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The Origins of BeowulfFrom Vergil to Wiglaf$
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Richard North

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206612.001.0001

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‘Quid Hinieldus?’ Bishop Unwona and Friends

‘Quid Hinieldus?’ Bishop Unwona and Friends

(p.132) 5 ‘Quid Hinieldus?’ Bishop Unwona and Friends
The Origins of Beowulf

Richard North (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter treats the lost poem on Ingeld, on which the poet of Beowulf relies for Ingeld and Freawaru, as identical with the carmina on Hinieldus for which Alcuin, in 797, blames a correspondent named ‘Speratus’. The latter, already identified with Bishop Unwona of Leicester (ruled 785-c.800), is here deduced to have sponsored an Ingeld poem whose heathen subjects are treated as worthy of communion with a generosity now only found in Beowulf. On this and other grounds, it is argued that the Hinieldus poem was transmitted to the poet of Beowulf through Unwona's entourage, and that particularly one of the bishop's appointees, Abbot Wigmund, on the strength of his Wægmunding-like name, brought the poem to the poet of Beowulf at home in his monastery. On three grounds, one involving charters from 8th- and 9th-century Mercia, Wigmund's minster is identified with Breedon on the Hill in North-West Leicestershire.

Keywords:   Alcuin, Breedon, charters, Freawaru, Hinieldus, Ingeld, Mercia, Speratus, Unwona, Wigmund

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