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VII AEthelred and the Genesis of the Beowulf manuscript.

DURING THE PAST THIRTY YEARS, scholars have spilled considerable ink over the date of Beowulf's composition, and cogent arguments for both early and late dates have emerged. (1) Considerably less ink has been spilled, however, concerning the date of the Beowulf manuscript's production. Neil Ker's dating of "s.x/xi" (ca. 975-1025) has for the most part held. (2) Kevin Kiernan argued that both the poem and the manuscript belong after 1016, but his claims have been rendered highly improbable by Michael Lapidge and David Dumville, among others. (3) Dumville, in fact, makes the most important advance on Ker's dating: by reinterpreting the birth and death dates of Anglo-Saxon vernacular and square minuscule respectively, he concludes that the manuscript was most likely copied out between the years 997 and 1016. (4) This is a period for which a vast written record survives and about which much is known, and yet few have asked what exactly Beowulf might be doing there. In this paper, I intend to offer a few hypotheses as to why an Anglo-Saxon audience might have had interest in a poem like Beowulf during this period. I will suggest some of the purposes for which the poem might have been intended and looking to VII/AEthelred, show how the Viking invasions could have provided an impetus for a scriptorium to produce a poem of this nature. I will then test my hypotheses through an examination of the manuscript, to see what it can tell us about the concerns of the scribes, their interest in the material, and the importance of this text to an eleventh-century audience.

While The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (MS C/D/E) depicts the reign of King AEthelred "Unraed" (978-1016) as a continual series of disasters leading inevitably to the ascension of King Cnut of Denmark, Simon Keynes has offered a more nuanced account of the reign. He contends that during the 990s, conditions of life in England were generally good and the Vikings would have seemed like a manageable threat. Keynes demonstrates that it is only during the first decade of the eleventh century, particularly after the devastating raids of 1006, that English affairs became increasingly turbulent and desperate. (5) The most powerful record of English desperation during these years is the law code known as VII AEthelred, promulgated at Bath in 1009. Surviving in both an English and a Latin version, the code propounds an elaborate program of public prayer and penance in order "paet we Godes miltse 7 his mildheortnesse habban moton 7 paet we purh his fultum magon feondum widstandan" [that we may have God's mercy and his compassion and through his help withstand our enemies]. (6) It then lays out a plan in which the entire population (eal folc) would contribute to the effort: on the three days before Michaelmas, there is to be fasting, almsgiving, and confession, as well as a barefoot procession with relics in hand; from every hide, a penny is to be rendered; every thegn is to give a tithe of his property and each of his dependents is to contribute a penny; every priest is to sing thirty masses and every deacon and cleric must sing thirty psalms. Furthermore, every religious foundation is to direct their attention to the present crisis: the mass contra paganos is to be sung daily; the psalm Domine, quid multiplicati sunt is to be chanted at regular hours; and both are to be performed on behalf of the King and his nation ("pro rege et omni populo suo; for urne hlaford 7 for ealle his peode"). (7)

For my purposes, the importance of VII AEthelred rests in its call for the entire English population to contribute in a variety of ways to a national effort. As Simon Keynes writes, "the directive known as VII AEthelred bears eloquent testimony to the involvement of laymen, secular clergy, and members of religious houses in an orchestrated response to the Viking invasion of 1009." (8) In this respect, VII AEthelred seems to enact a spiritual or ideological version of AEthelred's shipbuilding project of 1008. In that year, according to the Chronicle, "her bebead se cyng paet man sceolde ofer eall Angelcyn scypu faestlice wyrcan, paet is donne of prim hund hidum 7 of tynum aenne scegd, 7 of .viii. hidum helm 7 byrnan" [here the king ordered that we must incessantly build ships over all England, that is then one warship from every 310 hides, and a helmet and a mail-sheet from every eight hides]. (9) By 1009, "hiora waes swa feala swa naefre aer, pees de us bec secgad, on Angelcynne ne gewurdon on nanes cyninges daege" [there were more of them (ships) than ever were before, according to what books tell us, among the English in the day of any king]. Although these efforts proved ineffective due to internal dissension, during these years the minds and bodies of much of England's population clearly were concentrated on the war effort. It is in this climate of national galvanization and defense preparation that I believe we find a likely context for the production of the Beowulf manuscript. Every individual was exhorted or commanded to contribute in his or her particular way, and I believe that for one particular monastic community, the production of the Beowulf manuscript was undertaken as their contribution to the king's efforts. VII AEthelred's deployment of a topically relevant mass (contra paganos) and psalm (Domine, quid multiplicati sunt) reveals that English leaders were fully aware of the ways in which cultural products could assist their efforts. AElfric shows a similar awareness when he claims that he translates the Book of Judith into English "eow mannum to bysne paet ge eowerne eard mid waemnum bewerian wid onwinnende here" [as an example to you men, so that you will defend your country with weapons against the raiding army]. (10) I'd like to posit that Beowulf was also intended "eow mannum to bysne."


But why Beowulf? What relevance could this poem, possibly hundreds of years old, have had for a people at war? To illustrate the questions or issues to which Beowulf could have spoken, it is necessary first to suggest how English men and women living through these years understood their tumultuous times. In the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, Wulfstan critiques contemporary mores and asserts that the Vikings were sent as divine punishment for English sinfulness. More specifically, however, Wulfstan identifies a decline in getreowpa, or "loyalty," as one of his eras central problems. (11) He begins the Sermo with the claim "paet lytle getreowpa waeron mid mannum" [that there has been little loyalty amongst men], and concludes with the exhortation "utan ... sume getrywpa habban us betweonan butan uncraeftan" [let us ... have some loyalty between us without deception]. (12) Throughout the text, Wulfstan laments the dissolution of the social bonds that once held Anglo-Saxon society together. Paraphrasing Mark 13:12, he states: "Ne bearh nu foroft gesib gesibban De ma pe fremdan, ne faeder his bearne, ne hwilum bearn his agenum faeder, ne bropor oprum" [Now, very often, kinsman has not protected kinsman more than a stranger, nor has father protected son, nor sometimes son his own father, nor one brother another brother] (Beth.XX.EI, 269). Further, Wulfstan inveighs against a long list of crimes, ranging from fratricide to prostitution to perjury, bur he heaps extended scorn on the crime of hlafordswice, [treachery against one's lord]. He states that it has appeared in a great number of forms (on mistlice wisan), but that the worst of all lord-betrayals (ealra maest hlafordswice) are incidents like the murder of King Edward the Martyr. An indication, perhaps, of Wulfstan's contempt for hlafordswice is that he introduces it as an example of ungetreowpa micle [great disloyalty], positioning it as the antithesis of the word upon which he builds the sermon (Beth.XX.EI, 270).

