Dr Janina Ramirez

Cultural Historian. Broadcaster. Author.


The Private Lives of the Saints: Power, Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England


Skulduggery, power struggles and politics. A fascinating re-examination of Anglo-Saxon England told through the secret lives of the saints.

Drawing on a wide range of evidence, from art and literature to archaeology, theology and historical data, Oxford art historian and BBC presenter, Dr Janina Ramirez examines the real lives of over a dozen seminal individuals, re-evaluating the role of the saints, from the infamous to the obscure, whose effect was felt throughout the Anglo-Saxon world and can still be felt today.

Taking them from their heavenly status to the human level, and examining their desire for adulation, power, wealth and legacy, Janina offers a unique and discerning study of life in Anglo-Saxon England.

What a wonderful book this is. Like the interlace stonework on an Anglo-Saxon cross, Janina Ramirez’s themes are interwoven with a consummate skill.
— Tom Holland
Those who were recast as saints achieved a superhuman status, their real lives often obscured by hagiographies rich with legends of miracle-working from beyond the grave. Janina Ramirez’s book portrays them historically – as living, breathing personalities within the world they knew, the places we have inherited. Her enthusiasm and instinct for relevance should welcome a broad new audience to medieval Church history.
— Jonathan Foyle
Ramirez blasts a powerful spotlight into the so-called Dark Ages and reveals a vibrant world, awash with colour and character.
— Dan Snow