and that our knowledge of the acts of communication which mattered most to their outcomes is extremely limited. This point also applies to personal correspondence, but to a much lesser extent. Indeed, Peter the Venerable wrote to his ‘friend’ Hato of Troyes stressing the greater reliability of written media as opposed to messengers: ‘Words that are conveyed to the hearts of others through foreign ears have a way of increasing, changing or losing their true meaning, which is either misunderstood, or neglected, or distorted by the ignorance, carelessness, or assiduity of the messenger’ (Ep. 69).

The processes by which letters were preserved are another factor which affects their significance. Scarcely any medieval letters exist in their original form—as single, folded, sheets. Our knowledge of them mostly derives from the efforts of copyists and editors who were responding to one of two needs: one was the desire to promote and preserve a person’s reputation by assembling and circulating a collection of his or her letters, the other was the need to provide students of letter-writing with models of how to write formal letters on all the topics and themes that might be required. Both needs generated numerous letter collections, but in both cases there was a natural tendency to weed out material which the modern historian would like to have. Assembled with a view to securing the subject’s glory and with the advantage of hindsight, the collections of the letters of the great tend to edit out examples of infelicitous or inept prose and those letters or details which might diminish the author’s reputation, not least those which drew attention to their intimacy with figures who were subsequently damned by the course of history. The letter collections of bishops, for instance, often omit their letters to the many anti-popes—their letters, that is, to those who were disregarded as ‘anti-popes’ after the other side had won. The compilers of formularies or model-books tended, in similar fashion, to include only those letters which were appropriate for imitation and for the classroom. They were not keen to recommend the imitation of letters that flouted convention. They were, however, much interested in the letters of those who were capable of re-inventing received formulas using their own words, nuances and metaphors. Then, as now, the best student was the one who could transcend slavish adherence to the established forms. Good teachers would attempt, therefore, to persuade their students to recognise and value writing of this kind.

Topics for Discussion

  1. The classical and late Roman background to medieval letter-writing.
  2. The rhetorical structure of the medieval letter.
  3. The limitations of letters as historical evidence.
  4. The potential significance of the ways in which the surviving letters have been transmitted and preserved.
  5. The uses to which historians might usefully put medieval letters.

