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The Life of Saint Katherine: Introduction


1 For an excellent general introduction to the genre, see Thomas Head, "Hagiography," in Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, ed. William Kibler and Grover Zinn (New York: Garland Pub., 1995), pp. 433-37.

2 On medieval views of truth and historicity, see Ruth Morse, Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages: Rhetoric, Representation, and Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), and Gabrielle M. Spiegel, Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-Century France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).

3 I am using the term coined by the sixth-century author and theorist of hagiography Gregory of Tours. See his Life of the Fathers, trans. Edward James (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1985), p. 2.

4 A version that circulated in England of this standard vita has been edited by S. R. T. O. d'Ardenne and E. J. Dobson in Seinte Katerine, EETS s.s. 7 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 132-203. Nancy Wilson Van Baak has translated a somewhat different version of this vita in La festa et storia di Sancta Caterina: A Medieval Italian Religious Drama, ed. and trans. Anne Wilson Tordi (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), pp. 249-91.

5 Charles W. Jones, Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978).

6 See Leslie Abend Callahan, "The Torture of Saint Apollonia: Deconstructing Fouquet's Martyrdom Stage," Studies in Iconography 16 (1994), 119-38.

7 Virgin martyrs had for centuries been referred to as Christ's spiritual brides. For a discussion of Katherine's literal representation as Christ's bride, see Millard Meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death: The Arts, Religion, and Society in the Mid-Fourteenth Century (Princeton: Prince-ton University Press, 1951), pp. 107-13.

8 London, British Library, MS Addit. 40143.

9 The Life and Martyrdom of St. Katherine of Alexandria, ed. Henry Hucks Gibbs (London: Nichols, 1884). A shorter and later version of this prose life has been edited by Saara Nevanlinna and Irma Taavitsainen, St. Katherine of Alexandria: The Late Middle English Prose Legend in Southwell Minster MS 7 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1993). The introduction by Nevanlinna and Taavitsainen provides a valuable survey of this popular Katherine legend.

10 For more on Capgrave's life and milieu, see the studies by De Meijer, Fredeman, Gibson, Lucas, and Seymour. For a study of Lynn itself, see Vanessa Parker, The Making of King's Lynn: Secular Buildings from the 11th to the 17th Century (London: Phillimore, 1971).

11 For a detailed study of the Augustinian order in England, see Roth; and Aubrey Gwynn, The English Austin Friars in the Time of Wyclif (London: Oxford University Press, 1940).

12 Roth, 1.174.

13 Fredeman, "Life," p. 214.

14 H. S. Bennett discusses Tuddenham's doings in The Pastons and Their England (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1922).

15 Lucas, "Scribe and Publisher."

16 See especially Gibson and Moore.

17 For discussions of the roles of Lydgate and Bokenham in the formation of a Chaucer tradition, see, respectively, Seth Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers: Imagining the Author in Late-Medieval England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) and Delany.

18 For discussions of the religious climate in late-fourteenth- and fifteenth-century East Anglia, see Gibson; Staley; and David Aers and Lynn Staley, The Powers of the Holy: Religion, Politics, and Gender in Late Medieval English Culture (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996).

19 On Capgrave's familiarity with Chaucer, see Pearsall, Stouck, and Winstead ("Chaucer Tradition").

20 See Kurvinen's discussion and partial transcription of the Latin vita that most closely resembles Capgrave's.

21 Karen A. Winstead, "Lydgate's Lives of Saints Edmund and Alban: Martyrdom and Prudent Pollicie," Mediaevalia 17 (1994), 361-76.

22 See Pearsall.

23 For discussions of East Anglian women as patrons and readers, see Delany; Gibson; and Ralph Hanna III, "Some Norfolk Women and Their Books, ca. 1390-1440," in The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, ed. June Hall McCash (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996), pp. 288-305. For more on the responsibilities of provincial wives, see Coss; Ann S. Haskell, "The Paston Women on Marriage in Fifteenth-Century England," Viator 4 (1973), 459-71; and Sarah McNamer, "Female Authors, Provincial Setting: The Re-Versing of Courtly Love in the Findern Manuscript," Viator 22 (1991), 279-310. See also Wife and Widow in Medieval England, ed. Sue Sheridan Walker (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

24 Nicholas Watson, "Censorship and Cultural Change in Late-Medieval England: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel's Constitutions of 1409," Speculum 70 (1995), 822-64.

