Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-6c8bd87754-9k7mv Total loading time: 0.227 Render date: 2022-01-18T15:14:26.032Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

6 - Advising the King: Kingship, Bishops and Saints in the Works of William of Malmesbury

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 August 2018

Get access

Summary

Throughout the medieval West, saints and bishops offered crucial advice and fierce admonition to the rulers of political communities. The type of the forceful and reprimanding cleric, however, has so far mostly been studied with reference to the early Middle Ages, at least when compared with his successors in twelfth-century England. Indeed, even William of Malmesbury's views on kingship have begun to be explored only fairly recently. Our understanding has been reshaped by the scholarship of Sverre Bagge, John Gillingham, Paul Hayward, Bjorn Weiler and, especially, that of Sigbjorn Sonnesyn. As a direct consequence of their efforts, far greater attention is now paid to the moral, ethical and theological dimensions of William's texts. When defining the virtuous exercise of royal power, William emphasised the connection between outward action and inner disposition, and expressed Augustinian and early medieval assumptions about power in the language of classical antiquity. To maintain a virtuous character, however, kings needed the Church. Both Weiler and Sonnesyn have drawn attention to the fact that all the outstanding kings in the Gesta Regum had powerful clerical advisors. This paper builds upon their remarks by exploring further interactions between kings, bishops and saints in William's writings. In particular, it extends the discussion to texts other than the Gesta Regum, principally to its monumental twin, the Gesta Pontificum, which has always received less scholarly attention. Although the succession of kings and the development of a nation were common historical frameworks through which contemporaries reflected upon the progress of a moral community, they were not the only approaches to the past available to twelfth-century writers. How did William depict kings known to him from texts with rather different structures and intended audiences? How far did he draw upon an insular, as much as a classical and patristic, inheritance? With these questions in mind, this chapter argues that the notion of clerical oversight was of fundamental importance to William's historical and political vision. He regarded it as essential to the well-being of the realm. His normative expectations of secular and ecclesiastical power were the product of a political culture rooted in early medieval traditions and practices. The following will proceed in three steps. I begin with William's depictions of one of his exemplars of clerical oversight: St Dunstan. The historian explored the relationship between the archbishop and the various rulers he served in considerable depth.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×