The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context, it has remained connected to the papacy; the pallium, in its present Western form, is a narrow band, "three fingers broad", woven of white lamb's wool from sheep raised by Trappist monks, with a loop in the centre resting on the shoulders over the chasuble and two dependent lappets and behind. It is decorated with six black crosses, one on each tail and four on the loop, is doubled on the left shoulder, sometimes is garnished and front, with three jeweled gold pins; the two latter characteristics seem to survive from the time when the Roman pallium was a simple scarf doubled and pinned on the left shoulder. In origin, the pallium and the omophor are the same vestment; the omophor is a wide band of cloth, much larger than the modern pallium, worn by all Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite.
A theory connects its origin with the figure of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb on his shoulders, so common in early Christian art. The ceremonial connected with the preparation of the pallium and its bestowal upon the pope at his coronation, suggests some such symbolism; the lambs whose wool is destined for the making of the pallia are solemnly presented at the altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes. The Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere weave the lambs' wool into pallia. At present, only the pope, metropolitan archbishops, the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem wear the pallium. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, a metropolitan had to receive the pallium before exercising his office in his ecclesiastical province if he was metropolitan elsewhere, but these restrictions were absent in the revised 1983 Code of Canon Law. No other bishops non-metropolitan archbishops or retired metropolitans, are allowed to wear the pallium unless they have special permission. An explicit exception is made for the realised scenario in which a person not yet a bishop is elected pope, in which case the bishop ordaining the new pope wears the pallium during the ceremony.
When a pope or metropolitan dies, he is buried wearing the last pallium he was granted, the other pallia are rolled up and placed in the coffin. It is unknown when the pallium was first introduced. Although Tertullian wrote an essay no than 220 AD titled De Pallio, according to the Liber Pontificalis, it was first used when Pope Marcus conferred the right to wear the pallium on the Bishop of Ostia, because the consecration of the pope appertained to him, it seems that earlier, the pope alone had the absolute right of wearing the pallium. We hear of the pallium being conferred on others, as a mark of distinction, no earlier than the sixth century; the honour was conferred on metropolitans those nominated vicars by the pope, but it was sometimes conferred on simple bishops. The use of the pallium among metropolitans did not become general until the eighth century, when a synod convened by St Boniface laid an obligation upon Western metropolitans of receiving their pallium only from the pope in Rome.
This was accomplished by journeying there or by forwarding a petition for the pallium accompanied by a solemn profession of faith, all consecrations being forbidden them before the reception of the pallium. The oath of allegiance which the recipient of the pallium takes today originated in the eleventh century, during the reign of Paschal II, replaced the profession of faith; the awarding of the pallium became controversial in the Middle Ages, because popes charged a fee from those receiving them, acquiring hundreds of millions of gold florins for the papacy and bringing the award of the pallium into disrepute. It is certain that a tribute was paid for the reception of the pallium as early as the sixth century; this was abrogated by Pope Gregory I in the Roman Synod of 595, but was reintroduced as partial maintenance of the Holy See. This process was condemned by the Council of Basel in 1432, which referred to it as "the most usurious contrivance invented by the papacy"; the fee was abandoned amid charges of simony.
There are many different opinions concerning the origin of the pallium. Some trace it to an investiture by Constantine I. Others declare that its origin is traceable to a mantle of St. Peter, symbolic of his office as supreme pastor. A fourth hypothesis finds its origin in a liturgical mantle, used by the early popes, which over time was folded into the shape of a band. There is no solid evidence tracing the pallium to an investiture of the emperor, the ephod of the Jewish High Priest, or a fabled mantle of St. Pe
Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire; the county town was Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Wiltshire is characterised by its high wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, as a training area for the British Army; the city of Salisbury is notable for its medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere; the county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton. Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology; the Mesolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church. At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire was agricultural. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was Parliamentarian; the Battle of Roundway Down, a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes. In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II.
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry lives on as Y Squadron, based in Swindon, B Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway. Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History website which has maps, demographic data and modern pictures and short histories; the local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond; when confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.
Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most linked with The Crammer in Devizes. Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a rural county, lies on chalk, a kind of soft, porous limestone, resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape; this chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, used for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges; the highest point in the county is the Tan Hill–Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m above sea level. The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology; the Marlborough Downs are part of a 1,730 km2 conservation area.
In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds. Part of the Cotswolds AONB is in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner. Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay vales; the largest of these vales is the Avon Vale. The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol; the Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour; the southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest. Chalk is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water; the main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury is situated between the chalk of marshy flood plains; the county has green belt along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon green belt, reaching as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban spr
Æthelred the Unready
Æthelred II, known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word "unready", but rather from the Old English unræd meaning "poorly advised". Æthelred was the son of Queen Ælfthryth. He came to the throne at about the age of 12, following the assassination of his older half-brother, Edward the Martyr, his brother's murder was carried out by supporters of his own claim to the throne, although he was too young to have any personal involvement. The chief problem of Æthelred's reign was conflict with the Danes. After several decades of relative peace, Danish raids on English territory began again in earnest in the 980s. Following the Battle of Maldon in 991, Æthelred paid Danegeld, to the Danish king. In 1002, Æthelred ordered. In 1013, King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England, as a result of which Æthelred fled to Normandy in 1013 and was replaced by Sweyn. However, he returned as king for two years after Sweyn's death in 1014.
Æthelred's 37-year reign was the longest of any Anglo-Saxon king of England, was only surpassed in the 13th century, by Henry III. Æthelred was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside, but he died after a few months and was replaced by Sweyn's son, Cnut. Another of his sons, Edward the Confessor, became king in 1042. Æthelred's first name, composed of the elements æðele, "noble", ræd, "counsel, advice", is typical of the compound names of those who belonged to the royal House of Wessex, it characteristically alliterates with the names of his ancestors, like Æthelwulf, Ælfred and Eadgar.Æthelred's notorious nickname, Old English Unræd, is translated into present-day English as "The Unready". The Anglo-Saxon noun unræd means "evil counsel", "bad plan", or "folly", it was most used in reference to decisions and deeds, but once in reference to the ill advised disobedience of Adam and Eve. The element ræd in unræd is the same element in Æthelred's name that means "counsel", thus Æþelræd Unræd is an oxymoron: "Noble counsel, No counsel".
The nickname has been translated as "ill-advised", "ill-prepared", thus "Æthelred the ill-advised". Because the nickname was first recorded in the 1180s, more than 150 years after Æthelred's death, it is doubtful that it carries any implications as to the reputation of the king in the eyes of his contemporaries or near contemporaries. Sir Frank Stenton remarked that "much that has brought condemnation of historians on King Æthelred may well be due in the last resort to the circumstances under which he became king." Æthelred's father, King Edgar, had died in July 975, leaving two young sons behind. The elder, was illegitimate, was "still a youth on the verge of manhood" in 975; the younger son was Æthelred, whose mother, Ælfthryth, Edgar had married in 964. Ælfthryth was the daughter of Ordgar, ealdorman of Devon, widow of Æthelwold, Ealdorman of East Anglia. At the time of his father's death, Æthelred could have been no more than 10 years old; as the elder of Edgar's sons, Edward – a young man given to frequent violent outbursts – would have succeeded to the throne of England despite his young age, had not he "offended many important persons by his intolerable violence of speech and behaviour."
In any case, a number of English nobles took to opposing Edward's succession and to defending Æthelred's claim to the throne. Both boys, Æthelred were too young to have played any significant part in the political manoeuvring which followed Edgar's death, it was the brothers' supporters, not the brothers themselves, who were responsible for the turmoil which accompanied the choice of a successor to the throne. Æthelred's cause was led by his mother and included Ælfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia and Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester, while Edward's claim was supported by Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Oswald, the Archbishop of York among other noblemen, notably Æthelwine, Ealdorman of East Anglia, Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex. In the end, Edward's supporters proved the more powerful and persuasive, he was crowned king at Kingston upon Thames before the year was out. Edward reigned for only three years. Though little is known about Edward's short reign, it is known that it was marked by political turmoil.
