Medieval Studies Richard Maidstone
by
Arthur Russell
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 July 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0271

Introduction

Richard Maidstone (d. 1396) was a Carmelite friar, theologian, and poet whose career flourished during the reign of Richard II (r. 1377–1399). Maidstone is thought to hail from Kent, perhaps near Aylesford, where he joined the Carmelite order. Maidstone’s name first appears in the registers of bishop William Wykeham (b. 1367–d. 1404), who presided over his ordination on 20 December 1376 at the convent church of Merton priory in London. Sometime before 1390, Maidstone moved to Oxford, where he earned a bachelor degree and, presumably, a doctorate in theology; his records of attendance and degrees granted have yet to be discovered. While at Oxford, he authored a series of Latin theological treatises and sermons on the office of the priesthood, interpretation of scripture, and in defense of apostolic poverty. During this period, Maidstone likely composed his verse translation and meditation on the seven penitential psalms in Middle English. Maidstone obtained license to preach and hear confession in the diocese of Rochester in 1390 and, soon after, is believed to have served as confessor to John of Gaunt. Maidstone’s surviving Anglo-Latin court poetry includes Concordia, celebrating Richard II’s return to London in 1393, and possibly “Nobis natura florem,” commemorating the death of Anna of Bohemia in 1394. Richard Maidstone died on 1 June 1396 and was laid to rest in the cloister at Aylesford.

General Overviews

There is yet no comprehensive study of the life and works of Richard Maidstone. Copsey 2004 and Van Dussen 2017 provide excellent overviews. Introductions to various edited works offer additional biographical and bibliographic histories.

  • Copsey, Richard. “Maidstone, Richard.” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 36. Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, 164–165. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    E-mail Citation »

    A succinct introduction to Maidstone’s biography and bibliography. Available online by subscription.

  • Van Dussen, Michael. “Maidstone, Richard.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Medieval British Literature. 1252–1253. Oxford: Blackwell, 2017.

    E-mail Citation »

    A concise overview of Maidstone’s literary career.

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