Osbern of Canterbury

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Osbern (c. 1050 – c. 1090) was a Benedictine monk, hagiographer and musician, precentor of Christ Church, Canterbury. He is sometimes confused with Osbert de Clare, alias Osbern de Westminster. He is known as "the monk Osbern" or just "Monk Osbern".


He was born at Canterbury and brought up by Godric, who was dean from 1058–1080. He became a monk, and later precentor of Christ Church, and was ordained by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury (d. 1089). He died probably between 1088 and 1093.

He was very skilful in music and is said to have written two treatises De re musica and De vocum consonantiis. [1]

But he is known best as translator of saints' lives from the Anglo-Saxon and as an original writer. William of Malmesbury praises the elegance of his style.[2]


  • Vita S. Alphegi et de translatione S. Alphegi ("Life and Translation of St Ælfheah"), in prose. It was written at Lanfranc's request, about 1080 when there arose some dispute concerning Ælfheah's sanctity. See the remarks in William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificum.[3]
    • Rumble, Alexander R. (ed.) and R. Morris and A. R. Rumble (trs.) (1994). "Translatio Sancti Ælfegi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi et martiris (BHL 2519)". In Alexander R. Rumble. The Reign of Cnut: King of England, Denmark and Norway. Studies in the Early History of Britain. London: Leicester UP. pp. 283–315. 
    • Patrologia Latina 149. 371–393. Available from Documenta Catholica Omnia
    • Wharton, Henry (ed.), "Osberno, ‘Vita s. Alphegi archiepiscopi Cantuariensis’." Anglia Sacra 2 (1691): 122–48.
    • Acta Sanctorum, April 2. 631.
    • Mabillon, "Acta Sanctorum. O.S. B", saec. Vi, 104;
  • Vita S. Dunstani (Life of Dunstan) and Liber Miraculorum Sancti Dunstani, written in 1070 or after Lanfranc's death. Based on earlier Life by author 'B'.
    • Stubbs, W. (ed.). Memorials of St Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury. Rolls Series 63. London, 1874. 68–164.
    • Mabillon op. cit., saec. V, 644-84; in "Acta SS.", May 4, 359; in Patrologia Latina 137. 407. The life given in Mabillon, op. cit. (p. 684), is probably the work of Eadmer.
  • Vita S. Odonis archiepiscopi Cantuariensis. From William of Malmesbury's Gesta pontificum Anglorum we learn that Osbern wrote a life of Odo,[4] but the work has now perished.[5]
  • (Henry Wharton, in his Anglia Sacra (London, 1691), 75–87, published a life of St. Bregwin which was wrongly attributed to Osbern).
  • In addition, two letters which he wrote to Anselm abbot of Bec, probably about 1093, are preserved.
    • Schmitt, F.S. (ed). S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera omnia. 6 vols. 1938–61.


  1. ^ Fétis, Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique Firmin-Didot frères, fils et cie., Paris, 1870, VI, p. 383
  2. ^ William of Malmesbury, De gestis regum Anglorum. Sumptibus Societatis vol 2. London, 1840. p. 166
  3. ^ Rolls Series, 1870, p.33.
  4. ^ Rolls Series 1870, p. 24
  5. ^ The life in Patrologia Latina 133, 831 and Mabillon, op. cit., saec v, 287 is not his.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Osbern". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

  • PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Osbern". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  • Goebel, Bernd "Osbern von Canterbury." in Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, ed. T. Bautz. Vol. 36. 2015. 997-1004. [1]
  • Rubenstein, J.C. "The life and writings of Osbern of Canterbury." In Canterbury and the Norman conquest: churches, saints and scholars, 1066–1109, ed. R. Eales and R. Sharpe. 1995. 27–40.
  • Vaughn, Sally N. "Among These Authors are the Men of Bec: Historical Writing among the Monks of Bec." Essays in Medieval Studies 17 (2000). Online publication

External links[edit]