Edgar had made extensive grants of land to monasteries which pursued the new monastic ideals of ecclesiastical reform, but these disrupted aristocratic families' traditional patronage. The end of his firm rule saw a reversal of this policy, with aristocrats recovering their lost properties or seizing new ones; this was opposed by Dunstan, but according to Cyril Hart, "The presence of supporters of church reform on both sides indicates that the conflict between them depended as much on issues of land ownership and local power as on ecclesiastical legitimacy. Adherents of both Edward and Æthelred can be seen appropriating, or recovering, monastic lands." Favour for Edward must have been strong among the monastic communities. When Edward was killed at Æthelred's estate at Corfe Castle in Dorset in March 978, the job of recording the event, as well as reactions to it, fell to monastic writers. Stenton offers
Norman conquest of England
The Norman Conquest of England was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton and French soldiers led by the Duke of Normandy styled William the Conqueror. William's claim to the English throne derived from his familial relationship with the childless Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor, who may have encouraged William's hopes for the throne. Edward was succeeded by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson; the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada invaded northern England in September 1066 and was victorious at the Battle of Fulford, but Godwinson's army defeated and killed Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September. Within days, William landed in southern England. Harold marched south leaving a significant portion of his army in the north. Harold's army confronted William's invaders on 14 October at the Battle of Hastings. Although William's main rivals were gone, he still faced rebellions over the following years and was not secure on his throne until after 1072.
The lands of the resisting English elite were confiscated. To control his new kingdom, William granted lands to his followers and built castles commanding military strongpoints throughout the land. Other effects of the conquest included the court and government, the introduction of the Norman language as the language of the elites, changes in the composition of the upper classes, as William enfeoffed lands to be held directly from the king. More gradual changes affected the agricultural classes and village life: the main change appears to have been the formal elimination of slavery, which may or may not have been linked to the invasion. There was little alteration in the structure of government, as the new Norman administrators took over many of the forms of Anglo-Saxon government. In 911 the Carolingian French ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against further Viking invaders.
Their settlement proved successful, the Vikings in the region became known as the "Northmen" from which "Normandy" and "Normans" are derived. The Normans adopted the indigenous culture as they became assimilated by the French, renouncing paganism and converting to Christianity, they adopted the langue d'oïl of their new home and added features from their own Norse language, transforming it into the Norman language. They intermarried with the local population and used the territory granted to them as a base to extend the frontiers of the duchy westward, annexing territory including the Bessin, the Cotentin Peninsula and Avranches. In 1002 English king Æthelred the Unready married Emma of Normandy, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy, their son Edward the Confessor, who spent many years in exile in Normandy, succeeded to the English throne in 1042. This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics, as Edward drew on his former hosts for support, bringing in Norman courtiers and clerics and appointing them to positions of power in the Church.
Childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable Godwin, Earl of Wessex and his sons, Edward may have encouraged Duke William of Normandy's ambitions for the English throne. When King Edward died at the beginning of 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England. Edward's immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocrats. Harold was elected king by the Witenagemot of England and crowned by the Archbishop of York, although Norman propaganda claimed the ceremony was performed by Stigand, the uncanonically elected Archbishop of Canterbury. Harold was challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this, his claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor, Magnus the Good, the earlier English king, whereby if either died without heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway.
William and Harald at once set about assembling ships to invade England. In early 1066, Harold's exiled brother, Tostig Godwinson, raided southeastern England with a fleet he had recruited in Flanders joined by other ships from Orkney. Threatened by Harold's fleet, Tostig moved north and raided in East Anglia and Lincolnshire, but he was driven back to his ships by the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia, Morcar, Earl of Northumbria. Deserted by most of his followers, Tostig withdrew to Scotland, where he spent the summer recruiting fresh forces. King Harold spent the summer on the south coast with a large army and fleet waiting for William to invade, but the bulk of his forces were militia who needed to harvest their crops, so on 8 September Harold dismissed them. King Harald Hardrada invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of more than 300 ships carrying 15,000 men. Harald's army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who threw his support behind the Norwegian king's bid for the throne.
