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Item 37, Saint Margaret


Abbreviations: Br: New Haven, Beinecke Library MS 365 (the Brome MS); MED: Middle English Diction­ary; OED: The Oxford English Dictionary

Title Margaret. The simplicity of this title, written in a slightly larger version of Rate’s regular hand, resembles the title given for the other saint’s life in Ashmole 61, Saint Eustace (item 1).

7 Hyr fader. Though many versions of Margaret’s life, including the influential version in the Golden Legend, mention that Margaret’s conversion to Christianity angered her pagan father, few describe her parents in any great detail. The de­scription here recalls the romance topos of the banished child in medieval romance and (more distantly) the Oedipus myth.

9 a prince of hy degré. Medieval saints’ lives commonly specify the noble origins of saints; see line 136 below.

11 Antych. Antioch, in modern Turkey. As a major city in the Roman Empire, with a hybrid population of Greeks, Jews, and other groups, Antioch was one of the centers of early Christianity. Though captured by crusaders in the First Crusade and held for nearly two centuries, it fell to the Mamluk Sultan Baibars in 1268. An attempt to recapture the city led by the English King Edward I failed, and the city remained in Muslim control.

21 the scryptour. Br reads “As the wrytyng hym told.” Neither the MED nor the OED records a use of scripture in the sense suggested here; the word most commonly refers to the Bible or other holy writing. But divination by consulting texts at random, either the Bible or Virgil’s Aeneid (the sortes Virgilianae), was a common form of augury, and the reading makes plausible sense.

35 Into Azy. Presumably Asia Minor; in other versions, Margaret is sent approx­imately fifteen miles outside of Antioch.

43 Sche was feyre. Br’s reading, Sche waxyd fayre, is slightly better, as it prevents con­fusion with the norys mentioned in line 37 and more clearly advances the nar­rative into Margaret’s adolescence.

50 ever more. Br has four additional lines here: “To the fader and sune and the holy goste, / That ys kyng and lord of mytys moste, / That hevyne and erth all wroght, / To hym sche betoke all hyr thowght.”

60 Seynt Laurance and Seynt Stevyn. Two of the most famous early Christian martyrs. Saint Lawrence was a deacon martyred by the Emperor Valerian in 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. Saint Stephen is usually considered the first martyr of the Christian Church; his death by stoning is recounted in Acts 6–8. Margaret’s eager appreciation of these saints’ lives is here presented as a model of educa­tion; see the introduction to the text.

76 Olybrius. In other versions, Olibrius is described as a prefect or judge.

90 As he rode by the wey. As Sheila Delany suggests of the equivalent moment in Bokenham’s life of St. Margaret, this encounter “represents a moment of pastou­relle inserted into hagiography” (Impolitic Bodies, p. 80). A pastourelle is a dialogue poem in which a scholar, knight, or clerk encounters a maiden in a rural setting and tries to court her.

136 If thou be born fre. Olibrius asks about Margaret’s social class; see line 9. In The Stanzaic Life of Margaret (Reames, Middle English Legends of Women Saints), Oli­brius goes on to say that “If thou be of thral born, I geve thee gold and fee” (line 85), thus implying that if she is not noble, she will be his concubine rather than his wife.

145 I wyll be baptyst. The Stanzaic Life uses the past tense here: “I am a Crysten woman, baptised at the funtestone” (line 88). Though Margaret’s devotion would normally suggest that she had already been baptized, the author of this text may be looking ahead to line 476, which seems to suggest that she has not yet been baptized. In the early Church, adult baptism or baptism shortly before death was not uncommon.

278 parte of the crose. In many versions, including that in the Golden Legend, Margaret does not receive a piece of the Holy Cross but makes the sign of the cross instead. But the popularity of the version presented here may be seen in the many depic­tions of Margaret holding a cruciform staff or sword as she subdues the dragon.

297 thee for to nevyn. Br preserves an intriguing alternate reading, wyfyne (“to wed”). This would further identify Margaret as a “bride of Christ,” a role often imagined for nuns and anchoresses.

304 was of colour as grasse gren. A misreading may have introduced the faulty couplet here; compare The Stanzaic Life of Margaret, line 182: “That mayde wexed alle greene as the gresse in somers tyde.” Horstmann deletes line 305, which strains the syntax and sense of the verse.

