Hermits, hagiography, and popular culture : a comparative study of Durham Cathedral Priory's hermits in the twelfth century
This thesis investigates the social and religious roles of two twelfth-century hermits connected to Durham Cathedral Priory, Godric of Finchale and Bartholomew of Farne, within the general context of twelfth-century western European eremiticism. Chapter One is a general discussion of the historiography of eleventh and twelfth-century hermits, and introduces the main hagiographic materials to be discussed. Chapter Two discusses the context of monasticism and eremiticism in northern England, and analyses the Vitae of Gothic and Bartholomew, particularly in terms of the problem of authority and asceticism. Chapter Three begins the discussion of the miracle cults at Farne and Finchale, raising the problem of popular interest in hermits and holy sites. Chapter Four continues this discussion by considering the large group of animal miracles at Farne and Finchale. Through comparison with the hagiographic tradition of such stories from their inception in Late Antiquity to the twelfth century, the chapter considers the relationship between popular and educated clerical elements in the Durham stories. Chapter Five considers the hagiographic theme of the eremitical diet, and the hermit in the wilderness, mainly through a comparison of Godric with a hermit, Aibert of Crespin, from the Cambrai. Chapter Six discusses the theme of eremitical clothing, and the social status of the hermit, comparing Godric to an English hermit, Wulfric of Haslebury. Chapter Seven considers the problem of hermits and women, and holy men and holy women. Godric's relation to holy women, and the misogyny of Durham's cult of Saint Cuthbert is considered through comparison with the Life of Christina of Markyate. Chapter Eight concludes with a final comparative discussion, of hermits and crowds, and discusses the social function of twelfth-century hermits.