Hermits and Recluses in English Society, 950-1200

Paperback | March 21, 2013

byTom Licence

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In the central Middle Ages, English society lavished unprecedented attention on a category of would-be outcasts who repudiated its ambitions and spurned its aspirations. Hermits and recluses (collectively "anchorites") had their own, very different vision of how life should be lived, and yetnobles retained them on their estates, parishioners did their bit to support their local recluses, and every tier of society from the peasantry up to royalty journeyed to rural hermitages for prayer, advice, and spiritual instruction. Anchorites were everywhere, dotted across the landscape, strivingto restore humanity's broken image, in their own lives and in their clients. The respect that came of their endeavour grew from a heightened sense of the conflict between society's worldly concerns and its spiritual ideals, in the minds of their admirers. Tom Licence sets out to discover why anchorites rose to prominence, in the context of European monasticism and trends in spirituality. In the past, historians linked their rise to many different things: the impact of the Norman Conquest; a crisis of identity in the monasteries; the discovery of theindividual; a reaction to the profit economy; and to a new need for "holy men" (or holy women) to minister to a changing society. Investigating the avenues by which anchorites gained their reputation, and pinpointing their function in relation to society, this new inquiry puts these hypotheses tothe test in a study of English society in the central Middle Ages.

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In the central Middle Ages, English society lavished unprecedented attention on a category of would-be outcasts who repudiated its ambitions and spurned its aspirations. Hermits and recluses (collectively "anchorites") had their own, very different vision of how life should be lived, and yetnobles retained them on their estates, parish...

Tom Licence took his degrees at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before remaining there as a Research Fellow. He is now a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, specializing in Ecclesiastical History.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:March 21, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199674094

ISBN - 13:9780199674091

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Anglo-Saxon and European Background2. The Rise of the Hermit in England3. The Rise of the Recluse4. How Anchorites made a Living5. Eradicating Sin, in Theory6. Eradicating Sin, in Practice7. How Anchorites Helped Others8. How Anchorites Became SaintsConclusionBibliographyIndex