DUNSTAN, SAINT: Archbishop of Canterbury; b. near Glastonbury (5 m. s. of Wells, Somerset) probably in 925; d. at Canterbury May 19, 988. He was of noble family and related to Elphege of Winchester and other bishops. His early education was received from Irish scholars in the abbey of Glastonbury, but his distinguished birth and rich personal endowments led to his being summoned to the court by King Athelstan while still a lad. Stories of his visions and dreams point to some morbid or abnormal nervous condition. His fondness for heathen poetry and study of incantations was made a ground of accusation against him, and, as a consequence, he suffered physical ill treatment and was driven from the court. His kinsman, Bishop Elphege, received him at Winchester and, after a period of reluctance on Dunstan's part, made him a monk.
He now returned to Glastonbury (9427) and devoted himself to the study of the Bible and the Fathers, finding also occupation and amusement in painting, music, and working in metals. Bells, crosses, and many small articles were long shown in Glastonbury as his workmanship. He is said to have adopted an ascetic life and to have built with his own hands a small cell "more like a grave than a human dwelling-place," which served him as living-room, oratory, and workshop. He was again summoned to the court by King Edmund, only to be again expelled; but the almost miraculous escape of the king from great danger while hunting softened his mind and led to Dunstan's being recalled and made abbot of Glastonbury (c. 946, at the age of twenty-one). The buildings were in a ruinous condition, the true monastic life had died out, lay brothers had taken the place of monks, and the crown had seized upon the rights of patronage and the estates. Dunstan's innovations were rather a new foundation than a reformation. With generous support from the king he built up an institution which was more of a school than a Benedictine community, though his companions wore monk's garb. From it went forth archbishops and clergy of all sorts, who founded and ruled monasteries, disseminated Dunstan's teaching, and instructed the young. Glastonbury became the center of a monastic reform in Britain, which culminated in the complete establishment of the Benedictine rule (though not till after Dunstan'a return from Blandigny; see below), carried through by Dunstan himself in milder form, by his followers with more rigor.
After Edmund's murder (946) Dunstan became chief advisor and treasurer of King Edred, who had probably been his playmate at Athelstan's court. The young and physically weak king owed much to Dunstan's wise counsel, and the final suppression of a revolt in Northumbria was largely the work
Bibliography: Sources for biography are the Vita;, including one by a contemporary priest (signed B), that by Adelard of Ghent (1008-11 A.D.), and one by Osbern (s contemporary of Lanfranc), are collected in ASB, May, iv. 348-384, in MPL, exxzvii., cxxzix., clix., and with other documents, ed. W. Stubbs, in Memorials of SG Dunstan, Rolls Series, No. 83, London, 1874. These are supplemented by the Dunstan Saga, ed. G. Vigfusaon, Eng. transl. by G. W. Daeent, Roils Series, London, 1887-94. Further sources are indicated in T. D. Hardy, Descriptive Catalogue of Materials relating to the Hist., of Great Britain, Roils Series, No. 28, i. 2, pp. 594-B09, ib. 1882. As sources consult also: D. Wilkins, Concilia Magna. Britannica< . . . 4k8-1717, 4 vole, London, 1737; Codex diplomaticus a~oi Saxonici, ed. J. M. Kemble, 8 vols., ib. 1539. For more modern treatment consult: Engelhardt, Diasertatio de Dunatano, Erlangen, 1834; W. Robinson, Life of St. Dunstan, London, 1844; W. F. Hook, Lines n/ the Archbishop# of Canterbury, Vol. i., ib. 1880; DNB, xvi. 221-230.
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