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Durham University

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Dr Abigail Steed

The ideology of vengeance: theology, literature and practice in England c.900-1150 in the Department of History

Contact Dr Abigail Steed

I am a PhD Student in the field of Medieval History, working with Dr Helen Foxhall Forbes and Dr Giles Gasper, and funded by AHRC: Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership. I am interested in many aspects of social, religious and intellectual history in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, and my thesis covers all these areas through a comprehensive study of the concept and practice of vengeance in the years c.900-1150. I draw together various theological, literary and historical narrative sources to build up a picture of social mentalities surrounding vengeance and how this influenced real action, including the extent to which ideas and practices changed following the Norman Conquest.

Research Interests

  • Anglo-Norman History
  • Anglo-Saxon History
  • Interactions between theological thought and lay society
  • Popular religion
  • The Cult of Saints
  • The history of ideas and social mentalities
  • Vernacular and Latin literature


Conference Paper

  • (2017), Creating a martyr: the case of Saint Ælfheah, Leeds International Medieval Congress. Leeds, England.
  • (2016), Vengeance is mine: the limits of divine retribution in Ælfric of Eynsham’s homily The Prayer of Moses, Dialogue and Difference: Bristol Centre for Medieval Studies 22nd Annual Postgraduate Conference. Bristol, England.
  • (2016), Zealous monks and reluctant audiences: getting the laity's attention in William of Malmesbury's Vita Wulfstani, Treasure in heaven, treasures on earth: secular society and material culture in Western European monasticism, c. 1050-c.1250. Durham, England.

Edited Journal

  • Piercy, Hannah, Richards, Abigail & Steed, Abigail (2016). Darkness and Illumination: The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Medieval and Early Modern World. Proceedings of the 2015 MEMSA Student Conference. MEMSA Journal.

Masters Thesis

  • (2015). Exile Experiences in Anglo-Saxon England. Masters.


  • (2016), Cuthbert: a not so benevolent saint, Late Summer Lecture Series. Durham, England.