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This paper reassesses the relationship between Beowulf and the legendary tradition that existed prior to its composition. Through wide-ranging comparative analysis, it identifies probable departures from the antecedent tradition and argues that these departures are best understood not in impersonal terms, as Christian reactions to a pagan tradition, but in terms of a singular poet's sense of decorum, which was not possessed by all Christian authors throughout the Middle Ages. Focusing on interpretive controversies related to matters such as slavery, kin-slaying, the posthumous fate of pagans, and violence orchestrated by women, this paper argues that a series of ostensibly unrelated problems in the poem's critical literature could be resolved with a single coherent explanation: namely, that Beowulf was composed by a poet who sought to preserve as much as possible from the antecedent tradition, while not hesitating to obscure indecorous features and to express value judgments alien to the inherited material. The Beowulf poet's sense of decorum is shown herein to be idiosyncratic yet coherent and pervasive, responsible for various minor departures from tradition and for the selection of the untraditional protagonist around which the poem is structured.
This article offers a new perspective on the anonymous Liber beati et laudabilis viri Gregorii. The oldest extant life of Pope Gregory the Great, the Liber was composed at the double monastery of Strænæshalch, conventionally known as Whitby, under Abbess Ælfflæd probably between ca. 704 and 714. A principal concern of my article is the function, within the Liber, of its report of Gregory's encounter with a group of Deiran Angles in Rome, and that story's relation to the emphasis throughout the Liber on orality: the transmission of knowledge miraculously from heaven and through earthly channels by means of speech and other sounds. The Liber survives in an early ninth-century redaction, part of St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 567 (pp. 75–110). After discussing some issues that pertain to the modern edition and translation made by Bertram Colgrave from this manuscript, I compare the legend of Gregory and the Deirans in the Liber with the version in Bede's Ecclesiastical History. I then review the larger hagiographical narrative in which the Whitby author frames this episode, and I examine the story and other distinctive thematic as well as stylistic aspects of the Liber in the light of the following circumstances: seventh- to eighth-century regional developments that affected Whitby; conditions of teaching at this monastery, a major early English educational center; the documented interest at Whitby under Ælfflæd, as under her predecessor Hild, in heaven-inspired or miraculous forms of oratory; and liturgy and commemoration of the dead. Of interest for analyzing all these topics, but especially the last two mentioned, is Whitby's status as a female-led institution.
El códice Roma, Biblioteca Casanatense, 641, conserva, en su Sector II (del s. x y procedente de la catedral de Benevento) un tratado sin título sobre el destino del alma humana después de la muerte del cuerpo, conocido tradicionalmente como Vtrum animae de humanis corporibus exeuntes mox deducantur ad gloriam uel ad poenam an exspectent diem iudicii sine gloria et poena (CPL 1263), aunque en este artículo es denominado Serpens ille ueternosus. Esta obra sólo ha conocido una edición completa, publicada por Angelo Mai en 1833, quien, sin embargo, no consultó el manuscrito de la Casanatense, sino que trabajó sobre los materiales inéditos de Lorenzo Alessandro Zaccagni († 1712), prefecto de la Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Una parte de la crítica ha querido identificar esta obra con el perdido Libellus de remediis blasphemiae del obispo Julián de Toledo (680–690). El estudio interno del texto lleva a pensar, no obstante, tal y como sugirió José Madoz, que se trata de un escrito redactado en el noroeste de la Península Ibérica hacia el último tercio del s. viii. El presente artículo revisa los distintos argumentos sobre la autoría y la datación del tratado Serpens ille ueternosus, estudia sus fuentes y el testimonio de Alcuino sobre una hejería similar a la criticada en el citado tratado, y ofrece la primera edición crítica del texto junto con su traducción.
The renunciation of the devil in the rite of baptism appears in high frequency in baptismal expositions, royal capitularies, acts of church councils, and popular sermons during the later reign of Charlemagne. Close examination of these sources demonstrates a discourse of reform that centers on the proper life and conduct of Christians. In reply to Charlemagne's questions in his encyclical letter on baptism, authors of baptismal expositions commonly expounded baptismal renunciation as a symbol of Christians’ moral conversion. Charlemagne projected his deep solicitude for the life and conduct of ecclesiastics of his realm on the issue of the renunciation of the devil in two capitularies of 811. Archbishop Leidrad of Lyon elaborated his exposition on baptismal renunciation in his second letter of reply to Charlemagne on baptism, which preserves a sample of how an ecclesiastical leader responded to the emperor's reform concerns. Several popular sermons from the later reign of Charlemagne reveal how the moralistic discourse of the renunciation of the devil was disseminated to common Christians. Baptismal renunciation was part of the rhetoric of Charlemagne's empire, and various modes of communication that involved the agency of multiple parties made it a totalizing discourse of reform.
This article analyses the Life of St. Deicolus of Lure, a monastery in the Alsace region of east France, written by the cleric Theodoric in the 970s or 980s. It argues that the text contains a notable amount of information on the existence, methodology, and limitations of an ill-understood aspect of monastic integration around the year 1000. Relying on an analysis of the narrative's second prologue as well as scattered comments elsewhere in the text, it reconstructs three phenomena. The first is attempts to (re-)establish a Luxeuil-centered imagined community of institutions with a shared Columbanian legacy through the creation and circulation of hagiographic narratives. A second is the co-creation across institutional boundaries of texts and manuscripts that were designed to facilitate these integration attempts. And the third phenomenon is the limits of this integration effort, which did not tempt those involved to propose the establishment of a distinct ‘neo-Columbanian’ observance. As such, the Life represents an attempt to reconcile the legacy of Columbanus and his real or alleged followers as celebrated at late tenth-century Luxeuil and Lure with a contemporary understanding of reformed Benedictine identity.
