The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles


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Issue 15 (October 2012)

Christ in Celtic Christianity Michael W. Dumville Boydell Press. Gildas Boydell Press. Gruffudd ap Cynan Boydell Press. Maund Boydell Press.

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Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church F. Warren, Jane Stevenson Boydell Press. Suppe Boydell Press. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. Thompson Boydell Press. Saint Patrick David N. Brooke Boydell Press. The patterns of exchange in the Adriatic, Aegean, and the Mediter- ranean regions were drastically transformed after the geo-political changes of the seventh century.

Joanita Vroom focuses on the ceramic finds from the excavations from the Triconch Palace at Butrint. Similar cultural and economic connections seem to be true also for Lissus. Sauro Gelichi and Claudio Negrelli use the same type of evidence, this time from a western Adriatic perspective, based on excavations conducted recently at Comacchio.

Peter J. Smith, The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles - PhilPapers

Much like Vroom in the case of Butrint, they acknowledge a certain continuity with late antique patterns of production and exchange but also empha- size the economic regionalization. A major conclusion drawn from the development of local production and the study of widespread ceramic types, the globular amphora in particular, is the role of the north Adri- atic region in the intensification of exchange with the Agaean world and the eastern Mediterranean, with Venice and Comacchio acting as emporia.

The ten diverse and stimulating contributions gathered in this volume will no doubt offer a new perspective on the destinies of Illyri- cum in the early Middle Ages. We should expect even more enlight- ening finds from the multinational archaeological teams working on major Albanian sites. By Nicholas Evans.

Studies in Celtic History. Woodbridge and Rochester: The Boydell Press. The Irish chronicles, otherwise known as the Irish annals, are considered sources of paramount importance for the history of early medieval Ireland and Scotland, and for the dating of events in both Ireland and Britain, but they survive in manuscripts from no earlier than the eleventh century. This raises the question of how much of the information is genuinely early, and what has been added or altered during the later development of the texts.

Following this, an attempt is made to reconstruct the chronology of the Irish chronicle at the time when these items were added, and further to reconstruct the original chronology of the annals before the addition of these items. Although highly technical and densely argued, with extensive foot- notes, The Present and the Past is written in a lucid and readable style, with the often complex evidence presented in an exceptionally clear and orderly manner.

Maps are provided for places and geographical features, and for territories and peoples mentioned in the text, and there are numerous figures in the text tabulating the chronological questions under discussion. Most of the chapters conclude with a summary of their findings and with suggestions for further research. The edition by Boydell is of the very high standard we have come to expect from this publisher, and both publisher and author are to be congratulated on a volume that should be a model and inspiration for future scholars working on the early medieval insular chronicles where, as Evans observes more than once, there is still so much to be done.

By Karl Heidecker.


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Translated by Tanis M. Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. The attempts of the Carolingian king Lothar II to divorce his wife Theutberga have long had a central place in the history of western marriage and of Carolingian politics. Yet many aspects of this case have been under- or unexamined.

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For greater detail on certain points, particularly sources and evidence, scholars will want to consult the original Dutch book, but the English version is the more straightfor- ward read. By the mid-ninth century churchmen tried to insist that marriages be blessed by priests and to Christianize formerly secular elements of marriage. An accusation of sodomy and incest against Theutberga and Hucbert gave Lothar a chance of remarriage, which was crucial because Lothar wished to formalize a union with Waldrada, his companion prior to marrying Theutberga and the mother of his son Hugo.

Hincmar did not remain con- sistent in his views but rather moulded his responses to fit political expediency. By employing manuscript evidence and picking apart illogical interpretations of texts, Heidecker shows that partnerships between men and women should be examined contextually and indi- vidually.

When kings wanted something from the pope or he was able to play them off one another, he could succeed in imposing his will far from Rome. Many immediately saw his end as a judgement upon the king, and this negative view of Lothar has endured. Heidecker calls for a new interpretation and convincingly demonstrates the political nature of these matters while acknowledging their considerable social and religious ramifications. The inclusion of some rela- tively long source selections, with original Latin passages in footnotes, makes the book ideal for graduate seminars.

