Nicholas Love (monk)

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Nicholas Love, also known as Nicholas Luff, (died c. 1424) was the first prior of the Carthusian house of Mount Grace in Yorkshire.[1] He was originally a Benedictine monk, perhaps of Freiston, a cell of Crowland Abbey in Lincolnshire.[2] Love was preceded by three "rectors", as the Carthusian Order names the superiors of houses not yet formally incorporated (an early charter[3] names Robert Tredwye, or Trethewy–the first rector–as first prior). Love was the fourth rector, promoted to prior upon the incorporation of Mount Grace in 1411. The latest documentary occurrence of his name is 15 March 1423, and his death, as "former prior" is recorded in 1424.[4]

Love translated the popular Franciscan meditational manual Meditations on the Life of Christ into English, as The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ. The "Meditationes" was at the time attributed to Bonaventure, but is now recognised to be by an unknown author, and hence is attributed to Pseudo-Bonaventure, although attempts have been made to identify its author, and it is possible that it was written by an Italian Franciscan, John de Caulibus).[5] Around the year 1410, Love submitted his "Mirror" to Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, in conformity with the strictures of the Oxford Constitutions of 1407–09, which had forbidden all new translations of biblical material in any form, without the submission of the material to the local bishop for approval. The archbishop had taken this action in an attempt to stop the circulation of the Wycliffite translation of the Bible and other heretical Wycliffite (Lollard) writings.[6]

Love's translation in fact includes a number of major additions to the original Latin text, arguing specifically against the positions of John Wycliffe and his followers on, e.g., the Church hierarchy, almsgiving, and the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. (An additional chapter on the Eucharist is sometimes referred to separately, as A Short Treatise of the Highest and Most Worthy Sacrament of Christ's Body and Its Miracles.)

Archbishop Arundel not merely approved of Love's translation, he personally endorsed its circulation, and it appears to have been disseminated in manuscript primarily from the early fifteenth-century book production centers in London and Westminster, rather than from Mount Grace. The "Mirror" was remarkably popular: there are 64 surviving manuscripts and 6 printings made before 1535.[7]

Later in life, Love complained to King Henry V about the laxity of the discipline of the Benedictine monks in England, inciting him to call an extraordinary convocation of the order at Westminster to answer a bill of thirteen charges that Love, a former Benedictine himself, had apparently drawn up. Love was one of the King's three delegates to the reform commission that derived from this convocation, but both he and the king died before any actual reforms were effected.[8]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ David Falls, "Reading Prior to Translating: A Possible Latin Exemplar for Nicholas Love's 'Myrrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu Christ'", Notes & Queries 2010 [1]
  3. ^ Manuscript in 'Ingleby Records'
  4. ^ David M. Smith, "The Heads of Religious Houses: England and Wales, vol. 3, 1377-1540. Cambridge University Press, 2008, p362.
  5. ^ Bernard McGinn, The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism, (New York, Herder & Herder, 2012), p488.
  6. ^ Anne Hudson, "The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History" (Oxford: at the Clarendon Press, 1988), pp437-40.
  7. ^ Michael G. Sargent, "What do the Numbers Mean? A Textual Critic's Observations on some Patterns of Middle English Manuscript Transmission", "Design and Distribution of Late Medieval Manuscripts in England", ed. by Margaret Connolly and Linne R. Mooney (York Medieval Press, 2008), pp. 205-44.
  8. ^ "Note on the Meeting of 1421", "Documents Illustrating the Activities of the General and Provincial Chapters of the English Black Monks, 1215-1540", vol. 2, ed. by William Abel Pantin (London: Camden Society, 1933), pp. 98-134.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sargent, Michael G., ed. Nicholas Love. The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: A Full Critical Edition, based on Cambridge University Library Additional MSS 6578 and 6686, with Introduction, Notes and Glossary. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 2005. (ISBN 0 85989 740 0)
  • Oguro, Shoichi, Richard Beadle and Michael G. Sargent, eds. Nicholas Love at Waseda: Proceedings of the International Conference, 20–22 July 1995. Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 1997. (ISBN 0 85991 500 X)
  • Salter, Elizabeth, ed, Nicholas Love's 'Myrrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu Christ'. Analecta Cartusiana 10. Salzburg, Austria, 1974.
  • Kantik Ghosh, ‘Nicholas Love', in ASG Edwards, ed, A Companion to Middle English Prose, (Cambridge, 2004), pp53-66
  • Elizabeth Salter, ‘The Manuscripts of Nicholas Love’s Myrrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu Christ and Related Texts’, in Edwards and Pearsall, eds, Middle English Prose, (NY, 1981), pp115–127