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Violence and Non-Violence in Anglo-Saxon England: AElfric's "Passion of St. Edmund".

The turn of the millennium draws the mind back a thousand years to the deeply troubled 990s in England, a paradoxical decade that enjoyed a high clerical culture even as the Vikings were ravaging the land. A newly reformed monastic system was flourishing under the king's favor, but this king would be remembered less fondly ever after as AEthelred "the Unready." As Simon Keynes says, "The internal and cultural affairs of the kingdom were able to prosper, but ... the external and military affairs of the kingdom were not conducted ... with comparable success."(1) That is an understatement: many of our surviving manuscripts and much Latin and Old English literature date from this highly productive decade--which is framed, however, by the disastrous Battle of Maldon in 991 and AEthelred's attempt to exterminate Danes in England (mostly merchants and recent settlers) on St. Brice's Day, November 13, 1002.

The St. Brice's Day massacre was a desperate gamble that did not pay off. The Danes, unsurprisingly, redoubled their efforts and eventually took AEthelred's throne. Keynes admits that the massacre "might well offend modern sensibilities and appear as the despicably cruel reaction of a paranoid king to a reported threat against him, but no act of violence on such a scale could have been carried out unless it had general support" (205); but that is largely what is so appalling about it. He concludes, "There might be good cause if not to applaud then at least to condone rather than to deplore ... the massacre of St. Brice's Day" (208)--but I don't think so. A millennium later the thought of such an Anglo-Saxon Kristalnacht sends a shiver down the spine.

The massacre made a certain kind of sense, of course, as revenge for decades of Viking atrocities. Raids had resumed in 978, the year of AEthelred's accession, after nearly a century's remission. From a modern point of view, however, the massacre only illustrates the terrible inadequacy of revenge as a legal concept, for revenge falls on groups rather than individuals, and within those groups it falls on the innocent as well as the offending members. The massacre reminds us also of a similar horror at the beginning of Anglo-Saxon history, the slaughter of 1200 monks of Bangor by King AEthelfrith of Northumbria in 605. That massacre too made sense as an act of revenge--divine vengeance, according to Bede, for the Celtic Church's refusal to submit to Augustine of Canterbury.(2)

In the world of medieval violence--in the world of violence, period--the Anglo-Saxons enjoy a certain well-deserved reputation. Anglo-Saxon England was the site of constant wars and repeated invasions for half a millennium; it was ruled by warrior kings and a warrior class; within and without this class it was hierarchically ordered by an ideology which idealized servitude as loyalty; it developed a precocious form of feudalism; it regulated social violence by a variety of legal transmogrifications of revenge and blood-feud; and it left us a vernacular literature best known for its morbid portrayal of suicidal male heroics and a martial-arts adaptation of the Christian faith. Now add the Vikings into this picture. For two and a half centuries the Vikings shared more than just the slaughter-field with the Anglo-Saxons. They also shared, increasingly from the ninth century on, a national culture with them, culminating in the Anglo-Danish kingship of Cnut. In the world of violence, of course, the reputation of the Vikings remains unsurpassed.

Even if we restrict ourselves to literature written in Old English, however, poems like Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon will still hold pride of place in the long tradition of Germanic violence, the one as its primary epic, the other as the late classical formulation of its code--both written along the fault-line of Anglo-Scandinavian relations. Not to mention the tradition of violence in the Christian literature, violence explicit or implicit, brutal or mystified, exposed so nakedly by John P. Hermann in his Allegories of War: Language and Violence in Old English Poetry.(3) We may restrict ourselves to Old English if we like, then, and still have violence enough to ponder; but as soon as we extend our vision to include the Viking world, suddenly we are overwhelmed by the most appalling, unimaginable violence--as appalling and unimaginable to the Anglo-Saxons as it is to us today.

But I detect in Anglo-Saxon accounts of this violence an unexpected ambivalence, unexpected because the stereotype of Viking violence is so monolithic, because the Vikings have been portrayed so often, then as now, simply as the barbaric Other to Anglo-Saxon civilization. The literary representation of violence is never simple, however. Like pain (in Elaine Scarry's famous analysis(4)), violence resists literary representation. It is hard to appreciate this fact fully in the age of cinema, which has virtually nullified it; but in literature, violence often remains referred to, unseen and unspoken. No representation of violence can begin to capture its lived reality. Its resistance to representation is not only theoretical (that is, due to the nature of language), but also psychological. Violence provokes extravagant responses, from the overcompensating ferocity of The Iliad and the devout terror of Greek tragedy, to the comic hyperbole of the Irish Tain and the nonchalant denial of the Icelandic sagas. Like sex, violence provokes obsession on the one hand, and is eagerly repressed, denied, idealized, trivialized, or otherwise deflected from consciousness on the other. Not defended against, it engages our most volatile and distorting emotions. Since Aristotle, tragedy has been the locus classicus for discussing the resulting literary issues. Not only do the Greeks keep violence off stage; but tragedy is acted out rather than expounded, as Paul Ricoeur suggests, precisely because its essential themes are unspeakable.(5) Today we turn to Freud rather than Aristotle to help us understand such ambivalence.

Anglo-Saxon attitudes toward the Vikings are not simple either. The tendency to orientalize the Vikings as a barbaric Other is really a way of deflecting attention away from Anglo-Saxon violence--the Bangor and St. Brice's Day massacres, for example. We would like to think that the Anglo-Saxons were not like the Vikings. Our denial is a form of repression, however, and in the end the repressed will always get represented in distorted forms. Correcting for this distortion yields a surprising new picture of late tenth-century England, where Germanic violence and monastic non-violence met in the notoriously ambivalent politics of the age.

