The Life of St. Margaret


STC 17325
Brown and Robbins 2673 ('Olde and yonge that here be ...'). Ringler 17325. A fragment of 4 leaves, one blank, and with signature nos. wanting. A manuscript version in Oxford, Bodleian Library 6922*, fol. 145r is ed. C. Horstmann, _Altenglische Legenden: Neue Folge_ (Heilbronn, 1881), pp. 236-41. UMI microfilm reel 137. Order no. 2612

[Here begynneth of seint margarete. The blissid lif that is so swete]
London: R. Pynson,1493.

Composition Date: ante 1475? [Ringler].

The remaining leaves of the 1493 edition are lost; the text is supplied from the 1530 edition.
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HEre begynneth of seint margarete
The blissid lif that is so swete
To Ihesu_cryste she is fulle dere
If ye wylle listyne ye shall here
5 Herkenythe now vnto my spelle
Of hir lyf I wyll you telle
Olde and yonge that here be
Listyn a whyle vnto me
What I shall to you say
10 How it be_felle vpon a day
Of a virgyn fayre and swete
Whos name was margarete
Hyr fader was a noble clerke
And a man that coude myche werke
15 Also a prince of hyghe degre
There myght no-where no bettre be
In antioche he had a wyf
Bothe were hethyne all there lyf
He was a man of gret power
20 And [of] all the land gouernour copytext torn; reading supplied from 1530
Fa[ls he] was of hys lay copytext torn; reading supplied from 1530
Age[ynst] god bothe nyght and day copytext torn; reading supplied from 1530
Theodocius was hys name
A noble man of gret fame
25 He had vndirstondinge longe beforne
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That he shuld haue a doughtyr borne
As the scripture hadde hym tolde
And whanne that she wexed olde
That she shuld crystined be
30 And beleue vpon the trinyte
Almyghty god that vs dere bought
And al thys worlde made of nought
Hyr fader comandide longe be_forne
That a_non as she were borne
35 That to dethe she shulde be brought
In what wyse he ne rought
But hyre modere that hyr bare
Made for hyre ful moche care
And be_thought hyre be_forne
40 That a_non as she was borne
In-to a[s]ye she it sente asye] arye 1493, Araby 1530, A ####yogh#### y A
The messingere wythe hyre furthe wente
To a norice that dwellyd there
For to putte hyre for to lere
45 And be_toke wythe hym spendynge
For to kepe that mayden yinge
And she hyre kept there in-dede
And norysshed hyr in that nede
She wexed fayre and comly of chere
50 And of coloure fayre and clere Leaves [A3]-[A4] wanting in 1493 edition; text supplied from 1530
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All her loued in that countre
Olde and yonge that myght her se
And whan she waxed more in age
Hauyng good wyt and knowelege
55 She toke her vnto christes lore
And beleued on hym euermore
The father / sone / and holy-goost:
Lord and kynge of myghtes most
That heuen and erth and all wrought
60 In hym she set all her thought
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The nouryce that her kept fro despayre
Had seuen chyldren that were fayre
And she kept her chyldren seuen
The eyght was chrystes mayde of heuen
65 Full good tales coulde she tell
Both of heuen / and of hell
And what they shulde haue to mede
As they deserued here in-dede
And howe they suffred marterdome euen
70 Both saynt Laurence / and saynt Steuen
And many other sayntes mo
How they suffred payne and wo
And marterdome they gan take
And all for Iesus_christes sake
75 Of many sayntes she tolde the lyfe
Bothe to man chylde and wyfe
And whan she was fyftene yere olde
She was a fayre mayde / and a bolde
Her nouryce set her to kepe
80 In the felde all her shepe
Her felowes gan her to beholde
Whan she her prayers make wolde
Howe she her prayers began to make
And to Iesu_christ her betake
85 There was in that countre a kynge
A noble-man of greate connynge
He was a prynce of nobell myght
Olibrius that kynge hyght
All Asaye as I you tell
90 Was his owne to gyue and sell
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And he serued bothe day and nyght
His fals goddes I you behyght
He serued euer the deuell of hell
And christen men dyde he quell
95 From Antheoche vnto Asy
Ben myles mo than fyfty
Euer to dystroye christen men
He dyde euer his power then
What with warre and what with stryfe
100 He left but fewe people on_lyfe
Than it befell vpon a daye
As he rode by the waye
He sawe that louely mayden clene
Kepynge shepe vpon the grene
105 Anone he commaunded a knyght
For to fetche her to hym ryght
The knyght went anone her to
And sayd she must with hym go
The mayde that was so mylde of chere
110 Answered hym as ye shall here
And sayd she had nothynge to do
Out of that grounde with hym to go
She prayed hym for his courtesye
To passe his waye and let her be
115 And shortly this tale to tell
He went from that damsell
And came to Olibrius the kynge
And tolde hym that ylke thynge
That she wolde nat come hym to
120 For nothynge that he myght do
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But they shuld wyth her make stryfe
And her threte vpon her lyfe
To Iesu_Christ gan she call
That suffred deth for vs all
125 That he wolde her defende
That no sarasyn shulde her shende
And besought hym of his grace
Her to socour in euery place
And sayd for thy loue wyll I dye
130 And leue all worldly company

Olibrius speketh

¶Than spake syr Olibrius
And to his men he sayd thus
Of all the men that I haue here
None of them can brynge her nere
135 If I had her to me brought
Full sone shulde I change her thought
She shulde vpon my goddes beleue
Or full sore I shulde her greue
They went agayne vnto the mayd
140 And to her thus they sayd
Thou must come anone with vs
To our kynge syr Olibrius
But if thou come withoute stryfe
We shall bereue the of thy lyfe
145 She went with them meke and styll
Unto the kynge agaynst her wyll
And full fayre she gan hym grete
He askyd her name and she sayd Margarete 1493 edition resumes
sig: [A5][1493]
He sayde if thou be borne fre
150 Forsothe my leman shalt thou be
I wolle haue the to my wyf
And leue in ioye al thy lyf
Gold and ryches I wyl the geue
Al the whyle thou may[st]e leue copytext blotted; reading supplied from 1530
155 She sayd to hym a_non than
I wylle haue non erthely man
But for the loue of ihesu a_lone
I wyl be baptiste at the fonte-stone
Forsothe I wyl hym [n]euyr for_sake
160 For non erthely man to take
Then a_non to hyr he seyde
We dyd ihesu_criste to dede
And dyd hym streyne vppon a rode
Tyl he swet bothe watyr and blode
165 And crouned hym wyth a crowne of thorn
If thou beleue on hym thou art forlorn
To hym she seyde anon-ryght
Syr he ys a man of myght
For we shuld haue hym in mynde
170 That dyed on crosse for al mankynde
He rose from deth and to helle went
The fendes power for to shent
And many soules fet oute there
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That lo[nge before i]n paynis were Copytext damaged; reading supplied from 1530
To stryf wythe her he found no boot
175 But dyd her bynde hand and foot
And keste hyr in pryson stronge
For to ouercome hyr wythe wronge
Mayde margaret all that nyght
In prison lay wythe myche vn_ryght
180 On the morowe the sothe to say
He sent for hyr when it was day
They brought hyr be_fore olibrius
And vnto hyr he sayde thus
Margaret beleue vpon my lore
185 Or I shall greue the ful sore
Thy goddys that thow doste on beleue
Shall not saue the from my greue
Trow on me and be my wyf
And leue in ioy all thy lyf
190 All antioche and all a[s]ye asye] arye 1493, Asye 1530, A ####yogh#### ye A
Aftyr my dethe I geue it the
Sylke and golde purpul and palle
And I wyll the wedde in tempyll ryall
Welle-furred wythe ryche ermyne
195 In all thys worlde is none so fyne
And ihesu_criste put oute of thy thought
Nay she sayde that wyll I nought Leaf with small woodcut on recto, otherwise blank, inserted between [A5] and [A6]. There is no break in the text.
