Charles Roe

Charles Roe

PhD Student

Summary: I work on the aesthetics and social position of medieval English religious writing, translated across Latin, French, and English.

PhD Thesis

I am working on a rather neglected culture of vernacular writing from thirteenth-century England. The years between 1215 and 1270 saw a flourishing of work which is often omitted from summaries of English literature, mostly because it was conducted in the Anglo-Norman dialect of French and largely concentrated on religious matters. It is, however, clear that this writing mattered deeply to medieval audiences, as it was circulated in a large number of manuscripts between 1275 and 1350 and widely influenced writing in England up to the Reformation.

My thesis tracks the composition and circulation of two of the most widely influential texts from this movement, both composed by bishops who were leading contemporary Church reform: Robert Grosseteste's Chasteu d'amur (Castle of Love) and the Mirour de Seinte Eglyse (The Mirror of Holy Church) - the more widely read French reworking of Edmund of Abingdon's Speculum religiosorum.

It investigates the way in which the writers of these texts articulated the authoritative voice of a bishop in French, an acquired language in thirteenth-century England, including how they worked with literary precedents from Bible translations to chivalric romances. My project also examines the ways in which these tracts were circulated and copied into manuscript collections until the sixteenth century, a process which took place on the continent as well as in England. This circulation includes the translation of these texts into Latin and English, and their continued reading in French alongside the development of English and Latin versions.

My academic interests behind and beyond my PhD work include codicology and textual criticism, French and English philology, medieval poetics, the persistent influence of Latin writing on vernacular literature, the surviving corpus of early Middle English, the reception of French Arthurian prose romance in England, and the critical writings of Geoffrey Hill.

Conference Papers, Seminars, and Other Activities

  • Participant in International Itinerant Palaeographic School, Bari and Florence, 2017.
  • 'St Edmund of Abingdon: Authority, Sanctity, and the Landscape', Lords and the Landscape 800-1300, University of Oxford, 2017
  • Participant in COST Action IS1301 Training School on 'Late Medieval and Early Modern Book Culture', Athenaeum Library, Deventer, 2016
  • ‘The Mirour de Seinte Eglyse: ‘rudement endité’?, Pastoralia in the Late Middle Ages: Teaching, Translation, Transmission, University of Kent, 2016
  • ‘Anglo-Norman Catechesis as a Discipline’, English Graduate Conference: Discipline and Excess, University of Cambridge, 2016
  • ‘The Value of the Vulgate Cycle in High Medieval England’, English Graduate Conference, Oxford, 2015
  • ‘King Arthur’s Godliness’, Medieval French Seminar, Oxford, 2015
  • ‘The Vulgate Cycle and the Vernacular in High Medieval England’, Medieval Church and Culture Seminar, Oxford, 2015

Member of the Leeds Medieval Group steering committee.


  • Arthur Cawley Scholarship Prize, for PhD research in medieval literature in the School of English, 2016- 
  • Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship, 2016-2020
  • Junior Paget Toynbee Prize in Old French, University of Oxford, 2014
  • Mason Lowance Prize, in honour of John Creaser, for outstanding performance in the second year of the Honours School of English at Mansfield College, Oxford, 2013
  • Mason Lowance Prize, in memory of Malcolm Parkes, for best distinction level performance in English Prelims at Mansfield College, Oxford, 2012
  • Academic Scholarship, University of Oxford, 2012