Several scholars have studied meanings attributed to the lion in the western European Middle Ages, but their accounts have tended to be partial and fragmentary. A balanced, coherent interpretive history of the medieval lion has yet to be written. This article seeks to promote and initiate the process of composing such a history by briefly reviewing previous research, by proposing a thematic and chronological framework on which work on the lion might reliably be based, and by itself discussing numerous textual examples, not least from German, Latin, and French literature. The five categories of lion symbolism covered are, respectively, the threatening lion, the Christian lion, the noble lion, the sinful lion, and the clement lion. These meanings are shown successively to have constituted regnant fashions that at various times profoundly shaped people's understanding of the lion; but it is demonstrated also that they existed alongside, and in a state of creative tension with, a “ground bass” of lion meanings that changed relatively little. Lions nearly always, for example, represented important, imposing things and people (for example, kings); and the New Testament's polarized presentation of the lion as either Christ or the devil proved enormously influential both throughout and beyond the Middle Ages. As such any cultural history of the lion — and indeed of many other natural phenomena — must be continually sensitive to the co-existence and interaction of tradition and innovation, stability and dynamism.
Revisiting Robert Brentano's 1960 article in Traditio on “The Bishops’ Books of Città di Castello,” this contribution challenges a reigning narrative of the “documentary revolution” in medieval Italy as primarily the achievement of the thirteenth-century communal governments of the north. While these urban ruling regimes did produce prodigious numbers of documents and new documentary forms, they were not the earliest innovators. By broadening the scope of analysis to include all the early administrative codices surviving in Città di Castello — those of the city's communal government, cathedral chapter, and bishopric — the author demonstrates that the initial leap from administrative reliance on single sheet parchments to registers occurred earliest in the cathedral chapter (by 1192), then in the bishop's court (1207), and finally more than a decade later in the commune (1221). At least in this one small Umbrian town, ecclesiastical institutions were the earliest innovators. The evidence of Città di Castello also indicates that political instability and its related economic effects drove innovation, not the reform initiatives of Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council. Local ecclesiastical leaders, not popes, were the innovators.
Recent scholarship on indulgences has focused on the shared concepts theologians and canonists drew on to explain these remissions and advantageous effects of indulgences on popular piety, the mendicant orders, and the papacy. A closer examination of the work of thirteenth-century canonists reveals an uncertainty about the mechanism by which indulgences worked and concerns that diverged from those of theologians. While the treasury of merit was a popular theological explanation, it was generally ignored by most canonists, who preferred explanations based on jurisdiction, the power of the keys, and suffrages. A key distinction between suffrages, good works done with the intent of spiritually benefitting others, and the treasury of merit is that the former burdens the living while the latter does not, since it draws on merit stored from already completed actions. Since it makes granting indulgences burdensome, the suffrage theory offers a disincentive to granting indiscrete or excessive remissions. Abuse of indulgences underlined the tensions between the authority of God and the church, the penitential and public forums, and the overlapping jurisdictions of prelates. Unlike the suffrage theory of indulgences, the treasury of merit theory offers little incentive for restraint. This may explain its relative absence in the writings of thirteenth-century canonists.
En el presente trabajo se da a conocer un fragmento de códice reutilizado: fue originalmente un bifolio que contenía textos bíblicos y, sobre él, hacia la primera mitad del siglo XIII, se copiaron dos textos profético-apocalípticos. Uno de éstos, totalmente inédito, informa sobre el nacimiento del Anticristo. El otro texto es un testimonio desconocido de la profecía Cedrus alta Libani, seguramente muy cercano al arquetipo, que aporta datos novedosos de gran interés. Ofrecemos una descripción del manuscrito, centrando luego nuestra atención en el análisis de ambos textos, para ofrecer finalmente una transcripción y una reproducción fotográfica del documento.
This note provides an edition of the Latin text of a quodlibet by the Parisian master Peter of Auvergne concerning the knowledge of angels about the coming of Antichrist. The introduction to the edition argues that this quodlibet was not made in response to Arnald of Villanova's De tempore adventus Antichristi. Rather, it is best understood as a hypothetical inquiry regarding the ability of angels to communicate revelation to human beings.
The inception speeches delivered by graduating masters of theology during the thirteenth century are of paramount interest for the study of the history of theology. Much like the introductions to philosophy written within the Faculty of Arts at Paris during the same period, the so-called principia articulated the image that theology entertained of itself at that time. Interestingly enough, some graduating masters took the opportunity to present a detailed discussion of the relation between philosophy and theology in an attempt to demonstrate the preeminence of the latter. Thus, they reflected not only upon the epistemological status of theology, but also — and sometimes in considerable detail — upon that of the secular sciences. One very eloquent example of such a comparative inception speech is the principium by Stephen of Bensançon (1286), who later became Master General of the Dominican Order. In this article, I focus on Stephen's discussion of the relationship between philosophy and theology, and show that the epistemological criteria he applied to both were drawn directly from one of the most important introductions to philosophy of the thirteenth century, that is, Robert Kilwardby's De ortu scientiarum. Stephen's case yields further evidence, therefore, of the interconnectedness of both genres, that is, philosophical introductions and theological inception speeches, and confirms the productive intellectual exchanges between philosophical and theological discourse at the University of Paris during the thirteenth century.