The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

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Holy Kingship

Locating Maserfelth

The King's Fragmented Body

Exogamous Marriages

Enemy's Eyes

St. Oswald's Martyrdom

Forum—Irish Hagiography

Forum—Refusing the Gaze

Electronic Medievalia

Continental Business


Oswald, King and Saint: His Britain and Beyond

Issue 9 (Oct 2006)   |   Issue Editor: Michelle Ziegler

Letter from the Editor


Heroes, Saints, and Martyrs: Holy Kingship from Bede to Aelfric

Kent G. Hare, Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Abstract:  Warfare played a crucial but controversial role in the sanctity accorded various early Anglo-Saxon kings, especially Oswald of Northumbria. Different literary treatments over time from Bede to the early eleventh century reveal a changing emphasis regarding that role and possible insight into a more popular view than the ecclesiastically-oriented Bede wished to include.

Locating Maserfelth

Tim Clarkson, Independent Scholar, Manchester UK

Abstract:  Tradition identifies the site of Oswald's last and fatal battle as the area around Oswestry in Shropshire. In this paper the traditional identification is examined and challenged. An alternative location for the battlefield is tentatively proposed.

The King's Fragmented Body: A Girardian Reading of the Origins of St Oswald's Cult

John Edward Damon, University of Nebraska

Abstract:  The cult of King Oswald of Northumbria links the roles of king and sacrificial victim. By joining the terrestrial power of the state and the celestial power of religion, his cult attempted to halt an otherwise unending cycle of mimetic rivalry and reciprocal violence.

The Exogamous Marriages of Oswiu of Northumbria

Martin Grimmer, University of Tasmania

Abstract:  This paper explores the exogamous Celtic marriages of the Northumbrian ætheling and later king, Oswiu (642-670). The background of Oswiu's exile, early in life, to Dalriada is investigated. Implications for Anglo-Celtic relations in the north of Britain in the first half of the seventh century are drawn.

Through His Enemy's Eyes: St. Oswald in the Historia Brittonum

Michelle Ziegler, Independent Scholar

Abstract:  This essay explores the content, context, and attitude toward St. Oswald, King of Northumbria in the ninth century Historia Brittonum from Merfyn's Gwynedd, with particular attention to its Anglophilic viewpoint.

St. Oswald's Martyrdom: Drogo of Saint-Winnoc's Sermo secundus de s. Oswaldo

David Defries, Ohio State University

Abstract:  The Sermo secundus de s. Oswaldo made the Flemish hagiographer Drogo of Saint-Winnoc (c. 1030-84) the first author who explicitly presented Oswald's death as a martyrdom. Although previous authors had called the king a martyr, none had explained how his death qualified as a martyrdom. Drogo also seems to have been the first author to fuse the traits of a rex iustus (just king) with the virtues of a martyr by synthesizing English and continental traditions of king-saints. In the process, the sermon reveals how a saint's cult could be simultaneously "international" and intensely local.


The Forum

The State of Irish Hagiography

Dorothy Bray, McGill University

Women Refusing the Gaze: Theorizing Thryth's "Unqueenly Custom" in Beowulf and The Bride's Revenge in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume I

Jessica Hope Jordan, University of California, Davis

Electronic Medievalia

Global Warming for Humanities Computing? Strategic Changes in the Economic Forecast

Patricia Kosco Cossard, University of Maryland

Continental Business

Boniface Biographies

Michel Aaij, Auburn University Montgmory


Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr., Hir is eskriven: Lezen en schrijven in de Friese landen rond 1300 [Here is Written: Reading and Writing in the Frisian Lands around 1300]. Reviewed by Michel Aaij.

Martin Chase, ed., Einarr Skúlason's Geisli: A Critical Edition. Reviewed by Shannon Lewis-Simpson.

Éamonn Ó Carragáin, Ritual and the Rood: Liturgical Images and the Old English Poems of the Dream of the Rood Tradition. Reviewed by Daniel O'Donnell.

Marianne K. Kalinke, St. Oswald of Northumbria: Continental Metamorphosis: with an edition and translation of 'Ôsvalds saga' and 'Van sunte Oswaldo deme konninghe'. Reviewed by Michelle Ziegler.

In Memoriam

Leslie Alcock [At the Times Online]

Nicholas Howe [At the San Francisco Chronicle]

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