Academic journal article Medium Aevum

St Oswald of Worcester: Life and Influence

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

St Oswald of Worcester: Life and Influence

Article excerpt

St Oswald of Worcester ife and Influence, ed. Nicholas Brooks and Catherine Cubitt, Studies in the Early History of Britain: The Makers of England z (London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1996). xvii + 365 pp.; 12 plates; 22 figures. ISBN o-7185-oo;-2. 49.95.

St Oswald, bishop of Worcester from 96I until 992 and archbishop of York from 972, was the youngest of the great triumvirate of late Anglo-Saxon monastic reformers, and thus the last to be commemorated in our own time with a millennial conference. He should not be disappointed, for in this case last is certainly not least. The conference, held at Worcester in i992 under the auspices of the Cathedral and the University of Birmingham, was a tremendous success, warmly remembered by many who attended, not least the present reviewer; while the proceedings, published here, have produced a volume every bit as distinguished as its predecessors - Bishop lBt/)elmo/d: His Career and Influence, ed. Barbara Yorke (i988), and St Dunstan: His Life, Times and Cult, ed. Nigel Ramsey et al. (1992). Special praise is due to the editors and to Leicester University Press for the quality of their work: there are remarkably few misprints for a volume of its length; the figures are attractive and concise.

The papers themselves range across Oswald's career, the Continental inspirations and nature of his reforms; the limitations of the relevant sources; the social, topographical, administrative and economic structures in which he operated; and the roles of saints' cults, manuscript art, music and liturgy in the religious communities founded or reformed by him. The survival of seventy-four leases issued in his capacity as bishop of Worcester permits insights, unparalleled for the period, into his lordship over his tenants and familia, and several contributors take up the questions they raise. …

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