Angels in Early Medieval England

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

In the modern world, angels perhaps seem to be no more than a symbol—something encountered only on the top of Christmas trees, or seemingly emblematic of Christian beliefs at their most traditional and unchanging. But in the Middle Ages men and women thought differently. Some offered prayers intended to secure angelic assistance for the living and the dead; others erected stone monuments carved with images of winged figures; and still others made angels the subject of poetic endeavour and theological scholarship. This wealth of material has never been fully explored, and was once dismissed as the detritus of a superstitious age. This book offers a different perspective, by using angels as a prism through which to study the changing religious culture of an unfamiliar age. Focusing on one corner of medieval Europe which produced an abundance of material relating to angels, Richard Sowerby investigates the way that ancient beliefs about angels were preserved and adapted in England during the Anglo-Saxon period. Between the sixth century and the eleventh, the convictions of Anglo-Saxon men and women about the world of the spirits underwent a gradual transformation. This book is the first to explore that transformation, and to show the ways in which the Anglo-Saxons tried to reconcile their religious inheritance with their own perspectives about the world, human nature, and God.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages248
ISBN (Print)9780198785378
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016

Publication series

NameOxford Theology and Religion Monographs
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • angels
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • England
  • early medieval
  • Middle Ages
  • medieval Christianity
  • Old English literature
  • supernatural
  • saints


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