The emergence of christianity within the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria : an exploration into its earlist roots and an investigation in to the influences it had on the culture in the region then and today
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This thesis commences with a description of Pre-Roman and Roman Britain, to identify the people who lived in Northumbria and their background. The description then progresses with an explanation about the withdrawal of the Romans, and the state of affairs they left behind, giving also a reason for the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. Once this is established, the scene which the Anglo-Saxons meet on their arrival is depicted, and their subsequent settlement recounted. The Anglo-Saxons were a warlike people, so their belligerent activities suppressing the Celts, and the campaigning between themselves and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms for supremacy, are disclosed, too. Before progressing to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, it was necessary to divulge the kind of religion, customs, and culture they already possessed. The competition for lordship involved a high moral code of heroism, giving the poets material for their verse, so the use of heroic poetry is mentioned, too. The various attempts to convert the Anglo-Saxons are then described, and the role of Irish and Roman missionaries recorded. The conversion of Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in the early seventh century coincided with the meeting of two traditions of Christianity in Northumbria, Celtic and Roman, which resulted in a church synod. The report on the Synod of Whitby occurs in the middle of this thesis, which is very appropriate. The decision of the Synod resulted in an important turning point within the Northumbrian Church, which involved conformity and cultural changes, too. By far the most important development was the establishment of early Christian monasteries and other religious sites. The Northumbrian Church consisted of only a few great monasteries, but despite this disadvantage, these centres of learning succeeded in spreading literacy and education, and producing literature of a most incredible quality. An account about their founders and their daily lives is supplied, together with examples of some of the works that were produced. Finally, the beginnings of the parochial system are described, a modification which would indirectly influence the unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. A new chapter focuses on Christian spiritual life, and the cult of martyrs and saints. Hagiographical studies of the two most prominent saints of Northumbria’s ‘Golden Age are provided. To conclude this study, the rich and abundant legacy of Anglo- Saxon Christian Northumbria is disclosed, and evidence of its continuing influence and impact is imparted.
Masteroppgave i engelsk- Universitetet i Agder 2007