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The Life of Christina of Markyate: A Twelfth Century Recluse (Oxford Medieval Texts) [Hardcover]

C.H. Talbot
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 9, 1987 0198212747 978-0198212744
Christina of Markyate was born of well-to-do burgesses of Huntingdon, England, at the dawn of the 12th century. Her parents betrothed her to a local nobleman, but the marriage was not consummated. Christina eventually escaped, became a recluse and a nun, and then the prioress of a small community at Markyate in Hertfordshire, under the patronage of the abbot and monks of St. Albans. Written by one of her chaplains largely from her own reminiscences, this classic biography gives an exceptionally vivid account of the struggles of a young medieval girl and provides invaluable insight into 12th-century ecclesiastical and social history.

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The Life of Christina of Markyate: A Twelfth Century Recluse (Oxford Medieval Texts) + Medieval Outlaws: Twelve Tales in Modern English Translation + The Book of Margery Kempe: Annotated Edition (Library of Medieval Women)
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Editorial Reviews


"Through this reissue of the 1959 edition and translation, readers can enjoy a bit of first-rate detective work by C.H. Talbot, who published the life from a single badly damaged manuscript. They will also gain substantial insight into social and religious customs within the twelfth-century Anglo-Saxon community."--Church History

About the Author

C.H. Talbot is a Medieval scholar, formerly at the Wellcome Institute.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Medieval Texts
  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 9, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198212747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198212744
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8.4 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,739,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad paradox in an intriguing work. July 27, 2001
By sid1gen
Popular belief holds that during the Middle Ages sex was avoided like the plague --another medieval staple-- and all human energies went to glorify God. This "Life of Christina" is able to both support part of the popular belief and, at the same time, undermine it, leaving the reader with a strange sense of wonder at such a talented and resourceful woman who, with her work and example, contributed to the solid establishment of a social paradigm that would become dominant for the next 800 years and that would be so detrimental to women.
Christina, whose given name was Theodora, chose many paths in her life. She chose her name, chose to remain a virgin, chose not to marry any man, and chose to stick to her decisions. This is not the story of a girl who is forced into a convent and must sacrifice her terrenal love to obey her family. Christina is literally hounded by her parents because they want her to marry. Her mother will eventually not care if there is a marriage as long as Christina has sex with somebody. Since Christina refuses, such act would have to be rape, but mom is just fine with that, too. The smart girl will prove to be quite a match for Ralph Flambard, a cad who attempts to seduce her; for Burthred, her hapless betrothed; and for mom and dad. Even the prior Fredebertus will not be able to disuade her from remaining a virgin. This story is, then, very much in line with the popular view of the Middle Ages: virginity at all costs and service to God. But Christina is continuosly penalized precisely for wanting those two things. Everybody else around her wants her to marry, and her mother just wants her to have sex and get it over with.
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