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Ihesu wyll I neuer forsake
For all that ys in erthe ymake
200 Olybryus sayde it wyll be sene sone
What thy god wyll for the done god] goddes 1493, 1530; god A
He bad hys sergiantes I vnderst[a]nd vnderstand] vnderstnd 1493
Take and bind hyr foot and hand
They bete hyr bothe man and wyf
205 And faste wythe hyr gan they stryf
Tyll the rede blode felle adoune
To the foot from the croune
Tylle they wend she had bene dede
So faste on hyre they leyde
210 Then seyde olibrius there he stode
Margaret thynkiste thou thys good
Beleue on my lorde and be my wyf lorde] lore 1530, lord A
And I wylle no more wythe the stryf
Haue mercy on thy fayre flesshe
215 And on thy skyn that is so nesshe
To ihesu_cryste she called than
That diede for loue of man
And of a virgyn was I_borne
For mankind shuld not be lorne
220 Thies paynes that I do suffure and swynke
Be fulle swete to me as me-thynke
All the paynes that I here dryue
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Bene sweter to me than any-thynge a_lyue
Olibrius sayde to hys sargiantis tho
225 She g[r]euythe nothynge of al thys wo greuythe] geuythe 1493, greueth 1530, felys A
For al thies paynes that dothe hyre greue that doth hyre greue] we to hyre gyue A
She wy[l] not on oure goddes beleue Copytext illegible.
He bad hys sargiantis euerychone
That they [shu]ld turment hyre anon Copytext illegible.
230 The sargiantys dyd as he them badd
Ful lytyl mercy on hyre they hadde
Wythe theire nayles they gan hyr draw
L[yk]e as houndes had hyr to_gnawe Copytext illegible.
And hyre eyne that were so bryght
235 They putte oute and marryd hyr syght
They dyd hyr myche payne and wo
They rent hyr skyn the flesshe fro
Many of the pepell that was th[o]re thore] there 1493, thore 1530
In ther hartes were ful sor[e] sore] sory 1493, sore 1530
240 And seyde to hyr stondinge there
Whan they se hyre so to_tere so to_tere] þus I_tore A
And seyde fayre mayden margarete
That is so fayre and so swete
Turne to hym and be hys wyf
245 And no more wyt[h hy]m stryf copytext torn
Margaret for the [we hau]e care copytext torn; reading supplied from 1530
And wolde that thou sau[yd ware] copytext torn; reading supplied from 1530The remaining leaves of the 1493 edition are lost; the text is supplied from the 1530 edition.

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After you she sayde I will not do
Go your waye she sayd me fro
250 All that dothe for me repent
And syeth me haue this tourmente
As they thynke bothe good and yll
They shall be quyt after theyr wyll
The Aungell of god came her to
255 As faste as he myght come and go
¶Than be_spake syr Olibrius
With wycked wordes saynge thus
Margarete I haue suche poste
That blynde nowe I haue made the
260 Before this thou haddest thy syght
Nowe hast thou none by my myght
Trowe vpon my god thou mayde
Nay syr forsothe she sayd
For the goddes that thou beleuest one
265 They be dombe as ony stone
My lorde to me is full kynde
He shall neuer [out of] my mynde Copytext illegible; reading supplied from A.
If thou ha[ue power] on my flesshe Copytext illegible. A reads: Iff þe hope wer of my flessche.
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To do thy wyll b[othe h]erde and nesshe Copytext illegible.
