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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1602: Approaches to Saints and their Cults

Thursday 16 July 2009, 11.15-12.45

Organiser:Connie Brinksma-Hopkins, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Moderator/Chair:Marco Mostert, Onderzoekinstituut voor Geschiedenis en Kunstgeschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht
Paper 1602-aOf Martyrs and Murderers: The Jewish Ritual Murder Legend in England and its (Re)Interpretations
(Language: English)
Connie Brinksma-Hopkins, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Mentalities
Paper 1602-bSt Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins
(Language: English)
Clarck Drieshen, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 1602-cCarolingian Saints: Correcting Saints?
(Language: English)
Maria Elizabeth van de Beek, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Hagiography, Mentalities

Paper -a: The two most enduring medieval legends of Jewish ritual murder in England are undoubtedly those of William of Norwich and 'little' Hugh of Lincoln. William's legend is of particular importance as the first recorded instance of the accusation, while the case of Hugh is of paramount significance due to the official endorsement it received from the crown, as well as its widespread fame, reproduced as it was in popular ballads and mentioned by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales. Both of these legends are woven into the fabric of England's history, and even more so into the histories of the cities and regions in which they arose. In the myriad repetitions and reinterpretations of the legends, the role of the 'murderers', ostensibly trailing only the 'martyr' himself in importance to the supposed sanctity of these dubious saints, is alternately obscured and reinforced. I will examine these later retellings, to discover the importance of the supposed murderers and how their roles changed over the intervening centuries

Paper -b: Concerning an edition of a 15th-century prayer instruction to St Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins (in Middle English) contained in a prayer book in the Nijmegen library. The introduction to the edition gives a historical context to the use of this prayer by explaining its use in popular religion & devotion of saints among laity, the origin of the content of the text, and the structure and content of the manuscript in which the prayer is contained. This religious text shows the vague boundaries between official religious texts and popular charms: not only in function is the text related to a more or less magical ritual, it is also contained in a quire with two magical charms against death, diseases, etc. This prayer instruction has been preserved in English and Latin printed texts as part of the life and miracles of St Ursula. The prayer instruction in this edition is the only known example of the miracle of St Ursula, which has been used as a prayer in a prayer book for the laity.

Paper -c: Role of saints' lives in the Carolingian period, with a specific focus on what is said and thought about the saints in the context of correctio: to examine whether (and if so, in what way ) can be spoken of a changed interest in saints and their role in relation to Carolingians' defining of correct Christendom. In an interesting article Julia Smith has revealed a relationship between the ideal of correctio and the role of Roman martyrs in the Carolingian period [Julia M.H. Smith, 'Emending evil ways and praising God's omnipotence: Einhard and the uses of Roman martyrs', in: Kenneth Mills and Anthony Grafton (eds.), Conversion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Seeing and believing (Rochester/New York/etc. 2003)] With this article in mind, I want to have a further/closer look at this relationship, examine whether this relationship can be established on basis of other sources. For example: is there any attention paid to saints in the different Carolingian concilia; are there particular works of Carolingian bishops or other clergy that reveal a changed interest/valuation of saints?