Article

Christina of Markyate

Samuel Fanous and Henrietta Leyser

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online August 2018 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0253
Christina of Markyate

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Christina of Markyate is one of the most interesting woman of record in 12th-century England, a bold claim perhaps, but substantiated it is hoped by this bibliography. The grounds are easily identifiable, though it is only since the 1959 publication of C. H. Talbot’s Life of Christina (Talbot 1959, cited under Editions) that attention has turned, albeit at first slowly, to the place of Christina in the religious, political, and social turmoil of Anglo-Norman England. Christina was born c. 1100 into a prosperous East Anglian family. Auti, her father, is likely to have been of Scandinavian descent, a merchant with large social ambitions and deep pockets; her mother, Beatrix, was most probably one of the many Anglo-Saxon women to be given a Norman name, in the hope of finding a place in the new post-1066 world. Through Beatrix’s sister, mistress of Ranulf Flambard, the Anglo-Norman bishop of Durham, this couple had access to the highest echelons of society, a place they hoped to cement through the fostering of Ranulf’s designs upon their daughter, Christina, at a time when the charms of the aunt were seemingly on the wane. But here Auti and Beatrix had failed to allow for Christina’s very determined views on the matter, and it is these, and the fulfillment of Christina’s own ambitions, which form the core of the Life. Initially thwarted in her wish to fulfill the religious vocation to which she felt she had long been called, Christina becomes eventually both the protégé of, and the spiritual adviser to, the abbot of St. Albans, and head of a small community of women religious. It is in this role that Christina merits a Life, albeit a seemingly unfinished work, together with, it is generally assumed, the present of a sumptuously illustrated Psalter. Why, for whom, and by whom the Life was written and the ways in which it manages to combine hagiographic topoi with seemingly realistic narrative events and details remains a source of inquiry. Likewise, questions as to how, when, and why the Psalter was commissioned continue to provoke discussion among historians and art historians alike.

Article.  4154 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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