Wulfstan's contemporaries also seem to have understood their nation's crises in terms of getreowpa and hlafordswice. In The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the entries for AEthelred's reign are pervaded with instances in which the English defense efforts are undermined by hlafordswice, by men turning their backs on their lord or their king, and fleeing to save their lives. (13) Similarly, in The Battle of Maldon, the flight of three retainers is represented not as a consequence of imminent defeat, but as the cause of the defeat itself: one retainer uses the horse of Byrhtnoth, the army's leader, and many more men then flee under the assumption that their leader is retreating. (14) The significance of the overlap in emphases between the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the Battle of Maldon is that whatever the real causes of English defeat--Simon Keynes suggests they were simply overwhelmed (15)--contemporary Englishmen were understanding and representing their defeat in terms of loyalty and betrayal, getreowpa and hlafordswice. Jonathan Wilcox, observing narrative patterns in Maldon and the Chronicle, finds that their overlap "suggests that an audience was primed to contemplate issues of loyalty and disloyalty expressed through death in battle or retreat when listening to a story of English engagement with the Vikings." (16) The most pressing problem, to this audience, was not that the invading armies had numbers on an unprecedented scale; it was that the English people had fallen away from the social bonds that formerly held their society together and that disloyalty had sprung up amongst them. Bearing this in mind, we can better understand the reasons why a monastic community might have felt it timely to copy out Beowulf in the early eleventh century.

As I will illustrate below in my discussion of the manuscript, certain aspects of Beowulf would have most likely been obscure or unintelligible to its extant manuscript's audience. Mythological allusions, details of dark-age feuding, intricacies of Danish genealogy, among other things, all may have meant very little to this audience. What I believe would have been important to them, however, is the fact that this poem depicted life in geardagum, that it offered a window into an ancient world where loyalty was the glue that held society together, where social bonds were vigorously upheld, and where the rupture of those bonds was severely punished. Beowulf offers a past that, as James Earl has shown, is stripped of much that might have been found objectionable, while retaining what is admirable. (17) It is not difficult to imagine Wulfstan, the chronicler, or the Maldon poet hearing these lines (spoken by Wealhtheow) and wishing that the same could be said of their times:
   Her is mghwylc eorl oprum getrywe,
   modes milde, mandrihtne hol[d];
   pegnas syndon gepwaere, peod eal gearo.
      (1228-30) (18)

[Here is every man true to one another, mild in his heart, loyal to his lord; the thegns are united, the people are all prepared.]

Loyalty--the trait for which Wulfstan and his contemporaries perceived a great need--has long been recognized as being at the heart of Beowulf. Stanley B. Greenfield and Daniel G. Calder observe in the poem a "theme of loyalty vs. disloyalty that pervades the poem's ethos." (19) Similarly, Eamon Carrigan finds that a "pattern of loyalty" is woven into the structure of the poem and that the concept serves to link various episodes to one another. (20) The Beowulf poet himself often makes the theme explicit, revealing in gnomic remarks that it is among the lessons to be extracted from his narrative. Commenting on Beowulf's unfailing loyalty towards Hygelac, he states:
                         Swa sceal maeg don,
   nealles inwitnet      odrum bregdon
   dyrnum craefte,       dead ren(ian)
   hondgesteallan.       Hygelace waes
   nida heardum,         nefa swyde hold
   ond gehwaeder odrum   hropra gemyndig.

[Thus must a kinsman do, in no way should he weave a net of malice for the other with secret guile, nor devise death for his close companion. The nephew was very loyal to Hygelac, a man hardy in battles, and each was mindful of the other's welfare.]

Throughout its narrative, but especially in passages such as the above, Beowulf speaks directly to the concerns of English leadership in the early eleventh century. English leaders felt a need for increased loyalty, and it seems likely that Beowulf, a poem in which loyal behavior is both illustrated and explicitly endorsed, was copied out to promote the desired behavior.

Connected to loyalty in Beowulf, and doubtless of equal importance to English leadership at a time of Viking invasion, are the martial responsibilities that both descend from loyalty and enable loyal behavior to be displayed. When Wiglaf runs to Beowulf's aid during his fight with the dragon, the poet levels gnomic praise at his decision to fight: "Sibb' aefre ne maeg / wiht onwendan pam de wel penced" [The bond of kinship is never able to be set aside, for one who thinks rightly] (2600b-01). Ata rime when, according to Wulfstan, kinsman did not defend kinsman ("ne bearh nu foroft gesib gesibban"), such a remark must have struck audiences deeply. Another powerful moment that connects loyalty with defense occurs in Beowulf's mixed offering of consolation and exhortation to Hrothgar, after his counselor AEschere was killed by Grendel's mother. For a people constantly needing to avenge comrades killed in similarly unexpected attacks, these words were probably both resonant and welcome:
   Ne sorga, snotor guma.     Selre bid aeghwaem
   paet he his freond wrece   ponne he fela murne.
   Ure aeghwylc sceal         ende gebidan
   worolde lifes;   wyrce se pe mote
   domes aer deape;           paet bid drihtguman
   unlifgendum   aefter selest.

[Don't grieve, wise man. It is better for each man that he avenge his friend than mourn greatly. Each of us must wait for our end of life in this world; may be who is able achieve glory before death; that is for men, after they are lifeless, the best thing.]

It may seem odd for a monastic scriptorium to copy out a poem with such values--a poem where vengeance is privileged over mourning and where one is encouraged to seek out glory in battle--yet in the early eleventh century, such sentiments must have had great appeal. The fact that the poem features Danish protagonists is unlikely to have lessened this appeal. (21) The scriptorium overseer who ordered the production and presumably performance of a poem propagating these martial sentiments might have felt that he was making an important contribution to the king's intellectual and military defense efforts.

