Richard Rolle

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Richard Rolle
Richard Rolle.jpg
Richard Rolle, detail from "Religious Poems", early 15th century (Cotton Ms. Faustina B. VI)
Bornca. 1300
Died1349
Residence Hampole, Yorkshire
NationalityEnglish
Other namesRichard Rolle of Hampole
EducationUniversity of Oxford
Known forHermit, religious writer, Bible translator

Richard Rolle (ca. 1300–30 September 1349) [1] was an English hermit, mystic, and religious writer. [2] He is also known as Richard Rolle of Hampole or de Hampole, since at the end of his life he lived near a Cistercian nunnery in Hampole, Yorkshire. [3] In the words of Nicholas Watson, scholarly research has shown that "[d]uring the fifteenth century he was one of the most widely read of English writers, whose works survive in nearly four hundred English...and at least seventy Continental manuscripts, almost all written between 1390 and 1500." [4]

Hermit person who lives in seclusion from society

A hermit, or eremite, is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sections of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well.

Christian mysticism development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.

Hampole village in United Kingdom

Hampole is a small village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster, on the border with West Yorkshire. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the eastern boundary of the parish is marked by the Great North Road, and the parish lies in what was once the Barnsdale Forest. It had a population of 187 in 2001, increasing to 203 at the 2011 Census.

Contents

Life

In his works, Rolle provides little explicit evidence about his early life and education. Most, if not all, of our information about him comes from the Office of Lessons and Antiphons that was composed in the 1380s in preparation for his canonisation, although this never came about. [5] [6]

Born into a small farming family [7] and brought up at Thornton-le-Dale [8] near Pickering, he studied at the University of Oxford, where he was sponsored by Thomas de Neville, the Archdeacon of Durham. [9] While there, he is said to have been more interested in theology and biblical studies than philosophy and secular studies. [10] He left Oxford at age eighteen or nineteen—dropping out before he received his MA—to become a hermit. [11] Leaving the family home, he first went to Pickering, and housed with a squire, John Dalton, for perhaps three years.

Thornton-le-Dale village in North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom

Thornton-le-Dale is a village and civil parish in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, about 3 miles (5 km) east of Pickering on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. The area of the village encompasses 39.2 square kilometres.

Pickering, North Yorkshire town in North Yorkshire, England

Pickering is an ancient market town and civil parish in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England, on the border of the North York Moors National Park. Historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, it sits at the foot of the moors, overlooking the Vale of Pickering to the south. According to legend the town was founded by King Peredurus around 270 BC; however, the town as it exists today is of medieval origin. The legend has it that the king lost his ring and accused a young maiden of stealing it, but later that day the ring was found in a pike caught in the River Costa for his dinner. The king was so happy to find his ring he married the young maiden; the name Pike-ring changed over the years to Pickering. It is a nice tale told to fit the name, but it is not the origin. Pickering is thought to be named after the followers of an Anglian man named Picer or some such personal name – the Picer-ingas.

University of Oxford university in Oxford, United Kingdom

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation after the University of Bologna. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

It was probably while still living with Dalton, two years and eight months after becoming a hermit, Rolle had his first mystical experience. Around a year later, he felt similarly after listening to a choir, and he began to take less interest in all things temporal. [12]

Dalton himself was arrested and his lands confiscated in 1322; the lack of mention of this fact in accounts of Rolle's life makes it likely that he was no longer living with Dalton by this point. [13]

"I felt within me a merry and unknown heat...I was expert it was not from a creature but from my Maker, as it grew hotter and more glad."

—Rolle on his first mystical experience.