25 For classic studies of the Lollards, see Anne Hudson, The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988) and Margaret Aston, Lollards and Reformers: Images and Literacy in Late Medieval Religion (London: Hambledon Press, 1984). On the parallels Capgrave establishes, see Winstead, Virgin Martyrs, pp. 175-77.

26 Winstead, Virgin Martyrs, pp. 168-74, and "Gynecocracy," pp. 367-71.

27 The Life of St. Katharine of Alexandria, p. xxiv.

28 See Lucas, "Toward a Standard Written English" and "Consistency and Correctness" (both reprinted in From Author to Audience).

29 For a study of this manuscript and its scribes, see Lucas, "William Gybbe" (reprinted in From Author to Audience).
John Capgrave's life of Saint Katherine of Alexandria belongs to the most popular genre of medieval narrative: hagiography, or writings about the saints.1 From the earliest centuries of Christianity, accounts of the lives, deaths, and miracles of exceptionally holy men and women proliferated. These stories, which were written in Greek, Latin, and all the medieval vernaculars, were extraordinarily varied. Some sketched the saint's life in just a few sentences, while others expended thousands of lines of verse or prose on their subject. Some were full of meditations, prayers, and moral and theological exposition, while others were fast-paced and funny, sometimes racy. Hagiography could serve many different purposes, from affirming Christian dogma to promoting political and social agendas. Though most saints' lives were written by the clergy, they were directed to men and women from all walks of life and, indeed, were constantly being reshaped to fit the needs and values of new audiences.

Though saints' lives claim to be "true," they defy the modern reader's sense of historical accuracy.2 To begin with, the earliest biographies of so many saints, including Katherine of Alexandria, were produced centuries after their protagonists were supposed to have lived. Moreover, there is a certain sameness about the genre, which signals the legends' fictiveness. The lives of countless saints draw on a few standard plots, stock characters, and conventional incidents. Miraculous escapes, violent and sexually charged conflicts, and ingenious methods of inflicting death figure prominently. Medieval readers of saints' lives - much like contemporary fans of James Bond movies, slasher flicks, bodice-busters, or whodunits - relished the repetition of familiar plots and motifs. Yet such repetition also conveyed a religious "truth," namely, that all saints are the same, in that all live a common life of holiness (vita sanctorum) modeled on the life of Christ.3 As long as the contours of that universal, spiritual life were sharply drawn, the hagiographer could use his (or, less often, her) imagi-nation to fill in the details, or could borrow those details from previous legends.

The Katherine of Alexandria legend exemplifies one of the most popular hagiographical formulas, the virgin martyr legend, an account of the trial and execution of a beautiful Christian who defies all authority to uphold her faith. Like most virgin martyrs, Katherine probably never existed: although her martyrdom is set in the early fourth century, the earliest mention of her dates from the ninth century, and a full account of her passion was not composed until the eleventh century. According to that account, known as the Vulgate version, Katherine was a learned young queen of Alexandria who confronted Emperor Maxentius as he presided over pagan ceremonies in her capital. Consternated by her learned denunciation of paganism, Maxentius summoned fifty philosophers to trounce her in a public debate, but Katherine instead converted them all to Christianity. Outraged, Maxentius resorted to violence, only to be thwarted at every turn by heavenly intervention. When he starved Katherine, angels fed her; when he scourged her, they healed her; when he built a machine with which to mangle her, they shattered it, showering the pagan spectators with the lethal fragments. To make matters worse, Katherine converted the emperor's wife and his best friend. Unable to sway his prisoner through torture, intimidation, reason, or flattery, Maxentius had her beheaded. As proof of her purity, milk gushed from her severed neck, and angels transported her body to Mount Sinai, where her relics continued to perform miracles.4