330 fouler best. This version appears to be unique in making this second assailant another beast; in most related versions (including the Stanzaic Life), he is described as a devil.

333 fynnes. The MED cites this as the only use of “fin” in connection with a dragon or devilish beast; elsewhere the word is used only for fish.

351 Belgys. The names of these devils, Belgys and Geffron, are misreadings of the names used in the “Mombritius” Latin text and related vernacular versions (in­cluding the Stanzaic Life), which name them Beëlzabub and Ruffinus or Ruffus. The latter name is used for a devil in the Chester Cycle; see line 271 of The Fall of Lucifer in The Chester Mystery Cycle: A New Edition with Modernised Spelling (Mills, p. 75, lines 298–300) and in Audelay’s Poems of John Audelay. Br calls them “Belgys” and “Re­fun”; the name Geffron may have mistakenly occurred to Rate on the basis of a character in Lybeaus Desconus; see item 20, line 795.

364 In this lyknes sent us thus. Most versions that feature this dialogue do not attribute the governance of the devils to Olibrius or mention his necromancy.

371 a woman with chyld. The harm done by the devils to unborn children suggests Margaret’s future role as a protector against birth defects. See the introduction to this text.

381 Salomon the wyse. The biblical Solomon was often imagined as having occult or magical power. The story here ultimately derives from the apocryphal Testament of Solomon; see Durling and Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:935–97.

448 croune of gold. The crown of gold wagered by Olibrius is an ironic touch; martyrs were believed to receive crowns of gold in heaven and are often depicted wear­ing crowns.

489 Malcus. Malchus was the name of the slave whose ear was cut off by Peter during the arrest of Jesus; see John 18:10 and The Northern Passion (item 28), lines 528–57 and 674–85.

533 were forth brought. The line should read “were borne” for the sake of rhyme.

586 Michael l, Gabryell, and Raphaell. As Sherry Reames points out in her note to lines 335–36 of The Stanzaic Life of Margaret (Middle English Legends of Women Saints, p. 135), the archangel Michael was also frequently depicted as a slayer of dragons and demons, and was occasionally paired with Margaret in church art.

592 Thyopy. Other Middle English versions refer to this biographer as “Theophyle” or “Theodocius”; all of these names are corruptions of “Theotimus,” a fictional eyewitness first cited in the “Mombritius” Latin legend. The name most likely originates in Luke 1.3 and Acts 1.1, where Luke addresses “Theophilus,” i.e., the one who loves God.

595 And he hyr norysschyd. This is a corruption of the claim that the nurse who raised Margaret joined “Theophyle” in preserving the body of Margaret and in found­ing a church in her name; see The Stanzaic Life of Margaret, lines 339–42.

607 Tewysdey. This is almost certainly a corruption of twenteuth, as in The Stanzaic Life of Margaret line 347, where Margaret’s death and feast day is (correctly) dated July 20th.

619a AMEN QUOD RATE. This colophon is followed by a single blank line and then the first subtitle of the following text (The Wounds and the Sins).


Abbreviations: see Explanatory Notes

1 MS: Initial O is decorated with pen work and is larger than usual.

26 all this. MS: all ths.

28 anon. MS: none.

34 That. MS: Hat with T added in margin before the line.

41 And sche hyr. MS: And schere.

73 MS: Initial T is two lines tall.

91 that lovely. MS: that lowly lovely (lowly is also marked for deletion).

117 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

123 change. MS: chang.

131 We schall. MS: Or we schall.

157 For that. MS: For.

174 that. MS: that that.

176 Trow. MS: And trow.

181 And I. MS: I.

196 scowrgys. MS: scowgys.

214 swynke. MS: synke.

253 made thee. MS: made to se thee (to se is marked for deletion).

255 Now. MS: No.

259 Thei. MS: The.

261 never go out. MS: never out.

262 thi. MS: the.

296 melody. MS: molody.

299 hyr. MS: a.

338 wymple. MS: wyple.

367 The. MS: Thy.

381 When. MS: Whe.

396 them vex. MS: them we vex (we is marked for deletion).

410 Forever. MS: emer.

429 bespake. MS: bespape.

436 Thei. MS: The.

446 And be. MS: A be.

457 Thei turmentyd. MS: The turmente.

476 baptysm. MS: baptym.

