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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

Book One tells of the origins of the monastery, beginning with a hagiographical account of the monastery’s founder Bishop Gebhard II of Constance (r. 979–995). After an imaginative retelling of Gebhard’s illustrious ancestry and early life, the author describes his founding of the monastery, including information about the provisions of land and laborers, the original art and architecture of the church, the procurement of a papal privilege, and the acquisition of saints’ relics. The first book concludes with stories from Gebhard’s later years and an account of his death and burial at Petershausen.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

The brief sixth book opens with the election of Abbot Gebhard I (1164–1171) and continues with sporadic entries in various hands, ending in 1203. Donations by and conflicts with lay patrons are discussed in brief. A short entry informs us that Abbot Gebhard, who was possibly the original chronicler, was deposed.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

Book Three begins with the arrival of the Hirsau reformers at Petershausen, including a brief biography of the reforming abbot Theodoric (r. 1086–1116) and a detailed description of his material renovation of the monastery. An extended series of miracles, visions, and anecdotes follow, many of which serve as subtle commentaries on the success and challenges of the reform. The book then describes the efforts of the monks to establish and manage daughter houses, which presents many setbacks and challenges for the monastery. In the midst of these efforts, the investiture controversy emerges again, but this time at the local level. Conflict and even a short exile ensue when a pro-imperial bishop is installed at Constance. After the conflict ends in Theodoric’s favor, an account of his death follows, commemorating his unique character and contributions to the library.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

Book Two describes the subsequent growth of the monastery and the various challenges it faced along the way. At many points, the monks come into conflict with the bishops of Constance or their own lay patrons, often with God or St. Gebhard intervening or exacting vengeance on their behalf. The book also includes an account of the early Investiture Controversy, which is heavily biased against the emperor and intriguingly problematic in its reconstruction of specific events. The book closes by introducing the Hirsau Reform.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

Introduces chronicle and places into its historical context. The Hirsau Reform and its role at Petershausen is discussed at length, and a broad overview of the social landscape of Swabia in the central Middle Ages is provided. The manuscript of the chronicle is discussed briefly, and important notes about the translation are provided.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
The Chronicle of Petershausen in translation

The twelfth-century Chronicle of Petershausen, composed over the course of more than thirty years, opens a rare window on the life-world of a medieval monastery as it struggles to grow and survive within tumultuous spiritual and temporal landscapes.

From its founding by St. Gebhard II of Constance as a proprietary episcopal monastery in 992 through the aftermath of the great fire that ravaged the community in 1159 and beyond, Petershausen encountered both external attacks and internal disruption and division. Across the pages of the chronicle, supra-regional clashes between emperors and popes play out at the most local level. Monks struggle against the influence of overreaching bishops. Reformers arrive and introduce new and unfamiliar customs. Tensions erupt into violence within the community. Advocates attack. Miracles, visions, and relics link the living and the dead. Through it all the anonymous chronicler struggles to find meaning amid conflict and chaos and forge connections to a distant past. Along the way, this monk enlivens his narrative with countless colorful anecdotes – sometimes amusing, sometimes disturbing – creating a history for the monastery with its own unique voice.

Intended for specialists and students alike, this volume presents the first translation into English of this fascinating text, which offers a unique glimpse into the lived experience of medieval monasticism and its interactions with the society around it.

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Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

The Chronicle opens with a prologue that is stylistically and thematically distinct from the rest of the text, and which may originally have been written as an independent treatise by the same author. In it, the chronicler uses biblical exegesis to trace the apostolic origins of the various aspects of monastic practice. The author then recounts the origins of other monastic and ecclesiastical professions – regular canons, bishops, clerics, holy virgins, solitaries, inclusi, pilgrims, and beggars – concluding that each agrees on one faith.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland

An account of the Translation of the relics of St. Gebhard describes in detail the festivities surrounding the canonization of the monastery’s founder and the consecration of the newly renovated church and chapels.

in Monastic experience in twelfth-century Germany
Iceland travel books 1854-1914
Emily Lethbridge

This contribution looks at a selection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century travel books published by North American visitors to Iceland. The fascination of nineteenth-century British tourists with northern latitudes has been the subject of considerable scholarship by Andrew Wawn and Jón Karl Helgason (amongst others) in recent years. Hitherto, American accounts of travel to Iceland have not been examined in much detail, however. As well as presenting an overview of these little-studied travel books (who were the authors, when and why did they visit Iceland and choose to publish their travel narratives, where did they go?), this essay will attempt to identify what can be said to characterise these American accounts, as well as to evaluate the interest that each author had in the sagas of Icelanders (Íslendingasögur).

in From Iceland to the Americas
Matthew Scribner

The reputation of Christopher Columbus has fluctuated over the centuries, with writers sometimes treating him as a hero, and at other times emphasising his crimes against the Arawaks and his legacy of genocide against other indigenous peoples of North and South America. Some of these critics note that the title of ‘Discoverer’ serves to diminish the history of indigenous people and to justify their continued exploitation. Occasionally, critics have attacked the notion of Columbus as ‘Discoverer’ by pointing to the earlier Norse voyages. This chapter analyses works of popular history written since the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows and argues that using the Norse voyages in this way tends to reproduce Eurocentric assumptions but can also serve as a helpful occasion to imagine pro-indigenous alternatives to European conquest.

in From Iceland to the Americas