Though saints' legends tended to be highly formulaic, each saint was distinguished by some attribute or incident, often one that inspired the adoption of that saint either as a personal patron or as the patron of a certain cause or vocation. For example, scholars adopted St. Nicholas because he resurrected three students who had been robbed, killed, diced, and pickled by an innkeeper.5 Because the virgin martyr Apollonia was tortured by having her teeth yanked out, she became the patron saint of toothache sufferers and was portrayed gripping a tooth with pincers.6 Likewise, Katherine is shown with a wheel, recalling the torture on a machine of spiked wheels that Maxentius planned for her. Katherine's learning and sovereignty established her by the end of the Middle Ages as one of Europe's most popular saints. The clergy, who were largely responsible for producing and disseminating saints' legends, identified with her as a fellow scholar; as Capgrave puts it, "Because thou were so lerned and swech a clerk, / Clerkes must love thee - resoun forsoth it is" (Katherine, 3.38-39). Laypeople, who were becoming increasingly important as readers and patrons of saints' lives, could appreciate the public Katherine, a lady of affairs with property to manage and worldly obligations to discharge. The drama of a queen besting an emperor obviously appealed to medieval artists, since they frequently depicted Katherine in full regalia trampling the prostrate Maxentius, her sword piercing his neck or gouging out an eye.

A striking indicator of the interest Katherine aroused was the metamorphosis of her legend during the thirteenth century, when hagiographers began prefacing the traditional account of her confrontation with Maxentius and martyrdom (the "passion") with elaborate descriptions of earlier events. These expanded narratives often recount the deeds of Katherine's forbears and tell of her birth, family life, education, and eventual ascension to the throne. Moreover, they all contain some version of the saint's conversion and her transportation to heaven, where she marries Jesus in a mystical wedding ceremony that literalized the ancient sponsa Christi motif.7 This episode of Katherine's legend may have captured the imagination of Margery Kempe and other late medieval holy women, for many of them reported mystical marriages of their own. The earliest extant English legend to cover Katherine's life before her martyrdom was written in the Anglo-Norman dialect of French near the middle of the fourteenth century.8 This was followed, c. 1420, by a Middle English life in prose, later incorporated into a popular collection of saints' lives, the 1438 Golden Legend.9 Some twenty-five years later, John Capgrave produced the legend presented in this edition, which is, to my knowledge, the longest and most intricate Katherine legend written during the Middle Ages, either in Latin or in any vernacular.

Capgrave and his Milieu

Capgrave spent much of his seventy-one years in the thriving port of Lynn on the estuary of the Ouse River in northwestern Norfolk.10 At his birth in 1393, Lynn was the ninth largest city in England, with a population of around 5000, and boasted some seventy-five craft guilds and a merchant class that thrived upon the trade in wool, cloth, grain, and wine. At the center of town stood a prestigious convent belonging to the Augustinians, an order of friars committed to preaching and service in urban areas.11 Perhaps emulating an earlier John Capgrave, who may have been his uncle, Capgrave joined the order in his mid-teens and was ordained c. 1416. He pursued a standard course of studies, mastering the basics of grammar, logic, and philosophy at local Augustinian institutions before tackling theology at their London convent. He concluded his training at Cambridge University by attaining (in record time, at the age of thirty-four) the highest and most prestigious teaching degree available, that of magisterium, or doctor of divinity.12 In the process, he mastered debating skills that surely contributed to the unusual length and intricacy of the disputes in his Katherine legend, first between Katherine and her barons and later between her and the fifty philosophers.

That Capgrave belonged to a religious order by no means implies that he was an otherworldly recluse. Though we can only speculate about his student days, one set of rules for Augustinians studying in London anticipates plenty of mischief among the aspiring theologians: laughing and whistling in church, shouting and banging dishes at meals, sneaking food or unauthorized visitors into the rooms or selling their furniture for spare cash, patronizing taverns, and staying out all night.13 In Lynn, Capgrave would have been in the thick of affairs, for the Augustinians were frequently called upon to mediate conflicts between civic factions such as the merchants and the craft guilds. He would also have met the major political figures who lodged with the Augustinians while visiting Lynn; indeed, in 1446 Capgrave, as prior, was responsible for entertaining King Henry VI. His experience of the world was further broadened by travel. He visited Rome in 1449 on Augustinian business and did enough sightseeing to write a guide to that city, The Solace of Pilgrimes. Capgrave grew prominent within his order. He was prior of the Lynn friary, the largest Augustinian house in England, from c. 1441 to 1453, and was subsequently elected Prior Provincial of England by unanimous vote. From 1453 to 1457, he oversaw thirty-four houses with more than 500 friars and served as liaison with the Prior General in Rome.