497 MS: Initial A is larger than usual.

500 thei. MS: sche.

508 sche. MS: sche sche.

532 mankynd hast. MS: mankynd thou hast.

568 MS: Initial A is larger than usual.

579 That. MS: Tha.

589 Thei. MS: The.

603 meyden. MS: merdyne.

615 thi joy. MS: the joy.

616 thi face. MS: the face.

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Old and yong that here be
Lystyns a whyle unto me,
What I schall you sey:
How it befell upon a dey
Of a virgyn feyre and suete
Whos name was Margarete.
Hyr fader was a nobull clerke
And a man that couth mych werke,
Also a prince of hy degré;
There myght nowher a better be.
In Antych he had a wyffe;
Both were heythen of ther lyffe.
He was a man of grete power,
Of all the cuntré governer.
False he was of hys ley,
Both be nyght and be dey.
Theodosyas was hys name,
A nobull man of grete fame.
He had understondyng long beforn
He schuld have a doughture born,
As the scryptour hym told,
And when sche wex olde
That sche schuld Crystyne be
And beleve of the Trinyté,
Allmyghty God that us dere bought
And all this werld made of nought.
Hyr fader comandyd long beforn
That anon as sche was born
To the deth sche schuld be brought
In what wyse he ne rought.
Bot hyr modour that hyr bore
Made for hyr full grete care
And bethought hyr beforn,
That anon as sche was born
Into Azy sche hyr sente.
The messanger forth wente
To a norys that wonyd ther
For to putte hyre to lere.
He toke with hym grete spendyng
For to kepe that meyden yenge,
And sche hyr kepte ther in dede,
And norysschyd her in that nede.
Sche was feyre and comly of chere,
And of hyr bewty feyre and clere.
All hyr lovyd in that cuntré,
Olde and yong that hyr myght se.
When sche wax more in age
And had understondyng and knawelege,
Sche toke hyr to Crystys lore
And belevyd in hym ever more.
The norys that kepte hyr fro dispare
Had seven chylder that were fare,
And well sche kepte this chylder seven —
The eighth was Crystys meyden of hevyn.
Both of heven and of helle
Full gode tayles sche cuthe telle,
And what thei schuld have to mede
As thei deservyd in dede,
And how thei sofferd merterdom evyn,
Both Seynt Laurance and Seynt Stevyn;
Of many other seyntys mo
How thei sufferd peyn and wo,
And how thei merterdom gan take
All for Jhesu Crystys sake.
Of many seyntys sche told the lyffe
Both to man and to wyffe.
And when sche was fiftene yerys old
Sche was feyre woman and bold.
Hyr norys sette hyr to kepe
In the feld to fede hyr schepe.
Hyr felowys gan hyr behold
When sche hyr prayers make wold.

Than was in that cuntré a kynge,
A nobull man of grete cunnynge.
He was a kyng of grete myght;
Olybrius for soth he hyght.
All Azy, as I you telle,
Was hys awne to gyff or selle.
Also he servyd dey and nyght
Hys fals godys, I you behyght.
He servyd ever the devyll of helle,
And Crystine pepull he dyd quelle
Fro Antyoch to Azye
Be myles mo than fyfté.
Ever to strew the Crysten men
He dyde hys power ever then.
What with werre and with stryffe
He left bote few pepull of lyve.
Tyll it befell on a dey
As he rode by the wey,
He saw that lovely meyden
Kepyng schepe upon the gren.
Anon he commandyd a knyght
To bryng hyr to hym anon ryght.
The knyght wente anon hyr to
And seyd that sche must with hym go.
The meyden was so myld of chere
Ansuerd hym as ye schall here,
And seyd sche hade nothing to do
Oute of that ground with hym to go.
Sche prayd hym of hys curtassye
To pase hys wey and late hyr be.
And schortly this tale to telle,
He went awey fro that damselle
And com to Olybryus the kyng
And told hym all that tyding,
That sche wold for nothing
Cum to hym; sche ne wold
Bot thei with hyr stryve schuld.
To Jhesu Cryst gan sche calle,
That sofyrd deth for us alle,
That he wold hyr defend
That no Saryzen schuld hyr schend,
And besought hym of hys grace
Hyr to socour in every place,
And seyd, “For thi luffe, Lord, wyll I dyghe,
And forsoke all werdly compenye.”

