Jacobus de Voragine (c. 1229–98) Legenda aurea, translated into English by William Caxton

Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 8 January 1498[/99?]

Political and religious changes frequently left their marks on early books. When the cult of St Thomas of Canterbury, the murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket, was proscribed by Henry VIII in 1538, references to him had to be deleted from service books and devotional works throughout the land. The owner of this copy of The golden legend, a popular compendium of saints’ lives, did the job thoroughly, removing two leaves entirely and crossing out the remainder of the entry on St Thomas. By contrast the image of his martyrdom in the linked fragment of Mirk’s Festial is crossed out relatively lightly, suggesting a hope that the proscription might be reversed, as it was, briefly, under Mary Tudor.

Inc.3.J.1.2[3550], fol. H3 verso