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Encountering St Margaret of Antioch in parochial and personal contexts in late Medieval England: devotional artefacts, memorialization and the construction of familial and communal identity

Cook, F. M. (2021) Encountering St Margaret of Antioch in parochial and personal contexts in late Medieval England: devotional artefacts, memorialization and the construction of familial and communal identity. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00107149

Abstract/Summary

This thesis comprises a series of six case studies that form an exploration of lay devotion to St Margaret of Antioch over the period c.1250-c.1530. In a departure from previous approaches, the thesis examines reasons for Margaret’s enduring popularity through a discussion foregrounding the great range of surviving artefacts associated with her cult. The medieval perception of Margaret as protector of women in childbirth has been widely discussed and the saint’s formidable dragon-slaying powers likewise. Whilst these aspects of Margaret’s cult are relevant and examined again in this study, it is argued that the evidence of wall paintings, stained glass and manuscripts presented here establishes a clear connection between Margaret and the sacrament of baptism. Distinctively, this study further argues that such an association is reinforced by representations of St Nicholas alongside those of Margaret. Moreover, textual versions of Margaret’s Life also support this sacramental association. Parts One and Two of this thesis examine visual narrative cycles of Margaret’s passion in the communal context of parish churches to consider issues of their intended messages and patronage, as well as how devotees might have interacted with them. Part Three focuses on two books of hours that demonstrate a more intimate context for the veneration of Margaret by known individuals. The manuscripts offer opportunities to discuss what Margaret could have represented for these individuals and how they might have expressed their devotion. Finally, it is argued that far from being simply a Holy Helper, through her sacramental association Margaret occupied a fundamental position at the heart of orthodox Christian belief and practice. Although sought out in moments of personal significance, symbolically, and perhaps most significantly, Margaret also represented a bulwark against the influence of other faiths and heterodoxy.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Lawrence-Mathers, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanities
Identification Number/DOI:https://doi.org/10.48683/1926.00107149
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:107149

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