The Cult of St Edmund in Medieval East Anglia

The Cult of St Edmund in Medieval East Anglia

Rebecca Pinner


Boydell Press



An investigation of the growth and influence of the cult of St Edmund, and how it manifested itself in medieval material culture.
Longlisted for the Katharine Briggs Award 2016

St Edmund, king and martyr, supposedly killed by Danes (or "Vikings") in 869, was one of the pre-eminent saints of the middle ages; his cult was favoured and patronised by several English kings, and gave rise to a rich array of visual, literary, musical and political artefacts.
This study explores the development of devotion to St Edmund, from its first flourishing in the ninth century to the eve of the Reformation. It explores a series of key questions: how, why and when did the cult develop? Who was responsible for its promotion and dissemination? To which groups and individuals did St Edmund appeal? How did this evolve over time? Using as evidence a range of textual and visual treasures from the Anglo-Saxon king's erstwhile kingdom and later cultic heartland, Norfolk and Suffolk, the study draws on sources and approaches from a variety of disciplines (literature, art history, social history and anthropology) to elucidate the social, cultural and political dynamics of cult construction.

Dr Rebecca Pinner is a Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the University of East Anglia.

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4 colour, 8 black and white, 1 line illustrations
292 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Paperback, 9781783274017, April 2019
Hardback, 9781783270354, September 2015
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037010, REL033000, HIS015000
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Table of Contents

The Emergence of the Hagiographic Tradition: Abbo of Fleury, Passio Sancti Eadmundi
De Miraculis Sancti Eadmundi: Herman, Osbert and Samson
Vita et miracula
The Elaboration of the Hagiographic Tradition
The Final Flourish of the Textual Cult: John Lydgate, The Lives of Sts Edmund and Fremund
Sacred Immanence, the Incorrupted Body and the Shrine of St Edmund
The Devotional and Iconographical Context of the Shrine
Writing St Edmund into the East Anglian landscape
Miracles Beyond Bury
Images of St Edmund
Texts beyond Bury: Legendary Collections
'Martir, mayde and kynge', and more
Appendix 1: Synoptic Account of the Legend of St Edmund
Appendix 2: Chronology of Significant Events and Texts associated with the Cult of St Edmund


A first-rate example of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, drawing on art history, literary criticism, archaeology, social history, and even anthropology to illuminate a saint's cult whose significance is finally being recognized. The book transcends the usual divide between textual and material studies that can impede medieval historians.... essential reading for anyone interested in the development of saints' cults and royal and national self-construction in medieval Europe. FOLKLORE

Longlisted for the Katharine Briggs Award 2016

A mixture of elegant prose and beautiful illustrations...provides historians with valuable insights into the cult of St Edmund, king and martyr. LOCAL HISTORIAN

Pinner's book achieves the difficult feat of drawing together different kinds of evidence and strands of narrative associated with St. Edmund into one cohesive whole, which makes for a lively, engaging, and thought-provoking read. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

[A] full hagiological study of a saint and his cult among the people of a whole region over four centuries. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Very readable.A classic study of a medieval cult. THE RICARDIAN

Recommended. CHOICE

Author Bio

Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.