Furthermore, that Beowulf contains a sustained representation of an invaded kingdom was probably not lost to this overseer, living as he was through the worst invasions England had experienced in centuries. (22) The parallels between the invasions of Heorot by Grendel and England by the Vikings are striking. Grendel is said to be able to seize thirty thanes ("pritig pegna"), and then depart with them, exultant in booty, to his home ("panon eft gewat / hude hremig to ham faran") (123b-24). In the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, Wulfstan claims that often one Viking is able to defeat ten Englishmen in battle ("oft on gefeohte an fesed tyne"), and he notes that after they do all of their harm, they return, bearing booty, to their ships: "hy hergiad 7 hy baernad, rypad 7 reafiad 7 to scipe laedad" [they harry and they burn, they rob and they plunder, and then lead it to their ship] (Beth.XX.EI, 271-72). Yet Beowulf's appeal lies not only in its parallel invasion scenario, but in the means by which its invaders are repelled. Like Wulfstan and his contemporaries, the poem envisions loyalty as a force capable of bringing an end to a nation's troubles. It is loyalty that brings Beowulf to the defense of Hrothgar: repaying the king for service performed for his father Ecgtheow, Beowulf

states that he comes to Denmark "purh holdne hige" [through loyal intention] (267a). He tells Hrothgar that he resolved, when he set out to sea, "paet ic anunga eowra leoda / willan geworhte, opde on wael crunge" [that I certainly would work the will of your people or fall amongst the slain] (634b-35). When he performs the former and rids Heorot of Grendel, the narrator remarks:
                 Haefde East-Denum
   Geatmecga leod      gilp gelaested,
   swylce oncypde      ealle gebette,
   inwidsorge    pe hie aer drugon
   ond for preanydum   polian scoldon,
   torn unlytel.

[He had, for the East-Danes, that man of the Warrior-Geats, fulfilled his promise, as he remedied all of their grief, the sorrow caused by malice, which they earlier endured and by dire necessity needed to suffer, no small affliction.]

For an English audience enduring (drugon) and suffering (polian) an analogous form of inwidsorge and torn unlytel, hearing of the successful defense of Heorot must have brought considerable comfort. In this way, Beowulf might have functioned as both an inspiration--an assertion that a remedy is possible--and a national wish fulfillment.

Yet Beowulf would bring not only comfort to this audience. With a theme of invasion running throughout the poem, it is clear that its audience would have been constantly reminded of many of the gravest problems of AEthelred's reign. Most notably, battlefield desertion--the plague of the age, according to the chronicler--is treated at length after all of Beowulf's retainers, except Wiglaf, refrain from assisting him in his fight with the dragon. Wiglaf chastises the disloyal retainers harshly:
                        londrihtes mot
   paere maegburge      monna aeghwylc
   idel hweorfan,       syddan aedelingas
   feorran gefricgean   fleam eowerne
   domleasan daed.      Dead bid sella
   eorla gehwylcum      ponne edwitlif!

[Every member of your kindred will have to wander about, deprived of land-rights, once princes from afar hear of your flight, your dishonorable deed. Death is better for every man, than a life of disgrace!]

Evidence, perhaps, of the resonance that Wiglaf's rebuke speech had with its eleventh-century audience may be found in several of Wulfstan's law codes (see V Atr. 28, VI Atr. 35, and II Cn. 77). Here we find battlefield desertion being formally legislated against for the first time in English legal history, and its penalty, interestingly, includes the loss of land. (23) While Wiglaf does not threaten the retainers with legal confiscation, he does present the loss of land as one of the consequences of battlefield desertion. Further, if Englishmen during the reign of AEthelred felt that national defense efforts were failing due to battlefield desertion, Wiglaf confirms that it can bring about the worst of their fears: the subjugation or even extermination of an entire race. We learn in the speech of the Geatish messenger that the princes from afar (aedelingas feorran), whom Wiglaf believes will invade and uproot the Geats after they hear of the retainers' flight, are in fact the leaders of the Franks, the Frisians, and the Swedes (2910-23). The messenger prophesies his nation's destruction and the narrator confirms his assertions: "he ne leag fela / wyrda ne worda" [he did not lie much in the outcomes or predictions] (3029b-30a). Then at the funeral of Beowulf, a Geatish woman delivers a lament, in which she dreads "(here)g(eon)gas ... waelfylla wo(r)n, {w}erudes egesan / hy[n]do ond haef(t)nyd" [army invasions ... a multitude of slaughters, the terror of troops, humiliation and slavery] (lines 3153-55). To judge from Wulfstan's expectation of national displacement and subjugation in the Sermo Lupi--he warns that a fate similar to that of the Britons could lie ahead (Beth.XX.EI, 274)--the Geatish woman's fears might have been shared by many living through the first sixteen years of the eleventh century.

As we can see, many aspects of Beowulf would have been emotionally resonant and politically relevant at the time when its manuscript was written out. Beowulf, I argue, was deployed to encourage a more spirited defense of the homeland, to illustrate the catastrophic consequences of hlafordswice, and ultimately to promote getreowpa and tighten those social bonds which were perceived to have been loosened. Yet beyond the material contained in the poem, the very act of performing a poem of this length to a large group of people would have helped tighten social bonds. John D. Niles, arguing that "the end result" of such a performance is "a set of strengthened social ties," considers the process at length:

When people gather together to hear a work of oral literature, they share a single space. Crowded together, perhaps, they may push against their neighbors, drink the same beer, smell the same scent of smoke, sweat, and wool. In the intervals ... people may embrace, trade news, or flirt; fights may break out; friendships may be cemented or business deals brought to a head. In such a setting, the content of a poem is not necessarily its most important property. (24)

If scholars a millennium later can come to such conclusions, it seems reasonable to think that the same understanding of the social effects of a poetic performance would have been available to the individual who ordered Beowulf to be written out and performed. But is there any evidence to suggest that it actually was intended for performance? Might it have simply been copied out for an individual's private reading? To answer such questions, and to test my hypotheses concerning eleventh-century interest in and deployment of Beowulf, it is necessary now to turn to the manuscript.


The unique extant copy of Beowulf resides in London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius A.XV, fols. 129r-198v. It is the fourth item in the Nowell Codex, preceded by three prose texts--the acephalous Life of St. Christopher, the Wonders of the East, and the Letter of Alexander to Aristotle--and followed by one poetic text, the fragmentary Judith. The prose texts and the first 1939 lines of Beowulf are in the hand of one scribe, Scribe A, writing in Anglo-Saxon vernacular minuscule; the remainder of Beowulf and Judith are in the hand of a second scribe, Scribe B, writing in Anglo-Saxon square minuscule. In mounting arguments concerning the deployment of Beowulf alone, I may appear to be assigning undue importance to the poem, mistakenly privileging it over its neighboring texts, some of which most likely functioned as little more than monastic entertainment. Yet I follow a strong precedent in privileging Beowulf over what presently surrounds it, as the Anglo-Saxon scribes themselves did precisely that.