Advancing on York, the Norwegians defeated a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford. The two earls had rushed to engage the Norwegian forces before King Harold could arrive from the south. Alth
Shaftesbury Abbey was an abbey that housed nuns in Shaftesbury, Dorset. It was founded in about 888, dissolved in 1539 during the English Reformation by the order of Thomas Cromwell, minister to King Henry VIII. At the time it was the second-wealthiest nunnery in England, behind only Sion Abbey. Alfred the Great founded the convent in about 888 and installed his daughter Æthelgifu as the first abbess. Ælfgifu, the wife of Alfred's grandson, King Edmund I, was buried at Shaftesbury and soon venerated as a saint, she came to be regarded by the house as its true founder. The bones of St Edward the Martyr were translated from Wareham and received at the abbey with great ceremony; the translation of the relics was overseen by Ælfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia. This occurred in a great procession beginning on 13 February 981; the relics were received by the nuns of the abbey and were buried with full royal honours on the north side of the altar. The account of the translation reports that on the way from Wareham to Shaftesbury, a miracle had taken place: when two crippled men were brought close to the bier and those carrying it lowered the body to their level, the cripples were restored to full health.
This procession and events were re-enacted 1000 years in 1981. Reports from Shaftesbury of many other miracles said to have been obtained through Edward's intercession helped establish the abbey as a place of pilgrimage. In 1001, it was recorded that the tomb in which St Edward lay was observed to rise from the ground. King Æthelred instructed the bishops to raise his brother's tomb from the ground and place it into a more fitting place; the bishops moved the relics to a casket, placed in the holy place of the saints together with other holy relics. This elevation of the relics of Edward took place on 20 June 1001. Shaftesbury Abbey was rededicated to the Mother of St Edward. Many miracles were claimed at the tomb including the healing of lepers and the blind; the abbey became the wealthiest Benedictine nunnery in England, a major pilgrimage site, the town's central focus. In 1240 Cardinal Otto Candidus, the legate to the Apostolic See of Pope Gregory IX, visited the abbey and confirmed a charter of 1191, the first entered in the Glastonbury chartulary.
Elizabeth de Burgh, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here from October 1312 to March 1313. By 1340, the steward of the abbess swore in the town's mayor. At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a common saying quoted by Bishop Thomas Fuller conjectured "if the abbess of Shaftesbury and the abbot of Glastonbury Abbey had been able to wed, their son would have been richer than the King of England" because of the lands which it had been bequeathed, it was too rich a prize for Thomas Cromwell to pass up on behalf of King Henry VIII. In 1539, the last abbess, Elizabeth Zouche, signed a deed of surrender, the abbey was demolished, its lands sold, leading to a temporary decline in the town. Sir Thomas Arundell, 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour purchased the abbey and much of the town in 1540, but when he was exiled for treason his lands were forfeit, the lands passed to the earl of Pembroke to Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, to the Grosvenors. In 1539, St Edward's relics had been hidden so as to avoid desecration.
In 1931, the relics were recovered by J. E. Wilson-Claridge during an archaeological excavation of the abbey. E. A. Stowell, an osteologist. In 1970, examinations performed on the relics suggested that the young man had died in the same manner as Edward. Wilson-Claridge donated the relics to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which placed them in St Edward the Martyr Orthodox Church near Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, Surrey. Thomas Hardy wrote of the Abbey ruins: Vague imaginings of its castle, its three mints, its magnificent apsidal Abbey, the chief glory of south Wessex, its twelve churches, its shrines, hospitals, its gabled freestone mansions—all now ruthlessly swept away—throw the visitor against his will, into a pensive melancholy which the stimulating atmosphere and limitless landscape around him can scarcely dispel. A novel based on the dissolution of the Abbey, The Butcher's Daughter, by Victoria Glendinning was published in 2018; the list that follows is incomplete. Unless specified, the dates given are those of mentions in the historic record.
