The pivotal role of Ireland in the development of a decidedly Christian culture in early medieval Europe has long been recognized. Still, Irish scholarship on early medieval Ireland has tended not to look beyond the Irish Sea, while continental scholars try to avoid Hibernica by reference to its special Celtic background. Following the lead of the honorand of this volume, Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, this collection of 27 essays aims at contributing to a reversal of this general trend. By way of introduction to the period, the first section deals with chronological problems faced by modern scholars as well as the controversial issues relating to the reckoning of time discussed by contemporary intellectuals. The following three sections then focus on Ireland’s interaction with its neighbours, namely Ireland in the insular world, continental influences in Ireland, and Irish influences on the Continent. The concluding section is devoted to modern scholarship and the perception of the Middle Ages in modern literature.
Warntjes, Immo, and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (eds), The Easter controversy of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages: its manuscripts, texts, and tables. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on the Science of Computus in Ireland and Europe, Galway, 18–20 July, 2008, Studia Traditionis Theologiae 10, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011.
Contributions to journals
This note announces the discovery of a tract on eclipse prediction in Paris, BnF, lat. 6400b, composed by an Irish scholar in ad 754. It is the earliest such text in the early middle ages and it is here placed in its scientific context.
A computistical manuscript from St Gall of c. AD 900, in the Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek, Bremen, is identified as one of a group (the Sirmond group) which contain material collected and studied in seventh- and early eighth-century Ireland. Intriguingly, this codex contains an unknown treatise of ad 699 which originally served as prologue to an altered version of the Easter table of Victorius of Aquitaine. This article presents arguments for an Irish provenance of this prologue, a critical edition, and a translation. It discusses its significance for the study of Irish intellectual culture at the turn from the seventh to the eighth century. Additionally, the Bremen codex transmits fragments of a prologue to the Supputatio Romana, the Easter reckoning followed in Rome between the third and the fifth centuries, some being identical with a passage in the fourth-century Cologne Prologue.
The construction, and especially the assignment of the Easter dates, of the Easter reckoning used in the British Isles from the fifth to the eighth century, here called the 84 (14), has been a matter of scholarly debate for the past 400 years. Since the discovery of the Munich Computus in AD 1878, the text that became the primary source for this Easter reckoning, the debate has centred almost exclusively on it. This changed with the discovery of an Easter table of this reckoning in AD 1985, which provided reliable Easter dates as well as a most valuable insight into the construction of the table itself. However, these primary sources have never been compared thoroughly. Such a comparison is provided in the present article, which leads to an analysis of its implications for the 84 (14) in general, and for the Munich Computus in particular.
Regnal succession in early medieval Ireland has been the centre of scholarly debate for the past eighty-five years. This paper contributes to the debate with an investigation of the early Irish law texts. It is argued that these law texts, especially the tracts on inheritance, reveal a certain pattern of regnal succession, which can be divided into an early and a later phase. Moreover, they allow us to define necessary criteria for eligibility for Irish kingship. The results of this examination are illustrated in the summary by the historical example of the early Síl nÁedo Sláine.
Over the past few decades, the early medieval Easter controversy has increasingly been portrayed as a conflict between the ‘Celtic’ and the ‘Roman’ churches, limiting the geographical extent of this most vibrant debate to Britain and Ireland (with the exception of the disputes caused by Columbanus’ appearance on the Continent). Both are not the case. Before c.AD 800, there was no unanimity within the ‘Roman’ cause. Two ‘Roman’ Easter reckonings existed, which could not be reconciled, one invented by Victorius of Aquitaine in AD 457, the other being the Alexandrian system as translated into Latin by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525. The conflict between followers of Victorius and adherents of Dionysius occurred in Visigothic Spain first, reached Ireland in the second half of the 7th century, and finally dominated the intellectual debate in Francia in the 8th century. This article will focus on the Irish dimension of this controversy. It is argued that the southern Irish clergy introduced the Victorian reckoning in the AD 630s and strictly adhered to that system until the end of the 7th century. When Adomnan, the abbot of Iona, converted to Dionysius in the late AD 680s and convinced most of the northern Irish churches to follow his example, this caused considerable tension with southern Irish followers of Victorius, as is impressively witnessed by the computistical literature of the time, especially the texts produced in AD 689. From this literature, the issues debated at the time are reconstructed. This analysis has serious consequences for how we read Irish history towards the end of the 7th century; rather than bringing the formerly ‘Celtic’ northern Irish clergy in line with southern Irish ‘Roman’ practise, Adomnan added a new dimension to the conflict.
Warntjes, Immo, “The Computus Cottonianus of AD 689: a computistical formulary written for Willibrord’s Frisian mission”, in: Warntjes, Immo, and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (eds), The Easter controversy of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages: its manuscripts, texts, and tables. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on the Science of Computus in Ireland and Europe, Galway, 18–20 July, 2008, Studia Traditionis Theologiae 10, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011. 173–212.
Warntjes, Immo, “The argumenta of Dionysius Exiguus and their early recensions”, in: Warntjes, Immo, and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (eds.), Computus and its cultural context in the Latin West, AD 300–1200: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on the Science of Computus in Ireland and Europe, Studia Traditionis Theologiae 5, Turnhout: Brepols, 2010. 40–111.