Than spake Olibryus,
To hys men he seyd thus:
“Of all the men that I have here,
Can non of hem bryng hyr nere?
And I had hyr to me brought,
Full sone I schuld change hyr thought.
Sche schall upon my godys beleve
Or els sore I schall hyr greve.”
They went agen unto that meyd
And onto hyr thus thei seyd:
“Thou must cum on with us
To oure kyng, Sir Olibryus.
Bot if thou com withoutyn stryffe,
We schall reffe thee thy lyffe.”
With them sche went meke and styll
Unto the kyng agen hyr wyll,
And full feyr sche hym grete.
He askyd hyr name; sche seyd, “Margrete.”
He seyd, “If thou be born fre,
For soth my leman schall thou be.
I wyll have thee to my wyfe,
To lyve in joy all thi lyve.
Gold and ryches I wylle thee gyffe
All the whyll that thou dost lyve.”
Sche seyd to hym anon than,
“I wyll have non erthly man,
Bot for the love of Cryst alon
I wyll be baptyst at the fonte ston.
For soth, I wyll hym never forsake
For non erthly man to take.”
Than anon to hyr he seyd,
“We dyd Jhesu Cryst to dede
And dyd hym streyn upon the rode
Tyll he suet water and blode,
And crownyd with a croune of thorn:
And thou leve on hym, thou arte lorn.”
To hym sche seyd anon ryght,
“He is a lord of mykyll myght
And dyghed on the crose for all mankynd;
For that we schuld have hym in mynd.
He ros fro deth and to helle went
The fendys power for to schent.
And many saulys he fette out ther
That in grete peyn were.”
To stryve with hyr he fond no bote,
Bot dyd hyr bynd hand and fote,
And cast hyr into prison strong
For to overcom hyr with wrong.
Meyd Margarete all that nyght
In prison ley with grete unryght.
And on the morow wen it was dey
He sent for hyr, the soth to sey.
They brought hyr to Syr Olybryus.
Sone to hyr he seyd thus:
“Margaret, beleve upon my lore,
Or I schall greve thee full sore.
Thy god that thou doyst on beleve
Schall not save thee fro my greve.
Trow on me and be my wyve,
And lyve in joy all thi lyve.
Antyoche and all Azye
After my deth I gyve to thee.
Sylke and gold and purpull paule,
And I wyll thee wed, were thou schalle,
Welle furryd with ryche ermyn —
In all this werld is non so fyne.
And with the beste metys that is in lond
I schall thee fede, I understond,
And Jhesu Criste pute oute of thi thought.”
“Nay,” sche seyd, “that wyll I nought.
Jhesu wyll I never forsake
For all that is on erth to take.”
He seyd, “It schall be sene full sone
What thi God wyll for thee done.”
He bade hys sergeantys everychon
Bynd hyr fote and hond anone.
The sergeantys dyd as he hem bade:
They turment hyr as thei were made.
They bete hyr with scowrgys strong,
And turment hyr with grete wrong.
They bete hyr, both man and wyffe,
And fast with hyr thei gan stryffe,
Tyll the rede blod felle a doune
To hyre fete fro hyr croune,
Tyll thei wend sche hade be dede;
So fast on hyr thei hade leyde.
Than seyd Olybryus ther he stode,
“Margaret, thinkys thou this werk ys gode?
Beleve onne my lord and be my wyve
And I wylle no more with thee stryve.
Have mersy on thi feyre fleche
And onne thi skyne that is so nessche.”
To Jhesu Cryst sche cryed than,
That dyghed for the love of man
And of a virgyn was born
For mankynd schuld not be lorn.
“Thys peynes that I soffer and swynke,
They be full suete, as me thinke.
All the peynes that I here dryve
Be sueter to me than thyng of lyve.”
Olybrius seyd to hys sergeantys tho,
“Sche felys nothyng of all this wo!
For all the peynes we to hyr gyve
Sche wyll not on oure godys beleve.”
He bad hys sergeantys everychon
They schuld turment hyre anon.

