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Title: Guthlac : an edition of the Old English prose life together with the poems in the Exeter Book
Author: Crawford, Jane A.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1967
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The thesis begins with an introductory chapter in which an examination is made of the growth and spread of the Guthlac cult in England. Emphasis is placed upon the importance of the Vita sancti Guthlaci, which dominates most records of the saint. It is shown that, of the Guthlac materials of the early Anglo-Saxon period, only the earlier of the two Exeter Book poems and the concluding portion of the Vereelli Book homily are outside the Felix tradition, and that a very few popular stories found in writings of tha later period cannot be traced back to the early period. No evidence remains either to prove or disprove the continuity of monastic life at Crowland from Aethelbald's time to Thurketyl's foundation. Even the traditional dating of the Benedictine abbey to Eadred's reign is to be doubted and the establishment of this community is probably to be placed after 971 A.D. Fronm this time a renewed interest in the cult of St Guthlac is apparent: it is seen first in the Benaedictine calendars. The earliest Guthlac entries in these do not appear before c. 970. a date significantly near that envisaged for Thurketyl's foundation of the abbey. The late tenth century foundation at Crowland became rich end important, and with its expansion efforts wara made to enhance the reputation of its patron saint. Much valuable material both for the history of the cult and of the abbey must have been lost in the fires of the eleventh and twelfth canturies and it is hardly surprising therefore that no documents from before the twelfth century have specific connections with Crowland. In the refurbishing of the abbey muniments one abbot, Henry Longchamp, seems to have baen particularly industrious; we know that he commissioned prose and verse lives of Guthlac from two of the most eminent writers of his day and he may also have been responsible for the making of the Harley Guthlac Roll. At this time a wide interest in the cult outside Crowland is shown: in chronicles and histories, but there is little evidence for the development of the minor figures of tha legend. Some tales attached themselves to the saint's sister Page, and his successor, the hermit Cissa, translated to Thorney, had a small amount of fame of his own. But only Beccel acquired seperate acta - and these are most probably spurious. By the time of the dissolution of the monasteries the Guthlac cult was, everywhere except at its centre in Crowland apparently waning and his legend was giving way in service books and dedications to other growing cults. An edition of the Old English prose life of Guthlac from British Museum MS Cotton Vespasian Dxxi together with the twenty-third homily of the Vercelli Book, is presented in section II. Full critical apparatus is provided and a transcript fron MS Corpus Christi College Cambridge 389 of the Latin Vita, is given for comparison. The glossaries for the Old English texts attempt to be exhaustive. The use of a complete text of the Vita sancti Guthlaci enables a new comparison of the Life and Vita to be made and it seems that the relationship of these has previously been misunderstood, for it is unlikely that the Old English texts reflect a specially made abbreviation from Felix's Vita. Indeed, both the Old English Life and Homily show signs of considerable independent revision during transmission from the original translation. Section III is a critical edition of the two Guthlac poems of the Exeter Book. A complete record of the forms of these poems is given and a full metrical discussion of them has been undertaken. No separate edition of either of these texts has yet been published and it has been necessary therefore to draw together for the first time the varied commentary of a century and a half and to review the disputes as to their relationship to one another and to the Cynewulf canon. The differences between the two poems in style and content are emphasised and it is apparent that, although both are written in the general poetic koiné, they are not the work of one poet or even of one period. While this thesis embodies a full review of all that has hitherto been done on St Guthlac in literature, a considerable amount of new material is included in its introductory sections, in its commentaries and its appendices. Though relatively little of lexicographical value has cone to light in completing the glossaries, there is value in having all this material fully assembled together. Three appendices follow the main body of the thesis. The first is a detailed account of the problems presented by the Bertellin legend preserved in Wynkyn de Worde's Nova Legenda Anglie. Although its author has used much Guthlac material to bolster out his life, it seems obvious that the relationship between Beccel and a shadowy Staffordshire Anchorite is purely literary. The second appendix presents a checklist of all the mediaeval Guthlac materials and the third is a list of persons mentioned in the Vita sancti Guthlaci. Finally the abbreviations used throughout the thesis are detailed and a bibliography of the works cited is presented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available