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The Political Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan of York
Manchester Medieval Sources
Archbishop Wulfstan of York (d. 1023) is among the most important legal and political thinkers of the early Middle Ages. A leading ecclesiastic, innovative legislator, and influential royal councilor, Wulfstan witnessed firsthand the violence and social unrest that culminated in the fall of the English monarchy before the invading armies of Cnut in 1016. In his homilies and legal tracts, Wulfstan offered a searing indictment of the moral failings that led to England's collapse and formulated a vision of an ideal Christian community that would influence English political thought long after the Anglo-Saxon period had ended. These works, many of which have never before been available in modern English, are collected here for the first time in new, extensively annotated translations that will help readers reassess one of the most turbulent periods in English history and re-evaluate the career of Anglo-Saxon England's most important political visionary. -- .
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'There is much more of interest that can be gleaned from these texts. Scholars of social, cultural, legal, religious, and political phenomena will find many clues to the early history of such topics, to just name a few, as penance, marriage, tithes, wergild, oaths, sanctuary, and slavery. And for those interested in broader social and political ideas, Rabin is undoubtedly right that Wulfstan's writings offer one of the most ambitious attempts to describe a coherent "political theology" known from Anglo-Saxon England (vii). The clarity of the translations and the relatively modest length of the book will also make it appropriate for use in the undergraduate classroom. These texts will allow readers to come to their own conclusions about Rabin's claims that Wulfstan was "a political thinker of the first order," and that his Institutes of Polity "represents the most sophisticated work of English political theory before John of Salisbury's Policraticus" (15-16).'
Richard Keyser, University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Medieval Review
'Rabin has provided handy translations of works by Wulfstan that are ill-served by or excluded from Bethurum's standard edition of the homilies or Liebermann's of the law codes. The resulting book is a superb scholarly presentation of an easy-to-overlook corpus.' Jonathan Wilcox, University of Iowa, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, 92.1 -- .