The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York

The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York

by Andrew Rabin


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The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York by Andrew Rabin

Archbishop Wulfstan of York (d. 1023) is among the most important legal and political thinkers of the early Middle Ages. A leading ecclesiastic, innovative legislator, and influential royal councilor, Wulfstan witnessed firsthand the violence and social unrest that culminated in the fall of the English monarchy before the invading armies of Cnut in 1016. In his homilies and legal tracts, Wulfstan offered a searing indictment of the moral failures that led to England's collapse and formulated a vision of an ideal Christian community that would influence English political thought long after the Anglo-Saxon period had ended. Wulfstan was among the first medieval authors to envision a society organised into three orders: those who fight, those who labour, and those who pray-a model of social classification that would dominate European political thought up through the eighteenth century. More than just dry political theory, however, Wulfstan's works are composed in the distinctive voice of someone who was both a confidante of kings and a preacher of apocalyptic fervour. No other source so vividly portrays the political life of eleventh-century England: what it was, and what one man believed it could be.

These works, many of which have never before been available in modern English, are collected here for the first time in new, extensively annotated translations that will help readers reassess one of the most turbulent periods in English history and re-evaluate the life of Anglo-Saxon England's most important political visionary.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780719089756
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Publication date: 12/10/2014
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Andrew Rabin is Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville

Table of Contents

Part I: Political tracts

1. The laws of Edward and Guthrum

2. Concerning episcopal duties (Episcopus)

3. The 'compilation on status'

Concerning the ranks of people and law (Geþyncðu)

Concerning Wergild (Be wergylde/Norðleoda laga)

Concerning the law of the Mercians (Mircna laga)

Concerning the Mercian oath (Að)

Concerning priests' oaths and clerical compensation (Hadbot)

4. Concerning sanctuary (Grið)

5. Northumbrian church-sanctuary (Norðhymbra Cyricgrið)

6. The canons of Edgar

7. The institutes of polity

Part II: Homilies and homiletic tracts

1. On the laws of God and the world (Napier 51)

2. On various misfortunes (Napier 35)

3. On the proper support of the Church (Napier 22/Bethurum 13)

4. On the duties of the clergy (Napier 52)

5. On the sins of the clergy (Napier 53)

6. On justice, virtue and the law (Napier 50)

7 . On the duties of the laity (Napier 59)

8. On heathen practices (Napier 60)

9. On christian practices (Napier 61)

10. On tithes and tithing (Napier 23)

11. On baptism and confirmation (Napier 24)

Part III: Sources and analogues

1. God's threat to a sinning Israel (Bethurum 19)

2. Evil rulers (Bethurum 21)

3. An admonition to bishops

4. Two versions of VII Æthelred

5. Cnut's proclamation of 1020

6. The Northumbrian priests' law


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