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The Cambridge History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West
 1107042097, 9781107042094

Table of contents :
Contents
List of Figures
List of Contributors
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
1. General Introduction
Beach A., Cochelin I.
Part I. THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM TO THE EIGHTH CENTURY
2. The Monastic Laboratory: Perspectives of Research in Late Antique and Early Medieval Monasticism
Diem A., Rapp C.
3. Re-Reading Monastic Traditions: Monks and Nuns, East and West, from the Origins to c. 750
Helvétius A.-M.
4. The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries
Brooks Hedstrom D., Dey H.
5. Egyptian Nuns in Late Antiquity as Exemplars
Chiara Giorda M.
6. Psalmody and Prayer in Early Monasticism
Jeffery P.
7. Heterodoxy and Monasticism around the Mediterranean Sea
Brakke D.
8. The Invention of Western Monastic Literature: Texts and Communities
Alciati R.
9. Monastic Rules (Fourth to Ninth Century)
Diem A., Rousseau Ph.
10. Social Plurality and Monastic Diversity in Late Antique Hispania (Sixth to Eighth Century)
Díaz P.
11. Female House Ascetics from the Fourth to the Twelfth Century
Magnani E.
12. The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries in Italy and France (Second Half of the Fourth Century to the Eighth Century)
Bully S., Destefanis E.
13. Nuns and Monks at Work: Equality or Distinction between the Sexes? A Study of Frankish Monasteries from the Sixth to the Tenth Century
Réal I.
14. Ascetic Prayer for the Dead in the Early Medieval West
Blennemann G.
15. Monastic Identity in Early Medieval Ireland
Bitel L.
16. Constructing Monastic Space in the Early and Central Medieval West (Fifth to Twelfth Century)
Lauwers M.
17. The Economy of Byzantine Monasteries
Kaplan M.
Part II. THE CAROLINGIANS TO THE ELEVENTH CENTURY
18. The Historiography of Central Medieval Western Monasticism
Lifshitz F.
19. Sources for the History of Monasticism in the Central Middle Ages (c. 800-1100)
Bruce S.
20. Questions of Monastic Identity in Medieval Southern Italy and Sicily (c. 500-1200)
Ramseyer V.
21. Discerning “Reform” in Monastic Liturgy (c. 750-1050)
Billett J.
22. Monasticism, Reform, and Authority in the Carolingian Era
Kramer R.
23. Carolingian Monastic Schools and Reform
Contreni J.
24. Monastic Economics in the Carolingian Age
Devroey J.-P.
25. Missions on the Northern and Eastern Frontiers, c. 700-1100
Raaijmakers J.
26. Minsters and Monasticism in Anglo-Saxon England
Jones Ch.
27. Monastic Art and Architecture, c. 700-1100: Material and Immaterial Worlds
Cohen A.
28. Monastic Daily Life (c. 750-1100): A Tight Community Shielded by an Outer Court
Cochelin I.
29. The Double Monastery as a Historiographical Problem (Fourth to Twelfth Century)
Beach A., Juganaru A.
30. Interactions between Monks and the Lay Nobility (from the Carolingian Era through the Eleventh Century)
Rosé I.
31. Monastic Reform from the Tenth to the Early Twelfth Century
Vanderputten S.
32. Monastic Canon Law in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Centuries
Rolker Ch.
33. Eastern Influence on Western Monasticism, 850-1050
Howe J.
Part III. THE LONG TWELFTH CENTURY
34. Historiographical Approaches to Monasticism in the Long Twelfth Century
Van Engen J.
35. Sources for Monasticism in the Long Twelfth Century
Mancia L.
36. Hermitism in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
Jasper K., Howe J.
37. Monastic Theologies, c. 1050-1200
Mews C.
38. Monastic Preaching and the Sermon in Medieval Latin Christendom to the Twelfth Century
Baker T., Kienzle B.
39. The Mass in Monastic Practice: Nuns and Ordained Monks, c. 400-1200
Griffiths F.
40. Reclusion in the Middle Ages
L’Hermite-Leclercq P.
41. Similarities and Differences between Monks and Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century Vones-Liebenstein U.
42. The Institutionalization of Religious Orders (Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries)
Melville G.
43. Gender and Monastic Liturgy in the Latin West (High and Late Middle Ages)
Muschiol G.
44. Monastic Landscapes
Röckelein H.
45. Later Monastic Economies
Berman C.
46. Nobility and Monastic Patronage: The View from Outside the Monastery
Lyon J.
47. The Medical Role of Monasteries in the Latin West, c. 1050-1300
Brenner E.
48. East-Central European Monasticism: Between East and West?
Jamroziak E.
49. Monasticism, Colonization, and Ethnic Tension in Late Medieval Ireland
Ó Clabaigh C.
Part IV. FORMS OF MONASTICISM IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES
50. Late Medieval Monasticism: Historiography and Prospects
Lusset E., Roest B.
51. Sources of Late Medieval Monasticism
Caby C.
52. Monastic Liturgy, 1100-1500: Continuity and Performance
Boynton S.
53. Books and Libraries within Monasteries
Schlotheuber E., McQuillen J.
54. Art in Monastic Churches of Western Europe from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Century
Gajewski A., Seeberg St.
55. Lay Brothers and Sisters in the High and Late Middle Ages
Cassidy-Welch M.
56. Female Religious Life in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
Andenna C.
57. Striving for Religious Perfection in the Lay World of Northern Europe
More A., Mulder-Bakker A.
58. Monks and the Universities, c. 1200-1500
Clark J.
59. Bishops, Canon Law, and the Religious, c. 1140-1350
Sharp T.
60. Daily Life in Late Medieval Monasteries
Knudsen Ch.
61. Monastic Preaching, c. 1350-1545
Clark J., Bush K.
62. Research on Monasticism in the German Tradition
Hirbodian S.
63. Satirical Depictions of Monastic Life
Steckel S.
64. A Crisis of Late Medieval Monasticism?
Roest B.
Index

