Preserved in a single manuscript in the British library, the Life of Saint Audrey or Vie Seinte Audree is the story of an Anglo-Saxon princess, who, though twice married, remains a virgin until her death. Her tale reveals that spiritual marriage was ...
marriage was not an easy path to sainthood, particularly with an unwilling husband. The text is a fine example of what some critics have called a hagiographical romance--a saint’s life that borrows many characteristics from secular romance. Recent scholarship, thoroughly discussed in this book’s introduction, suggests that the Vie Seinte Audree is a fourth text by Marie de France, to whom the Fables, the Lais, and the Espurgatoire Seint Patriz have been attributed. Written in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, the Vie Seinte Audree is published here for the first time in English, along with the Old French text. The editors of this new edition provide helpful material on the life of the historical Saint Etheldreda (as St. Audrey is called in Latin) and her Anglo-Saxon world. They also discuss women’s writing in Anglo-Norman England as well as the subject of spiritual marriage. In addition, they examine secondary sources that have focused on the Vie Seinte Audree. A map of seventh-century England, a table of proper names and a genealogical chart of the Royal Lineage of Saint Audrey are all included.