Three Things:

1. You have no idea how much I hate the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos right now (unless of course you read my LJ, in which case you saw all the frothing at the mouth). Every time I think I have an idea, I can’t pin it down; it turns out to be wrong; it turns out I have two contradictory ideas; it turns out someone else already thought it and it’s not quite right; or despite the fact that my gut and a reasonable amount of historical evidence tells me that Wulfstan did not particularly want AEthelred back in 1014, I still can’t figure out how to read the Sermo except as advocating the return of AEthelred. What kind of person presides over the ordination of a new bishop of London, despite said bishop not being in your province, and despite the current bishop of London being in exile with your exiled king, and then turns around the next day and says ‘you know, it’s very sinful to kick out the king, we should get him back’. AND THEN KEEPS PREACHING SAID SERMON FOR FOUR OR FIVE YEARS, even after said king has been exiled and the young Viking dude you rejected in 1014 is now on the throne.  WTF, Wulfstan, WTF?

Oh, and the Thing is due in three weeks. Someone please preside over my execution immediately.

2. Hey, a medieval blog I didn’t know about! Hannah is studying at Melbourne with Stephanie Trigg, and is writing her honours thesis on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. She’s talking about “Duality and Ambiguity”, being the ways in which the poet sets things up with two possible interpretations; and about the relationships between devotional and romantic literature in SGGK. Gawain, however, is not all she talks about: check out her blogo-biography of Henry VI.

3. Oh, and I can tell my blog’s up and running again when I start getting loopy porn search hits on a daily basis. To the person hunting for Gawain slash fic, try a Google advanced search restricted to, that should do the trick.

For the benefit of the person who wanted to see medieval women naked, here are both Eve AND Adam naked. Eve is the one on the right, who appears to have two nipple rings. Adam is the one with the pot belly. (Apologies to the illuminator of MS Junius 11 for my terrible LOLmanuscript):


7 Responses to “Three Things:”

  1. Hannah Kilpatrick Says:

    Huh. I can’t believe I’ve spent all year studying Gawain and it’s never occurred to me to write slash fiction about the poor dear.

    … On the other hand, my thesis DOES (currently) contain the following:

    The Gawain-poet holds out the possibility of a similar assimilation [to that of the pagan judge in St Erkenwald], but stops short of realising it completely, leaving the Green Knight a mystery just when he appears to have solidified into the every-day Bertilak. This seems to have bothered the author of the later ‘The Grene Knight’, who carefully brought Bertilak back to Camelot to join the fellowship of the Round Table. Like some modern fan-fiction, The Grene Knight reads as an attempt by a less skilful author to tease out and solve a mysterious and attractive character, to explore his perspective of events and remove worrying elements to narrate ‘what really happened’, managing in the process to edit out most of what made the original story enchanting. By answering questions within the narrative, he prevents them from extending beyond the narrative, removing the challenge to the reader in the moment of closure.

    There is also a footnote rather brutally putting Yvor Winter’s modern poetic response in a similar category. So maybe it’s just as well if I don’t! 🙂

  2. Jonathan Jarrett Says:

    My ignorance of the scholarship is showing here. Is there good evidence that the Sermo was given to the synod? Rather than just back at the cathedral to the parishioners of York? If not, you might be able to work through this by means of differentiating the audiences; one thing for the bishops, all of whom are up to their neck in collusion against Æthelred as you tell it there.

    Alternatively, if that won’t work, your solution may be to stop seeing Wulfstan as motor of the London ordination. Perhaps he doesn’t want to make a fuss but then decides he must (OK, this doesn’t sound much like Wulfstan). Perhaps, more cunningly, he wants to undermine the colluding bishops, so once they’ve done something genuinely collusive (warning, may not be real word) he can stand up next day and say, “you know guys, we’re all doing a bad thing” and then he’s the good guy. Again, here, audience: if it’s a sermon, is it being given at Mass? If so, who else is in the church? The ASC on Æthelred’s return and the campaigns of 1015-1016 suggests that whatever Peterborough wants us to believe the people at large, and London especially, were very attached to their king, and want him to rule and command. So if there’s a goodly body of Londoners in the cathedral too, Wulfstan may have a chance to preach to the choir (only not; actually, in the other direction, but you know what I mean) that he didn’t have at the synod. If his change of tack suddenly results in huge cheers of “bring back the Cyning!” from the nave, the other bishops may be left biting their fingernails in frustration but having to go along with the popular clamour. Then Wulfstan reaps the credit.

