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Eva von Contzen

1 Towards a narrative poetics of medieval saints’ lives Approaching the saintslives in the Scottish Legendary as narratives implicates a degree of formalism that requires a justification. Even though storytelling is an activity and always embedded in larger cultural contexts, the focus on the product of this activity – its form – suffers from the bias of being fixed, closed, inflexible, and ahistorical. Formalism, however, does not necessarily have to be these things; in fact, an acute awareness of form can lead to quite liberating results if one acknowledges

in The Scottish Legendary
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.

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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 saintslives in the vernacular next to the South English Legendary:  the so-called Scottish Legendary – a work of fifty saintslives, 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
Geoff Baker

in a brief entry spoke favourably of his arguments on the saintslives, noting that his work ‘has some things worth reading ... especially & more particularly against some legends of Saints printed in these later times where we should not much regard an infinite number of storyes’.25 Indeed, Mabillon’s approach to religious history was one that Blundell had developed long before reading his work, seen most clearly in his reading of miracle stories. Throughout the Adversaria there are large sections entitled ‘Miracula’, which include discussions on all aspects of

in Reading and politics in early modern England
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Jill Fitzgerald

and Saturn I . In this way, the narrative of the fall of the angels acquires a powerful defensive or apotropaic status within the symbolic world of Anglo-Saxon saintslives. In each of the four poems I examine here, a saints’ articulation of the fall of the angels similarly serves as a protective ritual written across both bodies and landscapes. Guthlac, for instance, disarms his tormentors by defending his beorg and proclaiming his eventual inheritance of their formerly forfeited heavenly territories. Just as Anglo-Saxon charms master something threatening by

in Rebel angels
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

cultural, religious and political activities. It is also worthy of note that Anselm urged her to take the veil only at the moment of death, not before.34 Other churchmen dispensed spiritual advice to women throughout the twelfth century, for example through the medium of hagiography. The study of Vitae has been an area of increased scholarly interest, and the meaning of saints and saints’ cults has likewise received considerable attention, as has women’s mysticism and spirituality.35 Despite the hagiographic convention and the Christian didactic purpose of saintslives

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
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Remarkable sleep
Megan G. Leitch

. Representations of figures who long for or are overcome by sleep abound in a range of Middle English genres, from popular romances to Ricardian dream visions, from fabliaux to saintslives and biblical drama. Literary sleep has sometimes been seen as merely a pause in the plot, a mundane necessity, or a platform for other significant experiences: it can be a euphemism for intimate encounters, or the prelude to visionary experience. In these terms, literary sleep might seem simply a concomitant of action: an accompanying absence, a

in Sleep and its spaces in Middle English literature
Jonathan R. Lyon

a monk of Prüfening survives in three manuscripts from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. 22 All three of these codices include portions of the Magnum Legendarium Austriacum (MLA) , an extensive collection of saintslives compiled and copied at several Austrian monasteries around the year 1200. 23 Given the bishopric of Bamberg’s extensive property holdings in Austria, and the

in Noble Society
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Ye goon to … Hereford? Regional devotion and England’s other St Thomas
Daniel Birkholz

is famous for other genres, yet saintslives prove essential to its compilational undertaking. As pilgrimage demographer Ronald Finucane has shown, saints are, in an intimate way, about place, 7 and as Catherine Sanok demonstrates, English vernacular hagiography produces overlapping forms of secular and religious community, along the way to making eternity present and holiness proximate. 8 There are three Latin saintslives in Harley 2253, and each has regional grounding: St Ethelbert of Hereford (#18, fol. 53), St Etfrid of Leominster (#98, fol. 132), and St

in Harley manuscript geographies
Elizabeth Macfarlane

antiquarian productions, there had been no significant publication on English saintslives from within the Church of England since Henry Wharton’s Anglia Sacra (1691) had printed a number of episcopal lives as part of a history of English dioceses depicting pre-­Reformation ecclesiastical history. Wharton (1664–95) had published the accounts he transcribed from monastic historians such as Eadmer and William of Malmesbury, rather than synthesising and commenting as the Catholic Alban Butler did in his Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Saints (1759). Butler (1709

in Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain