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Episcopal Culture in Late Anglo-Saxon England

Episcopal Culture in Late Anglo-Saxon England

Mary Frances Giandrea
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Episcopal Culture in Late Anglo-Saxon England
    Book Description:

    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

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-539-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. x-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Between 900 and 1100 England experienced a variety of political, social and economic transformations, the effects of which have quite rightly dominated its historiography ever since. Unification followed by the renewal of Viking activity in the tenth century, and Cnut’s conquest in the early eleventh, are only overshadowed in the historiography of the period by the events of the Norman Conquest later in the eleventh, a rupture whose completeness is poignantly reflected in the Domesday phrase “when King Edward was alive and dead.” In addition to these momentous events, tenth and eleventh-century English men and women had to contend with...

  6. 1 (Re)Writing History
    (pp. 7-34)

    Historical writing was a literary genre in the Middle Ages, and while most modern historians have come to recognize the importance of literary theory in the decoding of medieval chronicles, historians of the Anglo-Saxon Church have been less successful in applying that theory to texts.¹ As the introduction argued, the most prolific of the English Church’s modern commentators have exhibited a marked preference for post-Conquest chronicles over the piecemeal, often non-narrative Anglo-Saxon evidence, despite the growing body of literature that has argued persuasively against such an approach. In her book on thirteenth-century historical writing in Flanders, Gabrielle Spiegel reminds us...

  7. 2 The Servitium Regis
    (pp. 35-69)

    For the most part, post-Conquest narratives convey the impression that there were only two types of bishops in late Anglo-Saxon England: pious monastic bishops and worldly secular ones. This dichotomy emerges clearly in the stock portraits analyzed in chapter 1, particularly in the writings of the monk-historians. While most medievalists recognize these characterizations astopoi, they have nevertheless crept into the modern historiography of the Church because of a curious lack of interest in non-monastic bishops, either individually or as a group, or in the so-called secular activities of the episcopate. Only a few modern historians of early medieval England...

  8. 3 Cathedral Culture
    (pp. 70-97)

    When the great meetings of thewitanwere over, most Anglo-Saxon bishops returned to cathedral communities and dioceses that were more diverse than they were similar. At this level, the Church was little more than a network of relationships, not an institution in the modern sense, and ecclesiastical response to the often awesome uncertainties of the period depended as much on the abilities of individual bishops as it did on the institutional framework of the Church. Lack of uniformity on many levels underscores the Anglo-Saxon Church’s decentralized character. Despite the unity of purpose and vision reflected in the prescriptive literature,...

  9. 4 Pastoral Care
    (pp. 98-123)

    Whether monastic or secular, the English Church was founded for the purpose of saving souls, and the cathedral was, in theory, the epicenter of pastoral activity. It is thus more than a little ironic that the two chapters about cathedral culture and pastoral care are the shortest. If it is difficult to nail down the elements of cathedral culture, it is even harder to glimpse diocesans at work in a period before the advent of bishops’ registers and other documents that reflect the rise of ecclesiastical bureaucracy in England. Contemporary sources reveal very little about the practice of pastoral care...

  10. 5 Episcopal Wealth
    (pp. 124-155)

    Although property has rightly dominated discussions of early medieval wealth and power, surprisingly few historians have shown any real interest in the wealth of the Anglo-Saxon episcopate. For a variety of reasons, the wealth of the monastic Church in pre-Conquest England has drawn the most attention, as well as the effects of the Norman Conquest on the Church’s overall interests.¹ As a result, we know very little about the magnitude and composition of the wealth of Anglo-Saxon bishops, despite the fact that the participation of bishops in thewitanreflected their large stake in the kingdom’s resources as well as...

  11. 6 Community and Authority
    (pp. 156-190)

    Many of the strands discussed thus far come together in this final chapter as we consider how tightly episcopal authority was woven into the fabric of local society. Lay men and women depended on bishops to confirm their children, consecrate their churches and train their clergy, to be sure. But because they were local landlords, sometimes of enviable means, and representatives of the king in secular as well as spiritual matters, bishops came to exercise considerable authority at the local level. Here, as in other matters, no prescribed set of rules dictated their non-canonical activities, and there were probably as...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 191-200)

    The Norman Conquest of England in the fall of 1066 resulted in religious as well as political upheaval. Although little apparently changed in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Hastings, within four years papal legates, with William the Conqueror’s approval, had convened a council at which a handful of Anglo-Saxon bishops and abbots were deposed. Although the remainder served out their terms, no Englishman was appointed to the bench by the Conqueror. There were also substantial changes in the physical landscape of the Church, as a number of sees were moved from their ancient locations to urban centers and...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 201-216)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-234)
  15. Index
    (pp. 235-246)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-248)