Despite his administrative obligations, Capgrave was a prolific author. His oeuvre includes the lives of Saints Katherine, Norbert, Augustine, and Gilbert; a chronicle of England; a collection of historical biographies about people named Henry; a guide to Rome; several theological treatises; and numerous commentaries on the Bible. He may, indeed, have viewed his writing as an extension of his responsibilities first as head of the Lynn friary and then as head of all English Augustinians, for he dedicated his works to patrons who could aid his house and his order: Kings Henry VI and Edward IV, bishops and heads of religious houses, Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and the Norfolk magnate and bully Sir Thomas Tuddenham.14 Generating goodwill among such magnates was especially vital as political chaos mounted, breaking out in open civil war in 1455 (the Wars of the Roses). All of Capgrave's works except his Katherine survive in manuscripts - including lavish presentation copies - that he himself produced or supervised the production of, perhaps at a scriptorium within the Lynn convent.15

Political unrest did not thwart the development of a rich culture in southeastern England. Capgrave's East Anglia abounded with authors whose endeavors were encouraged by local bibliophiles and patrons of the arts.16 In the decades following Chaucer's death in 1400, John Lydgate, John Metham, and Osbern Bokenham were, through tributes to their predecessor and adaptations of his work, shaping a "Chaucer Tradition" in England.17 Religious drama flourished, and during the 1430s, Margery Kempe, also of Lynn, a businesswoman, traveler, and mother of fourteen, completed her extraordinary Book, an amalgam of autobiography, hagiography, mysticism, and social criticism. That a laywoman could produce such a work at a time when the Church in England, fearing the spread of heresy, was overtly hostile toward amateur theologizing, attests to a certain tolerance in East Anglia, a survival of the openness to spiritual creativity that had enabled the anchoress Julian of Norwich to record her unusual visions a generation earlier.18 Capgrave's The Life of St. Katherine was very much a product of East Anglian culture. Though Capgrave acknowledges only one English source for his narrative (a possibly fictional legend relayed by a London priest), his The Life of St. Katherine reads as if it were written by someone who had read Chaucer, was conversant with the works of Lydgate and Bokenham and with biblical drama, and knew of Margery Kempe's Book.19

Capgrave's The Life of St. Katherine

In his prologue, Capgrave tells us that his The Life of St. Katherine derives from a long-lost biography composed by Katherine's disciple Athanasius, which was translated from Greek into Latin by a fifth-century scholar named Arrek and from Latin into English nearly a millennium later by a parson of St. Pancras in London. Unfortunately, Capgrave explains, the anonymous priest died before he could complete his project; moreover, his dialect was so obscure that his translation was known to only a handful of scholars - and even they could not understand it. Having come upon the incomplete manuscript, Capgrave undertakes to translate his predecessor's "derk langage" into proper English and to supply the missing account of Katherine's martyrdom from an authoritative Latin source. Yet if Capgrave was, as he avers, faithfully translating preexisting sources, those sources have not survived.20 Certainly Capgrave did not originate the events that he narrates; all are found in earlier Katherine legends. However, medieval authors were not loath to invent authorities (Lollius in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is a famous example), and we should not accept Capgrave's assertions without question.

Capgrave's The Life of St. Katherine stands apart both from other known narrations of Katherine's life and from English hagiography generally. To begin with, at five books totaling about 8,000 lines of rhyme-royal verse, his legend is rather long for a saint's life. Its length is not unprecedented; during the 1430s, Lydgate had written "epic" lives of Saints Edmund and Alban, along with The Life of Our Lady, all of which comprise several thousand rhyme-royal lines and are divided into multiple books.21 Lydgate may have been emulating Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, which was widely admired by fifteenth-century readers. Although Capgrave borrows literary devices favored by Chaucer and Lydgate, he makes no pretensions to high art. His stanzas jingle with the fillers, tags, and formulas that abound in popular romances.22 These features, along with broad humor, colloquialism, and irregular meter, distinguish Capgrave's Katherine from his only other verse narrative, the far more decorous The Life of St. Norbert, composed c. 1420 and dedicated to John Wygenhale, abbot of the Premonstratensian priory of nearby West Dereham.

