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The Politics of Historiography The Memory ofBishops in Eleventh-Century Rouen' Felice Lifshitz At the beginning of the eleventh century the suburban monastery ofSt. Ouen of Rouen was placed under the control of its own regular abbots and thus became for the first time since its foundation in the seventh century independent ofthe bishops ofRouen. This regular reform ofSt. Ouen inaugurated at Rouen an extended period ofcompetition between the abbey and the episcopal see, a competition similar to the contemporaneous intra-ecclesiastical battles raging particularly at Tours and Orléans as well as throughout the south ofFrance.1 The battle between the two rouennais institutions was fought on many fronts: through competition for noble patronage, through competition for relics, through monumental building campaigns, and so forth.2 The battle was also fought on a less material, more symbolic plane: through the sponsorship of rival saints' cults, including the production of historical narratives connected with those venerations. In locality after locality in eleventh-century France, controversies, conflicts and threats to (normally ecclesiastical) community identity stimulated the creation ofnew imagined pasts.3 Bishop Audoenus (French: Ouen) of Rouen, the seventh-century founder of his eponymous monastic house of St. Ouen, had been for many centuries the primary recipient of the saintly venerations of the people ofRouen; in other words, he had been the most important figure in the past history ofRouen. During the period when the abbey and the see were connected (that is, from the seventh through the tenth centuries), Audoenus had been a particularly convenient symbol of the 118 The Politics of Historiography rouennais urban past. However since Audoenus represented and indeed embodied a degree ofintimacy between abbey and cathedral which had been superseded in the eleventh century, it no longer suited the purposes of historians, either of the abbey or of the see, to spotlight him as the key figure in the development of the church and town of Rouen. Both revisionist historiography and the promotion of saints' cults therefore proceeded, in eleventh-century Rouen, in two mutually exclusive directions. Indeed, cathedral historians had already begun to shift their emphasis, as early as the mid-tenth century, away from the pontificate of St. Audoenus to that of St. Romanus, a predecessor of Audoenus who had lived and died before the abbey was even founded.4 On at least two occasions in the eleventh century, in 1053 and 1073, the monks ofSt. Ouen and the clergy of the cathedral of Rouen clashed publicly over the issue ofthe relics and festival celebrations ofthe historical saints ofthe region. The 1053 incident marked the first public appearance ofa complete newcomer to the cultic world and imaginative memory ofthe town ofRouen: Nigasius, the monastic counterweight to Romanus.5 Nigasius's festival was fixed as 11 October from at least the ninth century, when he is commemorated (with his companions Quirinus and Pientia) as a priestly martyr of the Vexin in Usuard's Martyrology, the calendar of saints' feasts first compiled at St.-Germain-des-Près near Paris and then adopted by most Latin churches.6 The date of11 October was perfectly suited to syphon enthusiasm away from Romanus's 23 October feast, which in early eleventh-century Rouen marked the first renewed burst ofcelebratory steam after the major 15 August festival of the Virgin Mary. In 1053 the monks of St. Wandrille de Fontenelle, carrying their own relics (such as those of St. Vulframnus), fled the drought- and famine-plagued countryside for the diocesan capital of Rouen. A monk ofthe community described their reception in the narrative known as the Inventio et miracula sancii Vulframni.7 The Fontenelle refugees were greeted, outside the city, by the canons of the cathedral of Rouen, the latter bearing relics ofRomanus, who was rapidly rising (through support ofthe cathedral clergy) to the status ofprincipal patron ofthe town. The two processions merged into one and began to return to the cathedral, each holding aloft their standards, namely Romanus and Vulframnus. But then the unexpected occurred: 119 Felice Lifshitz Thus, accompanied by this crowd of devoted people, we were advancing through the town and feeling no violence ofimmoderate pressure, when suddenly there came forward with the body of St...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1994
Print ISSN
0935-560X
Pages
pp. 118-137
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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