Nuns' Scriptoria in England and Francia in the Eighth Century

Rosamond McKitterick
Shortly before 713 Abbess Aelfled of Whitby addressed a letter to abbess Adela of Pfalzel near Trier, commending to her care an English abbess on pilgrimage, with the implication that Pfalzel was a common resting place for English pilgrims to Rome1. It is also one example among many of contact maintained between England and the Continent in the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries. In this case, the fact that it is between two female monasteries suggests a continuation of the kind of contacts
more » ... erred to by Bede, when royal princesses made their way to Francia for religious instruction. The monasteries most favoured by these Englishwomen were Brie, Chelles and Les Andelys-sur-Seine. Eorcongota, daughter of the king of Kent entered the monastery of Brie. So did Saethryth and Aethelburh, daughter and stepdaughter of Anna, king of the East Angles. Before she became abbess of Whitby Hild too had wished to join her sister Hereswith at Chelles2. Frankish women, moreover, went to England, the Vita Bertilae records that Bertila, abbess of Jouarre and later of Chelles, sent relics and books as well as teachers to England to help establish monasteries there3. Patrick Sims-Williams has argued the case for Bath monastery having benefited from this expedition, with a Frankish abbess Berta and at least one other Frankish woman, Folcburg, in the community4. Insular Connec tions are also clearly evident in the manuscripts attributable to the nunnery of Jouarre, for the heavy uncial and half-uncial scripts reveal marked insular traits and insular habits can be observed in the preparation of the membrane5.
doi:10.11588/fr.1992.1.57090 fatcat:tjr6s656jje5taiqyk3lcedxm4