George Eliot's Adam Bede (1859) has often been examined from religious and gender studies perspectives. Jon Singleton remarks, for instance, that ‘Adam's views on the Bible seem to establish the narrative's frame of reference within a traditional Christian worldview’.
Tim Dolin, meanwhile, uses Adam Bede to explain that ‘Assumptions about women's nature and vocation are also carried through into the language of the fiction, where a woman's very authority to speak must constantly be
The Venerable Bede has often been held as creator of a single collective identity
for the Germanic inhabitants of Britain: the English (gens Anglorum). This
article examines how Bede crafted his notion of Englishness, reviewing his use
of terms for nation, race and peoples to exclude those of whom he did not
approve. It included the Northumbrians and the people of Kent whom Bede regarded
as the progenitors of the English Church. It excluded the Mercians who were
rivals and sometime enemies of Bede‘s own people, the Northumbrians. By the time
Bede finished his account (731) the term gens Anglorum had begun to lose its
usefulness in binding together the Northumbrians and Kentishmen as custodians of
a unitary Church. After Bede terminology remained unstable, writers such as
Boniface or Alcuin being as likely to call the people of England Saxons as
Angles/English. Bedes role as the father of Englishness is thus here nuanced and
seen to be historically contingent.
Penda of Mercia and the Welsh
borderlands in Bede’s Historia
Bede’s eighth-century Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, one of the
earliest and most historically significant surviving texts of the Anglo-Saxon
period, narrates the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity and
the nascent formation of what might be called an ‘English’ identity. The
Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/
British strife, because Bede is so critical of the Britons, who are in his perspective heretical. Yet because of Bede
This article offers the first comprehensive study of Manchester, John Rylands
Library, MS Latin 182, a twelfth-century codex formerly belonging to (and
possibly produced at) the Benedictine Abbey of (Mönchen-)Gladbach in Germany. I
begin with a full codicological and palaeographical analysis of the entire
manuscript, before moving on to a discussion of its contents. These include the
Venerable Bede‘s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and the Continuatio
Bedae, as well as two hagiographical works copied at the end of the manuscript.
I then propose a new possible context of reception for Bede‘s Historia
ecclesiastica during the twelfth century, one that interlinked with the
prevalent discourses on secular ecclesiastical lordship and monastic reform at
Gladbach, as well as, perhaps, in Germany more widely. In doing so, I
essentially argue for the possibility that the Gladbach scribes and their
audiences may have used and understood the Historia ecclesiastica not only in
the conventional context of history and historiography, but also (and perhaps
equally important) as an example of the golden age of monasticism which during
the later twelfth century was re-framed and re-contextualised as both a
spiritual guide and a source of miracle stories.
Long before the invention of the mechanical clock, the monastic computes offered
a model of time that was visible, durable, portable and objectifiable. The
development of ‘temporal literacy’ among the Anglo-Saxons involved not only the
measurement of time but also the ways in which the technologies used to measure
and record time — from sundials and church bells to calendars and chronicles —
worked to create and reorder cultural capital, and add new scope and range to
the life of the imagination. Techniques of time measurement are deeply
implicated in historical consciousness and the assertion of identity; this paper
proposes some avenues of exploration for this topic among the Anglo-Saxons.
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.
The story of the Flood, inherited by the Anglo-Saxons during their conversion to Christianity, was transformed by them into a vital myth through which they interpreted the whole of history and their place in it. The dual character of the myth, with the opposition between threatened destruction and hope of renewal, presented commentators with a potent historical metaphor, which they exploited in their own changing historical circumstance. This book explores the use of this metaphor in the writings of the Anglo-Saxons. It is the integration of a well-known biblical story into the historical and cultural self-definition of a group of people converted to Christianity and its worldview. The Flood in the Bible is clearly a punishment, though the sin is not so well defined. This forms part of a historical pattern of sin and punishment extending back to Eden, and progressed to the sin and exile of Cain. For Bede the historian, the Flood was a key event in the earlier history of the world; for Bede the theologian, the Flood was an event replete with mystical significance. In Exodus and Andreas all the poems share an interest in two themes, which emerge from the biblical story of the Flood and its theological interpretation: covenant and apocalypse. Noah is the 'one father' not only of Israel, but of the whole human race, and his introduction widens the concept of 'inheritance' in the Exodus. The book concludes with a detailed discussion of the significance of the Flood myth in Beowulf.
The Venerable Bede (d.735) was the
most prolific scriptural commentator of his time. His commentaries on
the sacred books are informed by his wide reading of earlier
commentators and a sophisticated awareness of grammar and rhetoric, and
reveal an intelligent mind sensitive not only to the nuances of the
biblical word but also to the needs of his readers. For Bede the