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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: January 2020

34 - Historiographical Approaches to Monasticism in the Long Twelfth Century

from Part III - The Long Twelfth Century


Count Charles Forbes René de Montalembert (1810–70), born the scion of longstanding Catholic gentry on his father’s side, was on his mother’s the son of a Scottish Calvinist family. He came of age fully a generation after the French Revolution, in an era turning back in Romantic nostalgia to pursue Restoration. Some old monastic houses were reopened, and many new houses and orders were founded from around 1840. The count would prove an intriguing hybrid, allied with the “modernist” priest Lamennais as a Catholic liberal, yet also an ardent defender of ecclesiastical liberties (meaning “privileges”) over against the post-revolutionary regime, positions he would publicly articulate in oratory and pamphlets. He also took up an ever more fervent interest in matters his generation had been reared to reject, things “feudal” and especially things “Christian,” matters the revolutionaries had meant to be done with forever.