Power, Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England
Skulduggery, power struggles and politics. A fascinating re-examination of Anglo-Saxon England told through the secret lives of the saints.
The word ‘saint’ conjures a variety of associations in our modern minds. Some might connect it with suffering, charity and devotion to Christian values; others with miracles, martyrdom and heavenly gifts like the stigmata, while others still associate them with superstition, fanaticism and the power of the Papacy.
But far from the one-dimensional pious figures we imagine, the saints were the power players, king makers and politicians of the day, and by re-examining their lives – the art and literature that inspired them, the landscape and buildings that surrounded them, the issues that preoccupied them and the symbolic world that mattered to them – this landmark book provides a unique and fascinating lens through which to explore the rich history of the Dark Ages.
Drawing on a wide range of evidence, from art and literature to archaeology, theology and historical data, Oxford art historian and BBC presenter, Dr Janina Ramirez examines the real lives of over a dozen seminal individuals, from the infamous to the obscure, whose effect was felt throughout the Anglo-Saxon world and can still be felt today.
Re-evaluating the role of the saints, taking them from their heavenly status to the human level, and examining their desire for adulation, power, wealth and legacy, Janina offers a unique and discerning study of life in Anglo-Saxon England.
“What a wonderful book this is. Like the interlace stonework on an Anglo-Saxon cross, Janina Ramirez's themes are interwoven with a consummate skill.”
“Those who were recast as saints achieved a superhuman status, their real lives often obscured by hagiographies rich with legends of miracle-working from beyond the grave. Janina Ramirez's book portrays them historically – as living, breathing personalities within the world they knew, the places we have inherited. Her enthusiasm and instinct for relevance should welcome a broad new audience to medieval Church history.”
“Ramirez blasts a powerful spotlight into the so-called Dark Ages and reveals a vibrant world, awash with colour and character.”