Generations of Anglo-Saxonists been introduced to Viking violence early on in Sweet's Primer, in AElfric's "Passion of Saint Edmund."(6) Hingwar the Viking binds Edmund to a tree like Christ, and the Vikings shoot him full of spears until he bristles like a hedgehog, or like St. Sebastian, and then they cut off his head and hide it in the woods so it cannot be buried.
   Hwaet pa eadmund cyning mid pam pe hingwar com.
   stod innan his healle paes haelendes gemyndig.
   and awearp his waepna wolde geaefen-laecan
   cristes gebysnungum, pe forbead petre
   mid waepnum to winnenne wi?? pa waelhreowan iudeiscan.
   Hwaet pa arleasan pa eadmund gebundon
   and bebysmrodon huxlice . and beoton mid saglum.
   and swa sy????an laeddon pone geleaf-fullan cyning
   to anum eor??-faestum treowe . and tigdon hine paer-to.
   mid heardum bendum. and hine eft swuncgon
   langlice mid swipum ....
   Hi scuton pa mid gafelucum swilce him to gamenes to.
   o?? paet he eall waes besaet mid heora scotumgum
   swilce igles byrsta. swa swa sebastianus waes.
   pa geseah hingwar se arleasse flot-man.
   paet se aepela cyning nolde criste wi??-sacan.
   ac mid anraedum geleafan hine aefre clypode.
   het hine pa beheafdian and pa hae??enan swa dydon.(7)

   Then Edmund the king, when Hingwar came,
   stood in his hall, mindful of the Savior,
   and threw down his weapons. He wished to follow
   the pattern of Christ, who forbade Peter
   to battle the bloodthirsty Jews with weapons.
   Then the merciless men bound Edmund,
   brazenly insulted, beat him with clubs,
   and afterwards led the faithful king
   to an earth-fast tree, and tied him upon it
   with hard bonds. Then they beat him
   a long time with whips ....
   Then they shot him with spears, as if for amusement,
   until he was covered with all their shots
   like a hedgehog's bristles, as Sebastian was.
   When Hingwar saw, the merciless seaman,
   that the noble king would not forsake Christ,
   but with steadfast belief he still called upon Him,
   he said to behead him, and the heathens did so.

This may be Viking violence, but the representation of it is decidedly Christian and Anglo-Saxon. AElfric's other saints' lives bristle with sadistic scenes like this one too. I have even heard it suggested that at some level AElfric and his monks must have enjoyed such violence, especially the mutilation of virgin martyrs, just as Americans seem to enjoy it in the movies. And yet the violence of "The Passion of Saint Edmund" is not like that of the movies, and it is also unlike the violence analyzed in Hermann's Allegories of War. In Andreas, for example, which is also a hagiographic passion narrative, Hermann argues that the Mermedonians are "an ideological production of an appropriate blocking agent from the symbolic resources of tradition"(8)--in other words, their monstrous otherness is modeled on the Jews. But the in-your-face reality of the Vikings in the late ninth century transcends any possible construction of them as "the differential category of the foreigner" (120). Though Edmund undergoes a passion like Christ's, and the Vikings fulfill the role of the Jews in the story just as the Mermedonians do in Andreas, this bookish symbolism cannot seriously demonize the Vikings. It can only render them intelligible, reducing the reality of their violence to a comprehensible literary dimension. For in reality they were far worse than can be imagined--certainly worse than can be represented.

Memorable as the hedgehog scene is, AElfric's representation of Edmund's death pales beside the actual truth. AElfric's source was Abbo of Fleury, who got his account from Archbishop Dunstan, who heard it from Edmund's own sword-bearer, who heard it from a soldier who saw it with his own eyes from a nearby hiding-place. If that sounds like a less than reliable chain of transmission over more than a century, consider that Abbo's account accords with independent Viking traditions about the episode. The Vikings were actually proud of this story. These traditions are the subject of Alfred Smyth's Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles, 850-880.(9) The "Hingwar" of AElfric's account was Ivarr the Boneless, leader of the Great Army that invaded England in 865. According to Viking tradition, in 870 Ivarr killed the East Anglian king Edmund in the same way he killed the Northumbrian king AElla two years earlier, in the Viking ritual known as the blo??orn, or "blood-eagle." In the blood-eagle, the victim is laid out face-down, his ribs hacked through along both sides of the backbone, his back opened up like a pair of wings, and his lungs pulled out (or something like that; accounts vary). Thus he is sacrificed to Othin. Is it not interesting that AElfric would delete this episode from his translation of Abbo's account? AElfric was writing during the 990s, when the Vikings were again ravaging the nation. Why would he soften his depiction of the Viking monsters who had killed Edmund?

There are several reasons. First of all, Abbo's account of the blood-eagle is not altogether clear. The English eye-witness and those who passed his report on seem not to have understood exactly what was going on, so Abbo describes only a lot of hacking on Edmund's back: retectis costarum latebris prae punctionibus crebris, ac si raptum eculeo aut saevis torture ungulis ... (his ribs were laid bare by numberless gashes, as if he had been put to the torture of the rack, or had been torn by savage claws ... [Smyth, 211]). Ambiguous evidence like this has led Roberta Frank to argue that the blood-eagle did not even really exist, but is only an unlovely literary invention of later saga.(10) Bjarni Einarsson has debated the point vigorously with her in Saga-Book, on literary, historical and even ornithological grounds.(11) The issue is hardly settled. For me, however, this account by Abbo suggests the ritual's reality precisely because of its imprecision. I trust Abbo because he did not know what he was reporting. But we should not let ourselves get side-tracked in this debate; whether or not the blood-eagle is historical, AElfric did delete this part of Edmund's tortures from his source.

Second, the blood-eagle does not fit the typological conventions of hagiographic violence, like the scourging of Christ or Sebastian's hedgehog. If the Romans had performed the blood-eagle on virgin martyrs, perhaps AElfric would have included it. Abbo did relate it to the rack, however, and savage claws, using language that Frank has shown to be hagiographic; so AElfric could easily enough have rendered it hagiographic if he wanted, at least as much as Abbo did. Given these facts, I am more and more impressed by AElfric's restraint in declining to depict the full horror of the Viking violence reported in his source.

Third, we see here a concern on AElfric's part for the prurience of violence--or, to be more precise, a concern for the prurience of the representation of violence. We are all repelled by a truly violent act, someone gunned down on the street before our eyes, for example, or hit by a car; but audiences can easily be held in thrall by vivid depictions of such things in words or images. Augustine was fascinated by this phenomenon on the stage, and in De Doctrina he warns preachers about it.(12) Accounts of early Christian martyrs like Polycarp and Perpetua come dangerously close to overindulging our fascination with violence, triggering sadistic or masochistic pleasures, illicit even if we do not act on them. In the passions of the martyrs the historical sadism of the arena is converted into textual sadism, which often threatens to overwhelm the pious intentions of hagiography. Rosemary Woolf imagines Anglo-Saxon nuns who read the poems Judith and Juliana: "The pleasures to be derived from the text are ... obvious. In the description of the tortures there was certainly an element of the sensational.(13) This sensationalism does not undermine our earlier contention that violence resists representation; rather, it is precisely the awareness of this danger that triggers our resistance. Perhaps AElfric, like Augustine, recognized the danger, especially in a narrative so close to home. Joyce Hill has shown that AElfric similarly reduced the violence of his source in "The Life of Saint George."(14)

Fourth, and most important of all, is AElfric's general restraint regarding the Vikings. Though the countryside around Cerne and Eynsham was devastated during the period when he was writing, in his huge literary output he scarcely notices the Vikings. It is an extremely interesting problem; we would like to understand his attitude. Today it is only a fond hope that Christianity might sustain the non-violence of the Gospels; but we hardly expect it of Anglo-Saxon Christianity, with its dark heroic cast, especially in time of war.