The sergeantys dyd as he hem bade;
Lytell mersy on hyr thei hade.
With there nayles thei dude hyr flessch drawe
Lyke as hundys had hyr gnawe.
And hyr eyghen that were so bryght,
They pute hem oute and mered hyr syght.
They dud hyr both peyn and wo,
And rent hyr lyer fro the flessch tho.
Mych of the pepull that were ther
In ther hertys were full sore,
And sey to hyr stondyng ther,
When thei se hyr thus ytore,
And seyd, “Feyr meyden Margarete,
Thou that arte so feyre and suete,
Turne to hym and be hys wyve
And no more with hym stryve.
For thee, Margaret, we have care
And wold that thou savyd were.”
“After you,” sche seyd, “I wyll not do.
Bot go your wey,” sche seyd, “me fro.
All that for me repent
And se me have this turment,
As thei thinke both gode and evylle,
They schall be quyte after ther wylle.
The angell of Cryst com me to
Als fast as he may com and go.”
Than beseyd Olybryus
With wyked wordys seyng thus:
“Margaret, I have sych posté
That blynd I have made thee.
For before thou had thi syght;
Now hast thou non thorow my myght.
Beleve on my god, thou mayd.”
“Nay, for soth, syr,” sche seyd.
“For thi godys that thou belevys onne,
Thei are dom as any ston.
My lord to me he is full kynd;
He schall never go out of my mynd.
If thi hope were of my flessche
To do thi wyll both herd and nessche,
To rente the flessch fro the bone,
Power of my saule getys thou non.”
To hyr anon than he seyd,
“In depe prison thou schall be leyd.
In prison schall thi body lye,
Thy feyr flessch for to dystreye.
Thou schall be bounde fote and hond
With bondys of iren gret and strong.”
“Jhesu Crist,” sche seyd untylle,
“May delyver me when he wylle.”
In prison fast thei gan hyr don.
The angell com to hyr full sone
With the grace of God allmyght
As the sone schynes bryght.
With parte of the crose God was on don
To the virgyn he com full sone
And seyd to hyr with myld stevyn,
“Blyssed thou arte with all in hevyn!
Fader and Son and Holy Goste,
Lord and kyng of myghtys moste,
Thys crosse to thee hath send
Thy enmys therwith to defend.”
Sche seyd, “Lord, blyssed thou be,
That this gyffte hath send me.
Allmyghty God, I thee praye
A bon grante me todeye:
That I may with syght them se
What thei be that thus hath turment me.”
The angell bade hyr doute nought,
For to hevyn sche schuld be brought.
“Ther is no tong that telle myght
The joy was made of thee this nyght
With all the melody that is in hevyn,
Meyd Margaret, thee for to nevyn.”
And be the grace of God allmyght
Ther anon sche had hyr syght.
Then the holy angell went hyr fro;
Of hym sche saw no more tho.
Sche lokyd a lytell be hyr syde
And saw a dragon be hyr glyde
That was of colour as grasse gren,
Margaret hyr for to nem,
With fyre flawmyng, foule to seme,
Out of hys mouth fyre bryning bryght.
Sche was agryfed of that syght.
Sche fell doun unto the grounde;
For fere sche tremblyd in that stond.
He toke hyr in hys mowth anon,
He sualowyd up hyr body and bone.
And when he had so ydon,
Than he myght no ferther gon,
Bot he byrst upon the ground;
The mayden com forth save and sound.
And it was Cristys wylle
Within hym sche had non ylle.
Bot upon the dragon sche stode
With glad herte and mylde mode,
And thankyd Jhesu of hys myght
That sche hade overcom that foule wyght,
And understode welle that it was
Thorow the vertu of the croysse.
That foule dragon was sleyn ther
Thorow Godys myght and hyr prayer.
Anon sche wene the dragon fro
And sey a fowler come hyr to.
A grysly syght, for sothe, was he,
A fouler best never man se.
To hym sche went, I understond,
With the holy crosse in hyr hond,
And smote hym so upon the fynnes
That he myght not abyde hyr dynnes.
That staff that was so long,
That thorow Criste myght so strong
Downe to the grond sche hym caste,
And with hyr wymple bond hym faste.
In hys neke sche sette hyr fote —
To stryve with hyr it was no bote.
To hym sche seyd, “I conjure thee,
What thou arte thou telle me.
For thou arte so lothly a thyng,
What thou arte I wyll have knowyng.
For best saw I never none
So lothly for to loke upon.”
He seyd, “For my lordys sake,
Fro my neke thi fote thou take.
I have gon wyde be water and londe,
Yit was I never so sore ybonde.
My ryght name hyght Belgys
To lyghe to thee non aveyll ys.
Geffron is my brother that thou slewe;
In the werld we dyd sorow inowe.
Dede and borston is my brother,
And thou hast overcom me, I se non other.
When we were bothe togeder
We made the son to sle the fader.
We stroyd pepull dey and nyht;
We dyd all the sorow that we myght.
In dragons wyse we com to thee
To spyll thi wytte and make thee wode to be.
The kyng, Syr Olybryus,
In this lyknes sent us thus
For to strey thi fare body
With hys craft and nygramansy.
The hede peyn that is so strong,
I may not suffyr this full long.
My wey is not in erth; by the wynd I fle.
All that I se I wyll dystroye.
Wher I wyst a woman with chyld,
Thether I went wode and wyld.
And yf the chyld uncrystynd were,
Lege and arme I made crokyd ther.
I wrought mykyll sorow and wo:
I made the one neybour the other slo;
I went to the feld, unto the ploughe,
And the bestys all to-drewghe.
Wherever I went I dyde grete care;
Ther was my joy aboute to fare.
When that Salomon the wyse was alyve,
Into a tunne of bras he dyd us dryve.
He dyde us bery in an hylle,
Sone anon, agenst our wylle.
Men of Babylon com us to;
They dyged us out and lete us go.
When thei myned in the grond
They wenyd gold and sylver to hafe fond.
Ther be in the erth of us fleyng
Mo than fiftene thousend in the wynd beyng.
Som are swyfter than a do,
And som are suyfter than a ro.
Som are suyfter than a sualow
And som are suyfter than an arow.
And all that on Cryst beleve
We dyde them vex and sore greve,
Both in towne and in feld.
We streyd many wyff and chyld,
We streyd fruyt on the erth growyng,
And drovyd schypes in the se seyling.
Thys was our labour and delyte:
To do Crysten pepull dyspyte.
Now I pray you late me go;
I have told you every dele al so.”

