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The Bestiary in Canterbury Monastic Culture 1093-1360

Heath, Diane Elizabeth (2015) The Bestiary in Canterbury Monastic Culture 1093-1360. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (KAR id:54872)

Language: English
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This thesis presents a new way of thinking about medieval bestiaries. It adopts a locational lens to examine the context and monastic re-fashionings of the medieval Latin prose bestiary in Canterbury from 1093-1360. It has examined the catalogue and codicological evidence concerning the monks’ patronage, ownership, reading and interpretation of these books. It has sought to discover how the bestiary articulated the Canterbury monks’ affective and self-reflective thought modes and interacted with their other beast literature and animal art. This thesis forms a significant contribution to knowledge on the monastic perception and reception of the bestiary by reshaping our understanding through two original approaches. Firstly, it widens the definition of bestiaries to match medieval viewpoints and therefore includes extant copies and catalogue records of extracts and collations as well as whole and fragmentary bestiary books and contemporary Canterbury Cathedral Priory decorative inhabited and zoomorphic initials. Secondly, it pays close attention to the place, space, and context of the bestiary in terms of associated texts, Benedictine spiritual exegesis, and how, where, when, and why it was studied and for what purposes. This attention has led, among other findings, to the redating of the earliest Latin prose bestiary from England to the time of St Anselm’s archiepiscopate and confirmed M. R. James’s view that it was a Canterbury production. This new timeframe has allowed an analysis of the bestiary as part of the Anselmian cultural and intellectual revival and permitted the link between the bestiary and Benedictine preaching to the laity to be examined. It finds strong political reasons for the advancement of the bestiary by Canterbury monks in the twelfth century and for their continued study of the bestiary in the thirteenth century and into the fourteenth century. This thesis provides a methodogical approach regarding how Canterbury monks read their bestiaries and associated texts that is applicable to historians studying such materials elsewhere, thereby enhancing our understanding of Benedictine monastic culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Edwards, Anthony Stockwell Garfield
Thesis advisor: Klein, Bernhard
Uncontrolled keywords: bestiary; Canterbury; Christ Church Prior; St Augustine's Abbey; Benedictine; monastic culture; manuscripts; decorated initials;
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 14:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Heath, Diane Elizabeth.

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