Reforming monks in the temporal world
John’s devotional principles cultivated in the secular landscape
in Emotional monasticism
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This chapter demonstrates that John’s emotional reform priorities were not solely acted upon within the walls of the monastic community at Fécamp, but also coloured his interactions with the secular world. As the abbot of the most prominent abbey in Normandy, John regularly interacted with lay lords and dukes of Normandy and Holy Roman Empresses, among others. Using charters, letters, and chronicles, this chapter shows how John’s particular brand of piety was not restricted only to the contemplative moments he had inside the monastery, but also motivated John’s wider responsibilities as a politically, socially, and economically involved abbot. This chapter thus argues against the historiographical narrative that abbots were either spiritual recluses who resented their worldly activities or political players who relished their worldly power. Instead, this chapter shows that an abbot’s worldly activity could be part and parcel with his spiritual goals, aiming to erode our modern notion that worldly activity could not also be spiritual behaviour in medieval Europe.

Emotional monasticism

Affective piety in the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp


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