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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  November 2012

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION November 2012

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Subject:

Re: St James the Apostle

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 11 Nov 2012 04:40:00 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (32 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On 11/10/12, Andrew Larsen  wrote:
 
> I am dealing with a document that presents a small dating problem that I am hoping the list can help me resolve.
> In the fallout from the St. Scholastica's Day riot at Oxford in 1355, the royal council issued an order to the townsmen of Oxford to pay a rather hefty fine (250L). The order was issued on July 17th, 1355, and the fine was to be paid before "the Monday after St James the Apostle next" (I have only the English translation published in the 19th century, rather than the original Latin text). What I am wondering is what day is being referred to here, given that there are two James the Apostles?
> St James, son of Alphaeus, often identified with James the Less, has a saint's day of May 3rd.
> St James, son of Zebedee, brother of John, called the Greater, has a saint's day of July 25th. 
> My guess is that the council is referring to James the Greater. They are giving Oxford just over 1 year from the date of the order, to pay the fine. Is it reasonable to assume that if a 14th century document just refers to 'St James the Apostle' without clarifying, then the more prominent James is the one being referred to?
> 

In medieval Latin calendars a simple reference to 'James the apostle' ordinarily indicates James the Greater (25. July). The likelihood that such a reference would be (mis)understood as being to James the Less is diminished by the latter's having routinely shared his feast day with the apostle Philip (medievally, 1. May) and by Philip's name preceding James' in indications of that day. See (e.g.) the May page of the earlier C12 St Albans calendar reproduced here:
http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/lib399/german/translation/trans007.shtml
Had the council wished to specify the Monday after 1. May it almost certainly would have indicated 'the Monday after Sts Philip and James next'.

In the Roman Calendar Philip and James continued to be celebrated on 1. May until 1955, when the institution of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on that day caused them to be bumped to 3. May. The probability that in fourteenth-century England James the Less would have been celebrated on 3. May seems about equal to the probability that some in England would have eaten potatoes on that day (or on any other).

Best,
John Dillon

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