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The Oxford English Literary HistoryVolume I: 1000-1350: Conquest and Transformation$
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Laura Ashe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199575381.001.0001

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England, c.1000

England, c.1000

This World is in Haste

(p.11) 1 England, c.1000
The Oxford English Literary History

Laura Ashe

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that English culture around the year 1000 had reached an ideological crisis, in the aftermath of the Benedictine Reform movement, which had placed monasticism at the forefront of society. The king was envisaged as the head and protector of the monastic church, while influential writings regarded society as on the edge of an apocalyptic decline, and castigated laypeople for their impious lives. The old heroic ideals of Anglo-Saxon society came under unprecedented ideological strain, and the historical writings of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles show a bleak and pessimistic outlook. Only when new secular ideals had gained ground in English political culture could this pressure be relieved.

Keywords:   Benedictine Reform, historiography, nostalgia, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Wulfstan, Ælfric, Æthelred II ‘the Unready’, Battle of Maldon, Æthelweard, Encomium Emmae Reginae

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