Criticisms of the Norman Conquest of England, and the Rise of St Edmund as England's Patron Saint

Draycott, Liam (2018) Criticisms of the Norman Conquest of England, and the Rise of St Edmund as England's Patron Saint. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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My thesis demonstrates that the Conquest, in the decade that followed the battle of Hastings, was the subject of more criticism, both in England and on the continent, than has previously been thought.

Common themes emerge in my thesis. King William's claim that Edward had promised him the throne, his actions at Hastings, and the belief that God had granted him victory over Harold are all shown to have been scrutinized at the outset of his rule. Familiar texts of the Conquest are approached in new ways, including Guy of Amiens's Song of the Battle of Hastings, which has long been interpreted as a poem in praise of William. On the contrary, this thesis provides a compelling argument that Guy’s poem contains a damning critique of the king. William's actions at Hastings are portrayed as those of a pagan, even a bloodthirsty lion that ravaged the English sheepfold. Enslaved to Mars and the embodiment of Fury, the Conqueror is reduced to the image of an ulcer, filled with blood.

I argue that St Edmund’s identity as the patron saint of England arose out of this contemporary debate. Herman’s Miracles of St Edmund, neglected until now by historians of the Conquest, contains a narrative in which Edmund is portrayed as the head of a chosen people in opposition to tyranny. Goscelin of Saint-Bertin then enhanced Edmund's patronal persona by developing the saint's identity as the Father of the Fatherland.

I then look beyond Bury and explore how far Edmund’s identity as England’s patron saint, wrought at Bury, was accepted throughout England by the mid-twelfth century. Uncovering new evidence, I draw the conclusion that Edmund was regarded as the patron saint of the English by that time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 16:51
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2022 01:38

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