We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

'Vengeance is mine': The Vengeance of Heaven and Earth in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Society, c. 900 - c. 1150

STEED, ABIGAIL,FRANCES,GEORGINA (2019) 'Vengeance is mine': The Vengeance of Heaven and Earth in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Society, c. 900 - c. 1150. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


This thesis examines vengeance as a concept and as a practice in late Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman society, specifically in relation to the interplay between theological thought and social attitudes and practices. It brings together a wide variety of sources in which vengefulness and the pursuit of vengeance are prominent themes. These include homilies and theological treatises, narrative histories and chronicles, hagiographies and miracle collections, vernacular poetry, and documentary sources such as law codes.
Much attention has been devoted to the prevalence and mechanisms of feud in medieval society, but in this body of source material, acts of vengeance were just as likely to come from heaven as they were to be inflicted by humans on each other. This thesis examines the theological concept of divine vengeance, the ways that God’s vengeance was observed and experienced in the world in historical events and in the form of vengeance miracles, and the extent to which religious considerations affected the perceived morality of vengeance undertaken by humans. Vengeance emerges as a complex theological, moral and social issue in a society in which levels of religious understanding, engagement and belief varied greatly between different groups and individuals.
This thesis argues that the idea of divine vengeance was consistently used as a rhetorical tool to support certain moral standpoints, and that the interpretation of any event as divine vengeance was never inevitable. God’s right to take vengeance for sin was an integral part of the way that the relationship between heaven and earth was negotiated, the way that events on earth were interpreted and understood, and the way that the morality of human action was thought about. There was significant religious, cultural and institutional continuity in these respects in English society between the tenth and twelfth centuries. Changes were gradual and should largely be credited to wider European developments rather than the direct impact of the Norman Conquest.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Anglo-Saxon; Anglo-Norman; vengeance; miracles; historical writing; cult of saints; theology; hagiography
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 May 2019 10:28

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter