Anglo-Saxons, Romans and Carolingian Frankia
with Professor Rosamond McKitterick
(University of Cambridge)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 14th March, 2015.

S.Agnese, Rome (©Rosamond McKitterick)

This study day will explore the connections and activities of Anglo-Saxons on the Continent, the context for their visits to Rome, their missionary activities east of the Rhine, and the contributions English scholars made at the court of Charlemagne. There will be a particular focus on, and opportunity to study, some of the original sources – texts, images and buildings.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                The Franks, Rome, and the conversion of the English – This class will establish the context for the links between the English and Rome, from the sending of Augustine to Canterbury by Pope Gregory the Great, the later arrivals of Theodore from Rome to become Archbishop of Canterbury, and the role of the Franks.

Source texts to be considered will include selections from Bede’s ecclesiastical history of the English people; Stephanus’ Life of Wilfrid. Bede, History of the Abbots, and original manuscripts from Frankish Gaul.

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                English pilgrims and visitors to Rome in the early middle ages – The Anglo-Saxon were among many visitors to Rome and the basilica of St Peter’s in the early middle ages. They came as pilgrims, ambassadors, refugees, exiles and on business. This class will focus on early medieval Rome through the eyes of these visitors, not least the still surviving buildings and art works these pilgrims would have visited and the ceremonial of Rome they would have witnessed. Source texts to be considered in addition to the physical evidence will be the early medieval history of the popes produced in Rome itself (the Liber pontificalis), a wonderful account of a journey to the Holy Land via Rome of Willibald, known as the Hodoeporicon, and a Frankish pilgrim itinerary.

12.40 – 13.45:                Lunch break

13.45 – 14.35:                 Anglo-Saxon missionaries on the Continent – The Anglo-Saxons had close contacts with monasteries and bishoprics in Francia, and zealous missionaries such as Willibrord and Boniface set out to convert pagans, though much of their energies were actually devoted to reforming and organising the Christian church in Frisia, Bavaria, Thuringia and Francia in close cooperation with the Frankish rulers. They also founded important monasteries such as Echternach and Fulda. Source texts to be considered will include the almost contemporary biographies written of some of the main protagonists – Willibrord, Boniface and a kinswoman of Boniface called Leoba – , as well as the letters Boniface wrote about his work to people in England, Francia and Rome.

14.35 – 14.55:               Tea break

14.55 – 15.45:                The English at the Frankish court of Charlemagne – In the wake of the ‘missionary’ activity many English men and women established themselves on the Continent , primarily in monastic communities., though some, such as Burchard of Würzburg, Willibald of Eichstätt and Alcuin of Tours became bishops and abbots of important Frankish centres. Some were among the international group of scholars at Charlemagne’s court. Many of these men and women were active scholars, scribes and artists. This class will consider aspects of the English contribution to Carolingian culture and learning with special reference to the contribution of Alcuin of York (his letters and poems) and the manuscript and artistic evidence.

c.15.45:                            Thanks and Close

About Rosamond McKitterick

Professor Rosamond McKitterick Rosamond McKitterick is Professor of Medieval History in the University of Cambridge, Fellow and Vice-Master of Sidney Sussex College, and has published on literacy, manuscript transmission, perceptions of the past, historical writing and political culture in the early middle ages. Her current interests are the migration of ideas and transmission of knowledge in the early middle ages, the implications and impact of the historical and legal texts produced during the sixth and seventh centuries in Rome and Rome’s transformation into a Christian city. She received the degrees of M.A., Ph.D., and Litt.D. from the University of Cambridge and studied Palaeography in Munich under Bernhard Bischoff in 1974-75. Since 1999 she has held the Chair in Medieval History in the University of Cambridge, after having been awarded a Personal Chair in 1997. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce, a Korrespondierendes Mitglied of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America. In 2002 she was the Hugh Balsdon Fellow, British School at Rome 2002, and in 2005-2006 Fellow-in-Residence, Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study (NIAS), in a theme group on The Formation of Carolingian Identity. From October to December 2010 she was Scaliger Fellow in the Universiteitsbibliotheek in Leiden and from March to May 2011 the Lester K. Little Resident Scholar in Medieval Studies at the American Academy in Rome. She was awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken International Prize for History by the Royal Dutch Academy in 2010.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

A: Sources in translation

C.H. Talbot, The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany (London, 1954) contains the Lives of Willibrord, Boniface, and Leoba, the Hodoeporicon of Willibald, and a selection of the letters of Boniface.

Emerton trans., The Letters of Saint Boniface (New York, 2000)

T.F.X. Noble and T. Head (eds.), Soldiers of Christ. Saints and Saints Lives from late antiquity and the early middle ages (Philadelphia, 1995) also contains the Lives of Willibrord and Leoba, and the Hodoeporicon of Willibald.

Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English (available in paperback: Penguin Classics or World Classics)

Bede, History of the Abbots (Penguin Classic )

Einhard, Life of Charlemagne (Penguin Classic)

Eddius Stephanus, The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, trans. B. Colgrave(Cambridge, 1927)

Alcuin of York, trans. S. Allott (York, 1974) – a selection of his letters.

Godman, trans. Poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance (London, 1989) – includes a few of Alcuin’s poems.

The book of Pontiffs (Liber pontificalis), (Liverpool, 3rd edn, 2010) and The Lives of the Eighth-century popes (Liverpool, 1992), both trans. Raymond Davis.

B: Modern scholarly studies

Levison, W. England and the Continent in the eighth century (Oxford, 1946) – the classic study.

Krautheimer, Richard, Rome: profile of a city (Princeton, 2000)

McKitterick, R., J. Osborne, C. Richardson and J. Story (eds), Old St Peter’s Rome (Cambridge, 2103)

McKitterick, Rosamond, Charlemagne: the formation of a European identity (Cambridge, 2008), especially Chapter 5.

McKitterick (ed.), The New Cambridge Medieval History II 700-900 (Cambridge, 1995) – a collection of useful background essays.

Story, J. (ed.), Charlemagne: empire and society (Manchester, 2005) – another useful collection of studies.

Ian N. Wood. The Missionary Life. Saints and the evangelisation of Europe 400-1050 (London, 2001), especially pp. 57-142.