Monastic Reform as Process
Realities and Representations in Medieval Flanders, 900–1100
Publication Year: 2013
The history of monastic institutions in the Middle Ages may at first appear remarkably uniform and predictable. Medieval commentators and modern scholars have observed how monasteries of the tenth to early twelfth centuries experienced long periods of stasis alternating with bursts of rapid development known as reforms. Charismatic leaders by sheer force of will, and by assiduously recruiting the support of the ecclesiastical and lay elites, pushed monasticism forward toward reform, remediating the inevitable decline of discipline and government in these institutions. A lack of concrete information on what happened at individual monasteries is not regarded as a significant problem, as long as there is the possibility to reconstruct the reformers' ''program.'' While this general picture makes for a compelling narrative, it doesn't necessarily hold up when one looks closely at the history of specific institutions.
In Monastic Reform as Process, Steven Vanderputten puts the history of monastic reform to the test by examining the evidence from seven monasteries in Flanders, one of the wealthiest principalities of northwestern Europe, between 900 and 1100. He finds that the reform of a monastery should be studied not as an "exogenous shock" but as an intentional blending of reformist ideals with existing structures and traditions. He also shows that reformist government was cumulative in nature, and many of the individual achievements and initiatives of reformist abbots were only possible because they built upon previous achievements. Rather than looking at reforms as "flashpoint events," we need to view them as processes worthy of study in their own right. Deeply researched and carefully argued, Monastic Reform as Process will be essential reading for scholars working on the history of monasteries more broadly as well as those studying the phenomenon of reform throughout history.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Illustrations
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...awarded a research professorship at Ghent University that enabled me to devote the majority of my time to researching and publishing on medieval monasticism. I am grateful to Ghent University’s Special Research Fund for this privileged position, initially for five years, then for another five start-ing in 2010. In fall 2005, I spent three months as a visiting fellow at the ...
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...dictine monastery of Lobbes, now in the Belgian province of Hainaut, com-piled a history of his community from the final decades of the tenth century to the present. 1 His account was modeled on the gesta abbatum , or deeds of abbots , a genre in which a monastery’s past was subdivided into sections that chronologically and thematically corresponded to the individual abbacies ...
1. Corporate Memories of Reform
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...maintained, and transformed through carefully steered processes of remem-brance. 1 By selecting and arranging both individual and shared experiences of the past and preserving them in a retrievable form, monks and nuns were able to ground a contemporary understanding of their collective identity in a legitimizing past. 2 This ability did not translate itself into a constant, typo-...
2. The “Failed” Reforms of the Tenth Century
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...early eleventh century is shaped by the notion that the reformers of the mid-tenth century had failed, or neglected, to impose on the monasteries of Flanders a mode of government sufficiently stable and self-sufficient to guar-antee their disciplinary rectitude and institutional longevity. 1 These inherent flaws in the reformers’ policies, as well as the gradual decline of reformist ...
3. The “Dark Age” of Flemish Monasticism
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...prologue to the chronicle of Saint-Bertin, claimed that he had been unable to find anything memorable for the period between 961/62, the final year described by Folcuin, and 1021, when Roderic of Saint-Vaast reformed the abbey. As it turns out, this was part of a strategy to focus the narrative entirely on the argument that Abbot Lambert’s then-current reform was grounded in ...
4. Introducing the New Monasticism
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...1. Jestice, Wayward Monks, 170–209; Wagner, “Humilité”; Wagner, “Richard”; Vanderputten, “Oboedientia.” On William of Volpiano, see also Bulst, Untersuchungen, and Malone, Saint-Bénigne.2. During his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1027, Richard specifically visited places relevant to the Passion story (Dauphin, Bienheureux Richard, 281–96). On his deathbed, he closely held on to several of the relics he had collected during that journey (a piece of rock from the holy sepulchre ...
5. Processes of Reformist Government
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...even though they are accorded less stature in scholarly discussions than the chief protagonists of the reforms, was often a far longer lasting presence in the monasteries of Flanders. During their long and relatively stable abbacies, individuals like Leduin of Saint-Vaast, Roderic of Saint-Bertin, and Malbod of Saint-Amand guided their monks through the process of institutional, ...
6. Shaping Reformed Identities
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...accounts, conservative—ideas about how life within the monastery should be organized, particularly in four interlinked domains. One concerned internal discipline, as represented most grippingly in his circular letter from 1012–1013; 1 the second referred to the remembrance of the dead; 2 the third covered the shaping of institutional identities centered on the patron saint, his relics, ...
7. The “Waning” of Reformed Monasticism
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...of Cenobitism Reconsidered,” John van Engen argued persuasively that the challenges facing traditional Benedictine monasticism between c. 1050 and 1150 had an invigorating effect. 1 Until then, the consensus had been that the sudden emergence of new forms of religious communal life in the mid- to late eleventh century was due to “old-style” monasticism’s loss of its ability ...
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...in scholarly discussions of the history of monastic institutions. Like the as-tronomical phenomenon, the reform of a monastery is often perceived as a single event of huge consequence, which can be used as a reference point to both interpret and evaluate that institution’s long-term development. Par-ticularly for periods in history for which there are comparatively few written ...
Appendix A: Overview of the Leadership of Benedictine Monasteries in Flanders Reformed in the Tenth and Early Eleventh Centuries between c. 900 and c. 1120
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Dates of abbatial governments are often tentative, especially for the tenth and early eleventh centuries. For references to the primary sources and publications used to create this overview, see the relevant notes in chapters 2–5 and 7....
Appendix B: Booklist of the Abbey of Marchiennes, c. 1025–1050
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Brussels, Bibliothèque des Bollandistes, 506, fols. 46r–47v; reproduced here after the edition in Vanderputten and Snijders, “Echoes,” 87–88. Shelf marks in square brackets contain possible identifications of surviving manuscripts....
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013