Texts for Discussion

  1. The Letters of Arnulf of Lisieux
  2. The Letters of the Nuns of Admont
  3. The Letters of Peter of Celle

Some Other Examples

  • Abelard, Peter, and Heloise, The Letters and Other Writings, trs. W. Levitan, S. Lombardo and B. Thorburn (Indianapolis, IN, and Cambridge, 2007). XTJ.A1. The most affordable and substantial of the many translations now in print.
  • Abelard, Peter, and Heloise, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trs. B. Radice (Harmondsworth, 1974). XTJ.A1.
  • Abelard, Peter, The Story of Abelard’s Adversities: A Translation with Notes of the Historia Calamitatum, trs. J. T. Muckle (Toronto, 1964). ABL.
  • Abelard, Peter, Letters of Peter Abelard: Beyond the Personal, trs. J. M. Ziolkowski (Washington, DC, 2008).
  • Abelard, Peter, and Heloise, The Letter Collection of Peter Abelard and Heloise, ed. D. E. Luscombe and trs. B. Radice, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 2013).
  • Alcuin, Two Alcuin Letter-Books: From the British Museum MS Cotton Vespasian A XIV, ed. C. Chase (Toronto, 1975). PN.DM.A3.
  • Anselm, The Letters of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, trs. W. Fröhlich, 3 vols., Cistercian Studies ser. 96, 97, 142 (Kalamazoo, MN, 1990-4).
  • Barber, M., and A. K. Bale (trs.), Letters from the East: Crusaders, Pilgrims, and Settlers in the 12th and 13th Centuries (Aldershot, 2010). MBV.
  • Becket, Thomas, The Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162–1170, ed. and trs. A. J. Duggan, 2 vols. (Oxford, 2000).
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, The Letters of St Bernard of Clairvaux, trs. B. S. James (London, 1953). PN.DP.B45.
  • Boniface, The Letters of Saint Boniface, trs. Ephraim Emerton (New York, 1940).
  • Carlin, M., and D. Crouch (eds and trs.), Lost Letters of Medieval Life: English Society, 1200–1250 (Philadelphia, PA, 2013). Available online at JSTOR.
  • Cassiodorus, The Variae: The Complete Translation, trs. M. S. Bjornlie (Oakland, CA, 2019).
  • Cheney, C. R., and W. H. Semple (eds), Selected Letters of Pope Innocent III Concerning England (1198-1216), Nelson’s Medieval Texts (London, 1953). MVGP.K.
  • Maurer, H. E., and B. M. Cron (eds), The Letters of Margaret of Anjou (Woodbridge, 2019). The correspondence in Latin, French and Middle English of Queen Margaret (d. 1482), the wife of Henry VI, king of England (1422–1461 and 1470–1471).
  • Crouch, D. (ed.), The Acts and Letters of the Marshal Family: Marshals of England and Earls of Pembroke, 1145–1248, Camden, 5th ser. 47 (Cambridge, 2015). Available online from Cambridge Core.
  • Davis, N. (ed.), Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1971). YDL.P2.
  • Einhard, The Letters, trs. H. Preble, Papers of the American Society of Church History, ed. S. M. Jackson, 2nd ser. 1 (New York, NY, 1913).
  • Elisabeth of Schonau, The Complete Works, ed. and trs. A. L. Clark (New York, NY, 2000).
  • Epistolæ: Medieval Women's Letters. A site which offers texts and translations of some nine hundred or so letters by and from women who lived between the fourth and the thirteenth centuries. It is the work of Professor Joan Ferrante of Columbia University.
  • Foliot, Gilbert, The Letters and Charters of Gilbert Foliot, Abbot of Gloucester (1139–48), Bishop of Hereford (1148–63), and London (1163–87), ed. Z. N. Brooke, A. Morey and C. N. L. Brooke (Cambridge, 1967). MVF.K.
  • Fulbert of Chartres, The Letters and Poems, ed. and trs. F. Behrends, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 1976).
  • Gerbert of Aurillac, The Letters of Gerbert with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II, trs. H. P. Lattin, Records of Civilization, Sources and Studies, 60 (New York, 1961).
  • Goitein, S. D. (ed. and trs.), Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders (Princeton, NJ, 1973).
  • Goscelin of St Bertin, The Book of Encouragement and Consolation, trs. M. Otter, Library of Medieval Women (Woodbridge, 2004). PN.DO.G65. A spiritual tract written in the form of a letter.
  • Goulburn, E. M., and H. Symonds, The Life, Letters and Sermons of Bishop Herbert de Losinga, 2 vols. (London, 1878).
  • Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nazianzus’s Letter Collection: The Complete Translation, trs. B. Storin, B. Christianity in Late Antiquity 7 (Oakland, CA, 2019).
  • Gregory the Great, The Letters of Gregory the Great, trs. J. R. C. Martyn, Mediaeval Sources in Translation 40 (Toronto, 2004). PN.DL.G75.
  • Häring, N., ‘Hilary of Orléans and his Letter Collection’, Studi Medievali, 14 (1973), 1088–1122. Prints a collection of letters from Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 1877.
  • Hildegard of Bingen, The Personal Correspondence, ed. and trs. J. I. Baird (Oxford, 2006). PN.DP.H55. Only a selection.
  • Hildegard of Bingen, The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen, trs. J. I. Baird and R. K. Ehrma (Oxford, 1994).
  • John of Salisbury, The Letters of John of Salisbury, ed. W. J. Millor and H. E. Butler, rev. by C. N. L. Brooke, Oxford Medieval Texts, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1955–79). PR4.J7.
  • Kingsford, C. L. (ed.), Stonor Letters and Papers, 1290–1483, ed. C. Carpenter (Cambridge, 1996). MVH.H.
  • Lanfranc, Letters, ed. H. Clover and M. Gibson, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 1979). PN.DP.L2.
  • Liebermann, F., ‘Lanfranc and the Antipope’, English Historical Review, 16 (1901), 328–32. Journals L6; JSTOR. Prints three letters from the anti-pope Clement III to Lanfranc which survive because they were added to the final folios of the latter's own copy of his Collectio canonum after it was brought to Canterbury from Bec (today, Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.16.44, pp. 405–6).
  • Lupus of Ferrières, The Letters of Lupus of Ferrières, trs. G. W. Regenos (The Hague, 1966).
  • Marsh, Adam, The Letters of Adam Marsh, ed. and trs. H. Lawrence, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 2006).
  • Martín-Iglesias, J. C., P. C. Díaz, and M. V. Girvés (eds. and trs.), La Hispania tardoantigua y visigoda en las fuentes epistolares: Antología y comentario, Nueva Roma 52 (Madrid, 2020).
  • Osbert of Clare, The Letters of Osbert of Clare, Prior of Westminster, ed. F. W. Williamson (London, 1929).s
  • Paulinus of Nola, Letters of Paulinus of Nola, trs. P. B. Walsh, Ancient Christian Writers 35-36 (Westminster, MD, 1966-67). PO.A.
  • Peter of Blois, Later letters of Peter of Blois, ed. E. Revell, Auctores Britannici medii aevi 13 (Oxford, 1993).
  • Peter the Venerable, The Letters of Peter the Venerable, ed. and trs. G. Constable, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 1967). The introduction (pp. 1–44) to this volume offers an excellent overview of letter-writing and letter collections in the Middle Ages.
  • Plechl, H., and W. Bergmann (eds), Die Tegernseer Briefsammlung des 12. Jahrhunderts, Monumenta Germaniae Historica Epistolae: Die Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit 8 (Hannover, 2002). Available from MGH Online. 306 official and private letters and several documents and, in a separate appendix, 11 love letters preserved in a twelfth-century manuscript from the Abbey of Tegernsee in Bavaria.
  • Robert Grosseteste, The Letters of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, trs. with an introduction and annotation by F. A. C. Mantello and J. Goering (Toronto, 2010).
  • Shirley, W. W. (ed.), Royal and other Historical Letters illustrative of the Reign of Henry III, RS, 2 vols. (London, 1862–66).
  • Sidonius Apollinaris, Poems and Letters, ed. and trs. W. B. Anderson, W. H. Semple and E. H. Warmington, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 1936–65). XJ.S569.
  • Virgoe, R. (ed.), Illustrated Letters of the Paston Family: Private Life in the Fifteenth Century (London, 1989). MVJ.H.

