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Towards a poetics of hagiographic narration
Author: Eva von Contzen

The first book-length study of the Scottish Legendary (late 14th c.), the only extant collection of saints’ lives in the vernacular from medieval Scotland, scrutinises the dynamics of hagiographic narration, its implicit assumptions about literariness, and the functions of telling the lives of the saints. The fifty saints’ legends are remarkable for their narrative art: the enjoyment of reading the legends is heightened, while didactic and edifying content is toned down. Focusing on the role of the narrator, the depiction of the saintly characters, their interiority, as well as temporal and spatial parameters, it is demonstrated that the Scottish poet has adapted the traditional material to the needs of an audience versed in reading romance and other secular genres. The implications of the Scottish poet’s narrative strategies are analysed also with respect to the Scottishness of the legendary and its overall place in the hagiographic landscape of late medieval Britain.

Author: Mairi Cowan

This book examines lay religious culture in Scottish towns between the Black Death and the Protestant Reformation. Part I looks at what the living did to influence the dead and at how the dead were believed to influence the living in turn. It shows that the living and the dead shared a reciprocal relationship of obligation and assistance, and that the bonds between the two groups were especially strong when they involved blood or guild kinship. Part II considers the overlapping communities in Scottish towns where people could personalize religious expression in a meaningful social context. Part III focuses on the period between 1350 and 1560 as one of disruption and development. It assesses weaknesses in the Scottish ecclesiastical structure and instances of religious dissent, and then it considers the Scottish Church’s response to these challenges. Two main arguments run through the book. The first is that most laypeople in Scottish towns continued to participate in orthodox Catholic practices right through to the mid-sixteenth century. The second major argument is that Catholic religious practices in Scottish towns underwent a significant shift between 1350 and 1560. This shift, which is most easily perceived when Scotland is considered within the broader European transition from the medieval to the early modern period, brought with it a kind of pre-Reformation reformation in religious practice.

Kate Ash

1 St Margaret and the literary politics of Scottish sainthood Kate Ash Canonised in 1250, Queen Margaret of Scotland is perhaps one of the most familiar Scottish saints to modern readers, yet surprisingly little material relating to her life (beyond brief mentions in chronicles) survives from the Middle Ages. Furthermore, there has been little scholarly consideration of the literariness of ­representations of Margaret. What work has been done focuses on Margaret as a historical figure, or uses material relating to her sanctity as evidence for the existence of

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Emily Wingfield

’s family briefly came under the duke’s protection. However, they became involved in resisting the Norman invaders and in 1068 Margaret was forced to seek ‘shelter’ in Scotland along with her mother and siblings. She subsequently married the Scottish king Malcolm III in 1069 or 1070, died at Edinburgh Castle on 16 November 1093, and was buried before the high altar in Dunfermline Priory Church. She was canonised in 1249–50. 2 Relatively few accounts of Margaret’s life survive, 3 but those that do emphasise her literacy and learning to a

in Aspects of knowledge
Abstract only
Medieval Britain, medieval roads
Editors: Valerie Allen and Ruth Evans

This collection of essays on roads in Britain in the Middle Ages addresses the topic from a cultural, anthropological and literary point of view, as well as a historical and archaeological one. Taking up Jacques Derrida's proposal that 'the history of writing and the history of the road' be 'meditated upon' together, it considers how roads ‘write’ landscapes. The anthology sets Britain’s thoroughfares against the backdrop of the extant Roman road system and argues for a technique of road construction and care that is distinctively medieval. As well as synthesizing information on medieval road terminology, roads as rights of passage and the road as an idea as much as a physical entity, individual essays look afresh at sources for the study of the medieval English road system, legal definitions of the highway, road-breaking and road-mending, wayfinding, the architecture of the street and its role in popular urban government, English hermits and the road as spiritual metaphor, royal itineraries, pilgrimage roads, roads in medieval English romances, English river transport, roads in medieval Wales, and roads in the Anglo-Scottish border zone.

Time, space, and the Scottishness of the Scottish Legendary
Eva von Contzen

6 The past, a foreign country: time, space, and the Scottishness of the Scottish Legendary ‘The past is a foreign country’: the quotation from L. P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between aptly encapsulates how intimately the past and notions of spatiality are intertwined.1 The Scottish Legendary, like all hagiographic works, is also fundamentally concerned with, on the one hand, constructing the Christian past and imagining the future for all believers, and, on the other hand, mapping the spread of the faith and its centres of religious activity. Since time and space

in The Scottish Legendary
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

, commissioning and selecting literature is further developed in an examination of their role as patrons of books and literature. Women and literature: letters, prayers and poems Women participated in personal relationships with churchmen. For example, Eva Crispin (d. 1099), who retired to the abbey of Le Bec, treated the brother of Gilbert Crispin as her spiritual son. A relationship such as this probably involved spiritual guidance and counselling as well as practical advice and support. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, adopted Lanfranc as her ‘spiritual father’ c. 1070–89,7 and

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

left.28 This iconography became a standard depiction on noblewomen’s seals during the twelfth century, 125 noblewomen and power and further it was in this period during the mid-twelfth century that the practice of sealing documents by aristocratic women spread. The seal of Margaret, the sister of the Scottish king, who married Conan of Brittany, depicts a standing female figure holding an orb surmounted by a cross in her right hand, an image which may well be a direct allusion to the royal house of Scotland.29 The seal of the empress Matilda is striking. It

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
The Rotuli de Dominabus et Pueris et Puellis de XII Comitatibus of 1185
Susan M. Johns

way the intervention of that government might affect their lives. The surviving records cover twelve counties in England: Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Rutland, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Middlesex. Women from all ranks of the landholding classes are represented in the rolls relating to the twelve counties surveyed: from the twice widowed Margaret duchess of Brittany and countess of Richmond and sister of the Scottish king, who is listed as holding land worth £55 2s and eight marks per

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
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The Scottish Legendary and narrative art
Eva von Contzen

Introduction The Scottish Legendary and narrative art In the late fourteenth century, somewhere in the Scottish Lowlands, a hitherto unidentified clergyman sat down and composed what would become the largest extant compilation of medieval saints’ lives in the vernacular next to the South English Legendary:  the so-called Scottish Legendary – a work of fifty saints’ lives, comprising more than 33,000 lines of rhymed octosyllabic couplets. In the Prologue, the poet describes himself as a cleric too old for parish work who therefore seeks to fight idleness by

in The Scottish Legendary