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Cathedral Chapter and Town Council: Cooperative Ceremony and Drama in Medieval Rouen Thomas P. Campbell The study of medieval drama has become more complex in recent years because of a blurring of distinction between drama and ceremony which challenges us to construct new paradigms. In particular, questions concerning the sponsorship of public events in medieval cities have led to new ways of envisioning the cultural context in which such productions took place. While there are many locales where extensive research has uncovered little evidence of such a partnership,1 there are other areas where one finds abundant evidence of cooperation between Church and state, whether amicable or coerced. In the dual role of ducal capital of Normandy and its chief ecclesiastical city, Rouen was from early times accustomed to public displays featuring noble and clerical support. The historian Orderic Vitalis records a procession held in October of 1079, when the body of St. Romain, the supposed founder of the first Norman church, was transported to the cathedral in the presence of Duke William and his wife. Orderic describes it as a "great ceremony," to be made every year, "inviting almost all the inhabitants of the diocese to be present by monitions and the promise of absolution and benediction." In this procession both Church and state, cooperating to restore the legendary saint's body to the cathedral, reverently placed it in "a reliquary of gold and silver, thickly encrusted with precious stones."2 Bolstered by the success of the event, Duke William established a yearly "Foire Saint-Romain" or "Foire du Pardon" which, like many such fairs, particularly profited the duchy, yet involved the close cooperation of state, Church, and merchant class in its presentation .3 In his Peace of God, William also decreed that every local parish priest should lead a yearly procession to his congrega100 Thomas P. Campbell101 tion's mother church, circa Pentacosten.4 Such early instances of cooperation between the ducal and ecclesiastical governments should come as no surprise, for the episcopate was closely related to the Norman nobility. Thus, Robert I, archbishop of Rouen in 987-1037, was the son of Duke Richard I; his successor Mauger was the son of Duke Richard II; and the cathedral's most famous prelate from this period, Jean D'Avranches, was the son of the Count of Bayeux, nephew of Duke Richard. These bishops were "profoundly integrated into the feudal hierarchy and even participated in tournaments among the nobility."5 By all accounts one of the richest cities in France, second only to Paris throughout the Middle Ages, Rouen was blessed with an extremely strong merchant class. In 1160 the city secured an agreement with Henry II—an agreement that was confirmed again when the city became a French possession in 1204 —forming an independent commune which became a model for many other western French cities. Unlike other communes, such as in Laon, which arose out of resistance to the nobility and were much more democratic in their makeup, the Rouen commune was patrician. That is, only a small number of families forming a commercial aristocracy administered the city's laws and controlled its finances.6 A long history of troubled relations between the commune and the cathedral probably mitigated cooperation between civic and ecclesiastical authorities once Rouen fell under French rule. The archbishops, long accustomed to exercising authority, maintained close control over the Church's relations with the community . The Register of Archbishop Eudes, covering two decades of canonical visitations to his province in the mid-thirteenth century, may be taken as a good example. Eudes not only condemned the activities of clergy outside of church or monastery, but also prohibited the presence of lay people in cloister and refectory—evidently a common practice in Normandy. Even processions involving the laity were severely curtailed.7 Relations were even more strained between the cathedral chapter and the community of Rouen. One can read in the history of the commune a series of confrontations between the clergy, who wanted to maintain the privilege of feudal rights, and the commune, who wished to pursue new avenues. Dissention flared in 1192, soon after the commune's inception, concerning the Church's jurisdiction...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 100-113
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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