Capgrave's casual style does accord with his stated goal of making Katherine's long-lost vita known "more openly . . . / . . . of woman and of man" (Prol., lines 45-46). Yet he does not tell a simple story, as so many popular writers did; rather, he transforms Katherine's life into an encyclopedic narrative holding something for everybody: for the antiquarian, digressions on Greek and Roman history, with the occasional reference to "Brytayn, the londe in whech we dwelle" (4.111); for the political theorist, divagations into theories of just and unjust rule and justifiable versus unjustifiable rebellion; for the entrepreneur, numerous references to money, merchandise, and commerce; for the doting parent, descriptions of King Costus and Queen Meliades coddling the baby Katherine and of attendants bustling about her nursery; for the aspiring gentil, accounts of pageants, jousts, and feasts.

Attuned to the interests of women, who were avid readers and patrons in 1440s East Anglia, Capgrave develops those aspects of the virgin martyr's relationship with her heavenly spouse that provincial wives could understand: her longing for her absent husband, for example, and her anxiety over the safety of her household and property during dangerous times.23 Through his portrayal of other women - the Virgin Mary, Maxentius' wife, and Katherine's mother - he further engages a female audience. Widows who had themselves struggled to secure their children's inheritance could appreciate the maneuvers of Meliades. Shortly after her husband's funeral, she summons a parliament in Alexandria, the ancient seat of kings, without telling anyone why (1.512-18); then, having propitiated the magnates of her husband's realm with lavish entertainments, she has Katherine crowned, effecting her daughter's prompt and smooth succession at a time when many people were grumbling at the prospect of being governed by a girl.

For Capgrave, addressing a broad audience does not mean avoiding complex social and philosophical issues but rather engaging ordinary readers in those issues. The long debate in Book 2 over a woman's fitness to rule sets forth contradictory yet equally compelling arguments about government, tradition, and gender, and it concludes with no clear-cut winner. Books 3 through 5 treat weighty doctrinal matters at length, despite the Church's opposition to theologizing in English.24 Indeed, Capgrave does not shrink from adumbrating parallels between Maxentius' persecution of Christians and the Church's persecution of the Lollards (followers of John Wyclif who advocated, among other things, that ordinary people should read and discuss the Bible in their own language).25 For example, Christians are denounced by "[a] byschop . . . with mytere and with crose" (4.309) and persecuted for engaging in unlicensed preaching (4.1431-35), while Capgrave puts into the mouth of an idolatrous pagan the very arguments by which the Church defended the veneration of devotional images (4.1499-1512). With equal temerity, Capgrave implicitly criticizes the current English monarch, Henry VI.26 Like Katherine, Henry was widely accused of being overly pious, inattentive to matters of state, and insufficiently manly. If these traits led a great saint's kingdom to ruin, where were they likely to lead Henry's? As a shield for these dangerously topical allusions, Capgrave adopts a quintessentially Chaucerian device: he interposes between himself and the text an intrusive narrator whose digressions, contradictions, and bizarre interpretations can only frustrate the reader looking for simple truths.

The Text

Capgrave's Katherine survives in four fifteenth-century manuscripts. I have based this edition on Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson poet. 118, which, scholars have long agreed, best preserves Capgrave's language and orthography. Indeed, F. J. Furnivall's foreword to the Early English Text Society's 1893 edition of the legend castigated its editor, Carl Horstmann, for editing the wrong manuscript, British Library MS Arundel 396, and apologized to the Society's members for the resulting "waste of some of their money."27 We can be so certain about Capgrave's language because all his writings except Katherine survive in autograph or holograph manuscripts. The orthography of these manuscripts is remarkably consistent. 28 For example, Capgrave almost never uses the guttural "ght," preferring instead "th" - thus, "rith" rather than "right," and "lith" rather than "light." Although the language of the Rawlinson manuscript is closest to Capgrave's, its orthography - though clearly based on Capgrave's - is extravagantly variegated, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of at least three different scribes.29

Since students might find the varied spellings of the same pronouns especially confusing (Middle English "hir," "her," and "here" are at various times used to designate modern English "her," for example), I have normalized the pronouns in accordance with Capgrave's own practices. Hence, in this edition, Modern English "her" is consistently written "hir," Modern English "their" is written "her," and Modern English "them" is written "hem." The scribe of Rawlinson poet. 118 frequently writes "who" for Modern English "how." Though Capgrave himself preferred "who," I have for clarity transcribed "who" as "how" on the grounds that the "who" spelling does not represent a pronunciation different from the "how" spelling. To further facilitate comprehension, the second person pronoun, which is generally spelled "the" in Rawlinson poet. 118, is consistently spelled "thee" in this edition. Final "e" that is long and given full syllabic value is written "é."

