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Bishops, priests and penance in late Saxon England

Cubitt, C. (2006) Bishops, priests and penance in late Saxon England. Early Medieval Europe, 14 (1). pp. 41-63. ISSN 0963-9462

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Abstract

This article examines the textual and manuscript evidence for the practice of penance in late Saxon England. It also examines the significance for pastoral care of the linguistic evidence for specialized vernacular terms for penance: 'scrift' for 'confessor', 'dædbote' and compounds of 'hreow' for 'penance' and 'remorse'. The linguistic and textual evidence suggests that penance was a regular part of lay piety. The manuscript evidence, on the other hand, supports recent contentions that penitentials were used by bishops and should be linked to canon law. However, the manuscript evidence cannot be properly understood unless the scant survival rate of humble priestly handbooks is taken into account. Moreover, bishops in this period were deeply involved in furthering pastoral care and their interests and concerns should not be divorced from a pastoral and local context. In conclusion, the article will argue that penitential practices were firmly rooted in the Anglo-Saxon church's ministry for the laity.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2009 11:54
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2009 11:54
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0254.2006.00173.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-0254.2006.00173.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5966

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