Beowulf, in fact, is treated with so much more care and attention than the rest of the Nowell Codex that Kevin Kiernan is led to argue that Beowulf actually originated as a separate codex. (25) Kiernan offers a slew of paleographical and codicological evidence in support of this claim. He observes that if Scribe A were to have copied continuously from the prose texts into Beowulf, then his scribal habits should remain the same--yet clearly they do not. "Significantly," writes Kiernan, "the style of the capitals does remain constant through the prose texts, but it changes notably at the beginning of Beowulf?.' The script of the capitals switches from uncial majuscule to capital majuscule, but also, notes Kiernan, "the major difference is that the letters in the Beowulf line are drawn with more care, more evenness, more technical draftsmanship" (140-41). Most important to Kiernan, though, is the fact that Beowulf was heavily proofread, whereas the prose texts were not:

The most interesting and enlightening proof of the integrity of the Beowulf codex can be seen in the quantity and quality of the corrections in Beowulf The poem was carefully proofread by both scribes and about 180 intelligent corrections were made. By contrast, there is no evidence that the prose texts were proofread by the first scribe, and what few corrections there are tend to show that the scribe was utterly uninterested in the accuracy of his copy. In view of the first scribe's interest in Beowulf, as reflected in his large number of corrections, it is instructive at this point to characterize his marked lack of interest, amounting at times to outright negligence, in the prose texts.... Lengthy dittographs and omissions occur with almost ostentatious regularity. (141-42)

A number of other physical details convince Kiernan of Beowulf's separate origin: the gatherings of the prose texts are generally made up of three sheets, whereas those for Beowulf are made up of four and five; the first page of Beowulf contains wear and tear, as well as a Cottonian shelfmark, indicating that it was once an outside cover; and the final pages of Beowulf contain a wormhole that does not continue into Judith. Kiernan also notes that Humfrey Wanley describes the manuscript of the poem "as if it were a separate book," and that this description is of exceptional value "because he studied the codex before the fire of 1731, when the original gatherings were still intact." (26) Finally, on the last page of Beowulf, the scribe packs his letters tightly together in order to squeeze the ending onto the page, leading Kiernan to conclude: "it is perfectly evident that the scribe had no more vellum available after the end of this page" (149). For Kiernan, then, Beowulf originally existed as a separate and complete codex, beginning with HWAET, concluding with -geornost, and containing no other texts before or after. (27)

If we should accept Kiernan's claims, they would certainly bolster my arguments: a codex containing an epic poem alone would be a singularity amongst surviving Old English poetic manuscripts, and, as such, would indicate a singular importance. Yet my hypotheses do not depend upon Kiernan's claims, which have been challenged by both Leonard Boyle and Johann Gerritsen. (28) The present state of the Nowell Codex prevents us from determining its original structure with certainty, but Boyle and Gerritsen cast serious doubts on Kiernan's thesis that Beowulf was copied separately. I reproduce his evidence for that thesis, however, because whether it is accepted in whole or in part, it alerts us to important discrepancies between Beowulf and its neighboring texts. Whether Beowulf was copied separately from or concomitantly with the texts that currently surround it--texts that were written by the same scribes, at the same place, and at around the same time--it is nevertheless clear that the scribes put unusual effort into their copying of the poem. The discrepancy between the extensive proofreading of Beowulf and the lack of proofreading of the prose texts reveals that, at the very least, the scribes were treating the copying of Beowulf as an exceptionally important assignment. The diligence of the scribes suggests as well that they were preparing Beowulf for a purpose distinct from that of the prose texts: oral performance. More specifically, it suggests a performance context in public and of some consequence--one in which pausing to make corrections was impermissible, and one in which the lull effect of continuous recitation was desired. (29)

Additional evidence within the manuscript lends support to the suggestion that Beowulf was intended for oral recitation rather than private reading. The fact that two scribes collaborated on the manuscript indicates, as Kenneth Sisam observes, "that it was the undertaking of a community, not of an individual who made a copy for his own use." The manuscript, moreover, is fairly unadorned, which suggests that its makers prioritized use over appearance. Sisam notes that it "does not compare in elegance with the nearly contemporary Exeter and Vercelli Books" and that "the modest format" as well as the "ill-matched styles" of the scribes 'Care evidence that the book was not produced as a present for some great man, whether an ecclesiastic or a lay patron." (30) Additionally, the manuscript's punctuation may provide evidence for eleventh-century performance of the poem. Kemp Malone and Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe have posited that Beowulf's punctuation was merely copied from the exemplar, but Daniel Donoghue has recently given us reason to think that it may in fact reflect the punctuating practices of the eleventh-century scribes. (31) Donoghue argues that the Anglo-Saxon medial point functioned like a modern colon: "graphically it belongs to the anterior clause, but it anticipates something following it." Viewing punctuation in the Beowulf manuscript in this way, he discovers that it almost always precedes, in the words of M. B. Parkes, "units of confusibles." (32) Medial points, Donoghue finds, fall uniformly before a-clauses (clauses that begin in the first half-line) and a great many of these precede lines containing clause dips, both of which could have given trouble to someone reading aloud from the manuscript. A most important revelation of Donoghue's approach is that although the two scribes point at approximately equal rates, "they show considerable differences in the placement of the points. Scribe A is considerably more consistent in pointing before a-clauses, and places over 70 per cent of the points at the end of one clause and the beginning of another. Scribe B's rate is only about 50 percent ... This variation is a reminder that scribes did not all point alike." (33) The discrepancy between the practices of the two scribes raises the possibility that the punctuation was not mechanically copied, but inserted according to their own judgment. If this is so, then we have two scribes who are alert to metrical difficulties, sensitive to where pointing would be needed, and instrumental in providing the punctuation necessary to facilitate an effective oral performance.