Citation preview

i

The Ca mbridge History of

M E D I E VA L M O NA S T I C I S M I N T H E L AT I N   W E S T Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West Volume I traces Christian monasticism from its origins in Late Antiquity down to the eleventh century. Exploring the remarkable diver­ sity of monastic life as experienced by both women and men, the essays reflect the latest discoveries found in textual, material, and archaeological evidence. Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West Volume II examines the trajectory of monasticism from the reforms of the eleventh and early twelfth centuries to the late medieval period. It covers all aspects of the monastic experience, including spirituality, liturgy, economy, and patronage. The volume also offers new insights into gender issues and considers the inter­ play between monastic ideals and lay religious movements. ALISO N I . BEA C H is Professor of Medieval History at University of St Andrews. She is author of The Trauma of Monastic Reform: Community and Conflict in Twelfth-Century Germany (Cambridge, 2017) and Women as Scribes: Book Production and Monastic Reform in Twelfth-Century Bavaria (Cambridge, 2004). ISABELLE C O C HELI N is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. She is co-editor of the series Disciplina Monastica (Brepols) and several volumes including Medieval Lifecycles: Continuity and Change (2013) and From Dead of Night to End of Day: The Medieval Customs of Cluny – Du coeur de la nuit à la fin du jour: les coutumes clunisiennes au Moyen Age (2005)

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THE NEW CA MBRIDGE HISTOR Y OF

M E D I E VA L M O NA S T I C I S M I N T H E L AT I N W E S T

Monasticism, in all of its variations, was a feature of almost every landscape in the medieval West. So ubiquitous were religious women and men throughout the Middle Ages that all medievalists encounter monasticism in their intel­ lectual worlds. While there is enormous interest in medieval monasticism among Anglophone scholars, language is often a barrier to accessing some of the most important and groundbreaking research emerging from Europe. The Cambridge History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West offers a comprehensive treatment of medieval monasticism, from Late Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages. The essays, specially commissioned for this volume and written by an international team of scholars, with contributors from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, cover a range of topics and themes and represent the most up-to-date discoveries on this topic. L I S T OF VOL U MES: Volume I: Origins to the Eleventh Century EDITED B Y : Al i s on I . B e ac h an d I sa b e l l e Co ch e l i n Volume II: The High and Late Middle Ages EDITED B Y : Al i s on I . B e ac h an d I sa b e l l e Co ch e l i n

iii

THE CAMBRIDGE H I S TO RY O F

M E D I E VA L M O NA S T I C I S M I N T H E L AT I N   W E S T *

Edited by

ALISON I. BEACH The University of St Andrews and

ISABELLE COCHELIN University of Toronto

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University Printing House, Cambridge C B 2 8B S , United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, N Y 10006, U S A 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–​321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi –​110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06-​04/​06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107042094 DOI: 10.1017/​9781107323742 © Cambridge University Press 2020 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2020 Printed in the United Kingdom by TJ International Ltd. Padstow Cornwall A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library. I SB N  –​ 2 Volume Set 978-​1-​107-​04211-​7 Hardback I SB N –​ Volume I 978-​1-​107-​04209-​4 Hardback I SB N –​ Volume II 978-​1-​107-​04210-​0 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of UR Ls for external or third-​party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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Contents

List of Figures  page ix List of Contributors  xi Acknowledgments  xiii List of Abbreviations  xv

1. General Introduction  1 Alison I. Beach and Isabelle Co chelin

Part I

THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM TO THE EIGHTH CENTURY 2. The Monastic Laboratory: Perspectives of Research in Late Antique and Early Medieval Monasticism  19 Albrecht Diem and Claudia   Rapp 3. Re-​Reading Monastic Traditions: Monks and Nuns, East and West, from the Origins to c. 750  40 Anne -​M arie H elvétius, with the collabor ation of Michel Kaplan, Anne Boud’hors, Muriel Debié, and Bénédicte Lesieur 4. The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries  73 Darlene L. Bro oks Hedstrom and Hendrik   Dey

5. Egyptian Nuns in Late Antiquity as Exemplars  97 Maria Chiar a   Giorda 6. Psalmody and Prayer in Early Monasticism  112 Peter Jeffery,  OblSB v

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Contents

7. Heterodoxy and Monasticism around the Mediterranean Sea  128 David   Br akke 8. The Invention of Western Monastic Literature: Texts and Communities  144 Roberto Alciati 9. Monastic Rules (Fourth to Ninth Century)  162 Albrecht Diem and Philip Rousseau 10. Social Plurality and Monastic Diversity in Late Antique Hispania (Sixth to Eighth Century)  195 Pablo C. Díaz 11. Female House Ascetics from the Fourth to the Twelfth Century  213 Eliana Magnani 12. The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries in Italy and France (Second Half of the Fourth Century to the Eighth Century)  232 Sébastien Bully and Eleonor a Destefanis 13. Nuns and Monks at Work: Equality or Distinction between the Sexes? A Study of Frankish Monasteries from the Sixth to the Tenth Century  258 Isabelle  Réal 14. Ascetic Prayer for the Dead in the Early Medieval West  278 Gordon Blennemann 15. Monastic Identity in Early Medieval Ireland  297 Lisa M. Bitel 16. Constructing Monastic Space in the Early and Central Medieval West (Fifth to Twelfth Century)  317 Michel Lauwers 17. The Economy of Byzantine Monasteries  340 Michel  Kaplan vi