Only recently has it been appreciated how finely tuned AElfric's response to national events was, and how even sermons with no explicit reference to current events often have political implications.(15) For example, AElfric says in a letter to Sigeweard that he had set the book of Judith into English eow monnum to bisne, paet ge eower eard mid waepnum beweriaen wi?? on winnende here (as an example for you men that you should defend your land with weapons against an invading army).(16) The version of Judith he is referring to here (Assmann 9) makes no mention of the Vikings, even though here he claims to have had them in mind and seems to have expected his audience to get the message. He recommends that Sigeweard can learn the same lesson from the Maccabees.(17) Given the nation,ti calamity, it is a lesson one would certainly expect to hear, too ("Defend your land with weapons!"); but in fact that is not AElfric's usual message about the Vikings, at least not the one we glean from his sermons written during the 990s. The letter to Sigeweard is among his latest works, written well after the St. Brice's Day massacre, in 1006 or later.(18) The homilies and saints' lives written in the previous decade tell quite a different story.

During the 990s AElfric depicts the perfect response to the Vikings in "The Passion of Saint Edmund." As in Abbo's account (though not in the Chronicle or Asser), AElfric's Edmund agrees, over the advice of his bishop, to submit to Hingwar if he will become a Christian:
   "Ne abih?? naefre eadmund hingware oil life
   haepenum here-togan . buton he to haelende criste
   aerest mid ge-leafan on pysum lande gebuge."
   (Skeat 32, 91-93)

   Nor ever will Edmund bow down to Hingwar
   the heathen leader, unless he to Lord Christ
   first with belief bow down in this land.

Hingwar does not bother to respond. Edmund then refuses to fight, throws down his weapons, and is martyred like Christ and Sebastian. His passivity is excused in the text partly by the fact that he does not have an army at hand, but only partly. He is certainly the exact opposite of a Byrhtnoth. There could hardly be a more shocking or subversive model for national policy, if that is what it is, but there you have AElfrician politics in a nutshell--except for the letter to Sigeweard.

Wulfstan saw the Vikings as punishment for the nation's sins, but AElfric saw them as an occasion for virtuous suffering. Godden shows that AElfric actually vacillates among various interpretations of the Viking invasion, sometimes praying for divine aid against them, sometimes seeing them as divine wrath for the nation's sins, sometimes recognizing in them a sign of the end of the world--all three even within a single sermon (De Oratione Moysi, Skeat 13).(19) Virtuous suffering, however, is by far his most comprehensive attitude. As he says in the Preface to the first series of Catholic Homilies, God ge??afa?? ... paet his gecorenan pegenas beon aclaensade fram eallum synnum purh ??a ormatan ehtnyssa, swa swa gold bi?? on fyre afandod (God ... permits his chosen servants to be cleansed from all sins through great persecutions, as gold is tested in fire).(20) Or as he says in his homily on the Martyrs, Se aelmihtiga god beswing?? and prea?? pa ??e he lufa?? paet hi ??urh ??a hwilwendlican geswencednysse wuldorfulle becumon to ??aem ecan life (Almighty God scourges and chastises those whom he loves, so that through temporary affliction they may gloriously attain everlasting life).(21)

AElfric's apparent detachment--what looks like non-politics, or anti-politics to a modern reader--is part of a larger historical problem, one of the most beautiful problems presented by Anglo-Saxon history: What is, the relation between the Viking invasions and the Benedictine Reform? The Reform began before the renewal of attacks, so we could explain its continuing energy as inertial momentum, in spite of the Vikings, if we like; but from our privileged viewpoint a thousand years later we sense a more complex relationship. AElfric began his literary career shortly before the battle of Maldon. The Vikings did not interrupt his project; rather, they seem to have motivated it, at least in part. Monastic reform and Christian education might seem to be among the most improbable responses to Viking attacks--wasteful and counter-effective in the extreme, and even subversive, as l just suggested. Could it be that the Age of AElfric was after all an Age of Faith? Could AElfric really have been naive enough to pit Christian non-violence against the Viking sword?

"The Passion of St. Edmund" provides a remarkably clear and comprehensive statement on Christian non-violence, aimed not at the people, however, but at the king and the Church. The case for the Church is especially clear. One of the miracles at Edmund's tomb concerns eight thieves who are caught breaking in. They are quickly condemned to death by the bishop, who then regrets his hasty judgment for the rest of his life--for as the scripture says, Eos qui ducuntur ad mortem eruere ne cessas . pa pe man laet to dea??e alays hi ut umble (Those who are led to death, always deliver them out [Skeat 32, 218-19]). This story, like the earlier depiction of Edmund's bishop, is a slap at the secular clergy, by AElfric as a spokesman for the monastic party. He chooses to slap them with a quite generalized doctrine of nonviolence, too, for he goes on to claim that canon law cannot concern itself with theft,
   for-pan pe hit ne gebyrap pam pe beo?? gecorene
   gode to pegnigenne paet hi gepwaerlaecan sceolon .
   on aeniges mannes dea?? . gif hi beo?? drihtnes penas.

   for it is not proper for those who are chosen
   for God's service that they should consent
   to any man's death, if they are God's servants.

I would not want to appear too naive myself, portraying a Quaker-like purity in AElfric's monasticism. Peter Brown tells us how in Biblical times celibate communities considered themselves a first line of national defense: "The celibate state of these few stood for the embattled character of the Community as a whole."(22) This idea seems implicit to some degree in the establishment of monasteries in the tenth century too. Pauline Stafford has shown that the Benedictine Reform was also a stage in the development of feudalism, a consolidation of economic and political forces behind the king and the great families that supported him.(23) The major demonstration of her thesis is Wulfstan, however; AElfric requires some special pleading. What she says is true, that AElfric advanced a new vision of kingship; but it is a vision of "the good king," the peaceful Christian kingship of Edmund, totally unsuited for resisting the Vikings. Compared to Edmund, even AEthelred the Unready looks like Winston Churchill.

AElfric's well-known homily on the Maccabees might seem to contradict such a non-violent stand, however. There he defines a "just war" as rihtlic gefeoht wi?? ??a re??an flot-menn, oppe wi?? o??re peoda pe eard willa?? fordon (just war against the cruel seamen, or against other peoples who wish to destroy the land [Skeat 25, 708-9]), a definition adapted from Isidore to the Anglo-Saxon situation. J. E. Cross documents the concept of the just war in Old English, finding universal approval of war in defense of the nation (although, tellingly, even in the national defense killing is a sin that must be atoned for.)(24) In an appendix to the Maccabees homily (812-62) AElfric develops the classic model of the three estates, laboratores, oratores and bellatores. The point of that discussion, though, is that the struggle against worldly enemies must not distract the oratores from their more important struggle against spiritual ones. Monks are not to fight.

