A Companion to the Early Middle Ages Britain and Ireland by Pauline Stafford

By Pauline Stafford

Drawing on 28 unique essays, A spouse to the Early center a long time takes an inclusive method of the heritage of england and eire from c.500 to c.1100 to beat synthetic differences of contemporary nationwide limitations.

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Additional resources for A Companion to the Early Middle Ages Britain and Ireland c.500-1100 (Blackwell Companions to British History)

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Some of the sources are easy to define, if unfamiliar: for example, liturgical material, covering details of the celebration of Christian rituals, or exegetical texts, expounding the meanings of Christian writings, especially the books of the Bible. Some pose obvious, and not so obvious, problems. Literature, for example, is widely used as a source for social history, and this period produced some of the great vernacular works: Beowulf, Táin Bó Cúailnge, Y Gododdin. All raise the obvious questions of how far literary works simply reflect the world that produced them, a question compounded by the fact that none can be dated precisely.

And debates about feudalism and 1066 were stifling and proved ultimately sterile. Feudalism in its Marxist sense, however, with its questions about rent and the control of labor, is part of an economic model of change, and Davies is right to bemoan the relatively limited concern of early medieval historians of Britain and Ireland with these questions. Her critique remains a very important comment on recent historiography, and a challenge to further work. Recent historiography, or rather historiographies, will, as suggested above, be dealt with throughout this work; this is not the place to comment on them in detail.

Computistical material, a substantial body of work concerned with the reckoning of time, is by our standards scientific or mathematical, but for contemporaries intimately bound up with the cycle of the Christian year, and may sometimes have provided a vehicle for annalistic writing. Old English charms and remedies look sometimes like medicine, sometimes like magic; to call them “folklore”1 risks inappropriate distinctions between “learned” and “popular” culture, belied by the fact that they appear in manuscripts alongside a variety of ecclesiastical material.

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