Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical History of Late Anglo-Saxon England

Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical History of Late Anglo-Saxon England

Four Studies

David N. Dumville


Boydell Press



Study of surviving Anglo-Saxon kalendars and pontificals contributes to our understanding of 10th-century England.
`His work demonstrates the importance of these neglected sources for our understanding of the late Old English church.' HISTORY
An important book of immense erudition. It brings into the open some major issues of Late Anglo-Saxon history, and gives a thorough overview of the detailed source material. When such outstanding learning is being used, through intuitive perception, to bear on the wider issues such as popular devotion and the reception of the monastic reform in England, and bold conclusions are bing drawn from such minutely detailed studies, there is no doubt that David Dumville's contribution in this area of study becomes invaluable. The sources for the liturgy of late Anglo-Saxon England have a distinctive shape. Very substantial survival has given us the possibility of understanding change and perceiving significant continuity, as well as identifying local preferences and peculiarities. One major category of evidence is provided by a corpus of more than twenty kalendars: some of these (and particularly those which have been associated with Glastonbury Abbey) are subjected to close examination here, the process contributing both negatively and positively to the history of ecclesiastical renewal in the 10th century. Another significant body of manuscripts comprises books for episcopal use, especially pontificals: these are examined here as a group, and their associations with specific prelates and churches considered. All these investigations tend to suggest the centrality of the church of Canterbury in the surviving testimony and presumptively therefore in the history of late Anglo-Saxon christianity. Historians' study of English liturgy in this period has heretofore concentrated on the development of coronation-rites: by pursuing palaeographical and textual enquiries, the author has sought to make other divisions of the subject respond to historical questioning. Dr DAVID N. DUMVILLEis Reader in the Early Mediaeval History and Culture of the British Isles at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Girton College.


December 1992
204 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Anglo-Saxon History
ISBN: 9780851153315
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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A book of great interest, value, and finesse of scholarship. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEWA useful reference work. The amount of detailed document work the collection represents, particularly in the palaeographic field, will, it is to be hoped, make it a valuable quarry for the ecclesiastical history of late Anglo-Saxon England — a value which is enhanced by a generous index, a manuscript index and a good bibliography. JANE STEVENSON, MEDIUM ÆVUMNo one who studies the ecclesiastical or even the political history of late Anglo-Saxon England can now do so adequately without consulting this work... an outstanding specimen of a still too rare approach to medieval history, one that takes liturgical evidence to be of prime importance for an understanding of the periods and societies we all study. SPECULUM [Richard W. Pfaff] A most important compendium of English liturgical materials...which not merely illuminate the development of church ritual, but also corroborate and authenticate the processes of English intellectual and cultural history. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW [US; Pat Conner]

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