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Title: The priesthood in Anglo-Saxon England
Author: Johnson, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The Priesthood in Anglo-Saxon England explores the life and work of priests in England between the arrival of St. Augustine in 597 and the reforming Council of Clofesho of 747. It seeks to reposition priests within the consciousness of Anglo-Saxon historians by demonstrating the essential role which they played first in the conversion of the English, and then in the pastoral care which the English people received up to the reforms instigated by Archbishop Cuthbert at the 747 Council of Clofesho. The thesis draws on several trends in recent Anglo-Saxon historiography, notably focus in recent years on the role and function of monasteria. Sarah Foot’s work, Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, c. 600 – 900, is the primary study in this area. Many historians working in this area have read Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, the main narrative source for our period, in a predominantly monastic light. Close attention to the text of this and other works of Bede’s however demonstrates that priests were indispensable in the initial conversion and continued care of the people, particularly because of their ability to celebrate the sacraments. This thesis contends that monasteria increasingly gained control over pastoral care through their continued endowment and royal privilege. This effectively removed the cura animarum from the bishops, to whom it was theoretically entrusted. Following the example of Theodore and Bede, and on the prompting of his contemporary Boniface, in 747 Archbishop Cuthbert recognised the need to reform the structure of the church in Southumbria, particularly the relationship between the episcopate and the monasteria, and so restore the cure to its rightful place. He and his fellow bishops achieved this by redefining pastoral care along sacramental grounds, thereby excluding monks from its exercise, and putting the priest back at the heart of the church’s mission to the people of England.
Supervisor: Foot, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Church history ; Theology and Religion ; Early medieval history ; Anglo-Saxon history ; Bede ; Anglo-Saxon ; priest ; priesthood ; church