It is unclear where Rolle lived from 1321/2 until his death in 1349. One theory is that Rolle spent the early 1320s at the renowned Sorbonne, becoming well-trained in theology, and perhaps being ordained there. [14] This theory is based on the entries in three seventeenth-century manuscripts at the Sorbonne, assumed to be copies of medieval originals, which record a Ricardus de Hampole as being admitted to the Sorbonne in 1320, entering the prior's register in 1326, and noting that he died in 1349 among the sisters of Hampole near Doncaster in Yorkshire. Scholars, however, are divided on the authenticity of this material. [15] Whether or not Rolle studied in Paris, it is probable that most if not all of this time was spent in Richmondshire, either living with his family at Yafforth, or, given the uncertain political conditions in the region at the time, wandering from patron to patron. [16]

University of Paris former university in Paris, France from 1896 to 1968

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.

Richmondshire District in England

Richmondshire is a local government district of North Yorkshire, England. It covers a large northern area of the Yorkshire Dales including Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, Wensleydale and Coverdale, with the prominent Scots' Dyke and Scotch Corner along the centre. Teesdale lies to the north. With a total area of 1,319 km², it is larger than seven of the English ceremonial counties.

Yafforth village in United Kingdom

Yafforth is a village and civil parish in Hambleton, North Yorkshire, England about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Northallerton. The village lies on the B6271 road between Northallerton and the village of Scorton. The parish had a population of 174 in the 2011 census.

Around 1348, Rolle knew the Yorkshire anchoress Margaret Kirkby, who was his principal disciple and the recipient of much of his writings [17] and would be important in establishing his later reputation.

Rolle died in Michaelmas 1349 at the Cistercian nunnery at Hampole. Because of his time spent here, where he was director of the inmates, he is sometimes known as Richard Rolle of Hampole, or de Hampole. It is unclear what his function was there: he was not the nuns' official confessor, who was a Franciscan (in any case, it is unlikely he would have had ecclesiastical sanction for this, since unless the theory about his ordination in Paris is correct, he was probably not ordained, since his name is not in the list of those ordained in the dioceses of York or Durham in the relevant years). [18] However he wrote The Form of Living and his English Psalter for a nun there, Margaret Kirkby (who later took up a similar life to Rolle, as an anchoress), and Ego Dormio for a nun at Yedingham. [19] It is possible that he died of the Black Death, [7] [19] but there is no direct evidence for this. He was buried first in the nuns' cemetery at Hampole. Later records of people making offerings of candles at his shrine show that he was moved first to the chancel and then to his own chapel.

Works

Rolle probably began writing in the early 1330s, and continued until his death—but there is no certain chronology of his various works. He wrote in both Latin and English, with his English works apparently all dating from after c1340. [20]

The precise dating of Rolle's works is a matter of much modern dispute. The dates set out by Hope Emily Allen in 1927 have been widely used by later writers, but in 1991 Nicholas Watson set out a rather different vision of the chronology of Rolle's writing. [21]

In one of his best-known works, Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love), Rolle provides an account of his mystical experiences, which he describes as being of three kinds: a physical warmth in his body, a sense of wonderful sweetness, and a heavenly music that accompanied him as he chanted the Psalms. The book was widely read in the Middle Ages, and described the four purgative stages that one had to go through to become closer to God: described as open door, heat, song, and sweetness.

His last work was probably the English The Form of Living, written in autumn 1348 at the earliest. It is addressed to Margaret Kirkby, who entered her enclosure as a recluse on 12 December 1348, and is a vernacular guide for her life as an anchorite. [22]

His works are often classified into commentaries, treatises and epistles. As such, the commentaries are: [22]

Other works include:

Three letters survive. All are addressed to single recipients, and contain much similar material: [27]

Works once thought to be Rolle's:

Later reputation and veneration

Richard Rolle inspired a flourishing cult, especially in the north of England, which was still active at the time of the English Reformation. Part of this may have been due to the efforts of Margaret Kirkby, who moved to the priory, probably between 1381 and 1383, to be near the body of her master, Rolle. Margaret may have spent the last 10 years of her life here, [29] and between 1381 and 1383 a liturgical office for Rolle, including a great deal of biographical information about him, was written; it likely includes stories about him remembered by older members of the community.

