University of Leicester
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The Authority of Saints and their makers in old English hagiography

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:37 authored by Claire Louise Watson
The miracles performed by saints in Old English hagiography provide the starting point for this thesis, and serve as a route into exploration of wider issues within the saints' lives. The thesis is structured around a series of case studies based on the classifications of sanctity found in the Anglo-Saxon Litanies, with chapters on Virgins, Confessors, Martyrs and Apostles, which explore the presentation of miracles in an AElfrician and anonymous life of each type of saint. Each case study assesses the manner in which the Latin biographies of established saintly figures are handled by their vernacular translators, and the potential agenda of Old English hagiographers suggested by this treatment.;The manipulation of Latin tradition in the lives is revelatory regarding perceptions of authorship and sanctity in the early medieval period, and questions of textual and divine authority are raised in the analysis of each hagiography. The exploration of miracles is framed by the assessment of these two interrelated concepts within the lives. Assessment of inscribed authority centres on the textual and personal authority advocated by the author of the saintly biography, investigating their claimed and actual adherence to tradition and attitudes to orthodoxy. Exploration of divine authority assesses the validation a saint is said to receive from the Lord in their biography, for which the performance of miracles can serve as a primary channel. The thesis explores the relationship between these kinds of authorization, and the different approaches to these notions found in the AElfrician and anonymous corpora. It argues that suggestive differences exist between AElfrician lives and the anonymous corpus in these areas, and suggests that AElfric's treatment of saints' miracles was intended to further the spiritual wonders he envisaged himself to be enacting.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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