Some Letter Writing Manuals / Artes dictaminis

  • Boncampagno da Signa, Rota veneris, trs. J. Purkart (Delmar, NY, 1975).
  • Camargo, M. (ed.), Medieval Rhetorics of Latin Prose Composition: Five English Artes Dictandi and their Tradition, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 115 (Binghamton, NY, 1995).
  • Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Documentum de modo et arte dictandi et versificandi: Instruction in the method and art of speaking and versifying, trs. R. P. Parr, Mediaeval Philosophical Texts in Translation 17 (Milwaukee, WI, 1968). XJR.V6.
  • Hall, H. (ed.), A Formula Book of English Official Historical Documents, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1908). Stack 7LEDea.
  • Murphy, J. J. (trs.), Three Medieval Rhetorical Arts (Berkeley, CA, 1971). One of the three treatises translated here is Rationes dictandi, an anonymous Bolognese manual from 1135.
  • Rockinger, Ludwig, Briefsteller und formelbücher des eilften bis vierzehnten jahrhunderts, Quellen und Erörterungen zur bayerischen und deutschen Geschichte 9, 2 vols (Munich, 1863).
  • Salter, H. E. W., A. Pantin, and H. G. Richardson (eds), Formularies which bear on the History of Oxford, c.1204–1420, 2 vols, Oxford Historical Society, n.s. 4 (Oxford, 1942).
  • Worstbrock, F. J., M. Klaes, and J. Lütten, Repertorium der Artes Dictandi des Mittelalters, vol. 1, Von den Anfangen bis um 1200 (Munich, 1992). A descriptive catalogue of texts.