He addresses the problem of the invaders more or less directly on only a few other occasions. In the fragment Wyrdwriteras us secgap pa pe awritan be cyningum, he advises the king by means of several examples that he should delegate military authority to his ealdormen, and trust in God--as if the king were not among the bellatores.(25) In a society traditionally ruled by a warrior king, this advice amounts to a sensible but remarkable redefinition of kingship. He seems to be saying, "Let men like Byrhtnoth do the job!" After all, he argues, when King David was almost killed in battle his generals forbade him to go again, lest the nation's lamp go out; the Emperor Theodosius sent his generals against the enemy and stayed home to pray for their success; Moses sent Joshua against the Amalekites and insured his success by prayer. Faith in God is stronger than a stone wall, AElfric says.

Here we see the inner logic of the seeming contradiction between "Judith" and "Edmund": AElfric is not a pacifist in the modern sense, like Gandhi, but he seems to believe that the king's function, like the monk's, is to pray rather than fight. In a homily for the Sunday after Ascension he advises the king to listen to his counsellors and be prepared to sacrifice himself for his people, as Christ did:
   Wyle eac syllan, gif hit swa micel neod bip,
   his agen lif aet nextan for his leode waere,
   swa swa se Haelend sealde hine sylfne for us,
   ??eah ??e he mihte eall mancynn ahreddan
   hutan his agenum deape....
   (Pope 9, 58-61)

   Also he will give, if the need is so great,
   his own life in the end, for his people's sake,
   just as the Savior gave himself for us,
   though he might have redeemed all of mankind
   without his own death....

He is not talking here about the king dying in battle; rather, he is thinking of a king like Edmund. Eric John remarks, "It seems to me implicit in AElfric that it was with the suffering Christ that kings were expected to identify themselves."(26) To me it seems quite explicit, but the scholarly tradition has been nearly deaf to AElfric's royal pacifism. M. K. Lawson, for example, summarizes a key passage on the subject in the Homily for the Sunday after Ascension Day this way: "It is the ruler's duty to protect the people against an attacking army";(27) but what the passage really says is this:
   se cyning is Cristes sylfes speligend
   ofer ??am Cristenan folce pe Crist sylf alysde,
   him to hyrde gehalgod, paet he hi heladan sceole,
   mid paes folces fultume, wi?? onfeohtendne here,
   and him sige biddan aet pam so??an Haelende,
   pe him Done anweald under him sylfum forgeaf,
   swa swa ealle cyningas dydon De gecwemdon Gode.
   (Pope 9, 48-54)

   The king is Christ's own vicar
   over the Christian people whom Christ redeemed,
   consecrated their pastor so he may protect them,
   with the aid of the people, from an attacking army,
   and pray for their victory to the true Savior,
   who gave him that power under Himself,
   as all those kings did, who called on God.

Perhaps the paratactic "and" implies that the king both protects his people and prays for them, but more likely it is how one says in Old English that he protects them by praying for their victory.

Unfortunately, there is a very fine line between a suffering, non-violent king and a passive national policy. Could King AEthelred's erratic policies, or non-policies, toward the Vikings in the 990s be due, at least in part, to the influence of AElfric's monastic doctrine of non-violence? AElfric's detachment from worldly affairs has spoiled our memory of him to some degree, and has made him seem less interesting, influential and important than he really was. History is naturally more interested in Wulfstan's political involvement and his hysterical account of Viking horrors than in AElfric's patient, understated educational program and occasional calm advice. We teach AElfric today primarily because his plain style is easy to read; we teach Wulfstan because he is rhetorical, exciting and historically informative. We find in history what we want to find, of course, and right now we want to find violence and rhetoric, not piety and plain style; but perhaps calling AElfric non-violent rather than pious will improve his reputation.

AElfric's response to the events of his day seems to me a more profound expression of medieval Christian belief than Wulfstan's. Though AElfric's faith is easy enough to articulate, it is much more alien to modern belief than Wulfstan's. Even Wulfstan's apocalypticism is easier to understand than AElfric's equanimity and credulity. AElfric's belief flies so much in the face of common sense that today we need a psychiatrist to explain it to us. Which brings us back to Freud. For me, Freud remains the most reliable modern guide to the psychology of religion. Besides psychoanalysis, only anthropology seems willing to grapple with the mental character of belief. At least Rodney Needham is willing, in his book Belief, Language, and Experience.(28) These are the terms in which I would like to understand medieval religious belief, along with the problem of AElfric's role in the history of the late tenth century.

Belief is a subjective, psychological phenomenon, and medieval Christianity had a distinctive psychology of its own to describe and facilitate it. Augustine and Gregory were its major theoreticians. The psychology of belief is embedded in Augustine's works on education and the Trinity and in Gregory's works on monastic spirituality and pastoral care. AElfric digested their thoughts on these subjects for his day and preached them in his widely disseminated sermons and saints' lives, giving us relatively easy access to them at the level of popular belief and practice. Many students today, however--and an increasing number of scholars--seem only vaguely familiar with this medieval master-discourse. In recent decades critical theory has sharply decentered it in historical study. Our understanding of medieval religious belief is becoming newly problematical--in crisis, even--because modern and postmodern theorists tend to underestimate the importance of religion in culture, and furthermore discount the subjective and psychological aspects of religious belief in favor of its social and political aspects.

What exactly is belief? The sources of AElfric's faith seem to recede before us as we approach. By its nature, belief is difficult to theorize. Whatever it is, belief both strengthens conviction and resists criticism--perhaps that is something of a definition. The modern philosophical tradition helps us see the problem (Needham, 7, 52-53) but gets us nowhere--and in any case, modern philosophy has little interest in religious belief. Freud, of course, defines religion as a "universal obsessional neurosis,"(29) but that definition hardly seems to engage the particular belief in nonviolence we are concerned with, at least in this first stage of our inquiry. Perhaps theology is a better starting point. In this impasse, I find Paul Tillich's definition of faith useful:

Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man's ultimate concern. Man ... is concerned about many things.... Some of them are urgent, often extremely urgent, and each of them can claim ultimacy for a human life or the life of a social group. If it claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim, and it promises total fulfillment even if all other claims have to be subjected to it or rejected in its name.(30)

The nation, he' says, is an especially formidable competitor with God for ultimate concern:

The extreme nationalisms of our century are laboratories for the study of what ultimate concern means in all aspects of human existence.... Everything is centered in the only god, the nation--a god who certainly proves to be a demon, but who shows clearly the unconditional character of an ultimate concern. (1-2)

Late tenth century England was just such a laboratory too. Edgar's coronation as Christus domini (the Anointed of the Lord) in 973 was obviously meant to forge a unity of national and religious concern. Dunstan and his co-reformers could hardly have foreseen, however, that in the Viking violence of AEthelred's reign only twenty years later this concept might result in AElfric's doctrine of non-violence. The irony is complete: the king and the great families first established the monasteries to pray for them (among other reasons); the monasteries responded by endowing the king with a Christ-like authority; then, when the Vikings arrived, AElfric expected the king to behave like Christ and throw down his sword! And AEthelred obliged, more than we would wish. Perhaps he was not such a bad king after all, by AElfric's standard.

Keynes concludes from his study of AEthelred's diplomas that "one cannot avoid the impression that during the 990s and early 1000s the king was surrounded by men of considerable calibre, many of whom turn out to have been closely associated with the advancement of the monastic cause."(31) While some of them must have shared Wulfstan's tendency to demonize the Vikings, AElfric's message of non-violence was certainly heard as well. One indication is that AElfric dedicated both series of his Catholic Homilies to Archbishop Sigeric, who according to the Chronicle was personally responsible for the plan to pay tribute to the Vikings in 991. History remembers him as Sigeric Danegeld.

Let us consider the possibility, then, that the king's ineffective response to Olaf Tryggvason's raids in 991, the precedent-setting payment of Danegeld, represented a logical extension of the doctrine of Christus domini. If that is the case, it must have seemed a remarkably successful policy when Olaf subsequently converted to Christianity, signed a truce with the English, and left the country in 994. As a part of the truce, AEthelred actually sponsored Olaf at his confirmation. These events must have appeared a near-miraculous vindication of the very policy that was later to earn the king his notorious sobriquet. Olaf went home a devoted Christian to convert Norway and Iceland. The Parker Chronicle, in its usual terse style, tells the official version of the story, inserting Olaf's confirmation and the treaty of 994 right into the entry for 991, as if to insist that these two episodes constitute one story:

Her on ??issum geare com Unlaf mid prim 7 hund nigontigon scipum to Stane 7 forhergedon paet onytan 7 for ??a ??anon to Sandwic 7 swa iSanon to Gipeswic 7 paet eall ofereode 7 swa to Maeldune; 7 him ??aer com togeanes Byrhtno?? ealdorman mid his fyrde 7 him wi?? gefeaht, 7 hy pone ealdorman paer ofslogon 7 waelstowe geweald ahtan. <insert> 7 him man nam sy????an frie?? wi??, 7 hine nam se cing sy??an to bisceopes handa ??urh Sirices lare Cantware bisceopes 7 AElfeages Wincstre bisceopes.(32)

In this year Olaf came with 93 ships to Folkstone, and ravaged round about it, and then from there went to Sandwich, and so from there to Ipswich, and overran it all, and so to Maldon. And Ealdorman Byrhtnoth came against him there with his army and fought against him; and they killed the ealdorman there and had control of the field. <insert> And afterwards peace was made with them and the king stood sponsor to him afterwards at his confirmation by Sigeric bishop of Canterbury and AElfheah bishop of Winchester. (trans. Whitelock, 213)

Other versions of the Chronicle tell us what this one neatly suppresses: before making peace and being confirmed, Olaf and Swein Forkbeard attacked London, ravaged the south of England and collected another 16,000 [pounds sterling] in tribute. Still, in the end, it must have seemed a miracle. After Olaf's confirmation, AEthelred him cynelice gifode. 7 him pa Anlaf behet, 7 eac gelaeste, paet he naefre eft to Angelcynne mid unfri??e cuman nolde (bestowed gifts on him royally, and then Olaf promised--and also performed--that he would never come back to England in hostility).(33)

Despite the humiliations of the raids and the payment of tribute, and despite losses on the battlefield, the conversion of the Vikings could be seen as England's ultimate victory. Susan Ridyard has shown that the cult of Edmund flourished in the tenth century precisely because it symbolized "the ultimate victory of Christian over pagan."(34) Edmund falls, but conquers. In AElfric's "Passion of St. Edmund," the icon of this over-enlightened official attitude toward the Vikings--the belief that they could be converted by the example of the king's nonviolence--is the wolf who is found guarding Edmund's severed head.
   pa laeg se graega wulf pe bewiste paet heafod.
   And mid his twam fotum haefde paet heafod beclypped.
   Graedeg. and hungrig . and for gode ne dorste
   paes heafdes abyrian . [ac] heold hit wi?? deor.
   pa wurdon hi ofwundrode paes wulfes hyrd-raedenne.
   and paet halige heafod ham feredon mid him.
   pancigende pam aelmihtigan ealra his wundra.
   ac se wulf folgode for?? mid pam heafde.
   oppaet hi to tune comon . swyulce he tam waere.
   and gewende eft sippan to wuda ongean....
   (Skeat 32, 154-63)

   There lay the gray wolf who guarded that head,
   and with his two feet that head had embraced,
   greedy and hungry, and dared not, for God
   taste that head, but held it from beasts.
   Then they were amazed at the wolf's shepherding,
   and that holy head they carried home with them,
   thanking the Almighty for all his miracles.
   But the wolf followed forth, after the head,
   till they came to the town, as if he were tame,
   and back he went to the woods again....

The wolf, of course, is the most common symbol of the Vikings. As Benskin has also noticed in this connection,(35) AElfric introduces Hingwar as a wolf early in the text:
   And ne fore-saeda hinguar faerlice swa swa wulf
   on lande bestalcode . and pa leode sloh.

   And the aforesaid Hingwar, suddenly as a wolf,
   stalked through the land and slew the people.

The Viking wolf is appropriated in the miracle, helping restore the head to the body--the Christus domini to his people--before quietly leaving. It is a medieval commonplace that the king is the head of the body politic, just as Christ is the head of the body of the Church. Kantorowicz illustrates the concept with the frontispiece of the Aachen Gospels, in which the Emperor is shown pedes in terra, caput in caelo (feet on the earth, head in heaven), his head separated from his body by a drapery.(36) The painting is roughly contemporary with the texts we are discussing, the year 973. Decapitating a king, then, is nicely symbolic of what happens to his people when their king (their head) is removed.

