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Series: Artes Liberales
Author: Lindy Brady

The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. It was here that men skilled at law drew up the Dunsate Agreement, to solve the impending problems with cattle theft. This book explores what sets the Dunsate Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft, highlighting that creators of this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. It argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. The book articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066. Bede's The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/British strife. His rancour towards the pagan Mercians provides substantial information about the life of Penda of Mercia, whose entire reign over this borderlands kingdom was defined by consistent political and military unity with Welsh rulers. Expanding on the mixed culture, the book examines the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland. Vernacular literary tradition reveals a group of Old English riddles that link the 'dark Welsh' to agricultural labour through the cattle they herd, and who have long been understood to show the Welsh as slaves. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is frequently cited as a paradigm of Anglo/Welsh antagonism. The book reveals that the impact of the Norman Conquest on the Anglo-Welsh border region was much greater than previously realised.

Lindy Brady

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a major historical source for the later Anglo-Saxon period, depicts the Welsh borderlands acting as an independent political force throughout the eleventh century. Moreover, a pattern of sustained political alliance between Mercia and northern Wales is evident in the tenth century within a corpus of mostly Welsh historical sources. This pattern of alliance continues in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle throughout the eleventh century, across the Norman Conquest. At the moment of the Norman arrival in England, the Welsh borderlands were a significant political force in Anglo-Saxon England. Political alliance in the Welsh borderlands is further evident in the coordinated attacks by Earl Aelfgar of Mercia and King Gruffudd ap Llywelyn described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's annals for 1055 and 1058. The circumstances of Gruffudd's death underscore how Anglo-Saxon England perceived the Welsh borderlands as a politically aligned region in the eleventh century.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

Over the course of the late eleventh century, the association between outlaws and wilderness shifted from the rebels of the borderlands, to outlaws more broadly, to the Welsh alone. The Peterborough Chronicle's fortuitous survival can be used as a window into shifting representation of the Welsh borderlands in the period after the Normans' arrival. In the immediate aftermath of the Conquest, when an alliance of Mercian earls and Welsh nobles rebelled against the Normans, the borderlands were the home of outlaws sympathetically depicted. Orderic Vitalis's narrative indicates that, after the initial wave of revolts is crushed and the Mercian earls are captured or killed, the locus of rebellion shifts to Wales and the Welsh. The Vita Haroldi depicts the borderlands as a mixed Anglo-Welsh region whose cultural stability throughout the Anglo-Saxon period was lost in Norman violence towards Wales in the centuries after the Battle of Hastings.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo
Lindy Brady

The Life of Harold Godwinson is an unsteady blend of hagiography and pseudo-history that was composed in defence of a defeated Anglo-Saxon king at a point well into the Anglo-Norman period. Harold is the last Anglo-Saxon in Anglo-Norman England; in his Vita Haroldi, the Welsh borderlands are the last place where this English identity can survive. The Welsh borderlands in the Vita Haroldi serve as the last refuge of a past identity, a place where the last Anglo-Saxon king can hide in plain sight. The preservation of Englishness in this region of cultural nexus over a century after the Battle of Hastings reflects the strength of the society that flourished there for so many centuries. After the arrival of the Normans had altered so much in England, the Welsh borderlands remained as a last embodiment of Anglo-Saxon England.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores communities in early medieval Britain like the territory of the Dunsaete that were part of a broader region where Anglo-Saxons and Welsh lived in close proximity for hundreds of years. It describes how the Welsh borderlands before 1066 were depicted in literary and historical texts from early medieval Britain. The book argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. It articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066, revealing a new facet of the Norman impact on England. The book suggests that some of the singular characteristics of the region that would later become the March of Wales began to take shape during the Anglo-Saxon period.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum is the earliest significant surviving source for the history of the Welsh borderlands. Penda's life provides a window into the mixed Anglo-Welsh culture of the borderlands as a region which stands apart from Bede's narrative of ethnic division between Anglo-Saxons and Britons. The Historia Ecclesiastica depicts the continued unity of the Welsh borderlands after the Battle of Hatfield Chase, as the region was increasingly set apart from other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The Historia Brittonum stands on its own as a historical source for the Battle of the Winwaed, making clear the mixed nature of Penda's army. The structure of the army at the Winwaed, with Penda in command, mirrors Cadwallon's earlier role at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, where he was the primary leader who revolted against Edwin with Penda's support.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

St. Guthlac's life is first recorded in the early eighth-century Vita Sancti Guthlaci written by a monk named Felix. This chapter argues that Felix's Vita Sancti Guthlaci and the anonymous Old English poem Guthlac A are evidence for a mixed Anglo-Welsh culture in the borderlands in the eighth century. The importance of warfare to Guthlac's identity is famously reflected in his name. Guthlac's role as the leader of a warband whose members are of mixed ethnicity is a further testament to the mixed Anglo-Welsh culture of the borderlands. Although Guthlac's battles with demons have been understood to reflect Anglo/Welsh ethnic division, Guthlac A displays a far more ambivalent attitude, reflecting the fluid boundaries of the Welsh borderlands. Postcolonial critics have understood Guthlac's legend as reflecting a nascent sense of Anglo-Saxon colonial aspiration, with the Mercian saint a successful embodiment of Anglo-Saxon land conquest over native British resistance.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

Exeter Book Riddles 52 and 72 have a clever polysemic solution that depicts 'the dark Welsh' as both slaves and slave raiders in Anglo-Saxon England. Understanding the specific geography of these riddles alongside their dual allusions to cattle and human captivity creates a portrait of the Welsh borderlands that mirrors its historical reputation as the site of frequent cattle and slave raids. In the late Anglo-Saxon period, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle depicts the Welsh borderlands as a distinct region within Anglo-Saxon England, one which acted as a significant, independent political force over the course of the eleventh century. The Exeter Book Riddles serve as an important counterpoint to the image of the Welsh borderlands seemingly provided by Offa's Dyke. Riddles 52 and 72 contain pervasive imagery of bondage which echoes that used to reference human captivity elsewhere in the Old English corpus.

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England