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Guthlac, St

Guthlac, St (c.674–715). Of Mercian royal stock, a native of Middle Anglia (around Leicestershire), Guthlac, baptized as a baby, for nine years led a war-band, before entering at 24 the monastery at Repton and at 26 occupying a (robbed) burial mound on the Lincolnshire island of Crowland (possibly territory of north Gyrwe), on the Middle–East Anglian border. His biography, by Felix, bears resemblances to the poem Beowulf. Guthlac's life as a hermit, fighting demons, exemplifies the combination of Germanic heroism, Mediterranean influence, and genuine faith which characterized aristocratic Anglo-Saxon Christianity. Guthlac was politically influential, his visitors including Bishop Hedda, Ecburh, daughter of Aldwulf of East Anglia, and Æthelbald, future king of Mercia, whose accession Guthlac prophesied. Guthlac's support was exploited in Æthelbald's promotion of his cult. Crowland abbey developed from his hermitage. Vernacular lives were composed later and his cult flourished particularly in the 12th cent.

A. E. Redgate

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Guthlac, St

Guthlac, St (c.673–714), hermit of Crowland, whose cult had great popularity in pre-Conquest England. He is represented with a scourge, as a weapon against diabolical attacks. His feast day is 11 April; the date of his translation is 30 August.

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