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:

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The conclusion begins by doubting theories previously developed to explain the rise of the anchorite: interpretations of this phenomenon as an English reaction to the Norman Conquest, as a rejection of contemporary monasticism, as a reaction to a profit economy, as a manifestation of new individualism, or as a response by enterprising ascetics to society's need for holy men and women, are weighed and found wanting. The movement arose in tandem with heightening awareness of sin, probably (though not certainly) arising from the revival of asceticism by inspired and inspiring ascetics at a time of millenarian anxiety. During the eleventh century, anchorites redefined perceptions of holiness; in the twelfth century, many were lauded as saints. Ultimately, however, their standards were too high, and a reassuring message began to take hold, that the laity could combat sin and aspire to salvation themselves.

Keywords: sin; salvation; asceticism; the laity; lay piety; holiness

Chapter.  4352 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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