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.
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.

"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

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9781783276349

June 2021

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9781783273751

February 2019

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9781787444690

February 2019

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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