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Contents

Part II

THE CAROLINGIANS TO THE ELEVENTH CENTURY 18. The Historiography of Central Medieval Western Monasticism  365 Felice Lifshitz 19. Sources for the History of Monasticism in the Central Middle Ages (c. 800–​1100)  382 Scott G. Bruce 20. Questions of Monastic Identity in Medieval Southern Italy and Sicily (c. 500–​1200)  399 Valerie Ramseyer 21. Discerning “Reform” in Monastic Liturgy (c. 750–​1050)  415 Jesse D. Billett 22. Monasticism, Reform, and Authority in the Carolingian Era  432 Rutger   Kr amer 23. Carolingian Monastic Schools and Reform  450 John J. Contreni 24. Monastic Economics in the Carolingian Age  466 Jean -​ Pierre Devroey 25. Missions on the Northern and Eastern Frontiers, c. 700–​1100  485 Janneke Raaijmakers 26. Minsters and Monasticism in Anglo-​Saxon England  502 Christopher Andrew   Jones 27. Monastic Art and Architecture, c. 700–​1100: Material and Immaterial Worlds  519 Adam S. Cohen 28. Monastic Daily Life (c. 750–​1100): A Tight Community Shielded by an Outer Court  542 Isabelle Co chelin vii

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Contents

29. The Double Monastery as a Historiographical Problem (Fourth to Twelfth Century)  561 Alison I. Beach and Andr a Juganaru 30. Interactions between Monks and the Lay Nobility (from the Carolingian Era through the Eleventh Century)  579 Isabelle  Rosé 31. Monastic Reform from the Tenth to the Early Twelfth Century  599 Steven Vanderputten 32. Monastic Canon Law in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Centuries  618 Christof  Rolker 33. Eastern Influence on Western Monasticism, 850–​1050  631 John   Howe

Part III

THE LONG TWELFTH CENTURY 34. Historiographical Approaches to Monasticism in the Long Twelfth Century  649 John Van  Engen 35. Sources for Monasticism in the Long Twelfth Century  667 Lauren  Mancia 36. Hermitism in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries  684 Kathryn Jasper and John   Howe 37. Monastic Theologies, c. 1050–​1200  697 Constant J. Mews 38. Monastic Preaching and the Sermon in Medieval Latin Christendom to the Twelfth Century  710 Timothy M. Baker and Beverly Kienzle

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39. The Mass in Monastic Practice: Nuns and Ordained Monks, c. 400–​1200  729 Fiona J. Griffiths 40. Reclusion in the Middle Ages  747 Paulette L’Hermite -​ Leclercq 41. Similarities and Differences between Monks and Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century  766 Ursula Vones -​ Liebenstein 42. The Institutionalization of Religious Orders (Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries)  783 Gert Melville 43. Gender and Monastic Liturgy in the Latin West (High and Late Middle Ages)  803 Gisela Muschiol 44. Monastic Landscapes  816 Hedwig Rö ckelein 45. Later Monastic Economies  831 Constance A. Berman 46. Nobility and Monastic Patronage: The View from Outside the Monastery  848 Jonathan R. Lyon 47. The Medical Role of Monasteries in the Latin West, c. 1050–​1300  865 Elma Brenner 48. East-​Central European Monasticism: Between East and West?  882 Emilia Jamroziak

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49. Monasticism, Colonization, and Ethnic Tension in Late Medieval Ireland  901 Colmán Ó Clabaigh

Part IV

FORMS OF MONASTICISM IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES 50. Late Medieval Monasticism: Historiography and Prospects  923 Elisabeth Lusset and Bert   Roest 51. Sources of Late Medieval Monasticism  941 Cécile  Caby 52. Monastic Liturgy, 1100–​1500: Continuity and Performance  958 Susan Boynton 53. Books and Libraries within Monasteries  975 Eva Schlotheuber and John T. McQuillen

54. Art in Monastic Churches of Western Europe from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Century  998 Alex andr a Gajewski and Stefanie Seeberg 55. Lay Brothers and Sisters in the High and Late Middle Ages  1027 Megan Cassidy -​ W elch 56. Female Religious Life in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries  1039 Cristina Andenna 57. Striving for Religious Perfection in the Lay World of Northern Europe  1057 Alison More and Anneke B. Mulder -​B akker 58. Monks and the Universities, c. 1200–​1500  1074 James G. Clar k

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59. Bishops, Canon Law, and the Religious, c. 1140–​1350  1093 Tristan   Sharp 60. Daily Life in Late Medieval Monasteries  1109 Christian D. Knudsen 61. Monastic Preaching, c. 1350–​1545  1125 James G. Clark and Kate E. Bush 62. Research on Monasticism in the German Tradition  1140 Sigrid Hirbodian 63. Satirical Depictions of Monastic Life  1154 Sita Steckel 64. A Crisis of Late Medieval Monasticism?  1171 Bert   Roest Index  1191

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Figures

1.1 South Wall of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Church of the Trinity), Constance 1.2 Augustine gives the Rule of St. Augustine to the Regular Canons, Dreifaltigkeitskirche, Constance 4.1 Map of selected monastic sites, East and West. Map by David Jaeger 12.1 Map of selected monastic sites in Italy and France, fifth to eighth century. Map by Eleanora Destefanis and Sébastien Bully; infographics by David Vuillermoz 16.1 Drawing of the monastery of Vivarium in a copy of Cassiodorus’ Institutiones, following Kassel, Hess. Landesbibl., MS Theol. 2° 29, fol. 27v 16.2 Reconstitution of the monastic complex of San Vincenzo al Volturno in central Italy in the ninth century, according to Federico Marazzi. Drawing by Simona Carracillo 16.3 Engraving of the monastic complex of Centula/​Saint-​Riquier, from a drawing by Paul Petau (1612), reproducing a miniature from the eleventh century 16.4 Plan of St. Gall, St. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 1092 16.5 The “sacred ban” around the Abbey of Cluny defined by Pope Urban II in 1095, according to D. Méhu, Paix et communautés autour de l’abbaye de Cluny, Xe–​XVe siècle (Lyon, 2001), 164 16.6 Inventory-​plan of the abbey of Marmoutier (Alsace) in the mid-​twelfth century, according to an eighteenth-​century copy, following C.-​E. Perrin, Essai sur la fortune immobilière de l’abbaye alsacienne de Marmoutier aux Xe et XIe siècles (Strasbourg, 1935), 8 27.1 Vigila the Scribe. Codex Albeldensis, El Escorial, Biblioteca del Escorial MS d.I.2, fol. XXIIv. Photo © Patrimonio Nacional 27.2 Mathilda-Otto Cross. Essen Treasury. Photo by Jens Nober (Essen) © Domschatz Essen 27.3 Abbot Epiphanius, San Vincenzo al Volturno, crypt interior. Photo AGF Srl /​Alamy Stock Photo 27.4 Reconstruction of the church of Saint-​Bénigne in Dijon, 1001–​18 (C. Malone) 27.5 Hrabanus Maurus before the Cross. In honorem sanctae crucis, Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Cod. 652 fol. 33v. Photo © ÖNB Vienna