Elfgiva or Æthelgeofu or Algiva, first abbess about 888 Ælfthrith Herleva Alfrida Leueua (in the reign of Edward the Confessor Eulalia Eustachia Cecilia Emma Mary J. Amicia Russell Agnes Lungespee Agnes de Ferrers Juliana de Bauceyn Laurentia de Muscegros Joan de Bridport Mabel Gifford Alice de Lavyngton Margaret Aucher Dionisia le Blunde Joan Duket Margaret de Leukenore Joan Formage Egelina de Counteville Cecilia Fovent Margaret Stourton She was the sister of John Stourton of Preston Plucknett in Somerset, 7 times MP for Somerset, in 1419, 1420, December 1421, 1423, 1426, 1429 and 1435. Edith Bonham Margaret St. John Alice Gibbes Margaret Twyneo Elizabeth Shelford Elizabeth Zouche or Zuche, elected 1529 and forced to surrender the abbey in 1539 Shaftesbury Abbey Museum features stonework pieces excavated fro
Pope Gregory V
Pope Gregory V, born Bruno of Carinthia was Pope from 3 May 996 to his death in 999. He was a son of the Salian Otto I, Duke of Carinthia, a grandson of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. Gregory V succeeded Pope John XV, he was the chaplain of his cousin Emperor Otto III. Gregory V is counted as the first German Pope. Politically, Gregory V acted as the Emperor's representative in Rome and granted many exceptional privileges to monasteries within the Holy Roman Empire. One of his first acts was to crown Otto III Emperor on 21 May 996. Together, they held a synod a few days after the coronation in which Arnulf, Archbishop of Reims, was ordered to be restored to his See of Reims, Gerbert of Aurillac, the future Pope Sylvester II, was condemned as an intruder. Robert II of France, insisting on his right to appoint bishops, was forced to back down, to put aside his wife Bertha of Burgundy, by the rigorous enforcement of a sentence of excommunication on the kingdom; until the conclusion of the council of Pavia in 997, Gregory V had a rival in the person of the antipope John XVI, whom Crescentius II and the nobles of Rome had chosen against the will of the youthful Emperor Otto III, Gregory's cousin.
The revolt of Crescentius II was decisively suppressed by the Emperor. John XVI fled, Crescentius II shut himself up in the Castel Sant'Angelo; the Emperor's troops pursued the antipope, captured him, cut off his nose and ears, cut out his tongue, blinded him, publicly degraded him before Otto III and Gregory V. When the much respected St. Nilus of Rossano castigated both the Emperor and Pope for their cruelty, John XVI was sent to the monastery of Fulda in Germany, where he lived until c. 1001. The Castel Sant'Angelo was besieged, when it was taken in 998, Crescentius II was hanged upon its walls. Gregory V died not without suspicion of foul play, on 18 February 999, he is buried in St. Peter's Basilica near Pope Pelagius I, his successor was Gerbert, who took the name Sylvester II. List of ages of popes This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Gregory V". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed..
"Pope Gregory V". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. Brooke, Christopher. Europe in the Central Middle Ages: 962-1154. Routledge. Ein Salier auf dem Stuhl Petri, Online article on Gregory V, from the Diocese of Speyer's publication, Der Pilger "Gregorius V papa". Repertorium "Historical Sources of the German Middle Ages". Ein Salier auf dem Stuhl Petri, online article about Gregory V, from the Diocese of Speyer's circular, Der Pilger
Dunstan was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London, Archbishop of Canterbury canonised as a saint. His work reformed the English Church, his 11th-century biographer, himself an artist and scribe, states that Dunstan was skilled in "making a picture and forming letters", as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank. Dunstan served as an important minister of state to several English kings, he was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the devil. Dunstan was born in Somerset, he was the son of a noble of Wessex. Heorstan was the brother of the bishop of Wells and Winchester, it is recorded that his mother, was a pious woman. Osbern's Life of Dunstan relates that a messenger miraculously told her of the saintly child she would give birth to: She was in the church of St Mary on Candleday, when all the lights were extinguished.
