Anglo-Saxon Keywords by Allen J. Frantzen

By Allen J. Frantzen

Anglo-Saxon Keywords offers a chain of entries that show the hyperlinks among smooth principles and scholarship and the primary innovations of Anglo-Saxon literature, language, and fabric tradition.

  • Reveals very important hyperlinks among critical options of the Anglo-Saxon interval and concerns we predict approximately today
  • Reveals how fabric culture—the historical past of work, medication, expertise, identification, masculinity, intercourse, nutrition, land use—is as very important because the historical past of ideas
  • Offers a richly theorized procedure that intersects with many disciplines inside and out of medieval studies

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Warnings of Doomsday appear in English writing well before the millennial year. The most famous anonymous work related to this theme is the Blickling homily “The end of this world is near” (Homily 10, Morris, R. 1967: 107–15). Wulfstan, archbishop of York and London, preached on the theme of the Antichrist several times, and so did Ælfric, the scholarly and orthodox abbot who was one of Wulfstan’s most reliable sources (Gatch 1977: 77–84, 105– 16). Some have suggested that this writing accumulated near to the millennium, but nearly all OE manuscripts are dated to the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, and attempts to coordinate texts with the millennium are not persuasive.

But as Martin Irvine points out, learned Anglo-Saxons of the ninth and tenth centuries could scarcely have thought of their literary culture as an uninterrupted chain of transmission reaching back to the time of Gregory, Augustine, and classical authors of an ancient past. The Viking invasions of the eighth century had effectively destroyed the learned 27 Author 28 culture of much of Bede’s world, and although many texts survived, many were lost and had to be replaced. After that, Irvine observed, literary culture became bilingual.

It is easy to see how this radical departure – the very kind of thing we do not anticipate in the conservative tradition of Anglo-Saxon textual culture – could Author quickly come to seem traditional. Alfred’s concern with textual culture extended to outlining, in the preface to Pastoral Care, the OE translation of Gregory’s Cura Pastoralis, the educational requirements for the children of his thegns (Alfred 1983: 124–7; see Literacy, Thegn). Alfred creates the expectation – embraced by many of his most successful followers – that kings should be associated with the textual apparatus of the Church.

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