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St. Oswald in Regensburg: a Reconsideration

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  • 820 Englische Literatur

Abstract

St. Oswald i n Regensburg A Reconsideration By K a r l Heinz Göller and Jean Ritzke-Rutherford A group of sculptured figures and r e l i e f s dating from the Middle Ages and c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to one of the most i n t r i g u i n g legends of Regensburg, that of the D o l l i n g e r Saga, has given r i s e to more than one unsolved mystery. The group portrays a king and a joust, both of them connected with the t a l e of a townsman who fought a pagan knight for his King; but i t also includes an enigma, i n the figure of an E n g l i s h s a i n t , Holy Oswald, king and martyr, who died for h i s f a i t h as early as the seventh century i n Northumbria, I t has been claimed that the Oswald fi g u r e has l i t t l e , i f anything, to do with the group, ^ and the i n s c r i p t i o n s under 2 the statues do not provide much h e l p f u l information. The thirteenth-century donor may simply have intended to honour h i s patron saint by adding him to the group, but t h i s i s mere conjecture. The suggestion that the legendary b a t t l e took place on the Saint's Feast Day, the f i f t h of August, i s no better."^ Both assumptions are equally unsatisfactory as an explanation of the i n c l u s i o n of St. Oswald i n the group. The s o l u t i o n i s f a r more to be sought i n the legend and attributes of the Saint himself; i t i s they which explain the c e n t r a l function of the Oswald statue and the interdependence of the f i g u r e s i n the ensemble. The j u x t a p o s i t i o n of a German king, a Bavarian hero, and an E n g l i s h s a i n t i s a s t r i k i n g example of the manifold c r o s s - c u l t u r a l t i e s between England and Bavaria, and of the i n t i - mate r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two during the early Middle - 99 - Ages. That Regensburg played an important r o l e i n the r e l a - t i o n s h i p i s apparent from King Alfred's t r a n s l a t i o n of the Compendious History of the World f

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