Dissemination and Reception of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum in Germany, c. 731-1500: The Manuscript Evidence Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Westgard, Joshua Allan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Today, the Venerable Bede's (672/3-735) Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (HE) is widely considered one of the great works of early medieval historical writing. In the Middle Ages, it was widely known and also greatly admired, but for very different reasons. This dissertation examines two aspects of the HE's popularity in the medieval period: First, it is a study of the transmission of the work in medieval Germany, a region where the text enjoyed great success. Second, it is an analysis of the manuscript evidence for the text's reception in the German-speaking world. After a brief introduction in Chapter One, Chapter Two surveys the history of the study of the manuscript tradition of the HE, and groups the manuscripts of the German "textual province" on the basis of test collations. The test collations are given in full in Chapter Three. In Chapters Four and Five, the focus shifts to the reception of the text, first (in Chapter Four) with an analysis of the text's manuscript context (including mise-en-page, marginalia, and associated works), as a way of getting at its readership. In Chapter Five, the focus is on the text's library context, that is, it is an examination of the libraries known to have held copies of the HE, and the ways the text seems to have fit into those collections, based primarily on the evidence of medieval library catalogues. Finally, Chapter Six provides a brief concluding summary that emphasizes how the interests of the medieval readers of the HE differed from those of its modern readers, and particularly how the medieval German audience of the work was most interested in the "universal" Christian elements in Bede's text, especially the lives of popular saints, their miracles, and otherworld visions. The Appendices include a manuscripts finding-list, and a transcription of two hitherto unrecognized copies of the so-called Continuatio Bedae from Prague and Vienna.
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  • Pfaff, Richard William
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