In my arguments for the deployment of Beowulf as a monastic community's contribution to the king's intellectual and military defense efforts, such as those prompted by VII AEthelred or similar initiatives, issues beyond the question of performance are raised. I suggest that the poem's deployment was intended to promote getreowpa, condemn hlafordswice, and encourage a return to the social bonds and values that were thought to have held society together in the past. I posit that part of the appeal of Beowulf was the link it provided to the past and I believe that this view finds compelling support when we consider the manuscript copying process more closely. Michael Lapidge's study of literal confusion in the manuscript, focusing on instances of a/u, r/n, p/p, c/t, and d/d confusion, indicates that the exemplar used by the eleventh-century scribes might have been of considerable antiquity. Seeking an archetype that could account for each of these errors, Lapidge concludes: "The paleographical implications of literal confusion in the transmitted text of Beowulf enable us to form a coherent picture of the archetype which gave rise to that confusion, namely a manuscript in Anglo-Saxon set minuscule script, written before ca. 750." (34) Lapidge allows for an intermediary copying stage between the eighth-century manuscript and the eleventh-century one, in which the text absorbed Early West Saxon forms, but the scribes of Cotton Vitellius A.XV might still have been copying from an exemplar over a hundred years old. For the scribal community in possession of the exemplar, then, this manuscript would have given them access to several levels of the past: it might have contained the paleographical traces, in scripts and decoration, of the ninth century; the archaic sounding language of the eighth century; and the deeds of valor wrought by men in the sixth century. It is worth pausing to put pressure on what these layers of antiquity might have meant to eleventh-century Anglo-Saxons.

Beset by internal dissension and external invasion, the reign of King AEthelred "Unraed," particularly during its latter half (the years to which Dumville dates the Beowulf manuscript), was a time in which there was much idealization and invocation of the past. A widespread nostalgia for the reign of Edgar the Peaceful (959-75) emerged, finding its culmination in two poems inserted by Archbishop Wulfstan into the northern recension of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. (35) In the poem comprising the 959 (D/E) entry, Wulfstan situates Edgar's reign within the larger spectrum of Anglo-Saxon history and envisions it as the most prosperous of reigns within memory:

On his dagum hit godode georne, 7 God him geude paet he wunode on sibbe pa hwile pe he leofode, 7 he dyde, swa him pearf waes--earnode paes georne. He araerde Godes lof wide, 7 Godes lage lulode, 7 folces frid bette, swypost Dara cyninga, pe aer him gewurde, be manna gemynde. 7 God him eac fylste, paet cyningas 7 (h)eorlas georne him to bugan, 7 wurdon underpeodde to pam de he wolde, 7 butan gefeohte eall he gewilde poet he sylf wolde.

[In his days, things improved greatly, and God granted to him that he would live in peace as long as he lived, and he did as was necessary for him--he earned that eagerly. He promoted the praise of God widely, and loved God's law, and improved the people's peace, most strongly out of all of the kings who existed before him, within the memory of men. And God supported him also, that kings and noblemen eagerly submitted to him, and were subjected to whatever he wished, and without combat he controlled everything that he wished.]

Edgar's reign was perceived as a time of such prosperity because, as Wulfstan makes clear in the companion piece included in the entry for 975 (D), it was devoid of all the problems that presently plague England. Contrasting his days with the dagum of Edgar, Wulfstan writes: "Naes <se> flota swa rang, ne se here swa strang, paet on Angelcynne ms him gefaette, pa hwile pe se aepela cyning cynestole gerehte" [There was no fleet so proud, nor (Viking) army so strong that they could take booty amongst the English people, as long as that noble king held his throne]. Further, while affairs improved greatly (hit godode georne) during Edgar's reign, they have declined steadily since its conclusion. His young son Edward took the throne, immoral behavior spread throughout the country, and a political faction had the young king killed. As Wulfstan writes, "fela unrihta 7 yfelra unlaga arysan up siddan, 7 aa aefter pam hit yfelode swide" [many misdeeds and unlawful evils have since arisen up, and ever after that things have gotten excessively worse] (975 D).

Furthermore, as Wulfstan's allusion to those kings "within the memory of men" (be manna gemynde) indicates, nostalgia extended beyond the period of Edgar's reign, AElfric, in the epilogue to his translation of the Book of Judges, considers the contemporary relevance of the text and enters into a meditation on the history of English conflict with Viking invaders. He writes:

On Englalande eac oft waeron cyningas sigefaeste purh God, swa swa we secgan gehyrdon. Swa swa waes AElfred cining De oft gefeaht wid Denan, op paet he sige gewann and bewerode his leode. Swa gelice AEdestan pe wid Anlaf gefeaht and his firde ofsloh and aflimde hine sylfne and he on sibbe wunude sippan mid his leode. Eadgar se aedela and se anrseda cining araerde Godes lof on his leode gehwaer, ealra cininga swidost ofer Engla deode, and him God gewilde his widerwinnan a, ciningas and eorlas, paet hi comon him to buton aelcum gefeohte, frides wilniende, him underpeodde to pam pe he wolde. And he waes gewurdod wide geond land. (36)

[In England also, kings were often victorious through God, just as we have heard said. Just so was King Alfred, who often fought against the Danes, until he achieved victory and defended his people. Very similar was AEthelstan, who fought against Olaf, and defeated his army and put Olaf himself to flight, and he dwelled in peace afterwards with his people. Edgar the noble and resolute king, promoted the praise of God everywhere amongst his people, most strongly out of all kings over the English nation, and for him God always defeated his enemies, kings and noblemen, that they came to him without any conflict desiring peace, and subjected themselves to whatever he wished, and he was respected widely throughout the land.]