Essays in Honor of Lois Drewer. Edited by Colum Hourihane. They focus on Byzantine iconog- raphy, and are dedicated to Lois Drewer, who developed the Byzantine resources in the Index over the course of her long and fruitful career. Three of the essays deal with themes relevant to the chronological span of this journal, and they will be the focus of this review.

If so, Christian iconophobia in Syria and Jordan was not directed against sacred portraits; and indeed the mutilated subjects on church floors are normally personi- fications, people, and animals, often still just discernable. He concludes that, rather than bowing to Muslim peer pressure, the Chris- tians who defaced mosaics in the churches of Syria and Jordan were enthusiastic Orthodox worshippers, familiar with the theological debates about images centred in Constantinople, who were attempting to distin- guish themselves from idolators in the long-running image debates that began in the seventh century.

This is a virtually untouched topic, and Dauterman Maguire presents examples of lamps with ornament removed before firing and ornament chipped away after removal from the kiln. By Edward James. The Medieval World.

Pre-Viking Ireland: A Political Survey (Excellent Lecture)

Harlow: Pearson. Whether the rise to prominence of Goths, Franks, and others was cause or effect of the collapse of Roman dominance has long been debated, but it used to be agreed that the appearance of these entities marked a new historical era, and that some of them could be seen as ancestral to the states of early modern and modern Europe.

Most of us are now pretty familiar with one of the major intellectual developments which has further complicated barbarian history. Since no one — a few ultra-nationalists aside — now believes that national communities, rigidly defined by descent and culture, have provided the prime means of orga- nizing larger groups of human beings since time immemorial, how — given the inadequate descriptions provided by Roman sources — are we to conceive of the agglomerations of humanity operating under such labels as Visigoth and Frank?

Moreover, as Edward James rightly points out, two other historiographical developments have further muddied the waters. These again tend to imply that nothing very revolu- tionary was afoot in the passage from Roman to post-Roman Europe. Well designed, the study comprises an analytical introduction to the methodological problems — in both sources and historiography — involved in studying barbarians, followed by three nar- rative chapters, which serve a largely introductory role to the seven thematic ones which follow.

These focus unerringly on the key issues in barbarian studies and provide the real meat of the work. Throughout the writing is crystal clear and the touch light, the substantive sections being punctuated by enlight- ening asides. My favourite is a note that the site of Tara has been destroyed by people hunting the Ark of the Covenant.

The key thematic chapters display many virtues. The geographical range could not be bettered. The result is a range of more interestingly complex arguments with a greater appreciation of the variety of possible particular outcomes within broader, overarching patterns of change. For the most part, too, the full range of scholarly opinion is at least mentioned in all of these chapters and properly referenced allowing further exploration.

Being an interested party, I do have some reservations but most are pretty small. I am myself confident that the contrary is true. This is a controversial topic and James is of course entitled to his own view, but I do think he spends too much time here on all the nonsense about Scandinavia. No one really believes this any more, and it does seem to me that he uses its unnecessarily detailed refutation to imply that all possible instances of large-group movement in the period are pretty much equally ridiculous.

Whatever its conclusions, the chapter would have been more helpful, I think, had it focused on these kinds of instance. At least as important as these chapter level arguments, however, are the overarching perspectives James brings to his work. Above all, James argues — in my view correctly — both that the end of the empire marked a major change in the unfolding patterns of European history, and that the Roman empire did not voluntarily will itself into non-existence.

In the face of some of the contrary assertions made in self-proclaimed revisionist writing, it is another major contribution of this book to re-emphasize these important points. If anything, they might even have been made more strongly. On closer examination, most of the major Roman— barbarian treaties of the fifth century with Alaric, Euric and Theoderic for instance all follow this pattern. And what might also have been mentioned is the debilitating effect of each loss of territory on the tax revenues of the central Roman state and its capacity to maintain armies all well docu- mented in contemporary sources , so that each enforced loss of territory made it more likely that others would have to follow.

