The King's Body: Burial and Succession in Late Anglo-Saxon England

By Nicole Marafioti

© 2014

The King’s Body investigates the role of royal bodies, funerals, and graves in English succession debates from the death of Alfred the Great in 899 through the Norman Conquest in 1066. Using contemporary texts and archaeological evidence, Nicole Marafioti reconstructs the political activity that accompanied kings’ burials, to demonstrate that royal bodies were potent political objects which could be used to provide legitimacy to the next generation.

In most cases, new rulers celebrated their predecessor’s memory and honored his corpse to emphasize continuity and strengthen their claims to the throne. Those who rose by conquest or regicide, in contrast, often desecrated the bodies of deposed royalty or relegated them to anonymous graves in attempts to brand their predecessors as tyrants unworthy of ruling a Christian nation. By delegitimizing the previous ruler, they justified their own accession. At a time when hereditary succession was not guaranteed and few accessions went unchallenged, the king’s body was a commodity that royal candidates fought to control.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP003720

  • PUBLISHED APR 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

    ISBN 9781442647589
  • PUBLISHED MAR 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

Quick Overview

The King’s Body investigates the role of royal bodies, funerals, and graves in English succession debates from the death of Alfred the Great in 899 through the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The King's Body: Burial and Succession in Late Anglo-Saxon England

By Nicole Marafioti

© 2014

The King’s Body investigates the role of royal bodies, funerals, and graves in English succession debates from the death of Alfred the Great in 899 through the Norman Conquest in 1066. Using contemporary texts and archaeological evidence, Nicole Marafioti reconstructs the political activity that accompanied kings’ burials, to demonstrate that royal bodies were potent political objects which could be used to provide legitimacy to the next generation.

In most cases, new rulers celebrated their predecessor’s memory and honored his corpse to emphasize continuity and strengthen their claims to the throne. Those who rose by conquest or regicide, in contrast, often desecrated the bodies of deposed royalty or relegated them to anonymous graves in attempts to brand their predecessors as tyrants unworthy of ruling a Christian nation. By delegitimizing the previous ruler, they justified their own accession. At a time when hereditary succession was not guaranteed and few accessions went unchallenged, the king’s body was a commodity that royal candidates fought to control.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘Well-researched, written, cited, and indexed, this book provokes discussion and is a fine addition to scholarly libraries… Highly recommended.’


    D.J. Shepherd
    Choice Magazine vol 52:04:2014

    ‘Marafioti’s lucid and wide-ranging survey of the royal dead in tenth- and eleventh-century England offers numerous fresh insights into the politics of the period… It makes compelling reading.’


    Sarah Foot
    English Historical Review vol 130: 544:June 2015

    ‘Nicole Marafioti’s book is eloquent, incisive, and well-grounded in a wide range of primary sources…. She approaches each account from numerous different interrogative perspectives, thus extracting a huge amount of insight and information.’


    Victoria Whiteworth
    Speculum vol 90:04:2015

    ‘Marafioti persuasively shows just how important the management of Royal remains became in Anglo-Saxon world… Fine study.’


    Lindsay Digglemann
    Parergon vol 32:01:2015

    “By looking at the treatment of royal dead and how they were manipulated as part of succession disputes, Marafioti offers a new approach to the troubled politics of the eleventh century. The King’s Body is an interesting study that makes a real contribution to knowledge.”
    Barbara Yorke, School of Humanities and Social Studies, University of Winchester

    “This is a hugely clear-sighted and compelling book, one that emphasizes brilliantly the benefits of bringing together the twin disciplines of Anglo-Saxon history and literature: if the primary focus is on the political battles over the burial-sites of the bodies of successive Anglo-Saxon kings, the entire corpus of surviving material is magisterially surveyed to mighty profit.”


    Andy Orchard, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford

    “Scholarly and well written, The King’s Body places burial in the realm of a political statement: a very new suggestion.”


    Christina Lee, Associate Professor in Viking Studies, University of Nottingham
  • Author Information

    Nicole Marafioti is an assistant professor of history at Trinity University.
  • Table of contents

    List of Tables and Figures

    Acknowledgments

    Abbreviations

    Introduction. The Politics of Royal Burial in Late Anglo-Saxon England

    1. Royal Tombs and Political Performance: New Minster and Westminster

    2. Tenth-century Royal Mausolea and the Power of Place

    3. Funeral, Coronation, and Continuity: Political Corpses in the Eleventh Century

    4. Royal Body as Executed Body: Physical Propaganda in the Reigns of Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut

    5. Body and Memory: The Missing Corpse of King Edward the Martyr

    6. Bodies of Conquest: Kings, Saints, and Conquerors in the Reign of Cnut

    7. Conclusions: William of Normandy and the Landscape of Anglo-Saxon Royal Burial

    Epilogue

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

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