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St Edmund, King and Martyr

St Edmund, King and Martyr: Changing Images of a Medieval Saint

Edited by Anthony Bale
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    St Edmund, King and Martyr
    Book Description:

    St Edmund, king and martyr, supposedly killed by Danes (or "Vikings") in 869, was one of the pre-eminent saints of the middle ages; his cult was favoured and patronised by several English kings and spawned a rich array of visual, literary, musical and political artefacts. Celebrated throughout England, especially at the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, it also inspired separate cults in France, Iceland and Italy. The essays in this collection offer a range of readings from a variety of disciplines - literature, history, music, art history - and of sources - chronicles, poems, theological material - providing an overview of the multi-faceted nature of St Edmund's cult, from the ninth century to the early modern period. They demonstrate the openness and dynamism of a medieval saint's cult, showing how the saint's image could be used in many and changing contexts: Edmund's image was bent to various political and propagandistic ends, often articulating conflicting messages and ideals, negotiating identity, politics and belief. CONTRIBUTORS: ANTHONY BALE, CARL PHELPSTEAD, ALISON FINLAY, PAUL ANTONY HAYWARD, LISA COLTON, REBECCA PINNER, A.S.G. EDWARDS, ALEXANDRA GILLESPIE

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-762-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction: St Edmund’s Medieval Lives
    (pp. 1-26)
    Anthony Bale

    In the following pages I will introduce thevitaeand cult of St Edmund, providing an overview of the chronology of Edmund’s life, a brief account of the role of the abbey at Bury St Edmunds in Edmund’s cult, a history of how the cult was celebrated, and a survey of some key scholarly approaches to medieval hagiography. for scholarly studies of medieval Bury St Edmunds the enduring work of M. R. James, M. D. lobel, antonia gransden and Rodney thomson remains essential;¹ their scholarship provides a comprehensive context to monastic and cultural life at Bury, that context in which...

  7. 1 King, Martyr and Virgin: Imitatio Christi in Ælfric’s Life of St Edmund
    (pp. 27-44)
    Carl Phelpstead

    Christian hagiography is intended to edify its audience and to promote the veneration of its subject by representing the saint in a way that will convince readers of his or her sanctity. two main strategies are employed in pursuing these aims: recording the miracles that have been performed through the saint’s mediation, and showing how the saint’s life and death conformed to Christian expectations of a holy life and death. the latter can in turn be achieved by showing how closely the saint in question resembled other holy people. for the Christian, of course, the pre-eminent model of holy living...

  8. 2 Chronology, Genealogy and Conversion: The Afterlife of St Edmund in the North
    (pp. 45-62)
    Alison Finlay

    The first history of Iceland, indeed probably the earliest written text in the icelandic vernacular, is theÍslendingabók(‘Book of the icelanders’), written sometime between 1122 and 1133 by ari Þorgilsson. It is a text at the interface of oral and written cultures, for ari derived much of his material from oral sources, learned people whom he enumerates in his text; at the same time he was attempting to provide a chronological framework by reference to events beyond the confines of the Nordic world. The very first of these references is that which establishes the date of the settlement of...

  9. 3 Geoffrey of Wells’ Liber de infantia sancti Edmundi and the ‘Anarchy’ of King Stephen’s Reign
    (pp. 63-86)
    Paul Antony Hayward

    Though much new hagiography was produced at Bury St Edmunds in the twelfth century, relatively little of this effort was put into writing up contemporary events. it is true that osbert of Clare (d. in or after 1158) compiled, at the request of abbot anselm (1121–48), a brief collection of the miracles that the abbey’s patron saint had performed in recent times, and that some anonymous writers recorded a few more.² However, the abbey’s artists and writers generally concentrated on revising and enhancing older texts. in the 1120s, for example, the makers of the famous Morgan Manuscript (New York, Pierpont...

  10. 4 Music and Identity in Medieval Bury St Edmunds
    (pp. 87-110)
    Lisa Colton

    Evidence of the musical practices, ideas and works of medieval England has largely disappeared, and it is necessary to approach what remains with caution. Nevertheless, even the smallest fragments of plainchant and polyphony offer an irresistible challenge to scholars trying to piece together the soundscape of this period, one that is all too easily forgotten by historians whose primary interest is not music. The abbey at Bury St Edmunds once owned a significant quantity of music, including items in honour of its patron, St Edmund. The repertoire that survives from the late Middle Ages, including liturgical chant and polyphony, suggests...

  11. 5 Medieval Images of St Edmund in Norfolk Churches
    (pp. 111-132)
    Rebecca Pinner

    Visual culture was fundamental to the medieval cult of saints, with some communities ‘immortalising their particular holy man or woman in paint, stone, wood and precious metals as much as, if not more so, than in verse and prayer’.² Hagiographic art could fulfil many functions and its didactic potential was recognized by contemporaries. The familiar repertoire of religious art provided a highly visible, pervasive reminder of the events described in sermons and commemorated in services, and contemporary authors frequently invoked gregory I in support of art as a means of instructing the illiterate.³ InDives and Pauper, for example, an...

  12. 6 John Lydgate’s Lives of Ss Edmund and Fremund: Politics, Hagiography and Literature
    (pp. 133-144)
    A. S. G. Edwards

    John lydgate’sLives of Ss Edmund and Fremundseems to have been conceived as an immediate response to the visit of the young Henry VI to the Benedictine Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, where he was resident from Christmas Eve 1433 until 23 april 1434, when he was admitted to the abbey’s confraternity.¹ Lydgate (c. 1370–1449) was himself a monk in the abbey, which he had entered in his youth and to which he had returned in the early 1430s after various forms of clerical and political service in the outside world.² His time in the public sphere was...

  13. 7 St Edmund in Fifteenth-Century London: The Lydgatian Miracles of St Edmund
    (pp. 145-162)
    Anthony Bale

    As the essays in this volume show, a saint’s cult is fed by and feeds into a wide range of cultural artefacts: not just ‘official’ religious media, but also texts and images, musical and dramatic productions, which depend on exchange between clerical and secular arenas, between priestly and demotic interests. This essay considers a relatively minor element in the later medieval cult of St Edmund: a miracle text, the lydgatianMiracles of St Edmund, written in the mid-fifteenth century, almost certainly under the auspices of the abbey at Bury St Edmunds.

    I am concerned in this essay with identifying, describing...

  14. 8 The Later Lives of St Edmund: John Lydgate to John Stow
    (pp. 163-186)
    Alexandra Gillespie

    in 1538, some of Thomas Cromwell’s agents at the time of the dissolution of the English monasteries reported by letter to their employer that they had

    been at St Edmund’s Bury, where we found a rich shrine very cumbrous to deface. Have taken in the monastery over 5,000 mks. in gold and silver besides a rich cross with emeralds and stones of great value; yet have left the church, abbot and convent well furnished with silver plate.²

    Another of Cromwell’s men, the zealous reformer John Ap Rice (or Prise), had already had a great deal to say to Cromwell about...

    (pp. 187-192)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 193-198)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-203)