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page 2 3 74 234 320 326 327 329 336

337 520 524 528 532 537

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Figures 30.1 Heiric of Auxerre’s vision of society (second half of the ninth century). Diagram by I. Rosé 30.2 Odo of Cluny’s vision of society (first half of the tenth century). Diagram by I. Rosé 30.3 Abbo of Fleury’s vision of society (c. 1000). Diagram by I. Rosé 30.4 Odilo of Cluny’s vision of society (c. 1000). Diagram by I. Rosé 53.1 Western wall of the library room above the twelfth-​century sacristy of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Godehard, Hildesheim, with fifteenth-​century library signatures (F and G). Diözesanmuseum Hildesheim, Datenerfassungsbogen 4a 53.2 Manuscript containing sermons of the Franciscan friar Bernardinus of Siena (fourteenth/​early fifteenth century, Dombibliothek Hildesheim, St God. 34), with signature of St. Godehard Library F 44. The signature was changed to F 85 in the course of the fifteenth century, when the body of spiritual literature expanded dramatically 53.3 Lunette with library signature F, St. Godehard library room 54.1 Metal gilt altar frontal, Basel. Musée de Cluny, Paris 54.2 Textile crown with embroidered medallions (crown of the nuns), first half of twelfth century, Abegg-Stiftung, CH-3132 Riggisberg, inv. no. 5257, 2009 (photo: Christoph von Viràg) 54.3 Retable (altar shrine) (Schloss Braunfels), Madonna and Child (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich), Wings (Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main), c. 1330, for the main altar of the former church of the Premonstratensian Monastery in Altenberg-​an-​der-​Lahn © Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

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593 595 596 596

989

990 991 1008 1013

1021

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Contributors

Roberto Alciati, University of Florence Cristina Andenna, TU Dresden Timothy M. Baker, Dartmouth College Constance A. Berman, University of Iowa (emerita) Alison I. Beach, The University of St Andrews Jesse D. Billett, Trinity College, University of Toronto Lisa M. Bitel, University of Southern California Gordon Blennemann, University of Montreal Anne Boud’hors, CNRS (Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique) IRHT (Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes) Susan Boynton, Columbia University David Brakke, The Ohio State University Elma Brenner, Wellcome Collection, London Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom, Wittenberg University Scott G. Bruce, Fordham University Sébastien Bully, CNRS-UMR 6298 ARTEHIS Kate E. Bush, independent scholar Cécile Caby, University Lumière Lyon 2 and CNRS-UMR 5648 Megan Cassidy-​Welch, The University of Queensland James G. Clark, University of Exeter Isabelle Cochelin, University of Toronto Adam S. Cohen, University of Toronto John J. Contreni, Purdue University (emeritus) Muriel Debié, EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études) Eleonora Destefanis, University of Eastern Piedmont Jean-​Pierre Devroey, Free University of Brussels Hendrik Dey, Hunter College, CUNY

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Contributors Pablo C. Díaz, University of Salamanca Albrecht Diem, Syracuse University Alexandra Gajewski, The Burlington Magazine and Institute of Historical Research, London Maria Chiara Giorda, Roma Tre University Fiona J. Griffiths, Stanford University Anne-​Marie Helvétius, University of Paris 8 Sigrid Hirbodian, University of Tübingen John Howe, Texas Tech University Emilia Jamroziak, University of Leeds Kathryn Jasper, Illinois State University Peter Jeffery, OblSB, University of Notre-Dame Christopher Andrew Jones, The Ohio State University Andra Juganaru, Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest Michel Kaplan, University of Paris 1 (emeritus) Beverly Kienzle, Harvard Divinity School (emerita) Christian D. Knudsen, Sheridan College Rutger Kramer, Radboud University Michel Lauwers, University of Côte d’Azur, CNRS, CEPAM Bénédicte Lesieur, Lycée Jacques Prévert de Longjumeau Paulette L’Hermite-​Leclercq, University of Paris 4 (emerita) Felice Lifshitz, University of Alberta Jonathan R. Lyon, University of Chicago Elisabeth Lusset, CNRS LAMOP Eliana Magnani, CNRS LAMOP (Laboratoire de médiévistique occidentale de Paris) Lauren Mancia, Brooklyn College, CUNY John T. McQuillen,The Morgan Library & Museum Gert Melville, TU Dresden Constant J. Mews, Monash University Alison More, The University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto Anneke B. Mulder-​Bakker, University of Groningen (emerita) Gisela Muschiol, University of Bonn Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB, Glenstal Abbey Janneke Raaijmakers, Utrecht University Valerie Ramseyer, Wellesley College

