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Chapter 5 considers how the poet of Christ and Satan portrays Satan’s attempts to disrupt Christ’s authority in both heavenly and earthly territories. I approach the poem through the liturgical traditions of the Rogationtide festival, when Anglo-Saxons participated in three days of ‘perambulations’ meant to demarcate communal boundaries. The poem’s eccentric chronology and bizarre conclusion – in which Christ forces Satan to measure the ymbhwyrft (‘circuit’) of hell with his hands – can be understood as an inversion of Rogation rituals whereby Satan parodies his own condition of lordlessness as he circuits the spaces of hell. By situating his poem within the framework of liturgical and localised practice, the poet appeals to an audience readily familiar with the primary goals of Rogationtide, namely, the purification of earthly boundaries in the interest of making oneself a suitable heir to otherworldly geographies.

in Rebel angels
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in Rebel angels

This chapter considers the proems of land charters that evoke the angelic rebellion. After providing an overview of the legal outlook surrounding treachery and rebellion from the age of Alfred – whose legal reforms sought to establish that landed entitlements were privileges descending from kings – onwards, I consider this social context alongside Genesis A, a vernacular poem that includes a striking episode detailing earthly creation alongside the doctrine of replacement using distinctly legal terminology. The connection between the charters and the biblical story thus allow us to see how notions of replacement may have had physical, earthly repercussions, and how new modes of sovereignty emerged through a growing reliance on biblical authority.

in Rebel angels

This chapter considers renderings of the fall of the angels narrative in the homilies of Ælfric and Archbishop Wulfstan of York. Ælfric explores the complex relationship between sovereigns and disobedient subjects, imagining the angelic fall as a crisis of individual agency. Wulfstan adopts Ælfric’s approach in the wake of the viking invasions. With Wulfstan, I work to overturn some predominant readings of his famous Sermo Lupi ad Anglos (namely, that he characterises the vikings as heralds of Antichrist). Armed with the doctrine of replacement as his rhetorical weapon, Wulfstan suggests that the English body politic has instead come to resemble the rebel order of angels, implying that the vikings could supplant them and take their place as ‘replacements,’ inbound colonisers destined for heavenly seats. Just as the originally pagan Anglo-Saxons had been replacements for the sinful Christian Britons, Wulfstan urges Anglo-Saxon Christians not to cede to the vikings their providential role in salvation history.

in Rebel angels
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Space and sovereignty in Anglo-Saxon England

Over six hundred years before John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Anglo-Saxon authors told their own version of the fall of the angels. This book brings together various cultural moments, literary genres, and relevant comparanda to recover that story, from the legal and social world to the realm of popular spiritual ritual and belief. The story of the fall of the angels in Anglo-Saxon England is the story of a successfully transmitted exegetical teaching turned rich literary tradition that can be traced through a diverse range of genres: sermons, saints’ lives, royal charters, riddles, as well as devotional and biblical poetry, each genre offering a distinct window into the ancient myth’s place within the Anglo-Saxon literary and cultural imagination.

Proems evoking the fall of the angels reach an apex of expression in the ‘New Minster Charter’, the prime textual forerunner to the Benedictine Reform. The charter’s author portrays the secular clerics at Winchester as a subversive threat to English ecclesiastical unity by aligning their alleged sinful behaviour with that of the ‘pride-filled angels’. I examine how the Winchester charters attest to the potency of biblical narrative in the lived experience of Anglo-Saxons through their depiction of adversaries to the English Christian community and in their aim to legally establish the secular canons as rebels. I also consider how these charters were not the first English documents to imagine disobedient and disorderly ecclesiastics as earthly replicas of the rebel angels, but represent part of a longer tradition of viewing the church as a reflection of the heavenly polity.

in Rebel angels
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The Conclusion reaffirms the importance of understanding the eleventh-century monastic affective piety for scholars of the Anglo-Norman world, of monasticism, of medieval devotion, and of medieval Christianity more generally. This study proves that the eleventh century was in fact a period of innovation – one that came before the so-called Renaissance of the twelfth century – a time when monks were not just interested in reforming rules and customs, but also their interior, emotional selves. In this conclusion, I state that by examining the work and context of one medieval individual – John of Fécamp – scholars can move from heretofore accepted generalisations about medieval ‘affective’ spiritual practice to a more vibrant understanding of the enigmatic, lived, emotional experiences of medieval Christian monks.

in Emotional monasticism
Tradition and innovation in John’s Confessio theologica

This chapter shows how John’s Confessio theologica was both of a piece with traditional monastic texts and ‘new’ on the monastic scene. In his Confessio theologica, John both built on reform and devotional precedents long-established in the monastic sphere, and developed a distinctive focus on reforming his monks’ interior, emotional practices that was substantially his own. To do this, I first explore John’s sources for the Confessio theologica in this chapter. I start by tracing the age-old monastic precedents that John draws on in his Confessio theologica, precedents that scholars often cite but rarely examine. I also trace more rare sources of John’s, books that he encountered in his childhood monastery in Ravenna, under the guidance of monastic reformer Romualdus of Ravenna, or his time at Cluny or at Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, under the guidance of Odilo of Cluny and William of Volpiano. After carefully tracing his pedigree, I then highlight what is source-less in John’s Confessio theologica, showing which ideas are truly John’s own.

in Emotional monasticism
Affective piety in the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp
Series: Artes Liberales

Scholars of the Middle Ages have long taught that highly emotional Christian devotion, often called ‘affective piety’, originated in Europe after the twelfth century, and was primarily practised by late medieval communities of mendicants, lay people, and women. As the first study of affective piety in an eleventh-century monastic context, this book revises our understanding of affective spirituality’s origins, characteristics, and uses in medieval Christianity.

Emotional monasticism: Affective piety at the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp traces the early monastic history of affective devotion through the life and works of the earliest-known writer of emotional prayers, John of Fécamp, abbot of the Norman monastery of Fécamp from 1028 to 1078. The book examines John’s major work, the Confessio theologica; John’s early influences and educational background in Ravenna and Dijon; the emotion-filled devotional programme of Fécamp’s liturgical, manuscript, and intellectual culture, and its relation to the monastery’s efforts at reform; the cultivation of affective principles in the monastery’s work beyond the monastery’s walls; and John’s later medieval legacy at Fécamp, throughout Normandy, and beyond. Emotional monasticism will appeal to scholars of monasticism, of the history of emotion, and of medieval Christianity. The book exposes the early medieval monastic roots of later medieval affective piety, re-examines the importance of John of Fécamp’s prayers for the first time since his work was discovered, casts a new light on the devotional life of monks in medieval Europe before the twelfth century, and redefines how we should understand the history of Christianity.

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The Introduction presents how the traditional story of medieval ‘affective piety’ is more complicated than we have tended to allow in the historiography. I summarise this historiography, showing how it has neglected the possibility of affectivity before Anselm and in the eleventh-century male Benedictine context. I argue that by looking at Fécamp as a wellspring of eleventh-century monastic affective piety, we can better understand what its uses were, as well as its reception, in its earliest identified medieval context. I assert that attention to emotional devotion in the Benedictine context deepens our understanding of Benedictine monasticism itself, bringing into focus both the spiritual lives of monastic individuals and the interior dimensions of eleventh-century monastic reform. Emotional reform emerges as an important aspect of my picture of the period, alongside the practices of exterior, regular, or institutional reform already detailed by other scholars.

in Emotional monasticism