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Superstition and prognostication

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Chapter Summary

This chapter aims to clarify the status of prognostication as a superstitious practice. It investigates the authority that is voiced by the texts themselves. The chapter examines an existing system to subdivide the field of superstition to determine the position of prognostication in Anglo-Saxon England, as gleaned from written sources, and the intended audience of the Anglo-Saxon prognostics. It attempts to provide a typology of superstition, of necessity anachronistic, in order to discover the vocabulary Anglo-Saxon writers may have used to signify prognostication. The chapter studies use of authorship and verbal echoes in the Anglo-Saxon prognostics to heighten the authority and credibility of the prognostics and to indicate that the intended audience of the texts must be sought among the educated. The chapter finally discusses the concept of superstition in the Middle Ages.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon England; middle ages; prognostication; superstition



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