The Development of Eremitical Mysticism in the British Isles

Wolfgang Riehle

in The Secret Within

Published by Cornell University Press

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780801451096
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780801470936
The Development of Eremitical Mysticism in the British Isles

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter examines the development of eremitical mysticism in the British Isles. Focusing on the case of Peter Abelard (1079–1142), it considers the link between eroticism and mysticism. After providing a background on the development of anchoritic spirituality up to the time of the Cistercians, the chapter discusses the origins of the specific reforming order of the Cistercians in the context of the revival of eremiticism. It then explores the anchoritic form of life by turning to two English figures from the twelfth century, Wulfric of Haselbury and Godric of Finchale, and to the English recluse Christina of Markyate (born between 1096 and 1098). It argues that the anchoritic idea exerted a profound influence in England, which produced such works as The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of Walter Hilton, which were specifically addressed to anchorites.

Keywords: eremitical mysticism; British Isles; eroticism; anchoritic spirituality; Cistercians; eremiticism; Wulfric of Haselbury; Godric of Finchale; Christina of Markyate; anchorites

Chapter.  5796 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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