In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hiberno-Latin Literature

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Historical and Cultural Contexts

Medieval Studies Hiberno-Latin Literature
Charles D. Wright
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 February 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0249


“Hiberno-Latin literature” refers to Latin writings by native speakers of Irish, whether or not they were written in Ireland, and whether or not they differ linguistically from other medieval Latin texts. (An exception must be made for St. Patrick, a Briton by birth who spent most of his adult life in Ireland and wrote his surviving works there.) Hiberno-Latin literature in the earlier Middle Ages is virtually all of monastic or clerical authorship and predominantly on religious subjects. The tradition begins with the writings of the missionary Patrick in the 5th century and of the expatriate Columbanus in the late 5th to early 6th century; reaches a high point in the 7th century with some remarkably original but mostly anonymous or pseudonymous theological writings and poetry; shifts mainly to the Continent in the 8th and 9th centuries with the Irish peregrini, such as the poet-scholars Sedulius Scottus and Iohannes Scottus Eriugena; and declines over the course of the 10th through 12th centuries, though with a final flourish in the influential Visio Tnugdali by Marcus of Regensburg. In addition to texts of known Irish authorship, there are also those (especially in the category of biblical commentaries) for which Irish authorship has been postulated but also disputed, and others that occupy a marginal status as putatively “Insular” (or “Irish-influenced”). A further marginal category comprises Irish versions or revisions of non-Irish texts (for example, many liturgical texts). This entry will focus on Reference Works, General Overviews, Journals, Major Named Authors, Major Genres, Thematic Studies, Historical and Cultural Contexts, and Hiberno-Latin Language.

Reference Works

Fundamental reference works for the study of Hiberno-Latin literarture include repertories of Hiberno-Latin writings and manuscripts, bibliographies of secondary literature, and electronic corpora of Hiberno-Latin writings.

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