The lexical and conceptual similarity between Wulfstan's and AElfric's idealized representations of Edgar's reign indicates that one is a source for the other, probably Wulfstan reworking AElfric, (37) but the precise relationship is uncertain. What seems clear, however, is that the invocation of earlier English kings was a powerful discursive gesture during the reign of AEthelred "Unroed." Feelings of nostalgia seem to have been so powerful and pervasive that Wulfstan even decided to work them into law. In VIII AEthelred, he writes: "Ac uton don swa us pearf is: uton niman us to bisnan paet aerran worldwitan to raede geraedon, AEpelstan 7 Eadmund 7 Eadgar pe nihst woes, hu hi God weordodon 7 Godes lage heoldon 7 Godes gafel loestan> pa hwile pe hi leofodon" [But let us do as is necessary for us: let us take as our example what earlier worldly authorities advisedly decreed--AEpelstan and Edmund and Edgar who was last--how they worshipped God and held God's law and rendered God's tribute, as long as they lived]. (38) The past within memory, then--extending, apparently, from the present into the reign of King Alfred (ca. 871-99)--was to be emulated, to be taken as an example (to bisnan) in both its legal and military excellence, as well as in its successful maintenance of God's favor. Yet the extreme crises of the times, some of which found no parallel in the recent past, led to consideration of the deeper past, no longer fully in men's memory, extending back to the migration period. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle entry for 979 (D), concerning the murder of the young King Edward, asserts: "Ne weard Angelcynne nan wyrse d<ae>d gedon, ponne peos woes, syppan hi aeft Britenland gesohton" [Never was a worse deed done amongst the English people than this was, since they first sought Britain[. Similarly, Wulfstan concludes the longest version of the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos with an allusion to Gildas and a reminder that the migration-era Angles and Saxons only managed to possess England due to the sinfulness of the Britons: "God ... let aet nyhstan Engla here heora eard gewinnan 7 Brytta dugepe fordon mid ealle" [God ... let at last the army of the English conquer their land and completely destroy the power of the Britons] (Beth.XX.EI, 274). He warns his audience that unless there is drastic moral improvement, a similar fate may befall them, because "wysrsan daeda we witan mid Englum ponne we mid Bryttan ahwar gehyrdan" [we know worse deeds amongst the English than we ever heard amongst the Britons] (Beth.XX.EI, 274-75).

As we can see, the problems that arose during AEthelred's reign inspired a resurgence of interest in the past(s), both recent and ancient, as periods of time that could provide solutions for the present, yield exemplars to be emulated, and offer insights into the course of history. Bearing this in mind, I believe we can better understand why a scribal community devoted time and resources to copying out Beowulf, and why they might have felt that this would have constituted a meaningful contribution to national defense efforts. Resting on a shelf in an old manuscript, possibly in an outdated script that was no longer easily legible, Beowulf must have confronted its scribes as a strange and difficult text. Certain words, phrases, letters, and even personae were probably completely unrecognizable or only comprehensible with considerable difficulty. While copying the text, Scribe A could not let himself lapse and make the sort of careless errors he did in his rendition of The Wonders of the East. This task demanded the full attention of both scribes and we ought not to underestimate the enormity of the labor that went into the production of a flesh copy of Beowulf. Beyond the usual physical toil involved in copying out a text of this length, the task of Scribes A and B might have also involved: the insertion or modification of the poem's punctuation, marking out the verses that could have caused confusion; the performance of a textual recovery, converting a text in an obsolete script into one that eleventh-century readers could approach with ease; and the modernization of older forms, as well as the standardization of certain dialect forms, both serving to increase the intelligibility of the poem for its latest audience. I believe that the scribes undertook these labors and poured effort into this unfamiliar poem because, although there was material in the poem they did not understand, they knew with certainty that they had before them an extended account of life in geardagum.

Indeed, for its eleventh-century audience, Beowulf did not simply contain a vague picture of geardagum--it offered a host of information about events and figures, both mythological and historical, that seem to have fallen out of cultural memory. Scribal errors of proper names confirm that the poem actually does contain information that, by the eleventh century, was no longer "be manna gemynde" [in the memory of men]. The confusion of Beow Scyldinga (18a, 53b) with Beowulf of the Geats reveals how remote the formerly important genealogical material must have been; the erroneous rendering of Eomer as geomor, "sad" (1960b), suggests the same for the mythological material; and the perplexing "mere wio ingasmilts" for "Merewioingas milts" [the Merovingian's mercy] (2921), suggests the same for the historical material. We should not assume, however, that unfamiliarity with these and other figures in the poem would have made them or the poem irrelevant. On the contrary, at a time when the past, including the migration-era past, had acquired newfound urgency and importance, it is likely that the poem was valued in part because of the unfamiliarity and antiquity of its references.

It is possible, as well, that the poem was valued for its own antiquity, of which its eleventh-century audience might have been fully aware. While the dating debate cannot be considered resolved, recent studies have made an eighth-century date of composition appear most probable. Michael Lapidge's paleographical evidence is supported by both R. D. Fulk's metrical evidence and Dennis Cronan's lexical evidence, all of which separately indicate eighth-century origins. (39) Additionally, studies from Sam Newton and Peter Clemoes, among others, have illustrated how well the poem reflects and responds to the culture of the eighth century. (40) A most important development in this regard is Patrick Wormald's study of the frequency wit which names found in heroic poetry are also found in historical documents. Wormald shows that many of these names are prevalent in documents prior to 840, but rare or nonexistent afterward, including "the notorious sole case of a Beowulf, a monk in the Lindisfarne Liber Vitae; or Hygelac, a lector in AEthelwulf's De Abbatibus as well as in the Liber Vitae; or Ingeld, the name of King Ine's brother ..." and so on. Wormald concludes that it is "reasonable to suppose that a class which regularly gave heroic names or nameelements to its sons is more likely to have been acquainted with heroic stories than one which had ceased to do so." (41) To judge from the onomastic evidence, then, an eighth-century audience would have known Ingeld and Eomer, Beow and Beowulf; they would have properly constituted the community, the We, whom the Beowulf poet envisions as having heard (gefrugnon) of the deeds he is about to recount (2b). As time went on, this would have become increasingly less true of English audiences. With knowledge of the material alluded to in Beowulf gradually fading from cultural memory, the poem might have seemed obscure, unedifying, or irrelevant by the beginning of the tenth century* Accordingly, it might have spent a century or more without being copied afresh. In the early eleventh century, however, the conditions were once again in place for there to be interest in the poem. As indicated by the scribal errors discussed above, Anglo-Saxons did not suddenly become knowledgeable about the heroic past again; but they did become passionately interested in their past and in that past as well. It did not matter if characters were unknown or allusions were befuddling--what mattered was that the poem gave them an account of life in geardagum.

In an essay proceeding on purely paleographical grounds, and taking no historical or contextual considerations into account, David Dumville concluded that the Beowulf manuscript was most likely copied out between 997 and 1016. What I hope to have shown is that it is no accident that Beowulf belongs to this period, that the poem fits well into the cultural climate of these years, and that it was not merely copied to occupy a monk's idle hours. As a poem dealing with issues of loyalty and betrayal, and invasion and defense, Beowulf would have spoken to a number of the most pressing concerns of an early eleventh-century English audience. The monastic community or scriptorium overseer responsible for the poem's production and performance would have been justified in thinking that this labor was a meaningful contribution to national efforts. A defense program such as the one outlined in VII AEthelred, moreover, provides a plausible context for the copying of the poem: it reveals how the entire population, both laymen and clergy, was being called on to contribute in various ways to a unified effort against the Viking invasions. A further factor that would have lent Beowulf urgency and relevance, and possibly led to its preservation, was the widespread desire for the past that emerged during these years. The crises of AEthelred's reign produced intense nostalgia for earlier times without Viking invasions or internal dissension, times that could explain present problems, and times that could be emulated or moralized upon. Beowulf gave them all of that and more.

