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'Cults and Saints'

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Publication date21/04/2011
Host publicationA Social History of England, 900–1200
EditorsJulia Crick, Elisabeth M. C. van Houts
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780521713238
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This brief essay offers an original perspective on the history of the cult of saints in England between AD 900 and 1200. It argues that this period saw three great surges of interest in saints and their cults (the first at the end of the tenth century, the second in the six decades between 1070 and 1130, and the third during the last three decades of the twelfth) and it explores the ways in which this pattern of growth and subsidence might be explained. It evaluates, in particular, the capacity to explain these phenomena of the three broad approaches to the subject that have gained the greatest currency among scholars of our period: that which suggests that saints’ cults were commercial enterprises, that which explains their rise and fall in relation to their political utility, and that which relates their evolution to broad changes in the intellectual and cultural climate.