Old Age in Early Medieval England
Title Details

288 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

8 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Anglo-Saxon Studies

Imprint: Boydell Press

Old Age in Early Medieval England

A Cultural History

by Thijs Porck

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
First full-length study of the notion and concept of old age in early medieval England.
How did Anglo-Saxons reflect on the experience of growing old? Was it really a golden age for the elderly, as has been suggested? This first full survey of the Anglo-Saxon cultural conceptualisation of old age, as manifested and reflected in the texts and artwork of the inhabitants of early medieval England, presents a more nuanced and complicated picture. The author argues that although senescence was associated with the potential for wisdom and pious living, the Anglo-Saxons also anticipated various social, psychological and physical repercussions of growing old. Their attitude towards elderly men and women - whether they were saints, warriors or kings - was equally ambivalent.
Multidisciplinary in approach, this book makes use of a wide variety of sources, ranging from the visual arts to hagiography, homiletic literature and heroic poetry. Individual chapters deal with early medieval definitions ofthe life cycle; the merits and drawbacks of old age as represented in Anglo-Saxon homilies and wisdom poetry; the hagiographic topos of elderly saints; the portrayal of grey-haired warriors in heroic literature; Beowulf asa mirror for elderly kings; and the cultural roles attributed to old women.

THIJS PORCK is Assistant Professor of Medieval English, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, Leiden University.
Introduction
Definitions of old age
Merits of old age
Drawbacks of old age
frode fyrnwitan: Old saints in Anglo-Saxon hagiography
hare hilderincas: Old warriors in Anglo-Saxon England
ealde eðelweardas: Beowulf as a mirror of elderly kings
gamole geomeowlan: Old women in Anglo-Saxon England
Conclusion
Bibliography

THIJS PORCK is Assistant Professor of Medieval English, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, Leiden University.

"An important and interesting monograph. It is clearly and elegantly written and considers an impressive array of evidence drawn from philology, literature, history, archaeology, prosopography, and art history." ANGLIA
"This rich and highly informative book concludes with an extensive bibliography and a rather detailed index. It is a joy to learn so much about old age in early medieval England through Porck's meticulous research. He has consulted a vast range of relevant sources and offered convincing analyses." JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES
"A detailed and interesting cultural study.which provides a useful model for studies of later periods." FACHRS NEWSLETTER
"Combining good judgment with ample learning in both Germanic philology and intellectual history, Porck has produced a valuable contribution to knowledge that is as stimulating as it is rigorous." MODERN PHILOLOGY
"A pleasure to read. Highly recommended." CHOICE
"Thijs Porck's book on old age in England up to the eleventh century, the first full-length study of this topic, provides a vigorous and readable survey." Speculum

Hardcover

9781783273751

February 2019

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9781787444690

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9781783276349

June 2021

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Title Details

288 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

8 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Anglo-Saxon Studies

Imprint: Boydell Press