The candle held by Cynethryth was as relighted, all present lit their candles at this miraculous flame, thus foreshadowing that the boy "would be the minister of eternal light" to the Church of England. The anonymous author of the earliest Life places Dunstan's birth during the reign of Athelstan, while Osbern fixed it at "the first year of the reign of King Æthelstan", 924 or 925; this date, cannot be reconciled with other known dates of Dunstan's life and creates many obvious anachronisms. Historians therefore assume that Dunstan was born around earlier; as a young boy, Dunstan studied under the Irish monks who occupied the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Accounts tell of his vision of the abbey being restored. While still a boy, Dunstan was stricken with a near-fatal illness and effected a miraculous recovery; as a child, he was noted for his devotion to learning and for his mastery of many kinds of artistic craftsmanship. With his parents' consent he was tonsured, received minor orders and served in the ancient church of St Mary.
He became so well known for his devotion to learning that he is said to have been summoned by his uncle Athelm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to enter his service. He was appointed to the court of King Athelstan. Dunstan soon was the envy of other members of the court. A plot was hatched to disgrace him and Dunstan was accused of being involved with witchcraft and black magic; the king ordered him to leave the court and as Dunstan was leaving the palace his enemies physically attacked him, beat him bound him, threw him into a cesspool. He managed to make his way to the house of a friend. From there, he journeyed to Winchester and entered the service of his uncle, Ælfheah, Bishop of Winchester; the bishop tried to persuade him to become a monk, but Dunstan was doubtful whether he had a vocation to a celibate life. The answer came in the form of an attack of swelling tumours all over Dunstan's body; this ailment was so severe. It was more some form of blood poisoning caused by being beaten and thrown in the cesspool.
Whatever the cause, it changed Dunstan's mind. He took Holy Orders in 943, in the presence of Ælfheah, returned to live the life of a hermit at Glastonbury. Against the old church of St Mary he built a small cell five feet long and two and a half feet deep, it was there that Dunstan studied, worked at his handicrafts, played on his harp. It is at this time, according to a late 11th-century legend, that the Devil is said to have tempted Dunstan and to have been held by the face with Dunstan's tongs. Dunstan worked in the scriptorium while he was living at Glastonbury, it is thought that he was the artist who drew the well-known image of Christ with a small kneeling monk beside him in the Glastonbury Classbook, "one of the first of a series of outline drawings which were to become a special feature of Anglo-Saxon art of this period." Dunstan became famous as a musician and metalworker. Lady Æthelflaed, King Æthelstan's niece, made Dunstan a trusted adviser and on her death she left a considerable fortune to him.
He used this money in life to foster and encourage a monastic revival in England. About the same time, his father Heorstan died and Dunstan inherited his fortune as well, he became a person of great influence, on the death of King Æthelstan in 940, the new King, summoned him to his court at Cheddar and made him a minister. Again, royal favour fostered jealousy among other courtiers and again Dunstan's enemies succeeded in their plots; the king was prepared to send Dunstan away. There were at Cheddar certain envoys from the "Eastern Kingdom", which meant East Anglia. Dunstan implored the envoys to take him with them, they agreed to do so. The story is recorded:... the king rode out to hunt the stag in Mendip Forest. He became separated from his attendants and followed a stag at great speed in the direction of the Cheddar cliffs; the stag was followed by the hounds. Eadmund endeavoured vainly to stop his horse. At that moment his horse was stopped on the edge of the cliff. Giving thanks to God, he returned forthwith to his palace, called for St. Dunstan and bade him follow rode straight to Glastonbury.
Entering the church, the king first knelt in prayer before the altar taking