Cursor Mundi

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title:

Cursor Mundi, or The Cours of the World






Thirteenth Century, Northumbria


Textual Information

Brief Summary:

Cursor Mundi is a Middle-English poem which summarizes biblical history. Encyclopedic in scope, the poem combines various tales relating to Christian history from several sources. The poem is an example of hagiographic tales which depict the origins of the tree which would eventually become the True Cross used in Jesus’s crucifixion. The text includes many episodes associated with the Cross’s origin. After recounting the origin of the tree, the text tells of David’s miracle filled journey to Jerusalem while carrying the Wood of the Cross. Many of the miracles are specifically related to human bodies, such as the transformation of black skin to white of four Ethiopian men, referred to as Saracens in the poem. This reference is found in only one other Legend of the Wood of the Cross narratives: the Old French Bible Anonyme. In these narratives, Saracens interact peacefully with a Passion relic. 


Relics Appearing in Text:



Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations


Cambridge, Trinity College Cambridge, MS R. 3. 8 (588)

Göttingen, Göttingen University Library, MS Theol. 107

London, British Library, Additional 36983

London, British Museum, MS Cotton Vespasian A. iii

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 14 (SC 3894)

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 416

(et al.)


List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 

Cursor Mundi: A Northumbrian Poem of the XIVth Century (edited from British Museum MS Cotton Vespasian A. iii; Bodleian MS Fairfax 14; Göttingen University Library MS. Theol. 107; and Trinity College Cambridge MS. R. 3. 8), ed. Richard Morris et al. 7 vols. EETS OS 57, 59, 62, 66, 68, 99, 101. (1874-93; repr. 1961 Oxford; Oxford UP)

Available online:

List of Translations of the Medieval Text: 




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