The narrative of the wolf who helps restore the king's head, already present in Abbo's account, would have gained tremendous power after Olaf's (i.e., the wolf's) conversion and departure in 994, when AElfric wrote his version of the story. But what could it have meant to Abbo, writing before Olaf's conversion? What tamed wolf could he have had in mind? This question makes us recall Alfred's truce with Guthrum after the Battle of Edington in 878. The Chronicle for that year says:

pa salde se here him foregislas 7 micle apas, paet hie of his rice uuoldon 7 him eac geheton paet hiera kyning fulwihte onfon wolde, 7 hie paet gelaeston swa, 7 paes ymb .iii. wiecan com se cyning to him Godrum pritiga sum para monna pe in pam here weorpuste waeron at Alre, 7 paet in wip Epelinggaeige, 7 his ne cyning aer onfeng aet fulwihte, 7 his crismlising was aet Wepmor, 7 he wan .xii. niht mid para cyninge, 7 he hine miclum 7 his geferan mid feo weor??ude. (Bately)

Then the enemy gave (Alfred) preliminary hostages and great oaths that they would leave his kingdom, and promised also that their king should receive baptism, and they kept their promise. Three weeks later King Guthrum with 30 of the men who were the most important in the army came (to him) at Aller, which is near Athelney, and the king stood sponsor to him at his baptism there; and the unbinding of the chrism took place at Wedmore. And he was twelve days with the king, and he honored him and his companions with gifts.(37)

The relation of this account to the later one is apparent; Whitelock even notes the parallels in the two treaties.(38) The story of the wolf, then, would have made sense in Abbo's version of Edmund's Life, written after the taming of Guthrum--and would have made even more sense in AElfric's, after the treaty with Olaf had reenacted that event in 994.

We are gradually zeroing in on the psychology of a specific belief, Christian non-violence, in a specific historical setting. Here I take up another guide, Paul Ricoeur, who sees non-violence as a renunciation of history itself, which he considers essentially violent.(39)

The first condition which must be fulfilled by an authentic doctrine of nonviolence is to have traversed the world of violence in all its density.... To see that violence is always and everywhere, one has but to take notice of how empires rise and fall, how personal prestige is established, how religions tear one another to pieces, how the privileges of property and power are perpetuated and interchanged, how the cultural delights of the elite depend upon the massive workings and sufferings of the disinherited. (224-25)

I see in AElfric a man who was willing to traverse the world of violence in all its density, and not only Viking violence, but the violence of history generally. As a monk, AElfric did not expect much from the world, and the Viking attacks could only have confirmed this basic belief. His saints' lives are a virtual encyclopedia of violence, a vision of a world of violence--resisted peacefully, however, by a world of non-violence. It is the hagiographic version of Augustine's distinction between the City of Man and the City of God.

Our worst suspicion about non-violence is that it might really be complicit with violence--encouraging passivity in the face of state power, for example. Our next-worst suspicion is that it is masochistic, or vicariously sadistic--a love of violence parading as its opposite. AElfric is open to neither charge. His depiction of Edmund gets him off both counts. Not only does he extend non-violence to the king himself, he even restrains his depiction of the Vikings' violence. His detachment is not partisan, but expresses an aversion to violence generally.

AElfric's ambivalence, if that's what his restraint represents, is part of a larger Anglo-Saxon ambivalence about the Vikings. The Vikings were too much a part of Anglo-Saxon culture to be conveniently demonized, since the earlier invasion had resulted in a large Danish immigration. Anglo-Saxon relations with the Danelaw cannot be reduced to a simple polarity. The two groups evolved an awkward, intimate antagonism. North and south defined themselves partly in relation to each other, as they still do. The Anglo-Saxons could use representations of the Viking-as-Other for group identification, but how did the distinction between "us" and "them" actually get played out, given the lack of Viking unity and the evolving local complexities of kinship and group affiliations?

In general, Wessex could relate to the Danelaw as a less civilized version of itself, in the same terms it used for thinking about its own past, with its paganism and its crude, violent heroics. Anglo-Saxon kings chose to trace their ancestry back to the Scyldings of Denmark, after all. In short, the Anglo-Saxons were ambivalent about the Danes in much the same way they were about their own pre-Christian past. Even toward the end of the period, when England was under Viking attack, Viking visitors like Olaf were admired and honored at the court of AEthelred as heroes in the great Germanic tradition, and AEthelred was much admired among the Vikings. Even Wulfstan, for all his fiery anti-Viking rhetoric, quickly became Cnut's lawmaker after AEthelred's fall--Wulf reconciled with the Wolf. Frank Barlow has a chapter on these contradictory attitudes in his Edward the Confessor, guaranteed to confuse students who have just read The Battle of Maldon as a battle between good and evil.(40) Ambivalence worked both ways, too: the Icelandic Islendingabok dates the settlement of Iceland by the martyrdom of St. Edmund; and Edmund's cult was almost immediately sanctioned by the Danish leaders who inherited his kingship--who had, in fact, quickly become Christianized.(41)

The Anglo-Saxons had been Christianizing their heroic tradition for centuries, all the while preserving it in vernacular poetry as a secular ideal of the ruling warrior class. The invasion of the Danes could only have complicated this ancient and traditional ideal. Ambivalence about their own heroic past gave rise to symptomatic self-loathing in the Anglo-Saxons' attitude toward the Vikings, easily seen in classic expressions of it like The Battle of Maldon and Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi. Maldon portrays an improbable, exaggerated revival of the ancient comitatus ideal even as most of the English run like rabbits; and the Maldonpoet, like AElfric, declines to demonize the Vikings, choosing instead simply to focus on the English army.(42) For his part, Wulfstan laments the nation's sins, but even more he laments the decay of its primitive system of loyalties to kin and lord. "If only we were more like them," these texts seem to be saying, "we wouldn't be having this problem!" Wulfstan's theme, after all, is "This is our fault!"

We began by proposing the problem of ambivalence in Anglo-Saxon representations of Viking violence. Using AElfric's "Passion of Saint Edmund" as our chief example we have woven a number of explanations together in the course of this essay. First of all there were the practical and psychological difficulties of representing violence generally. Second, there was the dogmatic nonviolence of AElfric's monastic ideology, which involves the larger phenomenon of Christian non-violence. And third, there was the deep historical relationship between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes: the enemy was too uncannily familiar to be reduced to the merely Other, but mirror-like instead he seemed to expose the Anglo-Saxons' own moral weaknesses. The 990s were a time of national soul-searching for the Anglo-Saxons, when under the pressure of external and internal calamities that could hardly be separated, cultural production reached new heights under the Benedictine Reform, where violence seemed to provoke its exact opposite, at least in AElfric.


