Peter Brown has observed that, in medieval Europe, the supernatural "was intimately connected with the life of the group on every level. At the same time, however, it was operative because it was thought of as radically different from the human world into which it penetrated." This is certainly true of medieval England. Medieval English attitude towards the supernatural consisted of a sense of familiarity as well as a sense of exceptionality. The common denominator to all of the forms of the supernatural was its intrinsic power, a power that the entirety of medieval English society could and did interact.
The saint was the one locus of supernatural power that could, alive or dead, intercede on behalf of an individual, a community, or the entire world. The saint's existence was the sacred operating with the world because the saint had privileged access to God's ear.
[...] To house the relics was to house the power that they represented, which raises an important point about the role of the supernatural in medieval society. In considering the sources Bede used for writing his History, Henry Mayr-Harting observes that saints about whom Bede writes were not necessarily the only great figures in the English conversion, but simply those about whom he had accessible information.” This was because “Bede had most of his miracle stories from the monks and nuns with whom he had friendly contact” and whom would presumably tell Bede of those saints that were “revered or whose shrines were fostered at [their] particular religious houses, saints who immensely enhanced the prestige of a house and whose presence and power was felt with great immediacy.” The result of these arguably biased sources in writing a history of Britain's Christianity was the continuation of clerics wielding saints' relics as proof of their professional legitimacy. [...]
[...] Watkins, History and the Supernatural in Medieval England. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) Florence of Worchester, in English Historical Documents, 1042- Edited by David C Douglas. (New York: Oxford University Press pp 225-228) Poitiers Watkins “Charter the charter handout from class. Peter Brown, “Society and the Supernatural: A Medieval Change,”141. Genesis 978- 982. would not consider the sacrifice of Cain; that caused strong indignation in the heart of the man: rage arose in the youth's breast, livid hatred, and wrath.” (http://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/medieval/labyrinth/library/oe/texts 1.1 .html) All translations provided from (http://www.archive.org/stream/genesisa15612gut/15612.txt). [...]
[...] Howard Williams, “Monuments and the Past in Early Anglo-Saxon England,” World Archeology. (pp.90-108) Bede Beowulf: An Edition. Revised by Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1998) All Beowulf citations in Old English will be from this edition. All translations are from Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Translated by R.M. Liuzza. (Toronto: Broadview Press Ltd., 2000). Also, [...]
[...] Howard Williams, after considering several Anglo- Saxon burial sites in terms of their goods and locations, suggests wide- spread and frequent practice of reusing monuments of earlier periods.” Williams argues that this practice important for the consideration and negotiation of origin myths, identities and social structures” in Anglo- Saxon populations because ancient monuments “were envisaged as powerful, luminal places, that may have been regarded as the dwellings of supernatural beings, ancient or ancestral peoples.” Burying their dead at indigenous monuments allowed the Anglo-Saxons to appropriate a past source of supernatural power, and convert it for the needs of the present. [...]
[...] 830-839) Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Translated by Leo Sherley-Price. (London: Penguin Group, 1968) Bede Bede Peter Brown, Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) Bede, 160-161. Henry Mayr-Harting, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. (London: Bath Press, 1972) Mayr-Harting William of Poitiers, Deeds of William, Duke of the Normans and King of the English,” in English Historical Documents, 1042- Edited by David C Douglas. (New York: Oxford University Press pp.230-247) C. [...]
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