The Rawlinson manuscript is sloppily written but well preserved. However, it is missing several leaves (3.188-263, 4.1888-1963). I have supplied the missing text from Arundel 396. Following the policy of the Middle English Texts Series, I have spelled out all numerals; expanded all abbreviations; replaced thorn with th and yogh with g, y, or gh; and used the modern equivalent for i/j and u/v. I have emended what seem to be obvious errors in the manuscripts, documenting substantive alterations in the notes.

Punctuation and capitalization follow modern conventions. According to the policy of the Middle English Text Series, all pronouns and certain nouns (God, Lord, Son, Ghost, and a few others) referring to the Christian deity are capitalized; when designating Christ's mother, "lady" is also capitalized.

Go To John Capgrave, The Life of Saint Katherine, Prologue
Select Bibliography


Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson poet. 118.

London, British Library MS Arundel 396.

London, British Library MS Arundel 168.

London, British Library MS Arundel 20.


The Life of St. Katharine of Alexandria. Ed. Carl Horstmann. EETS o.s. 100. 1893; rpt. Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprint, 1987. [Edition of MS Arundel 396, with MS Rawlinson poet. 118 edited on facing pages for Books 1-3.]


Beadle, Richard. "Prolegomena to a Literary Geography of Later Medieval Norfolk." In Regionalism in Late Medieval Manuscripts and Texts: Essays Celebrating the Publication of "A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English." Ed. Felicity Riddy. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991. Pp. 89-108.

Colledge, Edmund. "John Capgrave's Literary Vocation." Analecta Augustiniana 40 (1977), 187-95.

Coss, Peter. The Lady in Medieval England, 1000-1500. Mechanicsburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1998. [A beautifully illustrated study, recommended for readers wishing to understand Capgrave's treatment of Katherine in light of what is known about the lived experience of gentlewomen in late medieval England.]

Delany, Sheila. Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England: The Work of Osbern Bokenham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. [A study of the writings and milieu of Capgrave's fellow East Anglian poet, Osbern Bokenham. Especially relevant is the discussion of Bokenham's Katherine legend, with passing reference to Capgrave, in ch. 7.]

De Meijer, Alberic. "John Capgrave, O.E.S.A." Augustiniana 5 (1955), 400-40 and 7 (1957), 118-48, 531-75.

Doyle, A. I. "Publication by Members of the Religious Orders." In Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375-1475. Ed. Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Pp. 109-23.

Fredeman, Jane. "The Life of John Capgrave, O.E.S.A. (1393-1464)." Augustiniana 29 (1979), 197-237.

---. "Style and Characterization in John Capgrave's Life of St. Katherine." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 62 (1979-80), 346-87.

Gibson, Gail McMurray. The Theater of Devotion: East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. [This rich study of fifteenth-century East Anglia does not discuss Capgrave but provides essential information about his milieu.]

Goodman, Anthony. "The Piety of John Brunham's Daughter, of Lynn." In Medieval Women. Ed. Derek Baker. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978. Pp. 347-58. [To my knowledge, this essay contains the first comparison of Capgrave's Katherine to Margery Kempe (p. 354, n. 35).]

Heffernan, Thomas J. Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographers in the Middle Ages. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Pp. 167-84.

Horrox, Rosemary, ed. Fifteenth-Century Attitudes: Perceptions of Society in Late Medieval England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. [Includes overviews of such subjects as education, government, religion, urban society, and women.]

Johnson, Ian. "Auctricitas? Holy Women and their Middle English Texts." In Prophets Abroad: The Reception of Continental Holy Women in Late-Medieval England. Ed. Rosalynn Voaden. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1996. Pp. 177-97. [Includes a discussion of Capgrave's prologue to Katherine.]

