Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/9, ff. 169r-v: ‘Speculum Vitae’, lines 10991-11032 (composed mid-14th century, English)


¶ For spousayle is as men may se
A state of gret autorite
Of dignite and of holynes
Žorow žese žre spousayle stabled es
¶ Of gret autorite is it
As bereth witnes holy writ
For whi oure lord god rightwise
Hit stabled first in paradyse
In the state of obedience
Or euer man synned žorow neclygence
Žerfore men schuld žorow al her myght
Žat state kepe clene bothe day and nyght
As techeth and biddeth holy writ
Be resoun of god žat stabled hit
And be resoun of že stede clene
Žer it was first stabled sene
¶ Also spousayle is an hey state
Of gret dignite as clerkes wate


The sacrament of marriage is, as men say, a state of excellent authority, of spiritual worth, and of holiness. Through these three things marriage is permanently ordained. It is of excellent authority, as Holy Writ bears witness, because our good Lord God established it in Paradise first, in that state of obedience, before man sinned through negligence.

Therefore, man should try to remain in a pure state, both day and night, as is taught and required in Holy Writ, by God’s reason, who established it, and because of the holy place [Paradise, the Garden of Eden] where it was first established and seen.

Also, marriage is a high state, of great dignity, as learned men know,

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