The story of an English saint's cult: an analysis of the influence of St Æthelthryth of Ely, c.670 - c.1540

Styler, Ian David (2019). The story of an English saint's cult: an analysis of the influence of St Æthelthryth of Ely, c.670 - c.1540. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis charts the history of the cult of St Æthelthryth of Ely, arguing that its longevity and geographical extent were determined by the malleability of her character, as narrated within the hagiographical texts of her life, and the continued promotion of her shrine by parties interested in utilising her saintly power to achieve their goals. Arranged chronologically and divided into five distinct periods, the thesis demonstrates that this symbiotic relationship was key in maintaining and elongating the life of the cult. Employing digital humanities tools to analyse textual, archaeological, material, cartographic, and documentary sources covering the cult’s eight-hundred-year history, the study charts its development firstly within East Anglia, and subsequently across the whole country, and internationally. Several spheres of the saint’s influence are defined, revealing a number of potential short- and long-distance pilgrimage routes focussed on locations with links to Æthelthryth’s shrine. This study’s longitudinal approach also highlights a more general shift in the co-ordination of venerative practice away from the ecclesiastical centres and towards the parishes and the laity in the fifteenth century before summarising the overall impact of her cult, which was only curtailed by the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: Other
Other Funders: University of Birmingham, College of Arts and Law
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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