This study seeks to discover what Carolingian monastic hagiography can tell us about monastic rules and customs in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, a time when a court-sponsored reform movement was shaking the foundations of traditional monastic practice. Reform legislation was trying to impose one rule—the Rule of Benedict—and one set of customs—written by the reformers—upon all monasteries of the realm, rejecting the other rules and customs by which monks had lived for centuries. Hagiography is one of the most important sources that monks produced to reveal the aspirations and self-identity of their order, but scholarship has never systematically used it to examine whether such radical reforms affected the way hagiography defined monastic perfection and the way it discussed rules and customs. This study bridges that gap, to find that hagiography provides a helpful counterbalance to the overly court-centric, legalistic approach to the reforms. Hagiographical evidence shows great continuity between Carolingian monastic ideals and those of earlier centuries, thus proving and contextualizing the fundamental failure of the reforms. Instead of discarding their past traditions to make room for a new, exclusively Benedictine tradition, Carolingian hagiographers portray a pluralistic monastic world in which many monastic rules and traditions can comfortably coexist, in which their own holy founders' customs are as valuable to their communities' spiritual development as the Rule of Benedict is. From the perspective of these monks, the Rule of Benedict is praiseworthy and can be used to legitimize their hagiographical heroes, but it remains merely one rule among many.
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religious history, European history, Medieval history|
|Keywords:||Benedict of Aniane, Consuetudines, Hagiography, Louis the Pious, Monastic reform, Monasticism|
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