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Contributors Claudia Rapp, University of Vienna and Austrian Academy of Sciences Isabelle Réal, University of Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès and Laboratoire FRAMESPA (Toulouse) Hedwig Röckelein, University of Göttingen Bert Roest, Radboud University Christof  Rolker, University of Bamberg Isabelle Rosé, University of Rennes 2 and Laboratoire Tempora (EA 7468) Philip Rousseau, The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC Eva Schlotheuber, University of Düsseldorf Stefanie Seeberg, Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Tristan Sharp, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto Sita Steckel, University of Münster John Van Engen, University of Notre Dame (emeritus) Steven Vanderputten, Ghent University Ursula Vones-​Liebenstein, independent scholar

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Acknowledgments

The History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West has been a work of community from start to finish, and we are indebted to many colleagues who have helped to give shape and direction to this ambitious project. Special thanks are due to our editorial board  –​Albrecht Diem, Claudia Rapp, and Bert Roest –​who have been so generous with their suggestions and critical feedback throughout the project. We are also especially grateful to Giles Constable, who read and critiqued several versions of the original proposal for the volumes. With his characteristic grace, Giles resisted our repeated attempts to persuade him to contribute, instead persuading us that a new generation of scholars is ready to take center stage. We also benefitted immeasurably from the comments of the three outside readers solicited by Cambridge, and particularly from the push by one to give more weight to the social and economic contexts of monasticism. This sound advice proved decisive for the project. We would also like to thank Tristan Sharp for his insightful comments on the proposal, and Henrietta Leyser, Joseph Goering, and Jeffery Hamburger for their suggestions for contributors on a wide range of topics. We have done our best to fill the gaps in coverage pointed out by these generous colleagues, and we hope that those we were unable to fill –​ monastic engagement in the crusades, for example, and regular and secular canonesses –​will attract scholarly attention rather than criticism. The College of Arts & Sciences at The Ohio State University generously provided funding for a workshop in Germany in the summer of 2014. The hospitality of Bärbel Wilhelm and her staff at the beautiful monastery of Heiligkreuztal, a former house of Cistercian nuns in what is now Baden-​ Württemberg (Germany), was matched by the collegiality and engagement of the gathered authors and graduate students. During our two days at Heiligkreuztal, we critiqued drafts, debated terms, and discussed the direc­ tion for the next stage of the project. Thanks are due also to our student

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Acknowledgments

assistant, Eliza Jaeger, who served as both translator and logistical assistant on the ground at the workshop. In the autumn of 2014, the students in Isabelle’s graduate seminar on “Monastic Identities” at the University of Toronto read and critiqued many of the articles, offering vital feedback on the clarity and usefulness of each from the perspective of one of our key target audiences. Special thanks to Eun Seon (Ludia) Bae, Alexandra Bauer, Alessia Berardi, Lochin Brouillard, Sister Parousia Clemens, Brianna Daigneault, Celeste de Blois, Delan Hamasoor, Jared Johnson, Joseph Koczera SJ, Matthew Mattingly OSB, Trevor A. Mattis II, Bridget Riley, Robert Smith, Lane Springer, Nora Thorburn, and Hannah Wood. Shannon Turner Li, Frank McGough, Kyle Shimoda, and Samuel Sutherland, doctoral students at The Ohio State University, also provided helpful comments and feedback on a number of articles at various stages in the project. If these scholars-​in-​training are any indication, then the future of monastic studies is in good hands. There are also many others who have helped in various ways to bring this project to light. Emily Spangler at Cambridge University Press first had the idea that the time was right for a major new overview of medieval monasti­ cism. Her enthusiasm for the project has been matched by that of Beatrice Rehl, our managing editor at Cambridge, who has supported and pushed us in just the right measure as the project has moved from idea to reality. During Alison’s summer teaching in Constance in 2014, Anne Diekjobst and Michael Hohlstein arranged a tour of the Augustinian Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Church of the Trinity) with Harald Derschka, introducing her to the won­ derful frescos that frame the introduction to these volumes. Harald and Anne deserve particular thanks for their heroic efforts at photographing these little-​ known and difficult-​to-​capture images. David Jaeger has been a source of support throughout the project, from preparing a memorable dinner matched by great wine during one of our initial planning meetings in Bonn, to cre­ ating the map that accompanies the article by Darlene Brooks Hedstrom and Hendrik Dey. Bert Roest was a calm force in the background, always encour­ aging and ready to help, including driving thousands of kilometers to visit potential sites for our workshop. Thanks are also due to Emily Cochelin, who complains that she has visited far too many monasteries for her young age. Finally, we would like to thank the community of more than eighty authors who worked tirelessly through seemingly endless rounds of editorial comments and peer reviews, for their collegiality and patience as we worked together to bring this project to completion.

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Abbreviations

Word abbreviations c.    circa d. date of death (died in) f.     date of foundation (founded in) fl.   flourished during/​around fol. folio r.     regnal dates

Abbreviations of primary sources (with available editions and English translations) Hildemar, Hildemar of Corbie or of Civate, Expositio Regulae ab Expositio regulae   Hildemaro tradita et nunc primum typis mandata in Vita et Regula SS. P. Benedicti una cum Expositione Regulae, ed. Rupert Mittermüller (Regensburg, New York, and Cincinnati, 1880) Updated edition and English translation: http://​ hildemar.org/​(date of last access: 31 August 2018) Mansi Giovanni Domenico Mansi, and others, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 53 vols. (Florence, 1759–​1767; Venice, 1769–​1798; Paris, 1901–​1927) RA “The Rule of Augustine (Masculine Version),” in The Rule of Saint Augustine, ed. Tarsicius J.  van Bavel and trans. Raymond Canning (Kalamazoo, MI, 1996) RB Regula Benedicti, ed. and trans. (into French) Jean Neufville and Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 181–​2 Regula Benedicti, ed. Rudolf Hanslik, CSEL 75, 2nd ed. English translations: xxi

