Performance, transmission and devotion: understanding the Anglo-Saxon prayer books, c.800-1050

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dc.contributor.author March, Kirsty Teresa
dc.date.accessioned 2012-09-10T12:19:46Z
dc.date.available 2015-09-10T04:00:04Z
dc.date.issued 2012-08
dc.identifier.citation March, K.T. 2012. Performance, transmission and devotion: understanding the Anglo-Saxon prayer books, c.800-1050. PhD Thesis, University College Cork. en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/702
dc.description.abstract Through an investigation of the Anglo-Saxon prayer books and selected psalters, this thesis corrects standard histories of medieval devotion that circumvent the Anglo-Saxon contribution to medieval piety. In the first half of the thesis, I establish a theoretical framework for Anglo-Saxon piety in which to explore the prayers. Current theoretical frameworks dealing with the medieval devotional material are flawed as scholars use terms such as ‘affective piety’, ‘private’ and even ‘devotion’ vaguely. After an introduction which defines some of the core terminology, Chapter 2 introduces the principal witnesses to the Anglo-Saxon prayer tradition. These include the prodigal eighth- and early ninth- century Mercian Group, comprising the Book of Nunnaminster (London, British Library, Harley 2965, s. viii ex/ix1), the Harleian Prayer Book (London, British Library, Harley 7653, s. viii ex/ix1), the Royal Prayer Book (London, British Library, Royal 2 A. xx, s. viii2/ix1/4), and the Book of Cerne (Cambridge, University Library, Ll. 1. 10). These prayer books are the earliest of their kind in Europe. This chapter challenges some established views concerning the prayer books, including purported Irish influence on their composition and the probability of female ownership. Chapter 3 explores the performance of prayer. The chapter demonstrates that Anglo-Saxon prayers, for example, the Royal Abecedarian Prayer, were transmitted fluidly. The complex relationship between this abecedarian prayer and its reflex in the Book of Nunnaminster reveals the complexity of prayer composition and transmission in the early medieval world but more importantly, it helps scholars theorise how the prayers may have been used, whether recited verbatim or used for extemporalisation. Changes made by later readers to earlier texts are also vital to this study, since they help answer questions of usage and show the evolution and subsequent influence of Anglo-Saxon religiosity. The second half of the thesis makes a special study of prayers to the Cross, the wounded Christ, and the Virgin, three important themes in later medieval spirituality. These focus on the Royal Abecedarian Prayer, which explores Christ’s life (Chapter 5), especially his Passion; the ‘Domine Ihesu Christe, adoro te cruce’ which celebrates the Cross (Chapter 4); and the Oratio Alchfriðo ad sanctam Mariam, which invokes the Virgin Mary (Chapter 6). These prayers occur in multiple, temporally-diverse witnesses and have complex transmission histories, involving both oral and written dissemination. The concluding chapter (7) highlights some of the avenues for future research opened by the thesis. en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher University College Cork en
dc.rights © 2012, Kirsty T. March en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ en
dc.subject Book of Nunnaminster en
dc.subject Royal Prayer Book en
dc.subject Anglo-Saxon en
dc.subject.lcsh Prayer books en
dc.subject.lcsh Book of Cerne en
dc.subject.lcsh Anglo-Saxons--Religion en
dc.subject.lcsh Anglo-Saxons--Prayers and devotions en
dc.subject.lcsh Piety--History--Middle Ages, 600-1500. en
dc.title Performance, transmission and devotion: understanding the Anglo-Saxon prayer books, c.800-1050 en
dc.type Doctoral thesis en
dc.type.qualificationname PhD (Arts) en
dc.internal.availability Full text not available en
dc.check.info Please note that Chapter 3 (pp.101-136) and Chapters 5 & 6 (pp.185-259) are unavailable due to a restriction requested by the author. en
dc.description.version Accepted Version en
dc.description.status Not peer reviewed en
dc.internal.school English en


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