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Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain explores how sanctity and questions of literariness are intertwined across a range of medieval genres. “Sanctity” as a theme and concept figures as a prominent indicator of the developments in the period, in which authors began to challenge the predominant medieval dichotomy of either relying on the authority of previous authors when writing, or on experience. These developments are marked also by a rethinking of the intended and perceived effects of writings. Instead of looking for clues in religious practices in order to explain these changes, the literary practices themselves need to be scrutinised in detail, which provide evidence for a reinterpretation of both the writers’ and their topics’ traditional roles and purposes. The essays in the collection are based on a representative choice of texts from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, covering penitential literature, hagiographical compilations and individual legends as well as romance, debates, and mystical literature from medieval and early modern England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. For researchers and advanced students of medieval literature and culture, the collection offers new insights into one of the central concepts of the late medieval period by considering sanctity first and foremost from the perspective of its literariness and literary potential.

The lacy family, 1166-1241

This book examines the rise and fall of the aristocratic Lacy family in England, Ireland, Wales and Normandy. As one of the first truly transnational studies of individual medieval aristocrats, it provides a fresh look at lordship and the interplay between aristocracy and crown from 1166 to 1241. Hugh de Lacy (†1186), traded on his military usefulness to King Henry II of England in Wales and Normandy to gain a speculative grant of the ancient Irish kingdom of Mide (Meath). Hugh was remarkably successful in Ireland, where he was able to thwart the juvenile ambitions of the future King John to increase his powers there. Hugh was hailed by native commentators as ‘lord of the foreigners of Ireland’ and even ‘king of Ireland’. In this study his near-legendary life is firmly grounded in the realities of Anglo-Irish politics. The political career of Hugh’s less famous son and heir, Walter de Lacy (†1241), is in turn illuminated by surviving royal records and his own acta. Walter was one of the major actors in the Irish Sea province under Kings Richard I, John and Henry III, and his relationship with each king provides a unique insight into the nature of their reigns. Over the course of fifty-two years, Walter helped to shape the course of Anglo-Irish history. That history is recast in light of the transnational perspective of its chief participants. This book is a major contribution to current debates over the structure of medieval European society.

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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

, that is because it almost always was a man, but women too might have owned cattle and made use of the agreement.) The types of problem faced by the men who wrote the Dunsæte Agreement were not unusual in early medieval Britain,1 and neither were most of the solutions they decided upon.2 What sets the Dunsæte Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft is that the men who created this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. The text’s prologue states that ‘Þis is seo gerædnes, þe Angelcynnes

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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Roads and writing
Valerie Allen
Ruth Evans

conventionally understood. Naming Our title, indeed the founding concept of the book – the medieval British road – is a misnomer. We speak of the road system of medieval Britain but the concept is not referenced in medieval documents. Although given to abstract categorizations when so inclined, as when ontologizing into genus and species, medieval writers show little tendency to group all roads into a universal set. Instead the documents record a welter of terms multiplied by three languages (English, French and Latin) along with Old Norse, insular Celtic and numerous dialects

in Roadworks
Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and literary defacement
James Simpson

Lucrece actively deface the artefact of the competing, pro-Greek tradition responsible for the defacement of women. Lucrece scratches iconoclastically at the face of traitor Sinon: ‘She tears the senseless Sinon with her nails’ (line 1564). These defacements, of both Hecuba and Sinon, evoke another in the late medieval British Troy tradition, that of Henryson, who brutally closes

in Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare
Towards a poetics of hagiographic narration

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.


The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

Simha Goldin

named after her: Abraham son of Elias son of Sarah. Bartlet, ‘Women in the medieval Anglo-Jewish community’, in Jews in Medieval Britain , ed. P. Skinner, Woodbridge 2003 , p. 118; Z. M. Roke’ah, Medieval English Jews and Royal Officials , Jerusalem 2000 , no. 813, p. 220. 11 Cok (Isaac), Benedict (Berachia or Barukh), and

in Jewish women in europe in the middle ages
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Christine Carpenter

, Medieval Death . See also Kreider, English Chantries ; Platt, Architecture of Medieval Britain , chs 5–7. 10 Duffy, Stripping of the Altars , pp. 132–3. 11 Carpenter, ‘England: the nobility and the gentry’, pp. 264

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
Lindy Brady

cattle: chattel in early medieval Britain The argument that the imagery of these riddles alludes to both slaves bound by Welsh raiders and cattle herded by Welsh labourers draws support from the frequent equivalence of slaves and animals in both the Anglo-Saxon textual corpus and Welsh law codes, which makes their parallel captivity in these riddles a natural one. It has long been noted that slaves were ‘bought and sold as cattle’16 in Anglo-Saxon England based on sources such as the 85 Writing the Welsh borderlands Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which equates the two as

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England