Between the reign of Alfred in the late ninth century and the arrival of the Normans in 1066, a unique set of images of kingship and queenship was developed in Anglo-Saxon England, images of leadership that centred on books, authorship and learning rather than thrones, sword and sceptres. Focusing on the cultural and historical contexts in which these images were produced, this book explores the reasons for their development, and their meaning and function within both England and early medieval Europe. It explains how and why they differ from their Byzantine and Continental counterparts, and what they reveal about Anglo-Saxon attitudes towards history and gender, as well as the qualities that were thought to constitute a good ruler. It is argued that this series of portraits, never before studied as a corpus, creates a visual genealogy equivalent to the textual genealogies and regnal lists that are so much a feature of late Anglo-Saxon culture. As such they are an important part of the way in which the kings and queens of early medieval England created both their history and their kingdom. CATHERINE E. KARKOV is Professor of Art History at the University of Leeds.
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