1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brakelond, Jocelyn de

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BRAKELOND, JOCELYN DE (fl. 1200), English monk, and author of a chronicle narrating the fortunes of the monastery of Bury St Edmunds between 1173 and 1202. He is only known to us through his own work. He was a native of Bury St Edmunds; he served his novitiate under Samson of Tottington, who was at that time master of the novices, but afterwards sub-sacrist, and, from 1182, abbot of the house. Jocelyn took the habit of religion in 1173, during the time of Abbot Hugo (1157 – 1180), through whose improvidence and laxity the abbey had become impoverished and the inmates dead to all respect for discipline. The fortunes of the abbey changed for the better with the election of Samson as Hugo’s successor. Jocelyn, who became abbot’s chaplain within four months of the election, describes the administration of Samson at considerable length. He tells us that he was with Samson night and day for six years; the picture which he gives of his master, although coloured by enthusiastic admiration, is singularly frank and intimate. It is all the more convincing since Jocelyn is no stylist. His Latin is familiar and easy, but the reverse of classical. He thinks and writes as one whose interests are wrapped up in his house; and the unique interest of his work lies in the minuteness with which it describes the policy of a monastic administrator who was in his own day considered as a model.

Jocelyn has also been credited with an extant but unprinted tract on the election of Abbot Hugo (Harleian MS. 1005, fo. 165); from internal evidence this appears to be an error. He mentions a (non-extant) work which he wrote, before the Cronica, on the miracles of St Robert, a boy whom the Jews of Bury St Edmunds were alleged to have murdered (1181).

See the editions of the Cronica Jocelini de Brakelonda by T. Arnold (in Memorials of St Edmund’s Abbey, vol. i. Rolls series, 1890), and by J. G. Rokewood (Camden Society, 1840); also Carlyle’s Past and Present, book ii. A translation and notes are given in T. E. Tomlin’s Monastic and Social Life in the Twelfth Century in the Chronicle of Jocelyn de Brakelond (1844). There is also a translation of Jocelyn by Sir E. Clarke (1907).