Other Useful Readings

  • Allott, S., Alcuin of York, c. AD 732 to 804: His Life and Letters (York, 1974). PN.DM.A3. ‘Contains 72 letters in full, 55 with small omissions and a further 33 with fairly considerable omissions.’
  • Altman, J. G., Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form (Columbus, OH, 1982). YVHE.
  • Antenhofer, C., and M. Mersiowsky (eds.), The Roles of Medieval Chanceries: Negotiating Rules of Political Communication, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 51 (Turnhout, 2021). Explores processes of negotiating rules in medieval political communication.
  • Bjornlie, M. S., Politics and Tradition between Rome, Ravenna and Constantinople: A Study of Cassiodorus and the Variae, 527–554, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 4th Ser. (Cambridge, 2013).
  • Bombi, B., Anglo-Papal Relations in the Early Fourteenth Century: A Study in Medieval Diplomacy, Oxford Studies in Medieval European History (Oxford, 2019), esp. chp. 2, where Bombi discusses the stilus curie and ars dictaminis.
  • Boureau, A., ‘The Letter-Writing Norm: A Medieval Invention’, trs .C. Woodall in R. Chartier, A. Boureau and C. Dauphin (eds), Correspondence: Models of Letter-Writing from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 24–58.
  • Brown, A. L., The Governance of Late Medieval England, 1272–1461 (Stanford, CA, 1989), esp. pp. 42–52, for chancery letters.
  • Bruggisser, P., Symmaque, ou le rituel épistolaire de l’amitié littéraire: Recherches sur le premier livre de la correspondance (Fribourg, 1993).
  • Camargo, M., Ars dictaminis, ars dictandi, Typologie des sources du Moyen Âge occidental 60 (Turnhout, 1991).
  • Cartlidge, N., ‘An Intruder at the Feast? Anxiety and Debate in the Letters of Peter of Blois’, in R. Kennedy and S. Meecham-Jones (eds), Writers of the Reign of Henry II: Twelve Essays, The New Middle Ages Series (New York, 2007), pp. 79–108. MVGH.I.
  • Chaplais, P., English Diplomatic Practice in the Middle Ages (London, 2003). MVB.D. An extended study of the processes of international diplomacy with particular reference to later medieval England and to the roles played by messengers, envoys and letters.
  • Cheney, C. R., ‘Gervase, Abbot of Prémontre: A Medieval Letter-Writer’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 33 (1950), 25–56.
  • Cherewatuk, K., and U. Wiethaus (eds), Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre (Philadelphia, PA, 1993).
  • Constable, G., ‘Dictators and Diplomats in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries: Medieval Epistolography and the Birth of Modern Bureaucracy’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 46 (1992) [Homo Byzantinus: Papers in Honor of Alexander Kazhdan], pp. 37–46. JSTOR.
  • Constable, G., ‘Forged Letters in the Middle Ages’, in W. Setz (ed.), Fälschungen im Mittelalter, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Schriften 33, 5 vols. (Hannover, 1988), v, 11–37.
  • Constable, G., Letters and Letter-Collections, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental 17 (Turnhout, 1976).
  • Conybeare, C., Paulinus Noster: Self and Symbols in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola (Oxford, 2000).
  • Cotts, J. D., ‘Peter of Blois and the Problem of the “Court” in the Late Twelfth Century’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 27 (2005), 68–84.
  • Cotts, J. D., The Clerical Dilema: Peter of Blois and Literate Culture in the Twelfth Century (Washington, DC, 2009).
  • Doty, A., ‘The Classification of Epistolary Literature’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 31 (1969), 183–99.
  • Duggan, A. J., Thomas Becket: A Textual History of his Letters (Oxford, 1980). MVG.K.
  • Ebbeler, J., ‘Tradition, Innovation, and Epistolary Mores’, in P. Rousseau (ed.), A Companion to Late Antiquity, Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World (Oxford, 2007), pp. 270–84. LVL.
  • Fröhlich, W., ‘The Letters Omitted from Anselm's Collection of Letters’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 6 (1983), 58–71.
  • Garrison, M., ‘“Send More Socks”: On Mentality and the Preservation of Letters Revisited’, in M. Mostert (ed.), New Approaches to Medieval Communication, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy (Turnhout, 1999), pp. 69–99. MBR7.
  • Hamilton, J. H., ‘The Character of Edward II: The Letters of Edward of Caernarfon Reconsidered’, in G. Dodd and A. Musson (eds), The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives (Woodbridge, 2006), pp. 6–21.
  • Harries, J. D., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome, A.D. 407–485 (Oxford, 1994). LVS.
  • Hartmann, M., Studien zu den Briefen Abt Wibalds von Stablo und Corvey sowie zur Briefliteratur in der frühen Stauferzeit, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte 52 (Hannover, 2011).
