Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Jana K. Schulman
Dr. Robert F. Berkhofer
Dr. Kevin J. Wanner
Masters Thesis-Campus Only
Very little is known about Bishop Leofgar of Hereford as he is only mentioned in two of the seven extant versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Called "Earl Harold's priest," he was installed as bishop along the Anglo-Welsh border in 1056. Six months after his appointment, Leofgar invaded Welsh territory with a small army and died on the battlefield, sword in hand. The chroniclers appear critical of his appointment to Hereford, his subsequent death, and the fact that he wore a mustache while a priest. This thesis examines the reasons why the chroniclers chose to record Leofgar in such a disapproving way. To answer this question five diverse topics are discussed: both English and Continental bishops' military activities; contemporary reactions to these deeds; the history of facial hair; issues of virility; and the relevant historical context of Hereford.
The mention of facial hair makes Leofgar's record unique in both content and linguistics among the annals in the Chronicle. This thesis is the first to give this annal the attention it deserves, thus filling a gap in the existing literature. Furthermore, the thesis examines the significance of the mustache and assesses Leofgar alongside other military bishops. Integrating the multiple studies described above provides a fuller context in which to understand the criticisms concerning Leofgar of Hereford as well as a deeper insight regarding the sketch of him provided by the chroniclers.
Blanchard, Mary Elizabeth, "Leofgar's Mustaches: Militarism, Virility, and Contemporary Criticism in Eleventh-Century England" (2010). Masters Theses. 353.