Helena of Britain in Medieval Legend

Helena of Britain in Medieval Legend

Antonina Harbus

Hardback
$99.00

D.S.Brewer

Overview

Overview

The first study to examine the origins, development, political exploitation and decline of the legend of St Helena, tracing its momentum and adaptive power from Anglo-Saxon England onwards.
St Helena, mother of Constantine the Great and legendary finder of the True Cross, was appropriated in the middle ages as a British saint. The rise and persistence of this legend harnessed Helena's imperial and sacred status to portray her as a romance heroine, source of national pride, and a legitimising link to imperial Rome. This study is the first to examine the origins, development, political exploitation and decline of this legend, tracing its momentum and adaptive power from Anglo-Saxon England to the twentieth century. Using Latin, English, and Welsh texts, as well as church dedications and visual arts, the author examines the positive effect of the British legend on the cult of St Helena and the reasons for its wide appeal and durability in both secular and religious contexts.
Two previously unpublished vitae of St Helena are included in the volume: a Middle English verse vita from the South English Legendary, and a Latin prose vita by the twelfth-century hagiographer, Jocelin of Furness.

Antonina Harbus is Professor in the Department of English at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Details

June 2002
223 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859916257
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
D.S.Brewer
BIC HRCM, 1DBK, 2AB, 3H, 4P
BISAC LCO003000
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Reviews

Expertly traces the evolution of the legend. A thorough, acute and well-written survey, which constitutes a definitive guide to the whole Helena tradition. THE EXPOSITORY TIMES

A useful addition to the studies of medieval heroes and legendary figures. It offers an excellent introduction to the historiography of Helena and how her work reflects the development of Christian Europe. PARERGON

Fascinating... What comes across most forcefully is the way both the woman and the legend were appropriated by a series of male authors and rulers... Well-written, informative and rovocative. MEDIEVAL FEMINIST FORUM

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