  • Haseldine, J. P. (ed.), Friendship in Medieval Europe (Stroud, 1999). MBM. Based on a Conference held at King’s College, London, April, 1996.
  • Haseldine, J. P., ‘Friendship and Rivalry: The Role of Amicitia in Twelfth-Century Monastic Relations’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 44 (1993), 390–414. Journals P6.
  • Haseldine, J. P., ‘Friendship, Intimacy and Corporate Networking in the Twelfth Century: The Politics of Friendship in the Letters of Peter the Venerable’, English Historical Review, 126 (2011), 251–80. Journals L6.
  • Haseldine, J. P., ‘Love, Separation and Male Friendship: Words and Actions in Saint Anselm’s Letters to his Friends‘, in D. M. Hadley (ed.), Masculinity in Medieval Europe, Women and Men in History (London, 1999), pp. 238–55. MBM7.
  • Hill, M. C., The King’s Messengers, 1199–1377: A Contribution to the History of the Royal Household (London, 1961).
  • Høgel, C., and E. Bartoli (eds), Medieval Letters: Between Fiction and Document, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 33 (Turnhout, 2015).
  • Jasper, D., and H. Fuhrmann, Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages, History of Medieval Canon Law (Washington, DC, 2001).
  • Jucker, M., ‘Trust and Mistrust in Letters: Late Medieval Diplomacy and its Communication and Practice’, in P. Schulte, M. Mostert, and I. V. Renswoude (eds), Strategies of Writing: Studies on Text and Trust in the Middle Ages: Papers from ‘Trust in Writing in the Middle Ages’, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literary (Turnhout, 2008), pp. 213–36.
  • Kantorowicz, E., ‘Petrus de Vinea in England’, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, 51 (1937), 43–48.
  • Knight, G. R., ‘Uses and Abuses of “amicitia”: The Correspondence Between Peter the Venerable and Hato of Troyes’, Reading Medieval Studies, 23 (1997), 35–67. Journals L6.
  • Knight, G. R., The Correspondence between Peter the Venerable and Bernard of Clairvaux: A Semantic and Structural Analysis, Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West (Aldershot, 2002). PN.DP.P4.
  • Lawrence, C. H., ‘The Letters of Adam Marsh and the Franciscan School at Oxford’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 42 (1991), 218–38. Journals P6.
  • Luehring, J., and R. J. Utz, ‘Letter Writing in the Middle Ages (c.1250–1600): An Introductory Bibliography’, Disputatio, 1 (1996), 191–229.
  • Matthews, J. F., ‘The Letters of Symmachus’, in J. W. Binns (ed.), Latin Literature of the Fourth Century (London, 1974), pp. 58–99. XIP.
  • Mathisen, R. W., ‘Epistolography, Literary Circles and Family Ties in Late Roman Gaul’, Transactions of the American Philological Association, 111 (1981), 95–109. JSTOR.
  • Neal, K. B., The Letters of Edward I: Political Communication in the Thirteenth Century (Woodbridge, 2021).
  • Meddings, J., ‘Friendship among the Aristocracy in Anglo-Norman England’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 22 (2000), 186–204.
  • Mews, C. J., and N. Chiavaroli, The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard: Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France (1st edn, London, 1999; 2nd edn, 2008). XTJ.A1.
  • Mews, C. J., and J. N. Crossley (eds), Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe, 1100–1500, Europa Sacra (Turnhout, 2011).
  • Morey, A., and C. N. L. Brooke, Gilbert Foliot and his Letters, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 11 (Cambridge, 1965). MVF.K.
  • Murphy, J. J., ‘The Art of Letter-Writing’, in his Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: A History of Rhetorical Theory from St Augustine to the Renaissance (Berkeley, CA, 1974), esp. pp. 194–268. YUV3.B.
  • Murphy, J. J., ‘The Arts of Poetry and Prose’, in Alastair J. Minnis and Ian Johnson (eds), The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 2, The Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 42–67.
  • Nederman, C. J., ‘Textual Communities of Learning and Friendship Circles in the Twelfth Century: An Examination of John of Salisbury’s Correspondence’, in C. J. Mews and J. N. Crossley (eds), Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe, 1100–1500, Europa Sacra (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 73–83.
  • Neil, B., and P. Allen, The Letters of Gelasius I (492–496): Pastor and Micro-Manager of the Church of Rome, Adnotationes 1 (Turnhout, 2015).
  • New, E. A., Seals and Sealing Practices, Archives and the User 11 (London, 2010).
  • Niskanen, S., The Letter Collections of Anselm of Canterbury, Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia 61 (Turnhout, 2011).
  • Noble, E., The World of the Stonors: A Gentry Society (Woodbridge, 2009).
  • Pepin, R. E., ‘Amicitia iocosa: Peter of Celle and John of Salisbury’, Florilegium, 5 (1983), 140–56.
  • Poster, C., and L. C. Mitchell (eds), Letter-Writing Manuals and Instruction from Antiquity to the Present: Historical and Bibliographic Studies (Columbia, NY, 2007). YVSL. A fantastic mine of bibliographical information. Note esp. C. Poster, ‘A Conversation Halved: Epistolary Theory in Greco-Roman Antiquity’ (pp. 7–20); M. Richardson, ‘The Ars dictaminis, the Formulary, and Medieval Epistolary Practice’ (pp. 52–66); and C. Poster and R. Utz, ‘Appendix B: A Bibliography of Medieval Latin Dictamen’ (pp. 285–300).
  • Richardson, H. G., ‘The Letters and Charters of Eleanor of Aquitaine’, English Historical Review, 74 (1959), 193–213. Journals L6; JSTOR.
  • Richardson, M., ‘Women Commercial Writers of Late Medieval England’, Disputatio: A Transdisciplinary Journal of Medieval Studies, 1 (1996), 123–46.
  • Riehle, A. (ed.), A Companion to Byzantine Epistolography, Brill’s Companions to the Byzantine World 7 (Leiden, 2020). Includes, among other useful essays: T. J. Bauer, ‘Letter Writing in Antiquity and Early Christianity’ (pp. 33–67); L. Wahlgren-Smith, ‘Letter Collections in the Latin West’ (pp. 92–122); S. Kotzabassi, ‘Epistolography and Rhetoric’, (pp. 177–99); E. C. Bourbouhakis, ‘Epistolary Culture and Friendship’ (pp. 279–306); F. Bernard, ‘Epistolary Communication: Rituals and Codes’ (pp. 307–32); J. Preiser-Kapeller, ‘Letters and Network Analysis’ (pp. 431–65).
  • Rolker, C., Canon Law and the Letters of lvo of Chartres (Cambridge, 2010).
  • Rosenthal, J. T., ‘Letters and Letter Collections’, in J. T. Rosenthal (ed.), Understanding Medieval Primary Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe, Routledge Guides to Using Historical Sources (London, 2012), pp. 72–85. MB.
  • Smith, T. W., Curia and Crusade: Pope Honorius III and the Recovery of the Holy Land, 1216–1227, Outremer: Studies in the Crusades and the Latin East 6 (Turnhout, 2017). ‘Grounded in extensive original research into the manuscripts of Honorius’s letter registers.’
  • Sogno, C., B. K. Storin and E. J. Watts (eds), Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide (Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA, 2017). An important guide to the late-antique models for later western letter-collecting.
  • Sternberg, G., ‘Epistolary Ceremonials: Corresponding Status at the Time of Louis XIV’, Past and Present, 204 (2009), 33–88. Journals L6. Useful for methodological issues.
  • Taliadoros, J., ‘Communities of Learning in Law and Theology: The Later Letters of Peter of Blois (1125/30–1212)’, in C. J. Mews and J. N. Crossley (eds), Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe, 1100–1500, Europa Sacra (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 85–107.
  • Taylor, J., ‘Letters and Letter Collections in England, 1300–1420’, Nottingham Mediaeval Studies, 24 (1980), 57–70. Journals L6.
  • Trout, D. E., Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters and Poems (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1999).
  • Tyrrell, A., Merovingian Letters and Letter Writers, Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 12 (Turnhout, 2019). XJQ. Includes an appendix with summaries of each letter in translation.
  • Van Engen, J., ‘Letters, Schools, and Written Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries’, in J. Fried (ed.), Dialektik und Rhetorik im früheren und hohen Mittelalter: Rezeption, Überlieferung und gesellschaftliche Wirkung antiker Gelehrsamkeit vornehmlich im 9. und 12. Jahrhundert, Schriften des Historischen Kollegs, Kolloquien 27 (Munich, 1997), pp. 97–132.
  • Vanderputten, S., ‘Canterbury and Flanders in the Late Tenth Century’, Anglo-Saxon England, 35 (2006), 219–44.
  • Vaughn, S. N., ‘St Anselm and Women’, Haskins Society Journal, 2 (1990), 83–93.
  • Vaughn, S. N., St Anselm and the Handmaidens of God: a Study of Correspondence with Women (Turnhout, 2002).
  • Wahlgren-Smith, L., ‘Editing a Medieval Text: The Case of Nicholas of Clairvaux’, in P. Skinner (ed.), Challenging the Boundaries of Medieval History: The Legacy of Timothy Reuter, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 22 (Turnhout, 2009), pp. 173–83.
  • Wahlgren, L., The Letters of Peter of Blois: Studies in the Manuscript Tradition, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis (Gothenburg, 1993).
  • Wheeler, B. (ed.), Listening to Heloise: The Voice of a Twelfth-Century Woman, The New Middle Ages (Basingstoke, 2000). PN.DP.H4.
  • White, C., Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century (Cambridge, 1992).
  • Witt, R. G., ‘The Arts of Letter-Writing’, in A. J. Minnis and I. Johnson (eds), The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 2, The Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 68–83. YBRH.
  • Wood, I. N., ‘Letters and Letter-Collections from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages: The Prose Works of Avitus of Vienne’, in M. A. Meyer (ed.), The Culture of Christendom: Essays in Commemoration of Denis L. T. Bethell (London, 1993), pp. 29–43.

