Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Ayton, John, ed.; Barratt, Alexandra, ed., Aelred of Rievaulx's De Institutione Inclusarum: Two English Versions (Early English Text Society Original Series 287)

Text name(s): De Institutione Inclusarum

Number of pages of primary source text: 59


Dates: 1160 - 1450

Archival Reference: MS Bodley 423; Vernon MS

Original Language(s): 

  • English - Middle English


  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • England


Record Types: 

  • Monastic Rule
  • Theology - Practical

Subject Headings: 

  • Clergy - Monks, Nuns, Friars
  • Piety - Lay
  • Women / Gender


  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Introduction


De Institutione Inclusarum is a rule for anchoresses, which contains spiritual advice that was written for women who had chosen an enclosed solitary life, but was found useful by laypeople as well throughout the Middle Ages. Notes at the end of the volume compare the Middle English texts to the Latin originals, note oddities of the text, cite sources for quotations, and provide background information. There is a glossary of words that are likely to be unfamiliar.

Introduction Summary: 

The introduction (45 pp.) begins with a biography of Aelred of Rievaulx, one of the most influential figures in the early English Cistercian movement and founder of Rievaulx Abbey. His writings on meditation and piety were influential throughout the Middle Ages. De Institutione Inclusarum was written around 1160; the Middle English translations in this volume were composed in the late fourteenth century (this one only has sections of the original) and the mid fifteenth century. The authors describe in detail the manuscripts which are edited here, as well as other surviving manuscripts of the texts. They then examine the Middle English translations and their relations with the textual tradition of the Latin, noting the freedoms the translators have taken. They compare De Institutione Inclusarum to the Ancrene Wisse, the vastly popular and influential rule for anchoresses. This is followed by a fairly technical discussion of the language of the manuscripts.

Cataloger: MK