Weather Prognostics in Anglo-Saxon England

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Abstract

Prognostics concerning the day of the week on which kalendae ianuariae and Christmas Day fall, commonly known as the Revelatio Esdrae , purport to be a set of prophecies by the Biblical Esdras. They make predictions about the weather and other natural phenomena for the year to come, and they then extend their predictions to the field of human affairs. A remarkable number of copies of the Revelatio appear in English manuscripts from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. Some of these versions have been attributed to Bede and Abbo of Fleury as part of their computus works.

Both R. M. Liuzza and L. S. Chardonnens point out the frequent occurrence of the Revelatio in religious and scientific manuscripts and therefore reject the label of folklore, stressing instead the probable monastic origin of this prognostication. This study will provide the first complete collation and analysis of the surviving exemplars, to give as full an idea as possible of their circumstances of composition, their transmission, and their relationship to one another. It will consider how the Revelatio Esdrae was copied and used in Anglo-Saxon England, the audience to which it was addressed, and whether any conclusion can be drawn from its appearance in particular manuscripts, alongside certain other texts.

The regular occurrence of the Revelatio along with computistical material supports the case for its monastic origin and learned nature. Such a text would have been a helpful handbook to be used by monks and priests, and was among the standard holdings of continental and Anglo-Saxon monasteries and scriptoria, giving further proof of the monks’ intellectual eclecticism and their knowledge of the kinds of continental literature from which this text derives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-426
Number of pages36
JournalEnglish Studies
Volume93
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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