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Abbreviations

RCaeV

RB 1980: The Rule of St Benedict in English, ed. Timothy Fry; associate eds. Imogene Baker et  al. (Collegeville, MN, 1981) The Rule of Saint Benedict, ed. and trans. Bruce L. Venarde (Cambridge, MA, 2011) The Rule of St Benedict, trans. Carolinne White (New York, 2008) Caesarius of Arles, Regula ad virgines, ed. and trans. (into French) Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, SC 354,  35–​272 English translation:  Caesarius of Arles. The Rule for Nuns of St. Caesarius of Arles: A Translation with a Critical Introduction, ed. Maria McCarthy (Washington, DC, 1960)

Abbreviations for journals and series AASS

AA SS OSB Annales ESC BHL

BHG

BnF BUCEMA

CCCM CCM CCSG CCSL

Acta Sanctorum quotquot toto orbe coluntur, ed. Socii Bollandiani. 68 vols. (Antwerp and Brussels, 1643–​1940) Other editions: Venice, 1734–​70, and Paris, 1863–​70 Acta Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedictini, ed. Jean Mabillon. 9 vols. (Paris, 1668–​1701; 2nd ed. Venice, 1733–​40) Annales. Économies, sociétés, civilisations Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina (Brussels, 1898–​9; reprint 1992) Novum Supplementum, ed. H. Fros. (Brussels, 1986) Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca, ed. F. Halkin (Brussels, 1957) Novum Auctarium (Brussels, 1984) Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris Bulletin du Centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre, https://​ journals.openedition.org/​cem/​ (date of last access:  31 August 2018) Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis (Turnhout, 1971–​) Corpus Consuetudinum Monasticarum, ed. Kassius Hallinger et al. (Siegburg, 1963–​) Corpus Christianorum. Series Graeca (Turnhout, 1977–​) Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina (Turnhout, 1953–​)

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Abbreviations

CSEL HAM JEH JMH MEFRM MGH Capit. MGH Capit. Episc. MGH Concilia MGH DKarl MGH Epistolae MGH Ep. sel. MGH Fontes MGH LL MGH SRG MGH SRG n.s. MGH SS MGH SS RM PG

PL SC

Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (Vienna, 1866–​) Hortus Artium Medievalium Journal of Ecclesiastical History Journal of Medieval History Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, Moyen Âge Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Capitularia regum Francorum Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Capitula episcoporum Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Concilia Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Diplomata Pippin, Karlmann und Karl der Grosse Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Epistolae (in Quarto) Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Epistolae selectum in usum scholarum Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Fontes iurs Germanici antiqui in usum scholarum separatim editi Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Leges (in Folio) Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rerum Germanicarum Nova Series Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores (in Folio) Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum Patrologia Graeca [Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca], ed. Jacques-​Paul Migne, 161 vols. (Paris, 1857–​66) Patrologia Latina [Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina], ed. Jacques-​Paul Migne, 221 vols. (Paris, 1844–​91) Sources Chrétiennes, 569 vols. (Paris, 1941–​)

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General Introduction Al i s on I . B each a n d Isa b e l l e Co ch elin, editors Between January of 1417 and the last session of the great Council of Constance (1414–​18) in April of 1418, Sigismund of Luxemburg (d. 1437), King of Germany, Hungary, and Croatia, was quartered intermittently at the House of Augustinian Hermits (f. 1268) in the southern part of the old city. The honor of hosting the king—​the defensor ecclesiae—​along with much of his vast retinue, must have come at great cost both to the community and to the townsfolk of Constance. Perhaps in recognition of this effort and expense, and surely aware that the Augustinians’ church had not yet been fully restored in the wake of a devastating fire in 1398, Sigismund arranged for the impressive sum of 1,400 guilders to be paid to three local artists—​Heinrich Grübel, Kaspar Sünder, and Johann Lederhoser—​to paint the nave of the monastery church. Work on the frescoes began in July of 1417, and by September the job was complete.1 The three painters created a three-​register visual program along the south, west, and north walls of the church. The lower register comprises a series of images of saints, enthroned in the pendentives between the arcades. The upper register, at the level of the clerestory, was decorated with images (mainly destroyed by later modifications to the church) of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. In the middle register, groups of four or five kneeling men are framed by eighteen double and thirty-​seven single painted arches; the men in each cluster, depicted in the habit of a particular religious order, gesture toward a standing figure who represents the author of the rule of that order

Harald Derschka, “Die Wandbilder in der Konstanzer Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Augustinerkirche): Entstehung, Wiederentdeckung und Deutung,” in Das Konstanzer Konzil. Essays, ed. Karl-​Heinz Braun et al. (Stuttgart, 2013), 204–​9; and Harald Derschka, Die Konzilsfresken der Dreifaltigkeitskirche Konstanz (Lindenberg, 2015).

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Figure 1.1  South Wall of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Church of the Trinity), Constance.

(see Figure 1.1). Together, the images of this middle register recount the history of Western monasticism, from the ancient desert in the East down to the present day, from the point of view of a community of late medieval Augustinian Hermits. The story begins at the east end of the south wall of the nave with Paul of Thebes (d. c. 342) and Antony (d. 356), alongside Pachomius (d. 348) and Basil (d. 379). Directly following these great men comes Augustine (d. 430), who stands in his episcopal regalia and hands a scroll representing the so-​called Rule of St. Augustine (RA) to a group of five suppliant Augustinian hermits. The bishop is depicted again under the next set of painted arches, this time with the Regular Canons of St. Augustine (see Figure  1.2). The succession of groups that follow the RA continues with the Dominicans and proceeds chronologically down the south wall, across the western wall, and into the first ten arches of the north wall. It is only at the end of this visual procession of groups following the RA that we first encounter Benedict of Nursia (d. c.  540), leading communities of monks who followed the Rule of 2

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Figure 1.2  Augustine gives the Rule of St. Augustine to the Regular Canons, Dreifaltigkeit­ skirche, Constance.