Harvard University


I wish to thank Haruko Momma, Martha Rust, and PQ's anonymous readers for their valuable insights and suggestions. I would also like to thank Daniel Donoghue and Joseph Harris for advice contributed while this paper was in development and for generous assistance with the final version.

(1) For a balanced overview, see Robert E. Bjork and Anita Obermeier, "Date, Provenance, Author, Audiences," A "Beowulf" Handbook, ed. Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles (Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1997), 13-34. See also the various essays collected by Colin Chase, ed., The Dating of "Beowulf" (U. of Toronto Press, 1981).

(2) N.R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1957), 282.

(3) See Kevin S. Kiernan, "Beowulf" and the "Beowulf" Manuscript (rev. ed., Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1996); subsequent notes are parenthetic. Michael Lapidge, "The Archetype of Beowulf," Anglo-Saxon England 29 (2000): 5-41; David N. Dumville, "Beowulf Come Lately: Some Notes on the Paleography of the Nowell Codex," Archiv fur das Studium der neuern Sprachen und Literaturen 225 (1988): 49-63.

(4) Dumville, "Beowulf Come Lately," 63.

(5) See Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King AEthelred "The Unready," 978-1016: A Study in Their Use as Historical Evidence (Cambridge U. Press, 1980), 186-210; and "An Abbot, an Archbishop, and the Viking Raids of 1006-7 and 1009 12," Anglo-Saxon England 36 (2007): 151-220, esp. 179-89 for its discussion of VII AEthelred.

(6) A.J. Robertson, ed. The Laws of the Kings of England from Edmund to Henry I (Cambridge U. Press, 1925), 114. Translations here and throughout, from all Old English and Latin texts, are my own.

(7) See Robertson, Laws of the Kings of England, 108-17. I cite from 114, 110, and 116.

(8) Keynes, "An Abbot, an Archbishop," 189.

(9) Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition, Vol. 5, MS C (Cambridge: Brewer, 2001). Subsequent citations from the C Chronicle will appear by starting annal.

(10) Richard Marsden, ed., "The Old English Heptateuch" and AElfric's "Libellus de Veteri Testamento et Novo" (Oxford: EETS, 2008), 217.

(11) See Richard Firth Green, A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 1-40, for a fascinating account of the etymology and history of getreowpa and related words in Old and Middle English literature.

(12) Dorothy Bethurum, ed., The Homilies of Wulfstan (Oxford: Clarendon, 1957), 267, 275. All citations from the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos are taken from the longest version, Bethurum XX (EI). Subsequent citations will appear in text as Beth.XX.EI with the appropriate page number.

(13) See, e.g., starting annal 993, 998, 999, 1001, 1003, 1006, 1009, 1010.

(14) See D. G. Scragg, ed., The Battle of Maldon (Manchester U. Press, 1981), lines 185-201.

(15) Keynes, Diplomas of King AEthelred, 223-26.

(16) Jonathan Wilcox, "'The Battle of Maldon' and the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 979-1016: A Winning Combination," Proceedings of the Medieval Association of the Midwest 3 (1996 for 1995): 34.

(17) James Earl, "The Forbidden Beowulf Haunted by Incest," PMLA 125 (2010): 289-305. Earl notes that "interested as he was in the ancestors," the Beowulf poet "had no interest in preserving the memory of the most objectionable (i.e., least Christian) aspects of their culture" (292). Earl observes that Beowulf is devoid of "any explicit mention of the usual horrors of Germanic folklore so conspicuous in the analogues: rape, incest, cannibalism, infanticide, blood drinking, shape-shifting, metamorphosis of men into wolves or bears, and more" (291).

(18) R.D. Fulk, Robert E. Bjork, and John D. Niles, eds., Klaeber's Beowulf 4th ed. (U. of Toronto Press, 2008). All subsequent citations of Beowulf are from this edition (diacritics omitted) and will appear in text by their line numbers.

(19) Stanley B. Greenfield and Daniel G. Calder, A New Critical History of Old English Literature (New York U. Press, 1986), 139.

(20) Eamon Carrigan, "Structure and Thematic Development in Beowulf," Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C, vol. 66 (1967/1968): 40.

(21) The old argument, popularized by Dorothy Whitelock and revived most recently by Kevin Kiernan, that English audiences would not have readily listened to a poem featuring Danes during a time of Viking invasion is convincingly refuted by R. I. Page, who demonstrates that English audiences were intelligent enough to distinguish between hostile Danes, friendly Danes, and mythological Danes. See Dorothy Whitelock, Audience of "Beowulf," 24; Kiernan, "Beowulf" and the "Beowulf" Manuscript, 13-23; R. I. Page, "The Audience of Beowulf and the Vikings," in Chase, Dating of Beowulf, 113-22.

(22) Kathryn Powell makes a similar observation in "Meditating on Men and Monsters: A Reconsideration of the Thematic Unity of the 'Beowulf' Manuscript," RES 57 (2006): 1-15, where she argues that the Nowell Codex was in fact compiled around an interest "in monstrous and foreign aggression as a particular problem for rulers," I. Powell's essay touches on many issues that arise throughout my paper, but she tends to take them in different directions; she reads Beowulf as a text that would have inspired reflection on current events rather than action in those events.

(23) See Dorothy Whitelock, "Archbishop Wulfstan, Homilist and Statesman," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 4th ser., vol. 24 (1942): 43.

(24) John D. Niles, "Reconceiving Beowulf: Poetry as Social Praxis," College English 61 (1998): 155.

(25) For Kiernan's full argument, aspects of which are highlighted in my essay, see the section "History and Construction of the Composite Codex," 65-169, in "Beowulf" and the "Beowulf" Manuscript.

