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Writing Power in Anglo-Saxon England


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"A work of fine and nuanced intelligence... Skilled and learned readings of a number of important texts. Fluent, polished, and beautifully written." Dr Katy Cubitt, University of York.

The formation and operation of systems of power and patronage in Anglo-Saxon England are currently the focus of concerted scholarly attention. This book explores how power is shaped and negotiated in later Anglo-Saxon texts, focusing in particular on how hierarchical, vertical structures are presented alongside patterns of reciprocity and economies of mutual obligation, especially within the context of patronage relationships (whether secular, spiritual, literal or symbolic). Through close analysis of a wide selection of sources in the vernacular and Latin (including the Guthlac poems of the Exeter Book, Old English verse epitaphs, the acrostic poetry of Abbo of Fleury, the Encomium Emmae Reginae and Libellus Æthelwoldi Episcopi), the study examines how texts sustain dual ways of seeing and undnding power, generating a range of imaginative possibilities along with tensions, ambiguities and instances of disguise or euphemism. It also advances new arguments about the ideology and rhetoric of power in the early medieval period.

Catherine A. M. Clarke is Professor in English, University of Southampton.


Offers its readers many illuminating insights. ... [The author's] nuanced approach to her subject and its complexities is one of the book's great strengths and will prove thought provoking and highly rewarding for the attentive reader. JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL LATIN

The volume's greatest strengths are its thorough grounding in the critical history of its texts; its meticulous attention to detail and close reading; and its willingness to suspend judgment and sustain ambiguity in examining complex questions.[It] is a pleasure to read, and serves as a fine model for undertaking careful and detailed close reading, thoroughly grounded in critical history, to illuminate aspects of texts that have been hitherto unappreciated (or at least underappreciated) in the scholarship. MEDIEVAL REVIEW


First Published: 19 Apr 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843843191
Pages: 206
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Order and Interlace: the Guthlac Poems of the Exeter Book
  • 3  Sites of Economy: Power and Reckoning in the Poetic Epitaphs of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • 4  'Absens ero ... presens ero': Writing the Absent Patron
  • 5  Power and Performance: Authors and Patrons in late Anglo-Saxon Texts
  • 6  Remembering Anglo-Saxon Patronage: the Libellus Æthelwoldi Episcopi and its Contexts
  • 7  Afterword
  • 8  Bibliography