The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany: Being the Lives of Ss. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, Together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a Selection from the Correspondence of St. Boniface

The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany: Being the Lives of Ss. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, Together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a Selection from the Correspondence of St. Boniface

The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany: Being the Lives of Ss. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, Together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a Selection from the Correspondence of St. Boniface

The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany: Being the Lives of Ss. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, Together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a Selection from the Correspondence of St. Boniface

Excerpt

The text gathered together in the present volume provide a cross-section of the religious life of the eighth century difficult to parallel elsewhere. Two biographies of the archbishops who initiated the missionary enterprise on the Continent show how their labours transformed the face of Europe within the space of a single generation, whilst the life of one of their disciples illustration how their work was continued. The correspondence of St. Boniface brings into closer focus the kind of difficulties they encountered and introduces us into the homely atmosphere of their friends, relatives and well-wishers. Two further biographies, one of the abbot of the first monastery to be founded in Germany, the other of the abbess Leoba, give an illuminating picture of the beginnings of monastic life amidst barbarian surroundings and throw light on the characters and attainments of the men and women who embarked on this hazardous adventure. Finally, the description of Willibald's travels through Italy, the Greek archipelago and the Holy Land show the devotion, allied to a spirit of adventure, which animated then early pilgrims and missionaries. Bishops, priests, monks, nuns and simple clerics flit through these pages and tell us their unvarnished tale, which, slight though it may be in certain cases, deeply impresses by contrast with the grim background against which it unfolds.

When the Anglo-Saxon missionaries first set foot on the Continent the series of crises which had riven the Frankish kingdoms for so long had reached their climax, and one family, the Carolings, was in the ascendant. The vast Merovingian kingdom, which comprised nearly all modern France and most of the German countries (with the exception of the modern Netherlands and north-west Germany), had been torn apart by warring factions amongst the aristocracy; and in the farther eastern territories, like Bavaria and Thuringia, the rulers had become almost independent.

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