Writing, Authority, and Bureaucracy

Nicholas Perkins

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199229123
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Writing, Authority, and Bureaucracy

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)



This article explores how relationships of power are staged or created in the productive interplay between bureaucratic repetition and the imagination or between authoritative forms and the practice of everyday life in medieval writing in England. It explains that the earliest substantial English text to survive is the law-code of King Æthelberht of Kent and that the most ambitious bureaucratic projects of the Middle Ages was known as the Domesday Book. Alongside law-codes, other documents such as charters, writs, manumissions, and wills all provide information about administrative organization in Anglo-Saxon England and about the relationships between spoken and written languages, authoritative structures and religious practice.

Keywords: medieval writing; England; bureaucratic repetition; imagination; authoritative forms; everyday life; law-code; King Æthelberht; Domesday Book

Article.  10413 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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