`Charms', Liturgies and Secret Rites in Early Medieval England

`Charms', Liturgies and Secret Rites in Early Medieval England

Ciaran Arthur

Hardback
$99.00

Not yet published

Boydell Press

Overview

Overview

A re-evaluation of the mysterious "charms" found in Anglo-Saxon literature, arguing for their place in mainstream Christian rites.
From the nineteenth century, the supposed genre of Anglo-Saxon charms has drawn the attention of many scholars and appealed to enthusiasts of magic, paganism, and popular religion. However, while their Christian nature has been widely acknowledged more recently, their position within mainstream liturgical traditions has not yet been fully recognised. This book aims to show how early English ecclesiastics perceived these rituals and why they included them in manuscripts from high-status minsters. Using evidence from the entire corpus of Old English, various surviving manuscript sources, and rich Christian theological traditions, the author suggests that contemporary scribes and compilers did not perceive "charms" as anything other than Christian rituals, belonging in a context of diverse, mainstream liturgical practices. He thus challenges the notion that there was any such thing as an Anglo-Saxon "charm" altogether, suggesting instead an alternative interpretation of these texts as creative para-liturgical rituals or liturgical rite. When considered in their contemporary ecclesiastical and philosophical contexts, even the most enigmatic rituals, dismissed as mere "gibberish", begin to emerge as secret, deliberately obscured texts with hidden spiritual meaning.

Ciaran Arthur is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Queen's University Belfast.

Details

July 2018
3 black and white illustrations
208 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
ISBN: 9781783273133
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BIC HRAX, 1DBKE, 2AB, 3F
BISAC REL033000, HIS037010, REL020000
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Author Bio

Ciaran Arthur is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Queen's University Belfast, having previously studied here before obtaining his PhD from the University of Kent.

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