The Life of King Edward Who Rests at Westminster

The Life of King Edward Who Rests at Westminster

The Life of King Edward Who Rests at Westminster

The Life of King Edward Who Rests at Westminster

Synopsis

The anonymous Life of King Edward written about the time of the Norman Conquest, is an important and intriguing source for the history of Anglo-Saxon England in the years just before 1066. It provides a fascinating account of Edward the Confessor and his family, including his wife Edith, his father-in-law Earl Godwin, and the queen's brothers Tostig and Harold (who became king in 1066). The foundations of the legend of St. Edward the Confessor are apparent from the version of the work supplied by the unique manuscript of circa 1100. Barlow explores the problems raised by this anonymous and now incomplete manuscript and examines the development of the cult of St. Edward. He also investigates the life and works of Goscelin of St. Bertin, a possible author. For this second edition, Barlow has not only undertaken a complete revision of the book, but recent discoveries have enabled him to reconstruct in part the lacunae in BL Harley MS 526 with texts closer to the original.

Excerpt

Although Vita Eadwardi has been a standing entry in the List of Abbreviations prefacing the Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo- Norman Studies since their first publication in 1979, and has, indeed, occasionally been cited in the papers printed, it has received little critical attention during this decade. Like that other Battle bugbear, Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, its lack of a certain author and indisputable date makes it slightly disreputable, something to acknowledge only with half-averted eyes. I myself, however, while continuing to labour in this and adjacent fields, have kept it very much in sight. and in these twenty-eight years, although my views on the Vita's date and authorship remain substantially unchanged, both my own work, and the vast output of other scholars, have caused shifts in my opinion on several matters. Most influential have been two discoveries. the late Helen Clover's generous communication of her find of an early text of Edward's vision of the Seven Sleepers enabled me to reconsider some of the problems posed by book ii of the Vita. and my own, fairly recent, unearthing of some 500 words of the lost c. 2 embedded in Richard of Cirencester's account of the king not only produced an interesting contemporary portrait of Queen Edith but also sharpened my thinking on the royal marriage and on all that depends on it.

A rechecking of all the manuscripts used in the preparation of the text has shown that little was amiss with the printed version. But I have profited from Michael Winterbottom suggested improvements, published as 'Notes on the Life of Edward the Confessor', Medium Ævum, lvi (1987), 82-4. I have also, because of the two discoveries, been able to reconstruct in part the lacunae in bl Harley ms 526 with texts which I consider to be closer to the original. the translation, except for the new pieces, remains largely as before; but I have made a few improvements, and once again have been helped by my old friend F. W. Clayton. I have also received kind services from Marjorie Chibnall, Mary Cheney, Charles Thomas, and Dáibh Ó Cróinín.

To revise the edition has been a labour of love. I am grateful to Oxford University Press for making it possible. the scrutiny of Leofranc Holford-Strevens has much improved the book not only in . . .

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