This book offers a new interpretation of Adomnán’s 'Life of Saint Columba', a crucial source for the study of early Irish and north British history. Whereas previous scholars have assumed that this vita was that of a fairly typical Irish saint, Michael J. Enright shows that Adomnán intended to portray Columba as an authentic Old Testament-style prophet, one superior to any other leader because he had been divinely chosen and commissioned to impose God’s will on the British Isles. His purposes were not refutable by any other power since, like Moses, Samuel and Elijah, he had been made into God’s own singular herald. His commission was to reform kingship by selecting, anointing and guiding rulers according to Old Testament precedent. Like a scriptural prophet, moreover, he taught his followers to be prophets so as to ensure the continuity of his mission. In order to advance this regime of the prophet-guided ruler, God also endowed Columba with the special privilege of giving victory in battle to those who supported him. Adomnán intended to show that no other leader or institution could ever legitimately defy Columba, whose spirit actively lived on in his community.
(source: Four Courts Press)
The Sutton Hoo whetstone sceptre is the most enigmatic and mysterious emblem of kingship of the early Middle Ages. Produced around AD 600 and long held to be Anglo-Saxon, Enright establishes that the sceptre is undoubtedly a British artefact, one that reflects a long history of Celtic kingship theory. In this volume, the thesis is re-examined with a wealth of evidence never before discussed. Enright establishes that the sceptre is undoubtedly a British artefact, one that reflects a long history of Celtic kingship theory. It is the end of a tradition that begins with the Iron Age Pfalzfeld pillar. Because the sceptre's design reflects that of the pillar, a comparison of their creator's ideas is possible. The results are important and surprising. It is safe to say that this book casts a wholly new light on a number of significant topics in the field and that its findings will be of considerable interest to scholars in a variety of areas.
(source: Four Courts Press)
Contributions to journals
Enright, Michael J., “Fires of knowledge. A theory of warband education in medieval Ireland and Homeric Greece”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmissions / Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlieferung, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 342–367.
Enright, Michael J., “Iromanie – Irophobie revisited: a suggested frame of reference for considering continental reactions to Irish peregrini in the seventh and eighth centuries”, in: Jarnut, Jörg, Ulrich Nonn, and Michael Richter (eds), Karl Martell in seiner Zeit, Beihefte der Francia 37, Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 1994. 367–380.