    Wulfstan needs a king, anyway, he’s at his most powerful guiding a ruler through the difficulties of his position. When he has no king to guide, things like this, with other bishops taking charge, start to happen. I would rather see him as a reluctant conspirator waiting for a chance to take centre stage again than a schemer in control at all points.

    The evidence may not work with either of these suggestions, but if it does then please have them with my best wishes, I don’t imagine I’ll ever work on this. A grateful footnote will be enough, and perhaps a beer if ever we meet 🙂

  3. highlyeccentric Says:

    Hannah- it’s been done. And well. Er. If you like that sort of thing, her name is irisbleufic and the link to all her Gawain stuff is in the floating intro post. Only do be aware her best one, the one with the Pearl references and the very skillful playing around with high medieval literary themes, is R-rated for good reason.

    Ahaha. I read the Grene Knight and my first thought was: this is bad fanfic. Bad fanfic written by someone who doesn’t have the canon text in front of them…


    Jonathan- can I get back to you on the in depth thinking in a few days when the storm of ideas has settled? But in the short term, yes, there is good evidence that the SL was preached to the full Witan, as a sort of bishoply address before the business of the Witan commenced. Said evidence is teased out by Jonathan Wilcox in the Brepols book on Wulfstan.

    Secondly, it doesn’t much matter if Wulfstan himself is the driving force behind the London ordination (although I do believe he was)- as the highest ranking churchman there (at YORK! why was a London bishop ordained at YORK?), he would presumably have presided. See also Jonathan Wilcox.

    Oh, yes Wulfstan needs a king. I’m workin’ on that, and what sort of king he needed and what his proirities were. I don’t think he was a scheming conspirator in control at all points- on the contrary I think he more or less backed whoever the Northumbrian lords backed, for the logical reason that unless the Northumbrian lords liked any given king, said king would be unable to ‘reconcile and conciliate all christian people with correct law’ (I. Pol. 4), or do any of the other things which a king *needs* to do, in Wulfstan’s world.

  4. Jonathan Jarrett Says:

    You see, I am outed as a Carolingianist rather than an Anglo-Saxonist now, I had no idea this was happening at York. That does weaken my suggestions a lot—damn! was hoping to help—but I still think the difference in audience must be crucial. If, as you seem to have reason to believe, he is saying one thing one day and another the next, either he’s had some angel come along in the night and beat him till he’s sorry as per your average misguided Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastic (Bede, EH II.6), or else he’s got some reason to tailor his pitch to his audience.

    Why York? It is weird, isn’t it? But maybe it’s the same answer; he’s been able, because of Lyfing’s sidelined state, to bring a substantial swell of opposition to the king up to the territory where he can at least partly mediate its reception. I mean, I guess Wulfstan would be keen on every means of emphasising that York can do Canterbury’s job, but the fact that it’s home turf has to give him extra possibilities.

    Still only throwing out ideas here, of course. I don’t have time to get down and messy with the Sermo or a Brepols conference volume no matter how enticing it looks (I’m a Brill boy right now). If I’m only adding to confusion and not being informed enough to help, I’ll happily stop…

  5. highlyeccentric Says:

    *scratches nose* oh, there’s SO MUCH going on here. York, London, Northumbria and Wessex, Cnut and Aethelred… I would love to explain, but I need a bit of time to let the new ideas the Bocera gave me settle in first 😉 At the moment I’m talking in circles and I believe everything, even the contradictory bits.

  6. kishnevi Says:

    Well, while you mull over Wuflie and his apparent change into a multiple personality, here’s a blog for you.

  7. Seminary XXIX: the construction of power in Anglo-Saxon England as per Ann Williams « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe Says:

    […] On why Wulfstan is tricky, good heavens, where to start? The blogging world is full of Wulfstan, new research is happening all the time. I expect various persons will be along shortly with suggestions, but how about Dorothy Whitelock, […]

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