Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Sara McDougall

Committee Members

Joel Allen

Jay Diehl

Eric Ivison

Lauren Mancia

Subject Categories

European History | History | History of Religion | Medieval History


England, Aelred, Hagiography, Medieval, Cistercian, Rievaulx


This dissertation analyzes the hagiography of Aelred of Rievaulx (c. 1110-1167), a Cistercian who served as abbot of Rievaulx, a northern English monastery, from 1147 until his death. While there is much scholarship on his other works, his hagiographical works have received little attention, a fact that this dissertation seeks to rectify. In fact, as this dissertation demonstrates, attending to Aelred’s hagiography is well worth doing. It brings us to a better understanding of Aelred himself and his understanding of the world, both how it was and how it ought to be. This dissertation analyzes Aelred’s hagiographical works by placing them within his socio-historical context, revealing concerns and views that could be considered Cistercian, but that also reflect the concerns of an abbot tasked with not only protecting, but also growing, the holdings and population of his monastery. These concerns are best illustrated by looking at these works through the lens of the three societal groups about whom Aelred writes: monks, ecclesiastical figures (particularly bishops), and the laity (including kings).

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