Scholars of the Middle Ages have long taught that highly emotional Christian
devotion, often called ‘affective piety’, originated in Europe after the twelfth
century, and was primarily practised by late medieval communities of mendicants,
lay people, and women. As the first study of affective piety in an
eleventh-century monastic context, this book revises our understanding of
affective spirituality’s origins, characteristics, and uses in medieval
Christianity. Emotional monasticism: Affective piety at the eleventh-century
monastery of John of Fécamp traces the early monastic history of affective
devotion through the life and works of the earliest-known writer of emotional
prayers, John of Fécamp, abbot of the Norman monastery of Fécamp from 1028 to
1078. The book examines John’s major work, the Confessio theologica; John’s
early influences and educational background in Ravenna and Dijon; the
emotion-filled devotional programme of Fécamp’s liturgical, manuscript, and
intellectual culture, and its relation to the monastery’s efforts at reform; the
cultivation of affective principles in the monastery’s work beyond the
monastery’s walls; and John’s later medieval legacy at Fécamp, throughout
Normandy, and beyond. Emotional monasticism will appeal to scholars of
monasticism, of the history of emotion, and of medieval Christianity. The book
exposes the early medieval monastic roots of later medieval affective piety,
re-examines the importance of John of Fécamp’s prayers for the first time since
his work was discovered, casts a new light on the devotional life of monks in
medieval Europe before the twelfth century, and redefines how we should
understand the history of Christianity.
This book offers a range of new perspectives on the character and reputation of English monasteries in the later middle ages. The later middle ages was an era of evolution in English monastic life in late medieval England. The book surveys the internal affairs of English monasteries, including recruitment, the monastic economy, and the standards of observance and learning. It looks at the relations between monasteries and the world, exploring the monastic contribution to late medieval religion and society and lay attitudes towards monks and nuns in the years leading up to the Dissolution. The book covers both male and female houses of all orders and sizes. The late medieval 'reforms' of the Benedictine Order included a relaxation of observances on diet, the common life and private property, and little of the Cistercians' primitive austerity can be found in late medieval houses of the order. Monastic spirituality can rarely be accessed through visitation evidence or administrative records, although an impression of the devotional climate within individual houses is occasionally provided by monastic chronicles. Looking beyond the statistics of foundation and dissolution alone, levels of support for the monastic ideal in late medieval England might also be assessed from the evidence of lay patronage of existing houses.
In the Catholic areas of Europe, the human remains (both their bones and the fabrics they touched) of persons considered to have been exceptional are usually stored for transformation into relics. The production and the reproduction of the object-relic takes place within monasteries and is carried out firstly on the material level. In this article I intend to present in detail, from an anthropological standpoint, the practices used to process such remains, the role of the social actors involved and the political-ecclesiastical dynamics connected with them. Owing to obvious difficulties in accessing enclosed communities, such practices are usually overlooked in historiographical and ethno-anthropological analyses, while they should instead be considered the most important moment in the lengthy process intended to give form and meaning to remains, with a view to their exhibition and use in ritual.
This article offers the first comprehensive study of Manchester, John Rylands
Library, MS Latin 182, a twelfth-century codex formerly belonging to (and
possibly produced at) the Benedictine Abbey of (Mönchen-)Gladbach in Germany. I
begin with a full codicological and palaeographical analysis of the entire
manuscript, before moving on to a discussion of its contents. These include the
Venerable Bede‘s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and the Continuatio
Bedae, as well as two hagiographical works copied at the end of the manuscript.
I then propose a new possible context of reception for Bede‘s Historia
ecclesiastica during the twelfth century, one that interlinked with the
prevalent discourses on secular ecclesiastical lordship and monastic reform at
Gladbach, as well as, perhaps, in Germany more widely. In doing so, I
essentially argue for the possibility that the Gladbach scribes and their
audiences may have used and understood the Historia ecclesiastica not only in
the conventional context of history and historiography, but also (and perhaps
equally important) as an example of the golden age of monasticism which during
the later twelfth century was re-framed and re-contextualised as both a
spiritual guide and a source of miracle stories.
This book examines the history of monastic exemption in France. It maps an
institutional story of monastic freedom and protection, which is deeply rooted
in the religious, political, social, and legal culture of the early Middle Ages.
Traversing many geo-political boundaries and fields of historical
specialisation, this book evaluates the nature and extent of papal involvement
in French monasteries between the sixth and eleventh centuries. Defining the
meaning and value of exemption to medieval contemporaries during this era, it
demonstrates how the papacy’s commitment, cooperation, and intervention
transformed existing ecclesiastical and political structures. Charting the
elaboration of monastic exemption privileges from a marginalised to centralised
practice, this book asks why so many French monasteries were seeking exemption
privileges directly from Rome; what significance they held for monks, bishops,
secular rulers, and popes; how and why this practice developed throughout the
early Middle Ages; and, ultimately, what impact monastic exemption had on the
emerging identity of papal authority, the growth of early monasticism, Frankish
politics and governance, church reform, and canon law.
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.
This book presents a new and accessible translation of a well-known yet enigmatic text: the ‘Epitaph for Arsenius’ by the monk and scholar Paschasius Radbertus (Radbert) of Corbie. This monastic dialogue, with the author in the role of narrator, plunges the reader directly into the turmoil of ninth-century religion and politics. ‘Arsenius’ was the nickname of Wala, a member of the Carolingian family who in the 830s became involved in the rebellions against Louis the Pious. Exiled from the court, Wala/Arsenius died Italy in 836. Casting both Wala and himself in the role of the prophet Jeremiah, Radbert chose the medium of the epitaph (funeral oration) to deliver a polemical attack, not just on Wala’s enemies, but also on his own.
; 19 their palaeography has been studied; 20 the liturgical texts have been partially edited; 21 the Fécamp relics, archaeology, and church space have been examined; 22 and John’s Confessio theologica has been analysed. 23 But this study is the first to use the wealth of the Fécamp sources to create a holistic picture of the production, the reception, the use, and the immediate legacy of John of Fécamp’s landmark work, the Confessio theologica . 24
Fécamp as evidence of emotional monasticism
A study of John
Ever since André Wilmart published his study of John of Fécamp in the 1930s, medievalists have slowly begun to acknowledge that so-called ‘Anselmian spirituality’ did not, in fact, originate with Anselm, and that ‘affective piety’ was not an invention of the later Middle Ages. My study of John of Fécamp builds on that trend, both by giving the details of his full-length Confessio theologica and by placing John’s devotional method in his wider monastic context, showing just how proper to eleventh-century Benedictine monasticism
but deeper into it. Why, I want to ask, does Foucault desire to find in the rich and equivocal language of early Christianity a replication of modernity’s most unsatisfying and univocal structures? I use the word “structures” advisedly, as it’s one that Foucault uses repeatedly in these lectures, and I use it, too, as a way of beginning to think about the extent to which Foucault’s mistakes about monasticism aren’t, to my mind, really so much about the content of monastic practices as about the form—the lexicon, the style, the imagery—through which he approaches and