270 To ryue the fl[es]she fro the bone flesshe] flseshe 1530
Power of my soule getest thou none
To her anone than he sayd
In depe pryson thou shalt be layde
In pryson shall thy body lye
275 Thy fayre flesshe to destroye
Thou shalte be bounde fote and hande
With many a stronge yron bande
Iesu_Christ she sayd hym tyll
He maye deliuer me whan he wyll
280 Fast in prison they gan her done
The Aungell came to her full sone
By the grace of god almyght
As the sonne shyneth bryght
With parte of the crosse that god was on done
285 The aungell brought to her full sone
And sayd to her with mylde steuen
Blessed thou arte in heuen
The father and sone and the holy-goost
Lorde and Kynge of myghtes most
290 This crosse to the hathe sende
Thyne enmyes therwith to defende
She sayd lorde blessed mote thou be
That this gyfte hathe sende to me
All-myghty god I the praye
295 A bone thou graunt me this daye
That I maye with syght them se
What they ben that tourment me
The Aungell bad hyr doubt nought
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For to heuen she shulde be brought
300 There was no tonge that tell myght
The ioy that was made for her that nyght
With all the myrthes that is in heuen
There Margarete for to neuen
And by the grace of god almyght
305 Than anone she had her syght
The holy Aungell passed her fro
Of hym she sawe no more tho
She loked a lytell her besyde
And sawe a fowle dragon by her glyde
310 That was of coloure grasse-grene
With flamynge fyre foule on to sene
Out of his mouthe brenynge bryght
She was a_frayde of that syght
She fell downe to the grounde
315 For feere tremblynge in that stonde
He toke her in his mouthe anone
And swalowed her body and bone
And whan that he had so done
Than myght he no ferther gone
320 But to_braste vpon the grounde
The mayde came out hole and sounde
And as it was Christes wyll
With-in hym she had none yll
But vpon the dragon she stode
325 With glade harte and mylde moude
And thanked god of his myght
That she had ouercome that foulle wyght
And vnderstoude well that it was
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Throughe vertue of the holy-crosse
330 That foule dragon was slayne there
Through goddes myght and her prayer
A_none she wente the dragon fro
And sawe a fouler come her to
A grysely best forsothe was he
335 So foule a thynge neuer man se
To hym she went I vnderstande
With the holy-crosse in her hande
And smote hym so vpon the fynnes
That he myght not a[b]yde her dynnes abyde] adyde 1530
340 And she stroue with hym so longe
That throughe Christes myght so stronge
Downe to the grounde she hym cast
And with her wemple bounde hym so fast
In his necke she set her fote
345 To stryue with her he founde no bote
To hym she sayd I coniure the
What thou arte thou tell me
Thou arte so lothely a thynge
What thou arte I wyll haue wetynge
350 For beest sawe I neuer none
So lothely to loke vpon
He sayd for thy lordes sake
Fro my necke thy fote thou take
I haue gone wyde by water and londe
355 Yet was I neuer so sore bounde
My ryght name hyght Bylg[i]s Bylgis] Bylgls 1530, Belgys A
To lye to the no vayle it is
My brother hyght Resson that thou slewe Resson] Geffron A
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In the worlde we dyd sorowe ynowe
360 Brusten and deed is my brother
And I am ouercome I se none other
Whan we were bothe together
We made the sone to [s]le the father sle] fle 1530
And dystroyed the people daye and nyght
365 And dyde all the sorowe that we myght
In dragons lykenes was I sent to the
To spyll thy wyt and make the mad to be
The cruell kynge Olibrius
In this fa[c]cyon hathe sent vs faccyon] faycyon 1530
370 For to destroye thy fayre body
With the crafte of socery socery=sorcery. A reads: With hys craft of nygramansy.
