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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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King Wiglaf and Eanmundes laf

King Wiglaf and Eanmundes laf

(p.297) 10 King Wiglaf and Eanmundes laf
The Origins of Beowulf

Richard North (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the Wiglafs in Beowulf and Mercian history. Charters and other evidence are used to study the lineages, cross-border families and claims to piety of each of them. Hrothgar, whose use of Ephesians 6 has a match in Wiglaf's epitaph to Beowulf, is compared with Archbishop Wulfred of Canterbury (805-36), with whom King Wiglaf publicly declared friendship. It is argued that Beowulf is meant, on one level, to plead for a kingship not yet gained. Beowulf's death and Wiglaf's uncrowned status in the poem are used to narrow the date of Beowulf to 826-7. To account for Beowulf's West Saxon preservation, a hypothesis is made that King Burgred gave Æthelwulf the poem when he married this king's daughter in 853. Finally, it is argued that Eanmundes laf, nine lines after Wiglaf's first naming, contains the signature of the poet, Abbot Eanmund of Breedon (814x816 - c.848).

Keywords:   charters, Eanmund, Ephesians, Hrothgar, Wiglaf, Wulfred

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