Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, C. 600-900

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, C. 600-900

Article excerpt

Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, c. 600-900. By Sarah Foot. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006. Pp. xvi, 398. $90.00.)

The publishers of this handsomely and generously produced book have included on the jacket an evaluation of it by Nicholas Brooks as "a beautifully structured and magisterial treatment." It is certainly a capable and wellinformed commentary on the English church before the tenth-century Reformation, which shows a comprehensive knowledge of the written sources for its history and students will find it a useful guide. It is, however, in essence the author's doctoral thesis of 1990, and, although she emphasizes that it has been much revised and improved, there is still a sense that it belongs to a somewhat earlier generation of discussion. Foot adheres to her previously expounded view that all English churches of the period in question should be called minsters and that the word monastery should be abandoned, although not apparently the adjective monastic. Her argument that early monasteries were various and their pastoral functions essentially unpredictable is set out in more detail than previously, but given the limitations of the written sources, certainty is not possible. It is striking how often Foot declares that something is hard or impossible "to imagine," as in "it is impossible to imagine that all ministers of baptism belonged to episcopal households" (p. 301). The imagining seems to depend as much on our preconceptions as on precise evidence. Crucially, the nature of lay interaction with monasteries, which is an issue for any period of monastic history and which Foot declares to be central to her book, is not handled in the sort of depth which it receives in other contexts, for example, from Arnold Angenendt, even in the case of the importance of monasteries for land tenure. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.