St. Benedict (RB). The Franciscans and Carmelites constitute the last groups, at the east end of the north wall. This visual history of monasticism makes a clear if somewhat unusual claim about monastic identity; it is the Augustinians who are the most direct heirs of the Desert Fathers. Perhaps the community was emboldened by a pronouncement that Pope John XXII (r. 1316–​34) had issued just two years earlier, stating that the regular canons of Kreuzlingen (just south of Constance) merited a more prominent place in liturgical processions than the Benedictines of Petershausen (across the Rhine from the city), owing to the greater antiquity of their order.2 As the followers of an ancient rule, they held a place of greatest importance in the history of monasticism. Even though For the text of this as-​yet unpublished pronouncement and its interpretation, see Harald Derschka, “Die geistlichen Gemeinschaften in der Stadt Konstanz zur Zeit des Konzils: Stifte, Klöster, Schwesternhäuser,” Das Delphinbuch 13 (forthcoming 2019).

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the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine had only been founded in 1254, they had themselves painted standing in an unbroken tradition, via the RA, with the most ancient ideals of Christian retreat into the desert. Benedict and the RB came later, and their connection to the sources of monastic tradition was depicted as more remote.3 It was certainly no coincidence that this visual argument was painted onto the walls of an Augustinian church only a few months after representatives of some 133 German Benedictine abbeys had convened a meeting of the German provincial chapter of the Benedictine Order at the monastery of Petershausen, just across the Rhine from the city, at which questions of reform and identity (including the return to a common habit and tonsure, as well as to dormitories and strict enclosure) were prominent on the agenda.4

Order-​Based Monastic History and Its Legacy The beginning of the story transmitted in the Constance frescoes is consonant in many ways with histories of monasticism in the Latin West handed down by generations of monastic historians who were themselves monks. While the intellectual achievements of these scholars are massive and essential, we must be ready, when necessary, to reject some of the fundamental premises on which they based their historical analysis. Our approach has been to question any aspect of this traditional approach that is not sound, to keep what is good, and to present the new questions and new answers that emerge. Their story traditionally begins with Antony as the father of monasticism. Antony’s form of monasticism is generally classified as eremitical, soon followed by the emergence of communal, or cenobitic, monasticism at the initiative of Pachomius and then of Basil. The wisdom and ways of these few great men was subsequently handed down, as the frescoes show, into a succession of (primarily and sometimes exclusively) male orders, even though the hierarchy and even the list of orders varies. This focus on orders and institutions is, in part, a reflection of early modern and modern monastic historiography:  much of the foundational scholarly work on medieval monasticism—​“great historical enterprises” with origins in the seventeenth century—​was undertaken by monks with a keen interest in, and from the perspective of, their respective orders.5 Individuals or groups Derschka, “Die Wandbilder in der Konstanzer Dreifaltigkeitskirche,” 208–​9. Philip H. Stump, The Reforms of the Council of Constance: 1414–​1418 (Leiden, 1994), 155–​7. 5 David Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises: Problems in Monastic History (London, 1963). 3

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marginal to, or entirely outside the perceived order structure of, the monastic world only began to receive more attention in the second half of the twentieth century, as a growing number of secular scholars began to approach monastic history from a broader range of perspectives. Another issue at hand is that earlier generations of monk-​historians often approached the topic ahistorically—​ assuming that the fundamentals of monasticism had remained more or less the same since the time of the Desert Fathers. This static definition, combined with the production of compartmentalized historiographies produced by institutionalized orders—​reflected clearly in the clustering of the various groups under separate arches in the Constance frescoes—​tends to obscure the astonishing vitality and diversity of monastic life through spaces and across centuries. The articles that comprise these two volumes represent a different, less teleological, approach. We have chosen not to organize our book with separate sections devoted to the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Premonstratensians, and so on. First, there is already a wealth of excellent studies and overviews that focus on individual monastic families or orders. Second, monastic orders only started to emerge in the twelfth century, quite late in the medieval history of monasticism. For most of the Middle Ages, religious communities were organized individually—​ even if some were or became dependencies of others (like so many controlled by Cluny in the eleventh century). For this reason, we have encouraged our authors to speak of “black monks” or “traditional monasticism” rather than of “Benedictines” or “Benedictine monasticism” before the late Middle Ages. In the Carolingian Empire, especially after the Council of Aachen (816–​17), and often much later in other areas, most monasteries did follow the RB; but using the term “Benedictine” to describe them before the formation of a Benedictine Order properly speaking tends to give the impression of a unity and uniformity that did not yet exist. The expression “black monks” appeared from the early twelfth century on to distinguish traditional monks from the Cistercians, who wore white habits.

Integrating Women into the Narrative Nowhere is the legacy of order-​based monastic history clearer or more problematic than in the historiography of medieval religious women. Much of the scholarship on feminae religiosae has focused on their inclusion in—​or exclusion from—​various orders. The limited research on women associated with the Premonstratensian Order, for example, while conceding that Norbert himself had had female followers whom he settled in cenobitic houses connected 5

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to male communities, generally takes for granted that the men of the order would have experienced any female presence within their institutions as a burden to be put off at the first opportunity. For example, Joseph E. Jansen, an early twentieth-​century Premonstratensian, cited the “inconveniences” of female presence as the motivation for official pronouncements, such as the 1140 decree of the Chapter General of the order that called for the separation of dual-​sex communities, and the 1198 decree prohibiting further female professions.6 In his influential Religiöse Bewegungen im Mittelalter, Herbert Grundmann spoke of the Order’s efforts to “free itself from the participation of women.”7 The historiographical terrain is similar for the Cistercians, particularly in the debate over the formal inclusion of women’s communities in the order.8 We are not suggesting that such questions and approaches are invalid or uninteresting, but rather that they have dominated the way that we think about what it meant to be a religious woman in the Western Middle Ages. The tendency to see women as marginal to—​or even problematic for—​the work of orders is popular in contemporary histories and encourages the continued relegation of religious women to their own, separate chapters in monastic surveys. In C. H. Lawrence’s standard English-​language survey, Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in the Middle Ages, for example, the “Sisters or Handmaids” are still mainly confined to their own single chapter, whose first section carries the title, “Frauenfrage—​the question of sisters.”9 There is no denying that this historiographical trajectory has been sustained in large part with the backing of surviving written and iconographic sources from the Middle Ages. Like their early modern and modern counterparts, medieval monastic historians overwhelmingly speak from a male perspective as they imagine narratives that respond to particular institutional needs and interests. The Constance frescoes, for example, reflect the perspective of the Augustinian Hermits, an order with no contemporary female counterpart.