Rolle's works were widely read in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, more so even than Chaucer. [30] Works of his survive in about 470 manuscripts written between 1390 and 1500, and in 10 sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century printed editions (including the sixteenth-century edition by Wynkyn de Worde). In some manuscripts, Rolle's Commentary on the Psalter is interpolated with Lollard teaching, providing indications of one group who read his work. [1] Rolle's work was not uncontroversial. He was criticised by Walter Hilton and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing ; a defence of Rolle's work was written by the hermit Thomas Basset in the late fourteenth century against the attack of an unnamed Carthusian. [31]

The shrine and priory at his burial place of Hampole was dissolved on 19 November 1539. [18] The remains can be seen in an old schoolhouse in Hampole. [1]

Richard Rolle
Venerated in Anglican Communion
Feast 20 January (Church of England)
28 September (Episcopal Church (USA))

Rolle is honoured in the Church of England on 20 January and in the Episcopal Church (USA) together with Walter Hilton and Margery Kempe on 28 September.

Modern editions

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hughes, Jonathan. "Rolle, Richard (1305×10–1349)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24024.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Watson, Nicholas (1991). Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ISBN   0521390176.
  3. Wooley, Reginald Maxwell (1919). The Officium and Miracula of Richard Rolle, of Hampole. New York: Macmillan. pp. 8–9.
  4. Watson. Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority. p. 31.
  5. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p9.
  6. Wooley. The Officium and Miracula of Richard Rolle. pp. 5–21.
  7. 1 2 "RICHARD ROLLE The Book of Margery Kempe, chapters 17, 58, and 62". Mapping Margery Kempe. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  8. "Learning from the English Mystics, Alison Fry,". ISBN   1-85174-395-2.
  9. PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Richard Rolle de Hampole". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  10. This is according to Lesson I of the Office drawn up in the 1380s in preparation for his anticipated canonisation. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 14.
  11. He apparently took two of his sister's favourite tunics and ripped them to form them into a homemade hermit's habit. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 13.
  12. Maynard Smith, p. 345
  13. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 18.
  14. Maynard Smith, p. 346
  15. See Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), pp. 22-3 for a summary of the various scholarly positions on this theory. Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York: Herder & Herder, 2012), p. 340, dismisses the stories about Paris as ‘legends’.
  16. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 23.
  17. Pastors and visionaries: religion ... - Google Books
  18. 1 2 Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 24.
  19. 1 2 Maynard Smith, p. 347
  20. Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York: Herder & Herder, 2012), p341.
  21. See Hope Emily Allen, Writings Ascribed to Richard Rolle Hermit of Hampole and Materials for his Biography, (New York, 1927); Nicholas Allen, Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority, (Cambridge: CUP, 1991), pp. 273-294. Some of the difficulties are summarised in John A Alford, 'Richard Rolle and Related Works' in ASG Edwards, ed, Middle English Prose: A Critical Guide to Major Authors and Genres, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984), pp. 35-60.
  22. 1 2 Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p41.
  23. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p. 66.
  24. Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York: Herder & Herder, 2012), p343.
  25. Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York: Herder & Herder, 2012), p344. Oddly, Jonathan Hughes, 'Rolle, Richard (1305x10–1349)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008) states that only seven manuscripts of this survive. This appears to be a mistake.
  26. 1 2 Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York: Herder & Herder, 2012), p344.
  27. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p48.
  28. Morey, James (ed.), Prik of Conscience
  29. Pastors and visionaries: religion and secular life in late medieval Yorkshire by Jonathan Hughes p87
  30. Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (New York / London: Paulist Press / SPCK, 1988), p33.
  31. See Michael G Sargent, 'Contemporary criticism of Richard Rolle', in Kartäusermystik und -Mystiker, 5 vols, (Salzburg, 1981-2), vol 1, pp160-205.

Further reading

Category:Middle English language Category:Middle English literature Category:English non-fiction books Category:English-language literature