The life and works of Osbert of Clare
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Osbert of Clare was an English monastic writer, whose works extended from the mid-1120s to the mid-1150s. His Latin hagiography reflects a deep admiration for Anglo-Saxon saints and spirituality, while his letters provide a personal perspective on his turbulent career. As prior of Westminster Abbey, Osbert of Clare worked to strengthen the rights and prestige of his monastery. His production of forged or altered charters makes him one of England's most prolific medieval forgers. At times his passion for reform put him at odds with his abbots, and he was sent into exile under both Abbot Herbert (1121-c.1136) and Abbot Gervase (1138-c.1157). Also Osbert, as one of the first proponents of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, wrote about the feast, worked to legitimize its celebration, and provided us with the only significant narration of its introduction to England. This thesis is divided into two sections. The first section is principally historical and the second is principally literary. In the first section, I provide an overview of Osbert of Clare's career and examine in greater detail two of his most significant undertaking: his promotion of Westminster Abbey and his attempted canonization of Edward the Confessor. In the second section, I give a philological study of Osbert Latin style and examine themes that nm throughout his writings, such as virginity, exile and kingship. Osbert's promotion of the feast of the Immaculate Conception is included in the second section of the thesis because of its ties to the themes of virginity and femininity within his writings. There are also two appendices: the first is a survey of the extant manuscripts of Osbert's writings, and the second is an edition of Osbert's unpublished Life of St Ethelbert from Gotha, Forschungsbibliothek MS Memb. i. 8l.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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