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BOOK REVIEWS81 write a history of the crusades to the East.The result is an outstanding work, a product of a profound knowledge of the vast Uterature in the field, a deep understanding of and sensitivity for the often controversial and always difficult issues touching the histories of so many different peoples, and a meticulous attention to detaU. No one who teaches world history can afford to omit this work from his reading Ust. One final point. It is a characteristic ofaU recent histories ofthe crusades that they reflect the original research oftheir authors.That is certainly the case here. Jean Richard has a detaUed knowledge of numerous aspects of crusading history and particularly the history of the Latin East. He has been involved in discussion ofthe major historiographical issues in the field over the last generation. To read his Histoire is to share the rich reflections of a lifetime of scholarship. It is an enriching experience to read a work that not merely summarizes the work of others but reveals the originaUty of the author's own research. James M. Powell Syracuse University (Emeritus) The Reformation ofthe Twelfth Century. By GUes Constable. (NewYork: Cambridge University Press. 1996. Pp. xx, 41 1 . $64.95.) It is commonly said, whether true or not, that mathematicians and physicists do their best work when young. Constable's book is a demonstration that historians can have a longer period of creativity.Years of study have enriched his understanding of the past.This book is provocatively titled Reformation, but in fact the most obvious "reformation," that of the sixteenth century, plays no role in the analysis. Some writers in the late eleventh and twelfth century lamented that their world was confusing and divided.When they wrote about ending the confusion and division, either by restoring a golden past or by ushering in a better future, the words reformare/reformatio flowed easUy from their pens. It is from these contemporary senses of the word that Constable chose the title for his book. Since his book on monastic tithes (1964) and his edition of Peter theVenerable 's letters (1967), Constable has crisscrossed the twelfth century from many angles.This book is a rich synthesis of forty years' study of the religious life and its reform(s) during the years 1040-1 160, although the author sometimes steps outside those chronological boundaries. The range of his reading in printed sources and manuscripts is prodigious: He has a very good memory or a very efficient filing system. In this book, the reader has the sense of overhearing a heated, untidy discussion /argument among members of an extended family. Constable has set himself the task of unscrambling the voices in that discussion. The six central chapters treat the variety of reformers, the types of reform, the rhetoric and 82BOOK REVIEWS reality of reform, and the spirituaUty of reform. Constable is sympathetic to the aspirations of twelfth-century monastic reformers, but he is hard-headed in his assessment of motives and outcomes. His treatment of the Uterary commonplaces (topot) of reform is Uluminating and warns the reader against a simpleminded UteraUsm.The book is packed with information and insight—on topics ranging from monastic architecture to monastic beards. A few paragraphs or pages summarize fairly and precisely whole monographs and scholarly disputes . Constable deftly handles traditional topics, such as the vocabulary of reform , the office of the monastic advocate, or the complexities of monastic exemption. But fresh perspectives, born of years of thought, are evident on many topics.Without fanfare, cUchés which stiU influence the study of religious life are challenged or demolished; for example, that monastic wealth inevitably led to a decline in religious life or that twelfth-century Cluny was lax or corrupt . This is a humane book.The reader is reminded that the monks, canons, nuns, hermits,wandering preachers, and their critics were human beings in search of a satisfying personal reUgious experience:"An awakening to the variety of individual reUgious needs and temperaments and an acceptance of a diversity of forms ofreUgious Life ... lay at the heart ofthe twelfth-centurymovement ofreligious reform" (p. 87). The practical working out of religious diversity in the twelfth century was...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 81-83
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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