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Writing miracles in tenth-century Winchester

Cory Stephen Hazlehurst

M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham. (2011)

This thesis examines a number of miracle collections and hagiographies written by Winchester monks in the late tenth century. It compares three different accounts of the cult of Swithun by Lantfred, Wulfstan and Ӕlfric, as well as comparing Wulfstan‟s and Ӕlfric‟s Vita Ӕthelwoldi. There were two main objectives to the thesis. The first was to examine whether an analysis of miracle narratives could tell us anything important about how a monastic community perceived itself, especially in relation to the wider world? This was tested by applying approaches used by Thomas Head and Raymond Van Dam to an Anglo- Saxon context. It does seem that miracle narratives can be used to analyse power relations, for instance, and that cults could be used to reconcile secular clerks with the new monastic community. The second aim was to examine why churchmen wrote about saints‟ cults in the way they did. One noteworthy finding was the fact that Ӕlfric seemed to significantly alter or omit instances of dream visions involving women in his hagiography. The thesis also tests a conclusion of Mechthild Gretsch that Ӕlfric generally omitted instances of posthumous miracles in his hagiographies, and found that the evidence supported her findings.

Click here to read this thesis from University of Birmingham