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Asser and the Writing of West Saxon Charters

Gallagher, Robert (2021) Asser and the Writing of West Saxon Charters. English Historical Review, 136 (581). pp. 773-808. ISSN 0013-8266. (doi:10.1093/ehr/ceab276) (KAR id:80881)

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This article uses the evidence of vocabulary to explore the connections between the two most substantial bodies of Latin literature to survive from late ninth-century and early tenth-century Britain, namely Asser’s famed Life of King Alfred and the corpus of Anglo-Saxon charters. By doing so, several hitherto unidentified connections are made that offer important new evidence in two regards. First, they add significant weight to the view that Asser’s Life is an authentic text of the late ninth century. Secondly, they provide rare insights into the reception of Asser’s Latinity in early medieval England. Throughout, particular attention is given to a single royal diploma of Edward the Elder that purports to have been issued at a meeting at Bicanleag in 904. External evidence tells us that Asser was present at this meeting, and, given the concentration of phrasal echoes of the Life within this document, it is suggested that it was composed by Asser himself. If this suggestion is correct, this charter therefore not only extends and expands Asser’s activity as a Latin author within the West Saxon royal milieu, but it also enhances our view of the episcopal and international contribution to the production of royal diplomatic in early medieval England.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/ehr/ceab276
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Robert Gallagher
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2020 14:23 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 18:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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