Cursus and Prose Rhythm

  • Denholm-Young, N., ‘The Cursus in England’, Oxford Essays in Medieval History: Presented to Herbert Edward Salter (Oxford, 1934), pp. 68–103. MVB7.
  • Janson, T., Prose Rhythm in Medieval Latin: From the Ninth to the Thirteenth Century, Studia Latina Stockholmiensia 20 (Stockholm, 1975). Janson was the inventor of a useful notational system for analysing cursus. But see also S. Eklund, ‘The Use and Abuse of Cursus in Textual Criticism’, Archivium Latinitas Medii Aevi, 43 (1984), 27–56, a critique of Janson which points out that the predominance of certain cadences owes a great deal to the natural rhythm and structure of Latin—a point that casts some doubt on the validity of Janson’s statistics.
  • Martin, J., ‘Classicism and Style in Latin Literature’, in G. Constable and R. Benson (eds), Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1982), pp. 537–68. MBLT.I.
  • Orlandi, G., ‘Metrical and Rhythmical Clausulae in Medieval Latin Prose: Some Aspects and Problems’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 129 (2005), 395–412. Bibliography at pp. 413–41. Main collection L69.
  • Tunberg, T. O., ‘Prose Styles and Cursus’, in F. A. C. Mantello and A. George Rigg (eds), Medieval latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide (Washington, DC, 1996), pp. 111–21. XHM. Includes a useful bibliography.

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