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This profile was last updated on 2/16/06  and contains information from public web pages.

Richard Maidstone

Wrong Richard Maidstone?

Preacher of Sermons

Oxford
 
Background

Employment History

  • English Carmelite Political Writer

Education

  • Bachelor of Theology
    Oxford
  • Doctor of Divinity
Web References
Johan Bergstrom-Allen 'Heremitam et Ordinis Carmelitarum' - 2
www.carmelite.org, 16 Feb 2006 [cached]
Richard Maidstone
At Oxford Lavenham is likely to have known, and probably taught, Richard of Maidstone.A Carmelite of academic repute, Maidstone composed a Latin poem, Latin prose treatises and theological commentaries, as well as a vernacular theological work, the Penitential Psalms, a meditation in verse upon the seven penitential psalms.[55]
Maidstone was probably born in the 1340s.[56] He joined the order's friary at Aylesford, Kent, and it was in the cloister there that he was buried on 1 June 1396.In Aylesford he came into contact with the classic texts of medieval theology, since the librarium there contained about 75 volumes in 1381.[57] Maidstone was sent to the order's studium at London where he was ordained priest on 20 December 1376.During the late 1380s, Maidstone was made a Bachelor of Theology at Oxford and eventually became a Doctor of Divinity before 1390.[58]
Maidstone divided his energies between Oxford and London, where the Carmelite house was ideally located for intercourse with the governing classes.[59] Several Carmelites preached at court, such as John Swaffham, Thomas Peverel, and Stephen Patrington, all eventually receiving bishoprics.[60] Probably during the 1390s Maidstone acted as confessor to Richard II's uncle, the Lancastrian John of Gaunt, a position held by a number of Whitefriars, including the court preacher William de Reynham, John Badby, Walter Dysse, the preacher and controversialist Richard Mardisley, and John Kynyngham, another prominent opponent of Wyclif's teaching. [61] Many of Maidstone's Whitefriar contemporaries were instrumental in the condemnation of Wyclif's beliefs at the Blackfriars 'Earthquake' Council in London in May 1382,[62] and when the friars were accused by Wycliffites of stirring up the insurgents of the so-called 'Peasants' Revolt' of 1381, the heads of the mendicant orders beseeched Gaunt's support.[63] Gaunt founded the Carmelite priory at Doncaster in 1350, and as well as supporting hermits and anchorites he left more money to the Carmelites in his will than to the other orders.[64] As a member of Gaunt's entourage, Maidstone was part of a powerful political set and cultural milieu, where poets such as Chaucer found audience.[65]
Maidstone was himself 'an accomplished metropolitan writer,'[66] whose literary aspirations were evident in a long Latin poem, written in 1393 to celebrate the reconciliation of Richard II and the City of London the previous year, the detailed description of the festivities suggesting that Maidstone took part.[67] Copsey calls the ode competent laudatory verse, but marked more by good intentions and length rather than by any poetic skills.[68]
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Whilst a large number of surviving manuscripts (in Maidstone's case 27) is not necessarily a guarantee of wide readership in Ricardian England, the fact that (unattributed) excerpts from Maidstone's Penitential Psalms were added to prayer books used by both secular clergy and laity stands testimony to the fact that Carmelite texts were circulated beyond the immediate confines of the order.[71] Maidstone's decision to write on the Penitential Psalms shows a Carmelite responding to the growing demand for devotional material in the vernacular in the later Middle Ages.[72] As well as being confessor to John of Gaunt, Maidstone was licensed to hear confessions in Rochester Diocese in 1390.[73] Maidstone's 'seuen salmes' may have been read in a penitential context, and recommendation of his text by 'clerical intermediaries' to penitents would ensure its popularity.[74]
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As with Lavenham, it is striking that Maidstone should have written his Penitential Psalms in direct and accessible English.
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When John Ashwardby, vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, preached against the mendicant ideal of voluntary poverty, Maidstone wrote his major theological work, Protectorium Pauperis ("In defence of poverty") probably in 1392.[75] In his treatise, Maidstone accused Ashwardby of preaching controversy openly to the laity in English, whereas Maidstone himself had debated 'in scolis et coram clericis in lingua Latina'.[76] Like Lavenham, Maidstone believed that the university was the proper forum for debate, in Latin, and like Lavenham, Maidstone's vernacular text is devotional rather than speculative, and entirely orthodox.
...
When John Ashwardby, vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, preached against the mendicant ideal of voluntary poverty, Maidstone wrote his major theological work, Protectorium Pauperis ("In defence of poverty") probably in 1392.[75] In his treatise, Maidstone accused Ashwardby of preaching controversy openly to the laity in English, whereas Maidstone himself had debated 'in scolis et coram clericis in lingua Latina'.[76] Like Lavenham, Maidstone believed that the university was the proper forum for debate, in Latin, and like Lavenham, Maidstone's vernacular text is devotional rather than speculative, and entirely orthodox.
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Rather than providing his audience with a full translation of the Penitential Psalms, Maidstone followed each Vulgate Bible verse with a stanza of commentary in English that translated the sentiment of the verse and expanded upon its meaning.
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128r-136r].[88] This manuscript, written by one hand in the mid-late fifteenth century, contains a diverse mix of texts alongside Maidstone, including the C-text of Piers Plowman,[89] political poems referring to dates up until 1418, and the Debate of Body and Soul.The dialect of the scribe is that of Worcestershire, perhaps predictable in a manuscript containing Piers Plowman, and shows the dissemination of Carmelite texts to an area apparently unconnected with Maidstone.
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Maidstone was noted as a preacher of sermons at Oxford and at court in the catalogue of Carmelite writers (Viridarium) compiled by John Grossi, the order's prior general, who visited England in 1413 [Xiberta, pp.
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11-21 (on Maidstone, p. 12 n. 16.) Though their political verse is generally poorly rated, the Carmelites' involvement at court as religious and political 'scriptwriters' is an important aspect of their ministry, deserving further study.Maidstone was not the first English Carmelite political writer.
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On the dating of Maidstone's Protectorium and his determinatio against Ashwardby, see Wendy Scase, Piers Plowman and the New Anti-clericalism, (Cambridge, 1989), p. 10.
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See Edden, in CIB, II, p. 120 n. 2; 'The Debate between Richard Maidstone and the Lollard Ashwardby'.
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