The rise of the hermit in England

Tom Licence

in Hermits and Recluses in English Society, 950–1200

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592364
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595639 | DOI:
The rise of the hermit in England

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter is concerned to discover whether, how, and when attitudes towards hermits in England changed between the tenth century and the twelfth, and whether any such changes were linked to the impact of the European eremitic movement. Starting with an appraisal of attitudes towards hermits in the context of the tenth-century Benedictine reform movement (lay sponsors of which may have been friendlier to eremitism than some of the movement's key monastic proponents), the chapter proceeds to investigate royal enthusiasm for hermits in the early and mid-eleventh century, episcopal and northern enthusiasm for asceticism in the century's third quarter, and hagiographical enthusiasm for anachoresis nearer its end. In doing so, it compares developments in England to developments elsewhere in Europe, to establish whether England was in any respect exceptional.

Keywords: benedictine reform movement; northern monastic revival; Ælfric; goscelin; hagiography; wulfstan of worcester

Chapter.  13283 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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