A New Generation?

As the new academic year launches at University of Southampton, there will be a display in the North Corridor of the Avenue Campus focussing on Anglo-Saxons and 1066. When the call for contributions landed unexpectedly in my Inbox, it seemed worth offering the Anglo-Saxon element of Bevis story in the Auchinleck version because it borrows the historical Anglo-Saxon King Edgar and sets the resolution of the story around his court and his attitudes. He comes across as a peaceful and just king, but one who is swayed by the more aggressive attitudes of his steward.

The reuse of Anglo-Saxon history in a 14th century text is not particularly unusual, but elides entirely the effects of 1066 on the intervening cultural environment. It shows how Anglo-Saxon history not only continued to be known long after 1066, but came to be used for new storytelling and probably political ends in the 14th century society that had developed by that time.

I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the display and perhaps promote interest in this complex text among a new generation of potential scholars.

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