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Affective piety in the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp
Series: Artes Liberales

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.

Ingrid Rembold

term ‘capitularies’ due to their chapter ( capitula ) structure, were very clear on this point. ‘To bishops’, ‘to counts’, ‘to all’: each chapter was directly addressed to its intended audience, to the precise group to whom its ensuing regulations applied. This definitional project went into overdrive, in particular, in relation to contemporary monasticisms, as church

in Rethinking the Carolingian reforms
Open Access (free)
The processing of remains in Catholic circles
Francesca Sbardella

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.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Benjamin Pohl

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.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library

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.

Monastic exemption in France, c. 590– c. 1100

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 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.

Paschasius Radbertus' funeral oration for Wala of Corbie
Authors: and

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.

This book challenges long-standing interpretations of the Carolingian period (c.750-900) as an age of ‘reform’ or ‘renaissance’, in which culture was subjected to a programme of correctio (correction). This understanding, which leans heavily on prescriptive texts issued by the monarchy, has long foregrounded royal initiative and the cultural products of a small intellectual elite. Understudied texts and manuscripts of the period, however, reveal a much more universal concern for moral improvement and change for the better. This expressed itself in varied ways depending on the resources, connections and aims of the individuals and communities who produced them. Their horizontal networks of exchange and personal relationships could be just as influential as top-down prescription. The often anonymous creators and copyists in a huge range of centres emerge as active participants in the shaping and re-shaping the ideas and ideals of their world. A much more dynamic picture of Carolingian culture emerges when we widen our perspective to include them. We can see that the Carolingian age did not witness a coherent programme of reform, nor one distinct to this period and dependent exclusively on the strength of royal power. Rather, it formed a particularly intense, well-funded and creative chapter in the much longer history of moral improvement for the sake of collective salvation.

Abstract only
Lauren Mancia

; 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

in Emotional monasticism