Ricoeur's observation that history is thoroughly violent--that history is violence--really belongs to Freud; so I would like to conclude with a Freudian reflection on Anglo-Saxon violence and non-violence. For Freud--at least the late Freud, after Beyond the Pleasure Principle--violence is simply instinctual, an aspect of Thanatos, the death drive. Turned toward the self, this instinct manifests itself in masochism, passivity, repetition, silence, and ultimately death; turned outward, it delivers aggression. "In Freud's final version of psychoanalysis," Kerrigan summarizes, "violence swings back and forth from hatred of the self to hatred of an object";(43) in both forms it joins with Eros in an endless variety of emotional and behavioral configurations. The problem before us, religious pacifism, is perfectly suited to display the beauty and power of this model. When non-violence takes the self-mortifying and suicidal forms we find in saints' lives like "The Passion of Saint Edmund," it is more than a simple denial of violence, but the pitching of one form of violence (against the self) against another.

During World War I, Freud saw his friends fall into dismay and horror over the violence before their eyes, and he consoled them, "In reality our fellow-citizens have not sunk so low as we feared, because they had never risen so high as we believed."(44) His realistic assessment of the human condition resembles the hard realism of the sagas. "If we are to be judged by our unconscious wishful impulses, we ourselves are, like primeval man, a gang of murderers," he argues (297); he adds, "there is no use in trying to get rid of men's aggressive inclinations."(45) There may be an indirect method for combating war contained in his formula, "Anything that encourages the growth of emotional ties between men must operate against war" (212); but we have only to remember the Roman arena again, or the Gulf War, to realize that violence can just as easily be used to create the emotional ties that hold society together.

Because violence is instinctual, its affects and representations are governed largely by unconscious primary process. Christian non-violence, on the other hand, at first strikes us as the exact opposite--anti-instinctive, a reaction-formation governed by highly conscious secondary processes such as doctrine and rule. To some degree this is true. Kerrigan points out that "as one shifts from the individual to the field of culture, the death instinct is no longer silent or elusive"; its operations seem highly calculated and visible, not only in the history of war, but in the institutional cultivation of guilt to curb aggression.(46) In these terms, the Anglo-Saxon Church can be understood as a "cultural superego" whose function was to modify the sexual and violent instincts embodied in the kindred and the war-band.(47) The Church is not simply a higher manifestation of Eros, then, as it claims to be; one of its functions is precisely to negate that instinct, and Thanatos too, by sublimating them as far as possible away from sexuality and violence, into intellectual abstractions like spiritual love and spiritual warfare, chastity and nonviolence.

That is a highly idealized portrait of the Anglo-Saxon Church, of course. In practice it made accommodation, particularly with violence. If I were discussing Beowulf or The Battle of Maldon, this objection would carry some weight: the practical, secular Church learned how to endorse and encourage violence. But I am discussing AElfric, an articulate spokesman for Benedictine monasticism, a highly idealized form of Christian life, to say the least. The Benedictine Rule is one of the most successful, comprehensive reaction-formations ever devised, its endless repetitions calculatedly draining energy from the sexual and aggressive instincts.

In this regard, AElfric is obviously at one extreme on the scales of human possibility. At war with the instincts, he knows them well. This war takes an extremely rational and conscious form, and is therefore open to crisp historical, rhetorical and psychological analysis. His sermons are not murky or mystical on these subjects, but straightforward and realistic. Benedictine belief and practice, he says, can save us from the violence that is history. His saints' lives in particular confront this violence head-on. In the passions of the martyrs violence is usually identified with the state--though in "The Passion of St. Edmund" the polarity is interestingly reversed, and it is the king himself who is martyred. In either case, the saints' lives are less mystical than political, less theological than psychological. They offer highly calculated strategies for responding to violence and sex. They are didactic, but they do not teach Christian doctrine so much as behavior--behavior carefully designed to oppose the erotic and violent instincts.

Perhaps now we can see the point of Freud's early description of religion as a "universal obsessional neurosis." The rituals of the obsessive, he argues, like the rituals of religion, are means of defending against the instinct. Moreover, "the influence of the repressed instinct is felt as a temptation ... which gains control over the future in the form of expectant anxiety" ("Obsessive Actions," 124). "Expectant anxiety": this thought brings us back to the beautiful question we posed earlier: What is the relation of the Viking raids to the Benedictine Reform, and AElfric's great project? In the grip of ambivalence about the Vikings, and devoted to the hagiographic doctrine of non-violence, England, like one of Freud's obsessive patients, began setting the table seven or ten times a day, instead of taking up arms. Unlike the obsessive, however, who cannot understand the meaning of his ritual, AElfric knew full well what he was doing. The Saints' Lives, including the vaguely apocalyptic "Passion of St. Edmund," tell us he knew the purposes and the costs of sainthood, in which the present world must be sacrificed to a future one.

Obsession can hardly account for the range and depth of AElfric's religious beliefs, of course, or their cultural value. We have only begun to theorize those beliefs. But Freud does account for something. At the turn of AElfric's millenium there was no avoiding this "expectant anxiety," nor can it be avoided at the turn of ours. But is this expectation, then and now, a cause of religious revival, or its consequence? This question and others like it in a Freudian register open up a world of analysis and speculation for the twentieth-century tenth-century scholar. How could Edmund have become a symbol of resistance to the Vikings, if he did not resist them? And are not the monastic liturgy, the passions of the martyrs, and Christian non-violence really all agents of Freud's death drive? AElfric's religion pushes him well beyond the pleasure principle, but not necessarily to a higher level. There is also a more primitive level, where a threat can be mastered by repetition--for example, the relentless fort-da of the saints' lives, "Edmund [like St. X] fell, but conquered."

Not too many Anglo-Saxonists will want to pursue these thoughts to their conclusions, of course, or even as far as I have here; but perhaps in conclusion I can reformulate them in a more general and attractive way. Is there a typical Anglo-Saxon psychology, in the sense that Freud's is typical of his time and place? Does AElfric display a distinctive configuration of mental elements as Freud defined them (id, ego, superego; conscious and unconscious; sexual and destructive drives)? He does indeed, and Christian belief is one of its defining features. Anglo-Saxon Christian psychology is more death-driven than modern psychology, more dependent on sublimation, more in thrall to a collective superego. AElfric is our best guide to this topic too: a subsequent essay will explore his third homily for Christmas (Skeat, 1), on the Trinity, the Incarnation and the human mind. There we will find that AElfric's faculty psychology maps surprisingly well onto Freud's. For now, though, these thoughts on violence and non-violence in "The Passion of St. Edmund" should indicate the range and interest of a psychological approach.

