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Reviewed by:
  • Die Touler Vita Leos IX
  • Kathleen G. Cushing
Die Touler Vita Leos IX. Edited and translated (into German) by Hans-Georg Krause, Detlev Jasper, and Veronika Lukas. [Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi, Vol. 70]. (Hannover: Verlag Hahnsche Buchhandlung. 2007. Pp. viii, 314. €35,00. ISBN 978-3-775-25391-8.)

The elevation of Bishop Bruno von Egisheim-Dagsburg of Toul as Pope Leo IX in 1049 has long been seen as a decisive moment in the fortunes both of the movement for ecclesiastical reform in the eleventh century and in the revitalization of the papacy in general. By most contemporary accounts, Leo was the reformer par excellence. As bishop of Toul, he was a champion of monastic reform, placing the abbeys of St. Evroul, St. Mansuy, and Moyenmoutier under the authority of the renowned reformer William of Volpiano. He also founded a priory at Deuilly and was a strong advocate of the female house at Poussay, founded by his predecessor, Berthold. When designated by Emperor Henry III as successor to Pope Damasus II in 1048, Leo reportedly declared that he would not ascend the papal throne unless the clergy and people of Rome unanimously elected him as pope. Even his subsequent journey to Rome was said to have been marked by miraculous events; Leo apparently heard angels singing. His pontificate has been seen by contemporaries and modern historians alike as an auspicious one and, in many ways, Leo was a model for how the Roman papacy could assume tangible [End Page 593] leadership over the universal Church, whilst simultaneously becoming a focal point of reform.

Although historians have had access to a much better version of the Vita Leonis IX. papae than was previously available in the Patrologia Latina (thanks to the edition by Michel Parisse in 1997 for Les classiques de l’histoire de France au moyen âge) the text there—albeit based on the two oldest manuscripts (Bern, Burgerbibliothek 22 [B1] from Upper Lotharingia [Toul?] and 292 [B2] from St. Arnulf, Metz)—did not seek to engage with the wider manuscript transmission and especially the later additions to the text in the main manuscript families. This new and much-anticipated critical edition of the Vita Leonis IX. papae, by clarifying the manuscript tradition, enables historians to appreciate the expansion of the original text that is believed to be close to that transmitted in the Bern manuscripts.

As is to be expected from Krause’s own previous editorial work and from the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the edition is a magisterial one. The volume includes an introduction with discussion of the ongoing debate about the Vita’s compiler, its date and provenance, its value as a historical source for Bruno/Leo’s career, and its literary sources and style. Most important, as previously noted, is the attention paid to the manuscript transmission in the Toul (and later Reims version) and Metz branches of the Vita and the other subsequent versions deriving from the Metz tradition; this is clearly set out both in the stemma and in the apparatus. A bibliography of primary and secondary literature is also included. The edition of the Vita Leonis IX. papae itself is meticulous with a full scholarly apparatus with variants and explanatory notes. In the end, this is an excellent critical edition of an extremely important source that will not only set a high standard for other editions but also will be a vital part of medieval scholarship on the early reform papacy for many years to come.

Kathleen G. Cushing
Keele University


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