(26) Kiernan, "Beowulf" and the "Beowulf" Manuscript, 148, 134, 150, 133. Kiernan writes that Wanley "begins his description of Beowulf itself with the phrase in hoc libro. There does not appear to have been any doubt in Wanley's mind that Beowulf began a new codex" (133).

(27) In addition to his paleographical and codicological arguments, Kiernan also calls into question the thematic unity of the Nowell Codex, and argues that its essential disunity suggests a separate origin for Beowulf. He asserts that Beowulf "has nothing of significance in common with the prose texts that now precede it, despite Sisam's familiar characterization of the Nowell Codex as an English Liber Monstrorum. Beowulf may have been added to the prose codex in late Old English times because some Anglo-Saxon anthologist perceived a loose connection in the lore about monsters, yet it is sad to think that the same person did not also perceive how far apart Beowulf stands from the prose texts in all other respects. Its poetic style, its substantive subject matter, its Northern sources, its originality, and its overall aesthetic superiority, are all reasons for believing that Beowulf was not copied at the same time, or for the same collection, as the prose texts ... The real objection to the thesis that Beowulf was the fourth item in a decidedly eccentric Liber Monstrorum is the implication that 11th-century Anglo-Saxons had no sophisticated appreciation for an original epic written in their own tongue" ("Beowulf" and the "Beowulf" Manuscript, 139-40).

(28) Leonard E. Boyle, "The Nowell Codex and the Poem of Beowulf," in Chase, Dating of Beowulf, 23-32; Johann Gerritsen, "Have with you to Lexington!: The Beowulf Manuscript and Beowulf," In Other Words, ed. J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Richard Todd (Dordrecht: Foris, 1989), 15-34.

(29) That Beowulf was likely intended for a purpose distinct from that of the markedly different prosetexts conforms not only to common sense and paleographical evidence, but to the larger picture of Anglo-Saxon scribal culture that surviving codices paint for us. In a period when property records were copied into codices with gospel books (York, Minster Library, MS. Add. 1), laws with homilies (British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.I), gnomic poetry with national chronicles (British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius B.I), and Apollonius of Tyre with The Institutes of Polity (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 201), it is clear that texts were often copied for reasons and purposes considerably different from those of their neighbors.

(30) Kenneth Sisam, Studies in the History of Old English Literature (Oxford: Clarendon, 1953), 95-96.

(31) Kemp Malone, ed., The Nowell Codex: British Museum Cotton Vitellius A.xv. Second MS (Copenhagen: Roskilde & Bagger, 1963), 29-32; Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse (Cambridge U. Press, 1990), 175-79; Daniel Donoghue, "A Point Well Taken: Manuscript Punctuation and Old English Poems," Inside Old English, ed. John Walmsley (Malden: Blackwell, 2006), 38-58.

(32) M.B. Parkes, "Punctuation, or Pause and Effect," Medieval Eloquence: Studies in the Theory and Practice of Medieval Rhetoric, ed. J. J. Murphy (U. of California Press, 1978), 139. Cited by Donoghue, "A Point Well Taken," 46.

(33) Donoghue, "A Point Well Taken," 51-54.

(34) Michael Lapidge, "The Archetype of Beowulf," 34. Lapidge's arguments have been challenged by E. G. Stanley in "Paleographical and Textual Deep Waters: [a] for [u] and [u] for [a], [d] for [d] and [d] for [d] in Old English," ANQ 15 (2002): 64-72. Stanley's arguments, however, have been convincingly rebutted by George Clark in "The Date of Beowulf and the Arundel Psalter Gloss," MP 106 (2009): 677-85. Clark concludes that "Stanley's note poses no challenge to Lapidge's powerful argument" (685). It should also be noted that Lapidge's arguments were preceded by similar observations in Gerritsen, "Have with you to Lexington!" 24, and Peter Clemoes, Interactions of Thought and Language in Old English Poetry (Cambridge U. Press, 1995), 32-34.

(35) I cite the versions found in G. R Cubbin, ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition, Vol. 6 MS D (Cambridge: Brewer, 1996), 45-47. Subsequent citations will appear in text by starting annal. For the claim of Wulfstan's authorship, see Karl Jost, "Wulfstan und die angelsachsische Chronik," Anglia 47 (1923): 105-23. Jost's ascription is challenged in Sara Pons-Sanz, "A Paw in Every Pie: Wulfstan and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Again," Leeds Studies in English 38 (2007): 31 52. Jost's ascription has been accepted by Dorothy Whitelock, Dorothy Bethurum, E. G. Stanley, and R. D. Fulk and Christopher M. Cain, among others. See Whitelock, "Archbishop Wulfstan, Homilist and Statesman,"' 38; Bethurum, The Homilies of Wulftan, 47; Stanley, "Wulfstan and AElfric: 'The true Difference between the Law and the Gospel,'" Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, ed. Matthew Townend (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004), 429-41; Fulk and Cain, A History of Old English Literature (Malden: Blackwell, 2003), 69. For further discussion of Wulfstan's authorship and its implications, see Thomas A. Bredehoft, Authors, Audiences, and Old English Verse (U. of Toronto Press, 2009), 26-38.

(36) Marsden, Old English Heptateuch, 200.

(37) This relationship is affirmed by Whitelock, "Archbishop Wulfstan, Homilist and Statesman," 38.

(38) Robertson, Laws of the Kings of England, 128 (VIII Atr. 43).

(39) See the following from R. D. Fulk: "Dating Beowulf to the Viking Age," PQ 61 (1982): 341-59; "West Germanic Parasiting, Sievers' Law, and the Dating of Old English Verse," SP 86 (1989): 117-38; A History of Old English Meter (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1992), 348-92; and "Archaisms and Neologisms in the Language of Beowulf," Studies in the History of the English Language III, ed. Christopher M. Cain and Geoffrey Russom (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007), 267-87. For Dennis Cronan's arguments, see "Poetic Words, Conservatism, and the Dating of Old English Poetry," Anglo Saxon England 33 (2004): 23-50.

(40) Peter Clemoes, Interactions of Thought and Language in Old English Poetry (Cambridge U. Press, 1995), 1-68; Sam Newton, The Origins of "Beowulf" and the Pre "viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Cambridge: Brewer, 1993).

(41) See Patrick Wormald's appendix to the revised version of "Bede, Beowulf and the Conversion of the Anglo-Saxon Aristocracy," The Times of Bede, ed. Stephen Baxter (Blackwell, 2006), 79, 78.
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Author:Neidorf, Leonard
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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