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The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins

The cult of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins was one of the most popular and relic-rich of all saints’ cults in the medieval period. In this volume, Jane Cartwright provides an interdisciplinary collection of essays that explore the medieval art and texts that were instrumental in the wide transmission of the legend of St. Ursula. The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins will appeal to art historians, as it details the origins of the popular symbols that appear in artistic depictions of St. Ursula and her martyred companions. The book will also be of great interest to students of medieval literature, history, gender studies, religious studies, and the history of music.

336 pages | 12 color plates, 3 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Religion: Religion and Society

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“Focusing on one of the most widespread and intriguing of saints’ cults, this collection of essays brings together a range of languages and disciplines to explore the complex implications of Ursula’s story and the light it sheds on attitudes towards gender and violence in medieval culture.”

Dafydd Johnston, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies

“This is an important collection of essays that advances our understanding of this very significant cult, which was at once international and the subject of peculiar interest in medieval England and Wales. Jane Cartwright has brought together some very distinguished contributors who between them cover a great geographical range, from Iceland to Hungary. The book should be of interest to anyone concerned with medieval saints’ cults and legends, with images of female sanctity and with cultural and religious links between medieval Britain and the Continent.”

Barry Lewis, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

“Sancta Colonia, ‘Holy Cologne’, was an extremely rich medieval repository of Christian relics, and none of its churches more so than that of St Ursula, allegedly the daughter of a British king, and the eleven thousand virgins supposedly martyred with her. In this volume, the growth of Ursula’s legend, in traditions covering almost the entire continent of Europe, is examined for the first time in English, expertly and fascinatingly. The volume, which also includes discussion for the first time by the editor Jane Cartwright of the Middle Welsh version of the saint’s life, is to be warmly welcomed.”

Pádraig Ó Riain, Aberystwyth University

“This edited collection of essays places Ursula, a Welsh saint and her cult, in an international context of religious literature, hagiography, and devotional practices in Medieval Europe. Wide ranging and multidisciplinary, it is a valuable resource and essential reading for anyone interested in the religious and political culture of sainthood and feminine sanctity.”

Cathryn A. Charnell-White, Head of Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth University

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Jane Cartwright
1 What's in a Name? Navigating Nomenclature in the Cult of
St Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins
Scott B. Montgomery
2 The Church of St Ursula in Cologne: Inscriptions and
Klaus Militzer
3 St Ursula and the Military Religious Orders
Helen Nicholson
4 From St Pinnosa to St Ursula- The Development of
the Cult of Cologne's Virgins in Medieval Liturgical Offices
Kristin Hoefener
5 Hildegard (1098-1179) and the Virgin Martyrs of Cologne
William Flynn
6 Ursula in the British History Tradition
Elizabeth J. Bryan
7 Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins: the Middle
English Legenda aurea Tradition
William Marx
8 The Middle Welsh Life of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins
Jane Cartwright
9 The Cult of St Ursula in Hungary: Legend, Altars and
Anna Tüskés
10 St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins in Scandinavia and
Iceland in the Middle Ages
Margaret Cormack
11 Radiant Maidens and Butchered Brides: Finding St Ursula
in Icelandic Literature
Katelin Parsons
12 Male Martyrs, Female Models? St Ursula and St Acacius as
Leaders and Victims
Samantha Riches

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