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Title: Soldiering for Christ : the role of the Miles Christi in four Old English Saints' lives
Author: Cahilly-Bretzin, Glenn
ISNI:       0000 0004 9351 6611
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This dissertation studies the diverse approaches to ‘soldiering for Christ’ in Anglo-Saxon hagiographical narratives of warrior-saints. The investigation selects a group of four saints — Martin of Tours, Guthlac of Crowland, the Apostle Andrew, and Placidas–Eustace — as case studies of non-royal warrior-saints who are celebrated in anonymous Old English prose and poetic Lives that engaged diverse audiences. Medieval hagiographers associated each of these saints with literal as well as spiritual warfare and appear to have used the saint’s association with warrior culture to define Christianity’s relationship to a martial ethos. The Old English narratives concerning these four saints are analysed by comparing the vernacular texts to their sources and intertextual parallels while also placing the compositions, transmissions, and audiences of the Old English accounts in their historical contexts. In doing so, the analyses find that there was a range of perspectives surrounding Christian warrior culture which were produced and copied in tandem, from peaceful and nonviolent portrayals in the ninth-century Martinmas-homily and various Anglo-Saxon narratives on Guthlac, to the apparent advocacy of Christian violence for converting or subduing pagans reflected in the ninth-century poem Andreas, the tenth-century prose Life of Andrew, and the late tenth- or early eleventh-century Life of Eustace. Texts presenting conflicting attitudes towards Christian warrior culture are transmitted in similar contexts and time periods, sometimes within the same manuscript, suggesting that no cohesive ideology concerning milites Christi developed throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. Moreover, the works on Martin, Guthlac, Andrew, and Eustace illustrate that Old English depictions of spiritual warfare were heavily indebted to models inherited from Scripture and early Christian texts, indicating that Christian militancy was not the result of a ‘Germanisation’ of the faith. Rather this dissertation argues that Anglo-Saxon hagiographers were individually responding to their historical context, source material, and intended audiences to define what it meant to soldier for Christ.
Supervisor: Orchard, Andy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Miles Christi ; Theology ; Old English ; Anglo-Saxon ; Hagiography ; Medieval Studies ; Anglo-Latin