In the mid-15th century an anonymous workshop, named ‘Passionsmästaren’ [‘Master of the Passion’], painted most of the nave walls of close to 40 parish churches on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. The images depicted the Story of the Passion, often combined with scenes from Jesus’s Childhood. This material have been quite neglected, because they are generally considered to be of low quality compared to images from the same area during more prosperous times. But the quantity of this material makes them interesting; large commissions during a short period by one single workshop! This paper will, by close reading of signs and symbols, reveal what of the images can tell us about the visual culture of a once powerful area in the north.
The early decades of the 12th century witnessed a great rise in the historical writing in England. One of aspects of that process was a renewal of interest to the figure of the greatest early medieval English historian, Bede the Venerable, and his works. Many historians of that period presented themselves (explicitly or tacitly) as heirs of the Yarrow monk. Strangely enough, however, the first proper hagiographical text devoted to Bede (1069 in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina) still did not get proper assessment. In this paper I try to demonstrate its date (late 11th or early 12th century), possible place of origin (Durham or Worcester), and importance for the historical writing of Anglo-Norman age. Vita Bedae influenced works of such well-known authors as Symeon of Durham (Libellus de exordio, Annales Lindisfarnenses etc.), and John of Worcester.
This paper will examine the role played by Symeon of Durham’s Libellus de exordio in creating a number of the conditions, ideological and locational, of considerable significance to the formation of the later identity of the people of St Cuthbert (the Haliwerfolc). Ethnic identities often form during times of stress (Eriksen, 2010) and the reformed Community of St Cuthbert was under attack from the rapacious Bishop Ranulf Flambard when Symeon was writing. Building upon Bede’s portrayal of Cuthbert as the perfect monk, the Libellus sought to demonstrate the continuing need for a strong monastic presence at Durham. In doing so, the Libellus may be seen as establishing an ‘ideological descent’ (Smith, 1999) for the Haliwerfolc based around St Cuthbert’s role as the defender of the Church.