Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Albertson, Clinton, ed. and trans., Anglo-Saxon Saints and Heroes (New York: Fordham University Press)

Text name(s): Life of St. Cuthbert; Life of Wilfrid; LIfe of St. Guthlac; Lives of the Abbots; Life of Ceolfrith; Life of St. Willibrord; Life of St. Boniface

Number of pages of primary source text: 281

Author(s): 

Dates: 633 - 754

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin

Translation: 

  • Translated into English.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • British Isles

County/Region: Lindisfarne; Northumbria; Ripon; East Anglia; York; Bavaria

Record Types: 

  • Hagiography

Subject Headings: 

  • Saints
  • Piety
  • Monasticism
  • Conversion
  • Clergy - Monks Nuns, Friars

Apparatus: 

  • Index
  • Bibliography
  • Introduction

Comments: 

  • Anonymous, Life of St. Cuthbert: One of the earliest surviving pieces of literature produced in England. Saint Cuthbert was monk of Northumbria who was eventually elected bishop of Lindisfarne. The story of his life describes his holiness and the miracles associated with him.
  • Eddius Stephanus, Life of St. Wilfrid: In this biography Eddius portrays Wilfrid as heroic. The work possesses drama, excitement, and humor. Eddius was a monk of Ripon and Wilfrid did his studies at Lindisfarne, Canterbury, and Rome and was an abbot at Ripon and Bishop of York. He spent time converting pagans in the British Isles, building churches, and founding monasteries.
  • Felix, Life of St. Guthlac: Felix was an Anglo-Saxon monk and wrote this Life in East Anglia. His style is rhetorical and elaborate. Composed in prose form for a royal audience, he incorporates poetic vocabulary from Celtic Latinists, Vergil, and Christian Latin epic poets. Guthlac fought with Aethelred of Mercia before becoming a monk at Repton Monastery. He moved to a small island to become a hermit.
  • Bede, The Lives of the Abbots: Bede spent most of his life at Jarrow. The Lives of the Abbots describes the lives of Abbots Benedict, Ceolfrid, Easterwine, Sigfrid and Huetberht of Weremouth and Jarrow.
  • Anonymous, Life of Coelfrith Abbot of Jarrow: Colefrith was a Northumbrian monk who taught Bede at Jarrow. The author’s firsthand knowledge of his life has caused some to suggest that Hwaetbert, Colefrith’s sucessor abbot, was the author of this text.
  • Alcuin, The Life of St. Willibrord: Wilibrord was a missionary saint and was eventually the first bishop of Bishop of Utrecht. He established the Abbey of Echternach and traveled to preach throughout his life. Alcuin wrote this for public religious reading in a monastery.
  • Willibald, The LIfe of St. Boniface: Boniface was from Wessex and was a missionary from the Rome-oriented Anglo-Saxon Church and an ecclesiastical statesman who helped the Frankish rulers reorganize Merovingian society. Willibald, the author of this text, was a volunteer on Boniface’s mission to Germanic lands. This story of his life has an epic tone.
Printed Source Information
  • Major biographical entries in the index are arranged chronologically rather than alphabetically.
  • Printed source contains the Life of St. Cuthbert, Life of Wilfrid, LIfe of St. Guthlac, Lives of the Abbots, Life of Ceolfrith, Life of St. Willibrord, and Life of St. Boniface.
  • Printed source contains – before the introduction – a chronological table of the Northumbrian Golden Age (c. 670-730).

Introduction Summary: 

Introduction (28 pp) explores the Anglo-Saxon “Heroic Age.” Albertson explains that the Anglo-Saxon Heroic Age is an extension of the Germanic Heroic Age to Romano-Celtic Britain. He explains the origins of the British Isles and the geographic and territorial distinctions that comprised the territory. He argues that Aethelfrith opened Northumbria’s Heroic Age, conquering the Scots as well as many others, becoming Northumbria’s first Christian king. Albertson then explains the nature of Celtic influence on Northumbrian culture. He explains the succession of kings and the nature of Heroic Age rulership – family ties wove together the worlds of fighting and ruling. He then gives a history of Heroic Age monasticism and explains how the characteristics of Heroic Age society are woven into the hagiographies translated in this printed source.

Cataloger: HMG

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