Goscelin, monk of Saint-Bertin, who came to England in the early 1060s, was one of the most prolific hagiographers of the Anglo-Saxon saints. William of Malmesbury described him as 'second to none since Bede in the celebration of the English saints'. Part of his career was spent in wandering exile, and one of the places Goscelin stayed briefly was Ely, who twelfth-century house-history portrays him working late at night on verses commemorating Ely's patroness, St Aethelfryth. By the late tenth century, the cult of Aethelfryth, the seventh-century virgin-queen whose two unconsummated marriages were recounted in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, had been combined with that of her sister Seaxburh, and of another supposed sister, Wihtburh (whose relics were 'translated' from East Dereham in Norfolk to Ely in 974). To this group were added Seaxburh's daughter Eormenhild, and Eormenhild's daughter Waerburh. A collection of the Lives of these female saints - some probably the work of Goscelin - is preserved in three twelfth-century Ely manuscripts.Taken together these texts offer a fascinating insight into Ely's view of the women venerated by the community and of its own past history.
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(225mm x 146mm x 25mm)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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