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Wuffing Education

St Edmund, His Cult and His Community, 1000-1100.

The Martyrdom of St Edmund – from the early 12th –century Bury Passion and Miracles of St Edmund (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS 736)

with Dr Tom Licence

at The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 26th June, 2010

During the eleventh century St Edmund became a national patron while his community became one of the richest in the land. Unpicking chronicles and miracles, we will investigate the growth of his legend and discover how his community promoted his cult.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 From lamb-like martyr to ruthless regicide: St Edmund’s changing persona. This opening session introduces St Edmund’s eleventh-century reputation. Investigating the sources for the emergence of his cult, it confronts the paradox of his persona by asking how the saint could at once be a martyr and, at the same time, an avenging nemesis to the Danes.  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The origins of St Edmund’s monastery and community. By the time of the Domesday survey, in 1086, St Edmund’s abbey was one of the richest in the land. But how had it grown so rich, and how did the monks and nuns who lived there fulfil their duties to the saint? This session will open a window onto eleventh-century monasticism.  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 Cultural connexions, learning and historical writing in the age of Abbot Baldwin. The age of Abbot Baldwin (1065-97) saw the expansion of the abbey’s library, the recruitment of learned monks who had trained in France and the Empire, and the cultivation of medicine, music and history. By uncovering the sources of cultural inspiration, this session will explore the community’s creative activity.  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The battle with the bishopric, 1070-1101. Fireworks here for the finale, with the gladiatorial clash between Baldwin and the bishops over control of St Edmund’s abbey. Legal trickery, charter forgery, papal bribery and red tape (along with a dose of saintly vengeance) combine in this last session, in a quasi-Dickensian lawsuit, where there can be only one winner.…  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Tom Licence

Tom Licence grew up in Essex and studied at Cambridge. From 2006 to 2009 he was a Fellow of Magdalene College, before taking up a Lecturership in Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. His two forthcoming books – a monograph on hermits in medieval society and an edition of the Miracles of St Edmund by Herman the archdeacon – will appear with Oxford University Press.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bale, A., ed., St Edmund, king and martyr: changing images of a medieval saint (Woodbridge 2009).
Gransden, A., ed., Bury St Edmunds: medieval art, architecture, archaeology and economy, The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 20 (1998)
Licence, T., ‘The Norwich narrative and the East Anglian bishopric’, Norfolk Archaeology 45 (2007), 198-204
Licence, T., ‘History and hagiography in the late eleventh century: the life and work of Herman the archdeacon, monk of Bury St Edmunds’, English Historical Review 124 (2009), 516-44.
Whitelock, Dorothy, ‘Fact and fiction in the legend of St Edmund’, in Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology 31 (1970 for 1969), 217-33.


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  This Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
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