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John Lydgate: Monk-Poet of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey
Jordan, Timothy Russell

2012, PHD, Kent State University, College of Arts and Sciences / Department of English.
The fifteenth-century poet John Lydgate is frequently remembered as a continuator of Geoffrey Chaucer and as a servant of the Lancastrian court, but he also deserves attention as a Benedictine monk. Lydgate was a life-long member of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey in Suffolk, and this affiliation significantly shapes many of his poems. Among the works shaped by Lydgate’s monastic identity is the saint’s life, the Lives of Ss Edmund and Fremund. In it, Lydgate follows a Benedictine hagiographic tradition of using the vita of King Edmund of East Anglia to provide a model of holy rule for young kings. In Lydgate’s case this king was twelve-year-old Henry VI. I argue, however, that Lydgate’s model also highlights the relationship he and his abbot desired Henry to have with their own monastery. Thus, the poem’s themes benefit Bury St. Edmunds Abbey as much as the young king. Lydgate’s themes on sanctified rule are accented by four clusters of illuminations in the presentation copy of his Lives, which is extant as British Library MS Harley 2278. These clusters also suggest Lydgate’s importance as abbey-poet among his brethren and the investment of the entire monastic community in nurturing their relationship with Henry. Lydgate uses the St. Edmund legend elsewhere in his poetry to justify monastic privilege to other audiences as well. A series of extra miracles centered on his abbey’s town depict Lydgate’s brethren modeling a sanctified relationship with the local burghal populace. These continuations show Lydgate’s sustained agenda of writing on behalf of the monastic institution he called his home.
Susanna Fein, PhD (Committee Chair)
Don-John Dugas, PhD (Committee Member)
David Raybin, PhD (Committee Member)
Jeffrey Wattles, PhD (Committee Member)
Jennifer Larson, PhD (Committee Member)
266 p.

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Jordan, T. (2012). John Lydgate: Monk-Poet of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Jordan, Timothy. "John Lydgate: Monk-Poet of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 19 Nov 2018.

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Jordan, Timothy "John Lydgate: Monk-Poet of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012.


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