I maye not suffre this very longe
This harde payne that is so stronge
My waye is not in erthe in the wynde I fle
375 For to dystroye all that I se
Where I wyst a woman with chylde
To her I went bothe woode and wylde
And if the chylde vnchrystened were
Legge and arme I made croked there
380 Where ale or wyne were in towne
Thether I made me redy bowne
Thether I wolde make great haste
To tourne it sowre and lese his taste
I wrought moche sorowe and wo
385 I made one neyghbour an-other slo
I went to the felde to the ploughe
And the beestes all to_droughe
Where-euer I wente I dyd moche care
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It was my ioye there-a_boute to fare
390 Whan Salomon the wyse was a_lyue
Into a tonne of brasse he dyd vs dryue
And dyd bury vs vnder an hyll
In the grounde agaynst our wyll
Men of Babylon cam vs to
395 And dygged vs out and let vs go
Whan we moued in the grounde
They wende treasure to haue founde
There be of vs in erthe fleynge
Mo than .xv.M. with wynge
400 Some is swyfter than a do
Some is swyfter than a roo
Some be swyfter than a swalowe
And some be swyfter than an arowe
And all that on Christ byleue
405 We do them vexe and sore greue
Bothe in towne and in felde
We deuoured man wyfe and chylde
We destroyed fruytes on erth growynge
And drowned shippes in the see saylynge
410 This was oure laboure and our delyte
For to do christen people dyspyte
Now wotest thou what I am full well
As I haue tolde the euery-dele
Than sayd Margarete to that foule wyght
415 I coniure the through godes myght
And in Chrystes holy name
That thou do neuer no more shame
But synke a_downe in-to hell
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For euermore ther to dwel
420 Synke a_downe thou foule fende
And there to a_byde without end
He sanke a_downe throughe Christes myght
And by the prayer of that mayden bryght
All this trouble had this holy mayde
425 In the castell where she was layde
In a daye [and for] a nyght and for] for and 1530, and in A
All this tro[u]ble had this swete wyght
She thanked god of his grace
That she had ouer_come them in that place
430 The seconde daye at after-none
Olibrius bad fetche her sone
The sergeauntes were to go
And out of pryson fet her tho
Than bespake syr Olibrius
435 And to the mayde he sayd thus
Margarete I praye nowe the
That thou wylte turne vnto me
She sayd cursed may thy goddes be
That on beleue thou woldest haue me
440 For thy goddes that thou beleuest in
They be cursed and full of synne
They be of Sathanas kynde
I wyll neuer haue them in mynde
Whan thou thynkest best on thy lyuynge
445 Unto myschefe they wyll the brynge
Therfore I rede and councell the
Beleue vpon my lorde that is so fre
That made the and me and euery man
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And moost of witte and vertue can
450 Therfore beleue hym vpon
And be baptised at the font-stone
He sayd to her in that stede
With a crowne of golde vpon his hede
My goddes be true and thyne be wrong
455 Therefore I byd the holde thy tonge
He sayd vnto his sergeauntes than
I charge you euery man
That ye poure vpon her hede
Boylynge oyle and boylynge lede
460 Scalde her from the hede to the fote
Tyll she tourne and aske bote
They tourmented her full sore
With oyle and lede euermore
Tyll she swete bothe fleshe and fell
465 As it were water out of a well
Than spake they to this holy mayd
Beleue vpon our goddes they sayd
She sayd from them I me defende
I beleue on Iesu that neuer shall haue ende
470 Cursed be they that on thy goddes thynke
Or of them wryte in paper with ynke
The holy-crosse kepte her well
They had no power her to quell
He commaunded anone tho
475 In a fat of water she sholde be do
Therin he bad her drenche
All her hete for to quenche
Anone as she the water se
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She thought ther-in christened to be
480 And sayd in Christes holy name
Here I take baptisme and defye your blame
Anone the thunder began to brast
The people fled a_waye full fast
The Aungels toke her out of the water than
485 In the syght of euery man
Than turned anone to her beleue
Many a thousande or it were eue
Bothe olde people and well lyke yonge
Turned to her for her saynge
490 To Iesu_Christ they turned blyue
Both man chylde and wyfe
The kynge se a_none-ryght
Harme to her do none he myght
He called to Malcus that wasse
495 His manqueller in euery place
And bad hym that he shulde
