English Caroline Script and Monastic History

English Caroline Script and Monastic History

Studies in Benedictinism, AD 950-1030

David N. Dumville


Boydell Press



An analysis and study of Caroline script from 200 years of ecclesiastical and secular records reveals important historical detail relating to late Anglo-Saxon England.
Caroline minuscule script was adopted in England in the mid-tenth century in imitation of Continental usage. A badge of ecclesiastical reform, it was practised in Benedictine scriptoria but was also taken up by members of the royal writing office; the chancery occupied an important place in the pioneering of calligraphic fashions. During its approximately two-century history in England, Caroline script developed a number of forms, in part reflecting different tendencies within the Reform-cause. The Rule of St Benedict was focal for this movement.

In the aftermath of the final Scandinavian conquest of England [AD1016] a Canterbury master-scribe created the form of Caroline writing which was to become a mark of Englishness and outlive the Norman Conquest. In the closing chapter its inventor's career is discussed and his achievement assessed. This volume offers analysis of manuscript evidence as a basis for the cultural and ecclesiastical history of late Anglo-Saxon England.

David N. Dumville is professor of History and Palaeography at the University of Aberdeen


May 1993
16 black and white illustrations
222 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Anglo-Saxon History
ISBN: 9780851153230
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Dumville's painstaking attention to detail and ability to go back rigorously to first principles are re-drawing the cultural mat of tenth- and eleventh-century England... an important, if difficult, book which will open the path to greater understanding of the cultural history of the period. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEWChallenging and thought-provoking. ANTIQUARIES JOURNALDeeply learned... a book which will provoke debate and even the most seasoned of sceptics should not dare to examine later Anglo-Saxon manuscripts without it. HISTORY The evidence of the manuscripts is for the most part all that is available to us to illuminate the culture of the time, and Dr Dumville is enriching both the material and also the techniques which are available to us. LIBRARY [G H Martin]

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