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Hermits and Recluses in English Society, 950-1200 [Hardcover]

Tom Licence
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 64.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2011
In the central Middle Ages, English society lavished unprecedented attention on a category of would-be outcasts who repudiated its ambitions and spurned its aspirations. Hermits and recluses (collectively 'anchorites') had their own, very different vision of how life should be lived, and yet nobles retained them on their estates, parishioners did their bit to support their local recluses, and every tier of society from the peasantry up to royalty journeyed to rural hermitages for prayer, advice, and spiritual instruction. Anchorites were everywhere, dotted across the landscape, striving to restore humanity's broken image, in their own lives and in their clients. The respect that came of their endeavour grew from a heightened sense of the conflict between society's worldly concerns and its spiritual ideals, in the minds of their admirers.

Tom Licence sets out to discover why anchorites rose to prominence, in the context of European monasticism and trends in spirituality. In the past, historians linked their rise to many different things: the impact of the Norman Conquest; a crisis of identity in the monasteries; the discovery of the individual; a reaction to the profit economy; and to a new need for 'holy men' (or holy women) to minister to a changing society. Investigating the avenues by which anchorites gained their reputation, and pinpointing their function in relation to society, this new inquiry puts these hypotheses to the test in a study of English society in the central Middle Ages.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199592365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199592364
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,551,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Licence's approach ... is an original and valuable one ... This book will be essential to anyone who is seriously interested in European society in the central Middle Ages (Bernard Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement)

As compelling as it is convincing (Helen Castor, Times Higher Education)

Exemplary study...a penetrating examination of the lives of hermits and recluses...excellent (Alan Murdie, Fortean Times)

a seminal study of lasting value (Benedicta Ward, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History)

a carefully researched book, full of judicious insight. It should become essential reading for anyone interested in the religious aspirations of twelfth-century England (Henrietta Leyser, The Medieval Review)

clear, insightful, and elegant (Andrew Jotischky, The Historian)

About the Author

Tom Licence took his degrees at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before remaining there as a Research Fellow. He is now a lecturer in medieval history at the University of East Anglia, specializing in Ecclesiastical History.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little dry, but plenty of interesting insights 15 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, particularly the explanations of archaic terminolgy and the bits about the ordeals through which anchorites would put themselves in order to subdue the longings of the flesh, such as the wearing of hairshirts and hauberks, and those early morning dives into thornbushes or nettle patches!!!

However, unlike the other reviewers I found that, rather than being particularly 'readable', much of the book was a touch on the dry side. At times it became something of a slog; often I had to tell myself to knuckle down, to press on through the thickets of names and Latin quotations, in the hope that I'd arrive at one of the numerous clearings where the light is allowec to penetrate and in which the book comes to life. That said, I'm neither an academic historian nor a scholar of Latin, so I'm sure that readers with a grounding in those fields would find enjoyment where I struggled!

I'll certainly read it again, and one cannot fault the level of detail, but I prefer Peter France's book Hermits for good old "readability".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars innovative and readable 22 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
A great deal has been written about eastern asceticism and monasticism, much less on the subject of this excellent volume. Dr. Licence examines the place of hermits and recluses in English society, showing us that read aright, they tell us much about the society from which they were separating themselves. He shows how these people who deliberately placed themselves on the nargin of their society reflected something of the inner spirit of the Christian faith. He has some very interesting examples here, and he writes extremely well. A rarity - a scholarly book which is also very readable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!! 15 Mar 2011
By Jo
Format:Hardcover
An excellent, informative, student friendly read! I recommend Dr Tom Licence's book for anyone studying or interested in English Medieval Religious History/Monasticism/Hermits and Recluses.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected. Should have looked closer at what I was getting. 27 Mar 2014
By scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a lot of gathered information scattered about. Tons of footnotes. Not what I expected. No stories, just scattered did bits.
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