Take her fast to his holde
And lede her out of the towne thenne
And in fyre he sholde her brenne
500 And brynge her out of her lyfe
That she nomore with me stryfe
And whan she came to the steed
Where she shulde be done to deed
Moche people folowed her tho
505 Also fast as they myght go
Anone the cloudes wexed blacke
And the thunder began to cracke
The folkes were a_frayde in that stonde
sig: [C2v][1530]
And for_thy fell to grounde
510 They were all a_frayde tho
That they knewe neyther wele nor wo
Anone our lorde the Aungell sent
To the place there she shulde be brente
And sayd to her with mylde steuen
515 Blessed thou arte this daye in heuen
This daye thou shalte crowned be
In heuen before Christes mageste
Malcus hard the Aungel speke
And thought to her he wolde hym meke See OED s.v. meek, vb. 'abase oneself'
520 He kneled downe vpon the grounde
And cried her marcy in that stounde
Than he sawe in that place
The multitude of Aungels that there was
He layde his swerde downe hym by
525 And asked her than marcy
Than spake that virgyn bryght
And sayd to hym a_none-ryght
Brother if thy wyll is to be
A lyttell whyle abyde thou with me
530 And let me make my prayere
To Iesu_Christ that bought me dere
And a_none in this tyde
A_waye with me thou shalte glyde
The father the sone and the holy-goost
535 Lorde and kynge of myghtes most
That all this worlde made of nought
And mankynde full dere bought
Of a virgyn thou were borne
sig: [C3][1530]
For mankynd shoulde not be lorne
540 Iesu_Christ I beseche the
This daye a bone thou graunt me
All that in the name of the
That daye worship and honoure me In A the couplet reads: All þat in þe wyrschype of þe / And in mynde do honore me
Lette them neuer in paynes be bounde
545 Nor in deedly synnes be founde
All that my tourment here or rede
Or in my name do almes-dede
Iesu_Christ gyue them to mede
The blysse of heuen for theyr dede
550 If any woman be with chylde
I praye to our lady meke and mylde
That of her payne she be vnbounde
And delyuered hole and sounde
Iesu_Christ I beseche the
555 Whan she calleth vnto me
That thou wilte her socoure
That the holy-crosse dothe honoure
And all that worship my daye
And honoure me as they maye
560 Or here my memory daye or nyght
Or with good herte gyue candell-lyght
I beseche the for thy glorye
Lette them neuer in synne dye
Where-so-euer theyr bodyes lye
565 Upon theyr soules thou haue mercy
That the fende do them no scathe
Nother late nor yet rathe
That bereth vpon them my lyfe
sig: [C3v][1530]
Neyther man chylde ne wyfe
570 Our lorde herde her prayer sone
And graunted her all her bone
And than she spake to Malcus
And to hym she sayd thus
She bad hym to fulfyll
575 The commaundement of his lordes wyll
He sayd naye for all this worlde to wyn
For I se the lorde that thou beleuest in
Syr she sayd do as I the bede
Take and smyte of my hede
580 For god hath forgyuen it the
That I byd the do to me
For it is a_gaynst thy wyll
His commaundemente to full_fyll
Into paradyse thou shalte wende
585 And there to be with-outen ende
Malcus harde her saye this sawe
Anone his swerde gan he drawe
And her hede he smote of
As the lawe therto hym drofe
590 Michaell Gabriell and Raphaell in fere
Cherubin and Seraphyn thousandes there were
With ioye and blysse and melodye
They bare her to heuen on hye
Byfore our lorde they gan her bere
595 To hym she is bothe ly[e]fe and dere lyefe] lyfe 1530
Thyopye the greate clerke
Remembred her lyfe and warke
And made her lyfe in memory
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And who her nourysshed in Asaye
600 Into Anthyoce they her brought
With good entente they wrought
They set a chapell in her name
And all that was syke or lame
Theder faste gan they gone
605 Hole and sounde home they come
Thrughe the grace of god almyght
And the prayer of that mayden bryght
Iesu gyue vs grace to lyue so
To come to the blysse that he bought vs to
610 The lyfe of saint Margarete I haue you red
On a tewesday she was bothe quicke and deed
Iesu_Christ that heuen-kynge
Graunt them all his dere blessynge
That this story wyll haue in mynde
615 And forgete nothynge behynde
Throughe the prayer of saynt Margarete
That in heuen we maye mete
Praye we all it maye so be
Amen amen for charite.
¶Enprynted at London wi[th]inwithin] wihtin 1530 Temple_barre in saynt_Dounstones paryshe at the Syne of the George by me Robert_Redman
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