Georges Duby argued that at the heart of changes in marriage, from the looser arrangements of the earlier middle ages to the monogamous tradition increasingly supervised by the Church, there was an important new emphasis on hierarchy. Throughout the earlier middle ages and well into the eleventh century, marriage was not considered to be a sacrament, and in fact was something over which the Church had little if any control. Multiple marriages and widespread concubinage, however much the Church might protest, were essential requirements that established and maintained social order. The reformers' rhetoric was accompanied by increasing accusations of sexual misconduct, more frequent allegations of both spiritual and genealogical incest, and at the same time an increasing exaltation of chastity, continence, asceticism and even spiritual marriage.
Medieval Jewish society saw itself as being under siege in a struggle for survival within a Christian population that abounded with threats and temptations, both economic and intellectual. In sources written by the Jews in the first generation following the attack on the Jewish communities in the year 1096, emphasis was laid on the Jewish woman's readiness to lead religious resistance to the death, together with her unswerving devotion to Jewish values. The change in the status of the woman manifested itself in at least three significant ways; in her economic-legal status, in her status within the family and in her social standing. Starting in the twelfth century, a woman stepping down from her bridal canopy was a woman of a new and different status. The women also succeeded in bypassing an almost impossible obstacle in regard to study and education.
The Jewish community was fundamentally a male society, patriarchal in nature, where every facet of life manifested male superiority and control. Nevertheless, the women of this community played an important and often central role in every group and social system. The change in the status of women may be viewed as the result of an overall social change in a Jewish society that was struggling for survival. From the tenth century and until their expulsion towards the end of the medieval period, the Jews of Europe lived mainly in communal settings in Christian towns. Throughout the eleventh century, the Jews were the only people living in northern Europe who did not accept Christianity. Christianity could not remain indifferent to Judaism and the Christians could not ignore the Jews dwelling in their midst. Both groups competed for the title of 'heir to the true religion'.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book addresses what some historians have called 'the religious revolution of the eleventh century'. It explores how reform and the papacy developed in the eleventh century, and how these changes affected the rules by which medieval society functioned. The book considers the role of the papacy as a social institution that articulated a distinctive ordering on earth and sanctioned the hegemony of the powerful over the poor while protesting against it. It looks to achieve two fundamental objectives: a deeper understanding of why the papacy developed in the way that it did during the eleventh century. Another objective include why the vision of reform that was adopted by popes from Leo IX onwards came to be articulated in the specific way that it was.
The Jewish society that lived amongst the Christian population in medieval Europe presents a puzzle and a challenge to any historian. This book presents a study on the relationship between men and women within the Jewish society that lived among the Christian population for a period of some 350 years. The study concentrates on Germany, northern France and England from the middle of the tenth century until the middle of the second half of the fourteenth century - by which time the Christian population has had enough of the Jewish communities living among them and expels them from almost all the places they were living in. The picture portrayed by Mishnaic and talmudic literature was that basically women lived under the authority of someone else (their fathers or husbands), therefore, their status was different from that of men. Four paradigms were the outcome of research blending questions raised within the spheres of gender research and feminist theory with the research methodology of social history. These were Rashi and the 'family paradigm'; the negative male paradigm; the Hasidic paradigm; and the community paradigm. The highest level of Jewish religious expression is the performance of the mitzvot - the divine Commandments. Women were not required to perform all the Commandments, yet their desire to perform and fully experience the mitzvot extended to almost all areas of halakhah. The book also describes how the sages attempted to dictate to women the manner of their observance of mitzvot set aside for women alone.
To examine the battle of the sexes in Jewish society and to follow the male struggle against the power of women in the family unit, this chapter examines three types of women. First type is the woman who attempts to free herself of a husband while retaining what she has achieved and the property she has acquired during the marriage by claiming that he is impotent. Second is the childless widow who attempts to free herself from the extended family of her dead husband. Third type is the woman who finds her husband repulsive and decides to withhold the enjoyment of sexual relations from him or to desist from the work she has undertaken to do for him. The dayanim had a strong desire to help women when they believed there would be some social or communal benefit.
This chapter reviews both traditional and revisionist interpretations of the 'peace of God' movement in order to have a better understanding of its connection with eleventh-century reform as well as its repercussions for eleventh-century society. The 'peace of God' has been seen as something of a 'war on war', in other words, as a reaction to the disorder that resulted from the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire during the later ninth and tenth centuries. Among the chief difficulties in assessing both the nature and the significance of the 'peace of God' is that of the documentary evidence. In many ways what is most striking about the 'peace of God' has little do with the promotion of 'peace' at all. Rather it is the fact that churchmen were able to begin to persuade the ruling classes to accept their dictates and thereby prove their fitness to exercise power.
The attempt to both define and understand reform in the later tenth and eleventh centuries is the chief ambition of this book. The book explores ecclesiastical reform as a religious idea and a movement against the backdrop of social and religious change in later tenth- and eleventh-century Europe. In so doing, it seeks, on the one hand, to place the relationship between reform and the papacy in the context of the debate about 'transformation' in its many and varied forms. At the same time, although recognizing that the reform movement had its origins as much in individuals and events far away from Rome and royal courts, it has looked to act as something of a corrective to the recent tendency among historians of emphasizing reform developments in other localities at the expense of those being undertaken in Rome. The book addresses 'the religious revolution of the eleventh century' by exploring how reform and the papacy developed in the eleventh century, and how these changes affected the rules by which medieval society functioned. Particular attention is paid to the question of whether the 'peace of God' movement was a social revolution that progressively blurred into and merged with the papal-sponsored movement for reform, which was gathering pace from the middle of the century, or whether these forces were deliberately compacted by the reformers in their efforts to promote their vision for Christian society.
For Rodulf Glaber, spiritual reform and material renewal were the rightful accompaniments to the millennial anniversaries of Christ's birth and passion. Reform encompassed material renewal, and relied as much on the mustering of popular indignation as on the work of legates and the promulgation of canons promoting free election and clerical chastity. The practice of the lay investiture of bishops and abbots, like simony and clerical marriage, had a long history in the Western Church. As his letters after 1075 show, Gregory VII increasingly began to see lay investiture as an unwarranted intrusion of laymen into ecclesiastical affairs. Although the issue would not finally be resolved until the Concordat of Worms in 1122, lay investiture became the contentious topic around which the reformers framed and waged their campaign for a freely established clergy especially after Gregory's death.
Many elements and individuals contributed to the emergence of the papacy as the indisputable leader of the Church, and in many ways leader also of the Latin West, during the course of the eleventh century. Throughout the course of the eleventh century, the papacy underwent nothing short of a phenomenal transformation. Various developments contributed both to the elucidation and amplification of papal authority in the early middle ages. The elevation of Bishop Bruno of Toul as Pope Leo IX on 12 February 1049 has long been seen as the decisive moment in the fortunes of both the papacy and the movement for ecclesiastical reform. Just as important as the theoretical and practical articulations of papal authority during the eleventh century were the changes in administrative practices, even if it is anachronistic to speak of a 'papal government' before the twelfth century.