The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

VII. From Alfred to the Conquest

§ 6. Byrhtferth

Another renowned contemporary of Aelfric was the monk Byrhtferth, whose writings are chiefly concerned with mathematics. He lived about 980, and is said to have been a pupil of Abbo. Leland says he was called Thorneganus. He seems to have known some of Dunstan’s earlier disciples, and to have lived at Canterbury for a time. His reputation as an English writer rests on his Handboc or Enchiridion, a miscellany preserved in only one MS. It begins with a descriptive calendar, and then follow short treatises of a mathematical and philological nature. After these come three theological tracts, on The Ages of the World, The Loosing of Satan and The Seven Sins. The collection concludes with two homilies, one entitled Ammonitio Amisi paet is freondlic mynegung, and the other on the four cardinal virtues. The sermon on the loosing of Satan seems to indicate that it was composed towards the close of the tenth century, and this date is corroborated by what other information we possess about the author.

Like Aelfric, Byrhtferth was a product of St. Aethelwold’s monastic reform, but his scientific leanings differentiated him remarkably from the greater homilists.