This first full-length study of the Anglo-Saxon episcopate explores the activities of the bishops in a variety of arenas, from the pastoral and liturgical to the political, social, legal and economic, so tracing the development of a particularly English episcopal identity over the course of the tenth and eleventh centuries. It makes detailed use of the contemporary evidence, previously unexploited as diffuse, difficult and largely non-narrative, rather than that from after the Norman Conquest; because this avoids the prevailing monastic bias, it shows instead that differences in order (between secular and monk-bishops) had almost no effect on their attitudes toward their episcopal roles. It therefore presents a much more nuanced portrait of the episcopal church on the eve of the Conquest, a church whose members constantly worked to create a well-ordered Christian polity through the stewardship of the English monarchy and the sacralization of political discourse: an episcopate deeply committed to pastoral care and in-step with current continental liturgical and theological developments, despite later ideologically-charged attempts to suggest otherwise; and an institution intricately woven, because of its tremendous economic and political power, into the very fabric of English local and regional society. MARY FRANCIS GIANDREA teaches at George Mason University
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