Kurvinen, Auvo. "The Source of Capgrave's Life of St. Katharine of Alexandria." Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 61 (1960), 268-324. [Provides a partial transcription and translation of the Latin life of Katherine that most closely resembles Capgrave's legend.]

Lewis, Katherine J. The Cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria in Late Medieval England. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1999. [This study focuses on the popular prose life of Katherine.]

---. "Model Girls? Virgin-Martyrs and the Training of Young Women in Late Medieval England." In Young Medieval Women. Ed. Katherine J. Lewis, Noël James Menuge, and Kim M. Phillips. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. Pp. 25-46. [Lewis draws most of her examples from Middle English lives of St. Katherine.]

Lucas, Peter J. "John Capgrave, O.S.A. (1393-1464), Scribe and 'Publisher.'" Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 5 (1969), 1-35.

----. "Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle." Studia Neophilologica 45 (1973), 323-55.

---, ed. John Capgrave's Abbreuiacion of Cronicles. EETS o.s. 285. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983. [Provides an invaluable introduction to Capgrave's entire oeuvre. Extensive bibliography covers all of Capgrave's writings, Latin and English, as well as his life, language, and scriptorium.]

----. "William Gybbe of Wisbech: A Fifteenth-Century English Scribe." Codices manuscripti 11 (1985), 41-64. [A study of the Rawlinson poet. 118 MS (containing the version of Capgrave's Katherine edited here) and its principal scribe.]

---. "John Capgrave, Friar of Lynn." The Historian 44 (1994), 23-24. [Condensed version of a lecture given in 1993 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Capgrave's birth.]

---. From Author to Audience: John Capgrave and Medieval Publication. Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 1997. [A collection of previously published essays on Capgrave.]

Moore, Samuel. "Patrons of Letters in Norfolk and Suffolk, c. 1450." PMLA 27 (1912), 188-207 and PMLA 28 (1913), 79-105.

Murphy, James J. Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: A History of Rhetorical Theory from Saint Augustine to the Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. [Enormously helpful for understanding the rhetorical underpinnings of Katherine's two debates.]

Pearsall, Derek. "John Capgrave's Life of St. Katharine and Popular Romance Style." Medievalia et Humanistica n.s. 6 (1975), 121-37.

Reed, Thomas L., Jr. Middle English Debate Poetry and the Aesthetics of Irresolution. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990. [Useful for understanding the intellectual and generic contexts of the two debates in Katherine.]

Roth, Francis. The English Austin Friars, 1249-1538. 2 vols. New York: Augustinian Historical Institute, 1966, 1961. [Vol. 1: History; Vol. 2: Sources.]

Seymour, M. C. "The Manuscripts of John Capgrave's English Works." Scriptorium 40 (1986), 248-55.

---. John Capgrave. Authors of the Middle Ages 11. Brookfield, Vt.: Variorum, 1996.

Staley, Lynn. Margery Kempe's Dissenting Fictions. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994. [Valuable study of fifteenth-century intellectual, social, and spiritual issues.]

Stouck, Mary-Ann. "Chaucer and Capgrave's Life of St. Katharine." American Benedictine Review 33 (1982), 276-91. [Discusses structural correspondences between Katherine and Troilus.]

Winstead, Karen A. "Piety, Politics, and Social Commitment in Capgrave's Life of St. Katherine." Medievalia et Humanistica, n. s. 17 (1990), 59-80.

---. "Capgrave's Saint Katherine and the Perils of Gynecocracy." Viator 25 (1994), 361-76.

---. "John Capgrave and the Chaucer Tradition." Chaucer Review 30 (1996), 389-400.

---. Virgin Martyrs: Legends of Sainthood in Late Medieval England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. [Ch. 4 treats Capgrave's Katherine together with the prose life composed c. 1420.]

Winstead, Karen A., trans. Chaste Passions: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000. [Includes a translation and transcription of the prose life of St. Katherine.]

Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn, Nicholas Watson, Andrew Taylor, and Ruth Evans, eds. The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280-1520. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. [The excerpts and essays included in this volume provide an invaluable resource for understanding the vexed issue of the vernacular in Capgrave's day.]

Wolpers, Theodor. Die englische Heiligenlegende des Mittelalters. Tübingen: M. Niemeyer, 1964. Pp. 330-42.