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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

7 - The Cult of St Edmund

  • Edited by Tom Licence, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History and Director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
  • pp 104-130


The Pre- and Post-Conquest Cult

Most of what can be inferred about the state of Edmund's cult in the eleventh century comes from a work called Miracles of St Edmund, completed in the 1090s by a monk of the abbey who reveals that his name was Herman. He took on the allied roles of a historian and a hagiographer, inserting records of the saint's posthumous miracles into a narrative of English history and the history of Edmund's community. His work was a continuation of St Edmund's story, picking up where the account of the saint's martyrdom and early miracles left off, in the 980s, and running as far as 1096, where Herman's extant text breaks off. Herman was highly educated and literate, even for a monk. There are grounds for supposing that he trained at the abbey of St Vincent in Metz, in the heart of Lotharingia. Today Metz is in France, but in Herman's era it was part of the German Empire's network of cathedral cities, where constellations of scholars pursued the seven liberal arts. Monks of St Vincent's also specialized in the study of history, exploiting a collection of history books and nurturing the historians Alpert of Metz and Sigebert of Gembloux. Sigebert ran the monastic school in the period c. 1050–70 and went on to become the greatest chronicler of his era. St Vincent's possessed no less a constellation of saints, whose relics had been gathered from basilicas in Italy, then enshrined at Metz, by the founder, Bishop Theoderic.