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Title: The Scottish legendary and female saints' lives in late medieval Scotland
Author: Coll-Smith, Melissa M.
ISNI:       0000 0003 7997 706X
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is a study of the Scottish contributions to the medieval tradition of vernacular hagiography, specifically the textual traditions of the representation of female saints. It draws on developments that have been made towards the analysis of their Middle English counterparts, demonstrating the usefulness of reading these Lives as reflections of contemporary ideas about theology, devotion, and society in late medieval Scotland. Before turning to the legends themselves, it has first been necessary to revisit some of the assumptions and conclusions that have been made about the manuscript containing the unique collection of the Scottish vernacular lives of saints, written in Older Scots verse around l390. I challenge some of the earlier ideas about the authorship of the collection and re-address the issues of audience and readership. Most significantly, I have made some new observations of the material evidence offered by the manuscript itself, which is most useful in tracing its provenance. The first chapter looks at the textual traditions of Margaret, the eleventh-century queen of Malcolm Canmore. Although her Life is not included in the vernacular legendary, it is the only portrait discussed here that represents the hagiographical traditions of female lives that developed in Europe from the twelfth century onwards, and, unlike the other case studies in the thesis, her cult is uniquely insular. Her legend is the product of diverse sources and the chapter seeks to chart the development of these strands of hagiographical portraiture against the trends associated with her cultic veneration, and emphasises the importance of the Scottish chronicle tradition in her legend's reception. The next chapters consider female saints' lives in the vernacular legendary, which represent the Scottish recension of textual traditions whose origins date to the earliest days of Christianity. I discuss the development of the legends and Scottish cults of three saints - Mary Magdalene, Margaret of Antioch, and Katherine of Alexandria. Through these case studies, I consider the extent to which the legends in question reflect and reinforce the traditions of veneration and reconcile the Scottish legendary with the medieval hagiographical traditions found elsewhere in Britain and the Continent - but they also highlight the unique additions, omissions, and renditions that distinguish the Scottish legends from their Middle English counterparts. These chapters also consider the placement and arrangement of these legends in the compilation as a whole, pointing to the ways in which their ordering encourages particular readings of the narratives themselves. The conclusions to each case study identify the most enduring aspects of the legendary traditions of all four saints as they were in turn incorporated in the lectiones of early sixteenth-century Breviarium Aberdonense. The thesis identifies how this corpus of Scottish legends about women saints reflects late medieval ideas about sanctity, and in particular the female performance of sanctity, and ends with a look at how these perceptions affected the portraiture of women in non-hagiographical late medieval Scottish literary texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available