Medieval Liège at the Crossroads of Europe: Monastic Society and Culture, 1000–1300 ed. by Steven Vanderputten, Tjamke Snijders, and Jay Diehl
This volume consists of an introduction and eleven essays, many of which first appeared as papers in a conference held in Brussels in 2011, plus a conclusion. As the introduction indicates, medieval Liège and its environs have in the past been studied by a small group of Belgian scholars (Hubert Silvestre and Jacques Stiennon pre-eminent among them), and no attempt has been made to situate the region within the broader context of the Empire (it was within the archdiocese of Cologne) or Kingdom of France. This is what the present volume aims to do, not pretending to be the last, but rather the first word on the subject: a signal or 'taster' to entice others into the field. All essays are in English save Michel Margue's. The volume is not subdivided into subject-areas, but apparently proceeds, roughly, in order of date, although this has been hard to achieve, given that many of the papers cover a longish period of time, so that there is much chronological overlapping. In fact, a goodly bunch of them are situated in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries; only the eleventh of them, John Van Engen's, ventures far into the thirteenth century. The papers may be divided roughly into the following groups: monastic networking and power-structures (Helena Vanommeslaeghe, Tjamke Snijders, Nicolas Schroeder); texts and books (Klaus Krönert, Diane Reilly, Jay Diehl); investitures (Ortwin Huysmans, Brigitte Meijns, Michel Margue); and religious women (Sara Moens, John Van Engen). Central, literally and metaphorically, to the book and its message is Jay Diehl's chapter, convincingly demonstrating that the booklist in Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale MS 9668, represents the curriculum of a school created at St Laurent by Rupert of Deutz 'in an attempt to create a highly novel scholastic culture, one that had no precise parallels in either [France or the Empire] and that had none of the conservatism often associated with monastic intellectual life' (pp. 175–76). [End Page 264]
There is much still to do: Alexis Wilkin's conclusion suggests two ways forward: one, to study the place of canons and canonical reform within the diocese; the other, to study monastic and canonical life beginning from the Carolingian era rather than the mid-tenth century. I would add that about 123 manuscripts survive from the Benedictine house of Saint James, and 139 manuscripts from the library of Saint Laurence, but only the small minority of decorated items have been studied. There is also no work on the Saint Laurence scriptorium in the twelfth century, when Rupert of Deutz was its scholasticus (c. 1109–19).