Edited by Susan Kelly. This edition marks a significant depar- ture from previous volumes in the series, since for the first time it is concerned with a religious house situated in territory that, after the mid-ninth century, experienced considerable Scandinavian intrusion. Kelly expounds the early history of the abbey, suggesting that it would have had close links with the nearby minster of Castor and warning that the twelfth-century Peterborough sources which purport to convey a detailed description of the early foundation of the abbey are best approached with a good deal of scepticism.

Kelly documents the impor- tance of Peterborough as a Mercian religious house in the late eighth and early ninth century and she once more questions the twelfth-century Peterborough tradition that Medeshamstede was wholly destroyed in the mid-ninth century. There has been much scholarly debate recently about the impact of Scandinavian settlement on religious establishments in the area known as the Danelaw. In the remainder of her historical introduction, Kelly explains the change in name from Medeshamstede to Burh and in so doing considers that the use of the latter name, traditionally thought to have been adopted in the late tenth century, could possibly have had its roots in the pre-Viking period pp.

One of the reasons that the Peterborough archive is particularly inter- esting is that it contains documentary evidence that does not directly concern Peterborough itself but in fact comes from Breedon-on-the-Hill, Hoo in Kent, and Woking and Bermondsey in Surrey. In a separate and important section pp. Of particular interest here is her examination of those documents which purport to be from the seventh century pp.

There is much that is of interest in this book and much that goes against established scholarly opinion; and it is of course of funda- mental importance that the Peterborough charters are here presented and made accessible in a modern scholarly edition. It seems a shame, then, that it is let down by constant typographical errors and omissions of words. Robinson College, Cambridge D. With nine essays on literature, lan- guage, codicology, history and archaeology, the book offers a broad spectrum of subjects, which will be of interest to both Anglo-Saxonists and scholars of Old Norse studies.

By tracing the etymolo- gies of such terms and by distinguishing borrowing from other develop- ments, Thier shows a word field that was very much alive in the early Middle Ages and which reflects frequent contacts between England and Scandinavia. Two of the contributions to Anglo-Saxons and the North focus on metrics.

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The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles

By applying his word-foot theory, Russom explains that the development of three distinct metres in Eddic poetry is a natural reaction to the changing syllable structure of Old Norse. Jonathan Roper compares Old English verse with Baltic—Finnic alliterative verse which flourished in Finland, Estonia and adjacent regions until well into the nineteenth century. Having discov- ered as many parallels as there are differences in these widely divergent traditions, Roper argues for the much better-documented Finnish tradi- tion of alliterative verse to be used by Anglo-Saxonists in their search for answers to the many questions about Old English verse that still remain unanswered.

History and archaeology are a fruitful mixture in the contributions by Debby Banham and Frank Battaglia. Debby Banham looks critically at the evidence for Scandinavian influence on Anglo-Saxon agriculture, in particular at the possibility that open field farming was introduced by the Vikings, and argues for caution. With ample reference to archaeological discoveries, Battaglia investigates the transition of bogs to halls as centres of religious practice in early medieval Denmark.

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This transition symbolized a change from the veneration of chthonic deities by means of offerings, to the worship of a later generation of gods through celebration. Two papers in Anglo-Saxons and the North deal with the modern perception of Anglo-Saxon and Norse history and literature. As Alfred fought just wars against the Vikings, but in the end pacified and converted these savages, so British forces in India and South Africa fought comparable enemies with a similarly noble purpose.


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The Vikings were therefore both enemies and examples to historically minded Victorians. Although the variety of subjects addressed by the different contribu- tions is substantial, this does not undermine the cohesion suggested by the title — something occasionally seen in publications of conference proceedings.

The articles are scholarly and informative, and, without, exception, provide food for further thought. Edited by Richard Price and Mary Whitby. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Translated with an introduction and notes by Richard Price.

The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles
The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles
The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles
The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles
The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles

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