Margaret seyd to that foule wyght,
“I conjure thee, by Cristys myght
And in Godys holy name,
That thou do never more schame,
Bot synke doune into helle,
Forever more ther to duelle.
Synke doune, thou foulle fend,
Therin to be withoutyn ende.”
He sanke adoune by Godys myght,
Thorow the prayer of that virgyn bryght.
All this trobull had this holy meyd
In the strong castell where sche was leyd.
In a dey and in a nyght
All this hade that meyden bryght,
And thankyd God of hys grace
That sche overcom them in that place.
The secund dey at the afternon
Olybryus sent for hyr full sone.
The sergeantys were redy to go
And oute of prison fette hyr tho.
With the holy crosse in hyr hond
Wherwith sche dyde the fendys schond,
He saw hyr com in als feyr case
Of flesch and blode as ever sche was.
Than bespake Syr Olybryus,
And to that meyd he seyd thus:
“Meyd Margaret, I pray thee
That thou wyll turne unto me.”
Sche seyd, “Cursyd mote thi godys be
To beleve on thou woldys have me.
For thi godys that thou belevyst in,
Thei be cursyd and full of syn,
For thei ben of Sathanas kynd.
I wyll never have them in mynde!
When thou thinkys best to thy lykyng,
Onto myscheff thei wyll thee bryng.
Therfor, I rede and counsyll thee,
Beleve on my Lord that is so fre,
That made thee and me and every man,
That most of wytte and vertu can.
Therfor, beleve hym upon
And be baptyst at the font ston.”

