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Chapter 3 - The Bishop in the Rain: Celebrating the New Order in Symeon of Durham’s Libellus de exordio, Old English Durham and the Capitula de miraculis et translationibus sancti Cuthberti, 1066–1140

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 December 2020

Christiania Whitehead
Affiliation:
Universities of Warwick and Lausanne
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Summary

This chapter examines three early twelfth-century texts produced at Durham: an ecclesiastical history, a short vernacular poem and a Cuthbertine miracle collection, that propose a new phase in the history of Cuthbert’s cult. These texts applaud the restoration of monastic attendance at the shrine, and interpret Cuthbert’s ceremonial translation into the new cathedral as a replay of his late seventh-century translation on Lindisfarne. Bede’s sanctity is given a prominent role alongside Cuthbert’s as the textual driver behind northern church reform. These Cuthbertine texts emerge as sites of forceful criticism, both towards Anglo-Saxon and Norman secular elites who attempt to coerce the cult, and also, more surprisingly, towards some of the bishops of Durham. Cuthbert’s interest in defining and monitoring jurisdictional spaces is carried over from the Historia, but rendered with greater ambition. On the one hand, the saint devotes much of his power to promoting the diocese as his independent lordship, free from financial and judicial incursion; on the other, he uses retributive miracles to define a distinctively masculine monastic jurisdiction debarred to women.

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Chapter
Information
The Afterlife of St Cuthbert
Place, Texts and Ascetic Tradition, 690–1500
, pp. 48 - 74
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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