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Look Inside Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, c.600–900

Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, c.600–900


  • Date Published: March 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521739085

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About the Authors
  • This major 2006 history of monasticism in early Anglo-Saxon England explores the history of the Church between the conversion to Christianity in the sixth century and a monastic revival in the tenth. It represents the first comprehensive revision of accepted views about monastic life in England before the Benedictine reform. Sarah Foot shows how early Anglo-Saxon religious houses were simultaneously active and contemplative, their members withdrawing from the preoccupations of contemporary aristocratic society, while still remaining part of that world. Focusing on the institution of the 'minster' (the communal religious community) and rejecting a simplistic binary division between active 'minsters' and enclosed 'monasteries', Foot argues that historians have been wrong to see minsters in the light of ideals of Benedictine monasticism. Instead, she demonstrates that Anglo-Saxon minsters reflected more of contemporary social attitudes; despite their aim for solitude, they retained close links to aristocratic German society.

    • First revisionist account of early English monasticism
    • Accessibly written, with numerous quotations in English from contemporary sources
    • Draws on an impressive range of sources, including liturgy, diplomatic and narrative history and archaeology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A beautifully structured and magisterial treatment of a major subject in early medieval English history by the outstanding early medieval historian of her generation.' Professor Nicholas Brooks, University of Birmingham

    'Lucidly written, attractively illustrated, magisterially argued, and beautifully produced, this book shows not only what early Anglo-Saxon ministers did, but also gives persuasive answers to the question: why did people adopt this particular form of religious life?' Church Times

    'Required reading for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon religious life before the tenth-century Benedictine reforms … a handsome volume.' The American Historical Review

    'A truly outstanding book, which will undoubtedly become a standard text on the subject.' History

    'I wish this book had been published 50 years ago, when I was about to embark on my postgraduate career. … Now, Foot's study of the early Church, with its rethinking of what monasterium means and its putting of the reform movement (and its 'ideological literature') into perspective, gives us a freer hand to evaluate the church buildings on their archaeological merits without constantly looking over our shoulders at Dunstan and Co.' Journal of Medieval Archaeology

    'Well written, clearly organised and carefully researched, this volume offers much to anyone interested in the spread, nature and role of early medieval monasticism in England and beyond, and in the character of society in general in this complex period.' The Journal and Report of the Medieval Settlement Research Group

    'After setting out her aims and approaches with clarity, Foot begins by looking at 'the ideal minister' as imagined in sources from the period … The book makes a strong argument for diversity and variety in the monastic life of earlier Anglo-Saxon England and offers an authoritative yet accessible survey of this complex subject.' Medium Aevum

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521739085
    • length: 416 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 188 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.75kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: situating the problem
    2. The ideal minster
    Part I. Within the Walls:
    3. The making of minsters
    4. The minster community
    5. Daily life within the minster
    Part II. Without the Walls:
    6. Dependencies, affinities, clusters
    7. Minsters in the world
    8. Horizons

  • Author

    Sarah Foot, Christ Church, Oxford
    Sarah Foot is Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford.

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