He seyd to hyr in that stound,
“A croune of gold I wyll found
My godys are trew and thyn are lesse
Therfor, I byde thee hold thi pes.”
He seyd to hys servantys than,
“I charge you, every man,
That ye poure upon hyr hede
Sething oyle and boyling lede.
Schald hyr fro the hede unto the fote
To sche turne and ax bote.”
Thei turmentyd hyr than full sore
With oyle and hote lede over more,
Tyll sche suete flessch and fell
As it were water out of a well.
Than seyd thei to that holy meyd,
“Beleve uppon our godys,” thei seyd.
Sche seyd, “Fro them I me defend,
And beleve on Cryst withouten end.
Cursyd be thei that on thi godys thinke
Or on hem wryte with pauper and ynke.”
They had no power hyr to quelle;
The holy crosse kepte hyr welle.
He comandyd hyr anon tho
In a fate of water to be do,
Ther anon to be sente
All hyr hete to be queynte.
Anon as sche the water gan se
Sche thought therein crystynd to be,
And seyd, “In Crystys holy name,
Here I take baptysm and defy ther blame!”
Anone the thonder began to berst;
The pepull fled awey full fast.
The angell toke hyr out of the water than;
They myght it se, every man,
And turnyd anon to hyr beleve
Many a thousend or it were eve.
Both old pepull and yong
Turnyd to hyr and of hyr song:
On Jhesu Cryst thei dyd beleve,
Both meyd, chyld, and wyve.
The kyng saw anon ryght
That herme to hyr do non he myght.
He callyd to Malcus, that was
Hys man-queller in every place,
And bad hym that he schold
Take hyr fast into hys hold
And lede hyr withoute the towne than.
And in a fyer he schuld hyre bryn
And bryng hyr oute of hyr lyve,
That sche no more with hym stryve.

And when sche com unto that sted
Ther sche schuld be pute to dede.
Mych pepull folowyd hyr tho
Al so fast as thei myght go.
Anon the sone wexyd blake
And the thunder gan to crake.
The folke were ferd in that stound
That for fere thei fell to grond.
They were so afreyd tho
That thei knew nother wele ne wo.
Anon oure Lord an angell sente
Into the place sche schuld be brent,
And seyd to hyr with myld steven,
“Blyssed thou arte todey in heven!
Thys dey in hevyn thou schall crouned be
Befor Crystys majesté.”
Malcus herd the wordys that sche speke
And thought he wold not do hyr wreke.
He knelyd doune upon the grounde
And axyd mersy in that stonde.
And than he saw in that place
Multytud of angellus ther sche was.
He leyd doun hys suerd hym by
And seyd, “Maden, I ax mersy.”
Than bespake the vergyn bryght,
And seyd to hym anon ryght,
“Broder, if thi wyll it be,
A lytell whyle abyde thou me,
And late me make my prayer
To Jhesu Cryst that bought me dere.
And anon in this tyde
Awey thou schall me ryde.
The Fader and Son and the Holy Goste,
Lord and kyng of myghtys moste
That all the werld made of nought
And mankynd hast dere bought,
Of a floure thou were forth brought
For we schuld not be lorn.
Jhesu Cryst, I beseche thee,
Thys dey a boune thou grante me.
Thys pepull here beforn,
All that in the wyrschype of thee
And in mynd do honour me,
Thou late hem never in peynes be bound,
Ne in dedly synne be fond.
All that my tourment here or rede,
Or in my name do almus dede,
Jhesu Cryst, gyff them to mede
The blyss of hevyn for ther god dede.
If any woman be with chyld,
I praye to Our Lady meke and myld,
Of hyr peynes that sche be unbond
And be lyverd save and sond.
Jhesu Cryst, I besech thee,
That when sche callys upon thee
That thou wold be ther socure
That the crosse doth honour.
And all that worschyp my dey,
Or honour me as thei may,
Or here my memory dey or nyght
With gode hert or candell lyght,
I beseke thee, for thi glory,
Late them never in syne dyghe.
Whersomever that body be,
On that saule have mersye,
And that the fend do them no skathe
Nether late nether rathe,
That beryth on them my lyffe,
Nother man, chyld, ne wyffe.”
Oure Lord herd hyr prayer son
And grantyd hyr all hyr bone.

Anon sche seyd thus,
And spake onto Malcus.
Sche bad hym that he schuld fullfylle
And do all hys lordys wyll.
“That wyll I not,” he seyd, “for all the erth to wyn,
For I have se the lord that thou belevys in.”
Sche seyd, “Sir, do as I thee byde:
Take and smyte of myn hede.
For God hath forgyff thee
That I byde thee do to me,
For it is agenst thi wylle
That commandment to fullfylle.
Into paradyse thou schall wend
Therin to be withouten ende.”
Malcus herd hyr sey this sawe,
And hys suerd he gan draw,
And hyr hede he smate offe
As the law therto hym droffe.
Michaell, Gabryell, and Raphaell in fere
Saw this don all in sych maner.
With joy and blysse and melody
Thei bare hyr saule to hevyn on hye.
Before our Lord thei gan hyr bere;
To hym sche was leffe and dere.

