Religion and Literature in Western England, 600-800

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Cambridge University Press, 2005 M06 30 - 468 pages
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Even the Venerable Bede knew little about the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms described in this book. In the sixth and seventh centuries the pagan peoples of the Hwicce and Magonsaetan occupied the frontier from Stratford-upon-Avon as far as the Welsh kingdoms west of Offa's Dyke. They retained their own kings, aristocracy and independent monasteries into the eighth century. Using archaeological, place-name and historical sources, Dr Sims-Williams describes the early conversion to Christianity of these people, the origins of the dioceses of Worcester and Hereford, and the precocious growth of Anglo-Saxon monasticism. Drawing on many neglected documents he reveals a wide range of Continental, Irish and Anglo-Saxon influences on the church and shows that the monasteries were as varied in character as the Northumbrian foundations described by Bede.
 

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I read this fascinating book about 3 years ago when i was researching my story "Ismere: a story of the Lady of the Mercians". Very scholarly and well researched indeed, especially in relation to the charters and accounts of day to day life in early monastaries. The contextualization of the period is also extremely well drawn, with an account of the gradual incursions of the English into the border regions. Also, as i remember, an excellent map.
Martin Wall (25/02/2009)
 

Contents

Introduction
1
The kingdoms of the Hwicce and the Magonsætan
16
Paganism and Christianity
54
Early influences on the church
87
Varieties of monasticism
115
The eighthcentury church
144
Biblical study
177
Letterwriting
211
the monk of Wenlocks vision
243
Prayer and magic
273
Milred Cuthbert and AngloLatin poetry
328
The church in the landscape
360
Conclusion
396
Bibliography
400
Index
434
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