Being diverted to false monasteries leaving

This preview shows page 220 - 222 out of 361 pages.

being diverted to ‘false’ monasteries leaving Northumbria under -defended but was also inferred from several of the hagiographic sources. This can be seen as the practical underpinnings of early Anglo-Saxon kingship and provides a concrete mechanism to support the earlier comments, highlighted particularly though the archaeology evidence, of the importance of personal relationships to the functioning of early Anglo-Saxon kingship. By extension, this also implies significant access to and control of landed wealth on the part of kings, providing a further, long-standing, economic foundation for early Anglo-Saxon kingship. Likewise, an ideological foundation for kingship was identified in the claimed descent of early kings from gods Woden and Seaxneat and other legendary figures, found across the royal genealogies. This could be related to other concepts such as the importance of succession and the existence of royal families which became apparent through the tabular analysis of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica . Although fluid and malleable, these concepts formed a crucial part of the ideological superstructure of early Anglo-Saxon kingship. It was not possible to discern how far back these concepts could be pushed, but the presence of non-Christian gods in the royal genealogies certainly allows them to be placed prior to the widespread adoption of Christianity in the early seventh century. Two other factors can also be considered in this context, although both seemed more like later developments of kingship. The first relates to the role of kings in respect to the law. Legal intervention became increasing prominent across the four extant law codes, while the role of the king as the giver of law is itself highly symbolic, especially given the essentially ideological nature of the law codes themselves. Moreover, the giving of written laws is linked to both Continental and Biblical exemplars of kingship. Developing this further, it was suggested that a potential origin for kingship may, in fact, have been legal intervention the act of serving as mediator, judge or arbitrator, and finding mutually acceptable levels of restitution, creating a precedent for wider applications of kingly power. The second factor concerns the relationship between early Anglo-Saxon kings and religion. This was apparent across all of the narrative sources, although it was most
The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingship 221 strongly present in Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica . Early Anglo-Saxon kings heavily patronised the church and supported early missionaries in their work. Indeed, some went so far as to attempt to institute Christian morality through law. Through this association they also tied themselves to a broader intellectual superstructure and provided themselves with various opportunities to augment their position through ritual and patronage.

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture