In the Shadow of Death: Saint Boniface and the Conversion of Hessia, 721-54 (Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Book 11)

October 30, 2020
In the Shadow of Death: Saint Boniface and the Conversion of Hessia, 721-54 (Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Book 11)

In the year 721, the Anglo-Saxon missionary St Boniface camewith his followers to Hessia, a small but turbulent province on theborders of the expanding Frankish kingdom. This book is the firstdedicated interdisciplinary study of Boniface's thirty-three-yearmission among the Hessians. The author relates the historicalsources to the rich archaeological heritage of the region in orderto describe the political and cultural context of the mission andits relationship to long-term Frankish interests in the Saxonborderlands. Thanks to the survival of many letters between themissionary community and its supporters, it is also possible toexamine a symbolic literary discourse that portrayed themissionaries as heroic exiles who chose to suffer torments in adistant land for the sake of Christ. Finally, fresh evidence drawnfrom topography and place names is used to argue for the existenceof an expansive pre-Christian sacred landscape that was one of themajor obstacles faced by Boniface and his followers. The result isan innovative study that brings history and archaeology intocommunication with the landscape, both real and imagined, in orderto reconstruct a crucial moment in the conversion of Europe in allits complexity, ambiguity, and drama. Awarded the Josef LeinweberPrize 2009 by the Fulda Faculty of Theology.