Charles West
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Hincmar’s parish priests
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Of all Carolingian writers, it was Hincmar of Rheims who had most to say about the rural parish church of the ninth century. This chapter draws attention to the tensions that characterised Hincmar’s views on the matter – that parishes were both ancient and evolving, that their priests were both separated from and part of the community they served, and that the parish was both under attack and unchallenged. Rather than seeking to resolve these tensions in favour of one side or another, it argues that they reflected Hincmar’s view of the parish as a microcosm of the church as a whole. It further suggests that such an approach helps us understand the Carolingian parish not simply in teleological fashion as an underdeveloped version of an institution that would only later be properly perfected, but as bearing a quite specific significance and role in Hincmar’s own time.

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Hincmar of Rheims

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