Dunstan: Saint and Statesman

By Douglas Dales

A major biography of the 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, setting Dunstan’s achievements against the social and religious background of the day.

ISBN: 9780227173923


St Dunstan of Canterbury (909-88) was the central figure in the development of English church and society after the death of King Alfred. The author traces Dunstan’s life beginning with his education at the great monastery of Glastonbury, of which he became abbot. He was a central figure at the court of the kings of Wessex but was banished, partly because of his hostility to King Edwy’s mistresses, and went into exile in Flanders. On the succession of Edgar to the throne, Dunstan was called back to England and appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. During the twenty eight years of his primacy he carried out one of the major developments of the century, the reformation of the monasteries. The author examines him not merely as a prelate and royal advisor, but considers other aspects of his life: his skill as a craftsman, which caused him to be adopted as the patron saint of goldsmiths; his works as calligrapher and artist, some of which survive to this day; the coronation service which he drew up which still lies at the heart of this service for English monarchs; his celebrated musical skills; and above all, the sanctity of his name and the fame of his miracles, which have kept Dunstan’s memory alive.

Douglas Dales’ re-examination of the life and times of Dunstan sets his achievements against the social and religious background of his day, at a time when new forces were emerging that would shape the future of England and the English Church for centuries to come.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 230

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Douglas Dales was Chaplain of Marlborough College, Wiltshire, from 1984 to 2012 and is now a parish priest in the diocese of Oxford. He is the author of several studies in Anglo-Saxon church history and other areas of theology, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of Alcuin: his Life and Legacy, Alcuin: Theology and Thought, Living Through Dying: The Spiritual Experience of Saint Paul and Light to the Isles: Mission and Theology in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Britain.


Foreword by the Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Tenth-Century Regnal and Archiepiscopal Lists

Part One: Glastonbury, AD 909-59
1. The Legacy of Alfred the Great
2. Oritur Puer Strenuus
3. At the Court of Athelstan
4. Abbot of Glastonbury
5. Exile and Return

Part Two: Canterbury, AD 960-88
6. Archbishop of Canterbury
7. The Monasteries
8. The Statesman
9. Two Kings 99

Part Three: The Legacy, AD 989-1023
10. The Successors
11. The Flowering of the Tenth Century
12. St Dunstan



Endorsements and Reviews

I am deeply grateful to Douglas Dales for this comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography. I hope it does much to renew an interest in Dunstan and a period of English church history which has much more immediate lessons for our Christian life now than a thousand years’ separation seems to suggest.
Robert Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury