In her study of Anglo-Saxon royal saints, Susan Ridyard demonstrated that they generally fall into two categories usually divided along gender lines. Royal females acquired sainthood through entering convents; royal men became saints only by their murder or martyrdom. This paper discusses why no later Anglo-Saxon royal saints were churchmen. In fact, there are no surviving records during the late Anglo-Saxon period of royal males, saint or otherwise, choosing — or being forced — into the Church. While scholars have previously noted the absence of royal male saints who were not martyrs, no one has examined this problem in its own right.
This paper sheds new light on the range of emotional expression available to men in Anglo-Saxon literature by re-examining a key and understudied scene in Beowulf. When Beowulf leaves the Danish court, Hroðgar kisses the hero, embraces him, and weeps. Despite its rich interplay of gesture and emotion, this scene has garnered relatively little critical attention. The formula of a man falling on another man’s neck, kissing him, and weeping occurs frequently in the Bible, and is translated in the Old English Heptateuch. The formula is also carried over into Old English saints’ lives. In order to meaningfully juxtapose Hroðgar with Biblical figures and saints, I examine masculine gestures of affection in several Old English prose religious texts.