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Religious Thought and Reform in late tenth-century England: The Evidence of the Blickling and Vercelli Books

KEARNS, THOMAS,ROBERT,ARIS (2020) Religious Thought and Reform in late tenth-century England: The Evidence of the Blickling and Vercelli Books. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is a sustained historical analysis of religious thought in late tenth-century England focusing on two collections of vernacular religious literature: the Blickling Book (Princeton, Scheide Library, MS 71) and the Vercelli Book (Biblioteca Capitolare di Vercelli MS CXVII). The dominance of reformist views in the evidence makes the late tenth century a complicated time in Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical history. The dominance of these voices has led to a one-sided view of the period founded upon caricatures of those who were reformed along the strict lines associated with Winchester. This thesis has two aims. The first is to discern from the Blickling and Vercelli books a sense of the ideas and worldview of these ecclesiastics not reformed along Winchester lines. The second is to offer an analysis of late tenth-century ecclesiastical reform which interprets the evidence in light of the Blickling and Vercelli books, rather than the more usual approach of evaluating the books in light of the evidence produced by reformers. To achieve these goals this thesis first engages with ongoing debates over the origins and audiences of the books. After addressing these, it proceeds to consider the issues most often discussed by the Blickling and Vercelli authors: ideals of the priesthood; the main penitential practices of prayer, vigils, fasting, and almsgiving; and the authors’ underlying theology. The main benefit of viewing the period through the lens of Blickling and Vercelli is that it offers a more nuanced view of the relationship between reformers and the non-reformed. It emerges that the late tenth-century Anglo-Saxon Church was characterised by significant continuity in ideas, attitudes, and practices. The late tenth-century Church had a strong pastoral tradition that was common to all; it also had monastic traditions that similarly transcended boundaries set by reformist rhetoric. Yet this reforming rhetoric does not accurately reflect the realities of the late tenth-century Church.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Anglo-Saxon, Monasticism, Church Reform, Theology, Church History, Palaeography, Old English
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Mar 2021 10:09

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