Although very little documentation exists of this saint’s followers prior to the Norman Conquest, it certainly did rise in prominence during the years of Norman rule, for the Normans supported all Anglo-Saxon saints. This goes to show the profound impact the Normans have had in the social, religious and intellectual aspects of English life. For example, the house of the Holy Trinity Aldgate in London which played a crucial role in the composition of Vie Seinte Osith, was patronized by Bishop Richard as well as King Henry I himself. As early as the first decade of the twelfth century it earned renown for its intellectual culture. It encouraged writers from all classes, so that even those in rural settlements could enjoy literature. The importance of “the cult of St. Osyth at the heart of the intellectual circles close to the Norman and Angevin kings makes her Anglo-Norman life, by far the longest and most complete of the extant lives, especially important to a study of the development of vernacular literature in the twelfth century.” (Jane Dick Zatta, 2005, p.306)
Conclusion: More broadly, in the literary scene of England, traditional Anglo-Saxon authors found themselves replaced by a new breed of Anglo-Norman authors, whose literary styles and emotional sensibilities were very different. The new Anglo Norman nobility acquired new tastes for literature. This transformation came to define the emerging national character of England. How the English literary scene would have transpired in the absence of Norman rule is a matter of conjecture. What is more certain is the fact that prior to the Norman Conquest, the native Anglo-Saxons had a body of indigenous literature that is decidedly superior to anything comparable in continental Europe. This is particularly true of English narrative prose. But meritorious as it surely was, the ascendancy of English literature preceding the Normans should be judged in light of equally impressive, if not more brilliant writings of Norsemen between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, where political and climatic conditions were not much different from that of the English isles. While acknowledging the vibrant tradition of native English literature, it should also be noted that the Normans came to their land at a time when such an upheaval was urgently needed; “for ignorance was then rife in all parts, learning and culture were dying of inanition, and darkness seemed gathering round” (Schofield, et. al., p.25). The Norman infusion resulted in a radical rejuvenation of national life. It inspired the people to work toward a prosperous future and a common destiny.
“Anglo-Norman Studies” Medium Aevum 74.1 (2005): 185.
Garnett, Richard, and Edmund Gosse. English Literature: An Illustrated Record. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935. .
Schofield, William Henry, and William Henry Schofield. English Literature, from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931.
Steinsaltz, David., “The Politics of French Language in Shakespeare’s History Plays.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 42.2 (2002): 317+.
Vincent, Nicholas. “The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284.” History Today Dec. 2003: 60+.
Zatta, Jane Dick. “The Vie Seinte Osith: Hagiography and Politics in Anglo-Norman England.” Papers on Language & Literature 41.3-4 (2005): 306.