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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Gale R. Owen-Crocker
Affiliation:
Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture at the University of Manchester
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Summary

Several of the ‘Anglo-Saxonists’ who originally formed the core of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies – archaeologists, historians and Old English specialists – have, in the past, focused attention on individual Anglo-Saxon kings by organizing conferences about them, with publications arising. It seemed logical, therefore, when the lot fell to me to organize the MANCASS Easter conference of 2006, to attempt an investigation of the nature and functioning of Anglo-Saxon kingship itself. In the ‘Call for Papers’ for the proposed conference on ‘Royal Authority: Kingship and Power in Anglo-Saxon England’, I offered the following hint as to the way I envisaged the conference developing:

The objective is to replace the common approach to Anglo-Saxon kingship which focuses on ‘famous names’ and biographical details, in order to examine the wider concept of royal authority.

While it proved impossible entirely to divorce the concept of kingly power from the names and biographies of known rulers, laws and charters being associated with named kings, I was delighted by the original and detailed insights produced by viewing these sources through the lens of ‘Kingship and Power’. The majority of the conference papers based their arguments on Anglo-Saxon text, though Barbara Yorke's wide-ranging examination of the way in which kingly power was expressed publicly and posthumously through a study of the known burial sites of monarchs from pre-Christian times to the eleventh century considered physical manifestations of royal authority and some considered artefacts, including Gareth William's Guest Lecture on coins (published elsewhere).

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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