Freud felt that Christianity actually promotes violence, more than it promotes the emotional ties between men. His opinion, though counter-intuitive for Christians, cannot easily be brushed aside. In any case, in AElfric's response to the Vikings perhaps we see Anglo-Saxon Christianity at its best. AElfric calmly refuses to enter into the discourse of war even as it rages around him; he declines the temptation to denounce or demonize the enemy; and he pursues truth and brotherhood more effectively in silence than Wulfstan does in thunder.

University of Oregon


(1) Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King AEthelred `The Unready' (Cambridge U. Press, 1980), 208.

(2) Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 2:2.

(3) John P. Hermann, Allegories of War: Language and Violence in Old English Poetry. (U. of Michigan Press, 1989).

(4) Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford U. Press, 1985).

(5) Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil, trans. E. Buchanan (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 211-31.

(6) Henry Sweet, Anglo-Saxon Primer, revised Norman Davis, 9th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974).

(7) AElfric, Lives of Saints, 2 vols., ed. Walter W. Skeat, Early English Text Society 42, 72 (Oxford U. Press, 1881-1900), 32, 101-11, 116-22.

(8) Hermann, Allegories, 121.

(9) Alfred P. Smyth, Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles, 850-880 (Oxford U. Press, 1977).

(10) Roberta Frank, "Viking Atrocity and Skaldic Verse: The Rite of the Blood-Eagle," English Historical Review 99 (1984): 332-43. Also, "The Blood-Eagle Again," Saga Book 22 (1988): 28'7-89 and "Ornithology and the Interpretation of Skaldic Verses," Saga Book 23 (1990): 82-3.

(11) Bjarni Einarsson, "De Normannorum Atrocitate, or On the Execution of Royalty by the Aquiline Method," Saga Book 20 (1986): 79-82, and "Bloporn--an Observation on the Orinthological Aspect," Saga Book 23 (1990): 80-2.

(12) Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, trans. D. W. Robertson (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1958), 138-39.

(13) Rosemary Woolf, "Saints' Lives," Continuations and Beginnings, ed. E. G. Stanley (London: Nelson, 1966), 45.

(14) Joyce Hill, "AElfric, Gelasius, and St. George," Mediaevalia 11 (1985): 1-17.

(15) Mary Clayton, "Of Mice and Men: AElfric's Second Homily for the Feast of a Confessor," Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 24 (1993): 1-26.

(16) AElfric. Angelsachsische Homilien und Heiligenleben, ed. Bruno Assmann (1889; rpt. Darnstadt: Wissenschafliche Buchgesselschaft, 1964), 7, 299-300.

(17) AElfric, The Old English Heptateuch, ed. S. J. Crawford, Early English Text Society, Vol. 160 (Oxford U. Press, 1922), 50. See also Malcolm Godden, "Apocalypse and Invasion In Late Anglo-Saxon England," From Anglo-Saxon to Early Middle English: Studies Presented to E. G. Stanley, ed. Malcolm Godden et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1944), 140-41.

(18) Peter Clemoes, "The Chronology of AElfric's Works," The Anglo-Saxons: Studies in Some Aspects of Their History and Culture, Presented to Bruce Dickens, ed. Peter Clemoes (London: Bowes and Bowes, 1959), 244-45.

(19) Godden, "Apocalypse and Invasion."

(20) AEelfric, Sermones Catholici, ed. Benjamin Thorpe, 2 vols. (London: The Aelfric Society, 1844-46), 4-6.

(21) AEelfric, Catholic Homilies: The Second Series, ed. Malcolm Godden, Early English Text Society, second series, vol. 5 (Oxford U. Press, 1979), 316-17.

(22) Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (Columbia U. Press, 1988), 38.

(23) Pauline A. Stafford, "Church and Society in the Age of Aelfric," The Old English Homily and Its Backgrounds, ed. Paul E. Szarmach and Bernard F. Huppe (State U. of New York Press, 1978).

(24) J. E. Cross, "The Ethic of War in Old English," England Before the Conquest, ed. P. Clemoes and K. Hughes (Cambridge U. Press, 1971), 269-82.

(25) AEelfric, Homilies: A Supplementary Collection, ed. John C. Pope, Early English Text Society, vols. 259, 260 (Oxford U. Press, 1967), 22.

(26) Eric John, "The World of Abbot AElfric," Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society, ed. Patrick Wormald (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983), 312.

(27) M. K. Lawson, "Archbishop Wulfstan and the Homiletic Element in the Laws of AEthelred II and Cnut," English Historical Review 424 (1992): 572.

(28) Rodney Needham, Belief, Language, and Experience (U. of Chicago Press, 1972).

(29) Sigmund Freud, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. and trans. James Strachey, vol. 9 "Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices" (London: Hogarth, 1953-74), 127.

(30) Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith (New York: Harper and Row, 1957), 1.

(31) Keynes, Diplomas, 189.

(32) Janet Bately. ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Vol. 3, MS A, ed. David Dumville and Simon Keynes (Cambridge: D S Brewer, 1986).

(33) John Earle and Charles Plummer, eds. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, rev. Dorothy Whitelock, 2 vols. (Oxford U. Press, 1952), 1:128.

(34) Susan Ridyard, The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge U. Press, 1988), 226.

(35) M. Benskin, The Literary Structure of AElfric's Life of King Edmund, Loyal Letters: Studies on Medieval Alliterative Poetry and Prose, ed. L. A. J. R. Houwen and A. A. MacDonald (Mediaevalia Groningana 15, 1994), 14.

(36) Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton U. Press, 1957), 61-78.

(37) Dorothy Whitelock, ed. English Historical Documents I: c500-1042 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968), 180.

(38) Whitelock, Documents, 380-81; 401-2.

(39) Paul Ricoeur, History and Truth, trans. Charles A. Kelbley (Northwestern U. Press, 1965), 223-4d.

(40) Frank Barlow, Edward the Confessor (U. of California Press, 1970).

(41) Ridyard, Royal Saints, 211-26.

(42) James W. Earl, "`The Battle of Maldon' line 86: OE lytegian' Lat. litigare?' Old English and New, ed. J. H. Hall, N. Donne, D. Ringlet (New York: Garland), 76-82.

(43) William Kerrigan, "Death and Anxiety: The Coherence of Late Freud," Raritan 16 (1997): 71.

(44) Freud, vol. 14, "Thoughts for the Times on War and Death," 285.

(45) Freud, vol. 22, "Why War?" 211.

(46) Kerrigan, "Death and Anxiety," 70.

(47) James W. Earl, Thinking About Beowulf (Stanford U. Press, 1994), 111-14.
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