Thyopy, the grete clerke,
Remembyrd all hyr lyff and werke
And made hyr lyve in memory
(And he hyr norysschyd in Azy).
In Antyoche thei hyr brought,
And in god intent ther then wrought
A chapell in hyr name.
And all that were seke and lame
Thether fast gan thei gon;
Hole and sound hom thei com,
Thorow grace of God allmyght
And be prayer of that meyden bryght.
Jhesu, gyfe us grace we may lyfe so
Unto thi blyss we myght com to.
The lyve of this virgyn I have rede;
On a Tewysdey sche was quyke and dede.
Jhesu Cryst Hevyn Kyng
Grant them all hys blyssing
That this story wyll have in mynd
With clene thought and hert kynd,
Thorow prayer of Seynte Margarete,
That in heven we may mete.
By the prayer of that meyden hend
To thi joy that we may wynd,
Ther to duell and sey thi face.
Lord God, therto gyffe us grace.
Pray we all yt may so be;
Amen, Amen, for charyté.
(see note)

learned man; (see note)
possessed great skill (knew magic arts)
(see note)

Antioch; (see note)


i.e., knew ahead of time

writing (prophecy or oracle); (see note)



did not care

planned ahead
[So] that as soon; (t-note)
Asia; (see note)

nurse; dwelled
educate her

raised her (educated her) as needed
[i.e., Margaret]; (see note)

followed Christ’s teaching
(see note)

she could tell worthy tales
as a reward

suffered martyrdom steadfastly
(see note)

she recounted the legend



was named; (see note)
i.e., in his control

I tell you


For more than fifty miles around
slaughter (harass)


(see note)

[that] was

Saracen; harm (dishonor)

To aid her
forsake; (t-note)

If I had


take your life from you; (t-note)


(see note)

(see note)

put to death

If you believe; lost


brought out

of no avail
had her bound


Trust in; (t-note)

rich purple cloth
If; wear; (t-note)

finest foods

each one

commanded them
scourges (whips); (t-note)

laid [strokes] on her


endure; (t-note)

anything alive


tore her skin (muscles)
Many of


i.e., I will not follow your wishes

rewarded according to their will




dumb; (t-note)

hard and soft (i.e., in every way)


unto [him]

placed on; (see note)


ward off


boon (request)

not to doubt

name; (see note)


(see note)
blazing fire that seemed hideous


in that place (time)


hideous creature

fouler (i.e., even more hideous)

(see note)

(see note)
endure her blows
i.e., the cross
through Christ’s might

wimple (head scarf); (t-note)
On his neck
of no avail


traveled widely
sorely bound
is called; (see note)

enough (plenty)
I see no other [way]

slaughtered (afflicted)

dragon’s shape
deprive; insane

(see note)
necromancy (sorcery)
i.e., the pain in my head; (t-note)

command; (see note)


tore apart
caused great distress

(see note); (t-note)
brass barrel

thought to have found

roe deer



stirred up ships

injury (humiliation)

every part [of my story]


brought her then

as good condition


i.e., That you would have me believe in


i.e., When you think all goes as you wish

possesses the highest intelligence


I will try (wager); (see note)
false (lies)

Seething; lead
Until she converts and asks for mercy


write about them

placed in a vat




before it was evening


(see note)

his power
outside the town

[So] that

place; (t-note)


afraid; moment (place)



wait for me

free me

(see note)
So that; lost

boon (request)

hear or read
give them as reward

delivered safe and sound

die in [a state of] sin

Neither late nor early (i.e., at any time)
carries my life with them

soon (immediately)




drove (commanded)
together; (see note)


beloved and dear

(see note)

(see note)

they went home


   Tuesday; alive and dead (i.e., died); (see note)

noble (kind)
see; (t-note)

(see note)

Go To Item 38, The Wounds and the Sins, introduction
Go To Item 38, The Wounds and the Sins, text