Joseph E. Jansen, La Belgique norbertine ou l’Ordre de Prémontré en Belgique à travers huit siècles d’existence, vol. 1 (Averbode, 1920), 72. 7 Herbert Grundmann, Religious Movements in the Middle Ages, trans. Robert E. Lerner (Notre Dame, IN, 1995), 77–​8. 8 See Constance H. Berman, “Were There Twelfth-​Century Cistercian Nuns?” Church History 68 (1999):  824–​64; for a similar critique, see Alexis Grélois, “Clairvaux et le monachisme féminin des origines au milieu du XVe siècle,” in Le temps long de Clairvaux. Nouvelles recherches, nouvelles perspectives (XIIe-​XXIe siècle), ed. Arnaud Baudin and Alexis Grélois (Paris, 2016), 155–​60. 9 C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, 4th ed. (London and New York, 2015), 199.

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Plans to include four female communities, reflected in the surviving written sketches for the frescoes, were apparently scuttled owing to a lack of space.10 In the end, theirs is a version of monastic history that excludes women, despite the fact that Augustine’s Letter 211 (423), one of the earliest textual sources for the RA, was addressed to a community of religious women. Here and elsewhere, the role of women in the development of various forms of religious life was simply not seen as integral to the development of the “family tree” of monasticism, but rather as a side-​growth. The problems with this selective reading of the sources are already evident in the Life of Antony (c. 360): when Antony decides to abandon all his wealth and to live a perfect life, the first thing he does is to place his younger sister in a female monastery. Decades before the male monasteries of Pachomius and Basil, then, at least one women’s community already existed, raising the possibility that female forms of monasticism were the real point of departure, and not the other way around. In these volumes, we have tried to write women back into the broader narratives of monastic history. To that end, whenever possible, women have been integrated rather than confined to separate chapters or sections. Further, many of our authors challenge the received tradition that interprets religious women as marginal, or as a “problem” for men that needed solving.

Rethinking the Boundaries of Monasticism Scholars of monastic history need to be aware of the ways in which both medieval and modern historiography have shaped our most basic understandings of what monasticism is, down to how we define seemingly self-​evident categories such as “monk,” “nun,” “order,” and even “monasticism” itself. These definitions depend on who is telling the story. For the purposes of the present volumes, we have defined as monastic those individuals who were devoted to contemplation and prayer, generally with an element of separation from society (e.g. living in extremely ascetic conditions, and/​or removed from centers of population, and/​or enclosed architecturally), whether or not they did so in community. Although cenobitic monasticism would become the predominant form of male monasticism in the West during the early Middle Ages, it was never the exclusive one. From the beginnings of monasticism in the East, and throughout our period and beyond in the West, there were Harald Derschka, “Die Ordensdarstellung in der Konstanzer Augustinerkirche:  eine Gesamtschau der Männerorden aus der Sicht der Augustinereremiten,” in Dreifaltigkeit­ skirche Konstanz, ed. Landesdenkmalamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart (Lindenberg, 2007), 31.

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“wandering monks,” hermits, recluses, house ascetics—​and the list could go on—​side by side with religious individuals living in more or less regulated communities. This continued diversity, and the permeability of the frontiers between these categories, were especially characteristic of female monasticism, as many of the articles that follow show. One of the main reasons why so little space has been dedicated to female religious in previous monastic histories is that they often had a fluid monastic identity, hard to place within a single order or to characterize with a single term. For example, Jutta of Sponheim (d. 1136)  probably began her dedicated religious life as a house ascetic before she and her protégée, Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179), became recluses in the outer court of Disibodenberg, a male monastery. Hildegard would later found the female monastery of Rupertsberg, where she was the abbess.11 Catherine of Siena (d. 1380)  was not a Dominican tertiary; this stamp was only put on her a fortiori by the Dominican order.12 The female monastery of Blesle, in Auvergne, followed the RB in the central Middle Ages, but at some indeterminant point (and probably gradually) before 1751, the women started living in individual houses and calling themselves canonesses.13 These examples can be easily multiplied. Only detailed regional, ecclesiastical, and political studies, side by side with surveys like our book, can help open up and move the history of medieval religious women forward. The ubiquity and variety of forms of monastic life in the Middle Ages challenge simple formulations. Our approach to the fundamental problem of defining monasticism has thus remained open, sensitive to the fluctuating ways in which medieval religious defined themselves, and especially to how these responses might have varied by gender, and across time and space. For instance, although mendicants considered themselves to be quite different from cenobitic monks when their orders first appeared in the early thirteenth century, a history of Western monasticism cannot bypass them completely: their story is too entwined with that of monasticism in the later Middle Ages. It is especially difficult to pinpoint the border between the female mendicant orders, whose women were usually cloistered, and the traditional monastic orders. We have thus asked each of the contributors to keep the question of self-​definition in mind, and to be wary of relying on definitions

A. Silvas, ed. and trans., Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources (Turnhout, 1998). Alison More, Fictive Orders and Feminine Religious Identities, 1200–​1600 (Oxford, 2018), 75–​7. Martin de Framond, “Notes sur l’histoire des Bénédictines de Saint-​Pierre de Blesle (IXe-​XVIIIe siècles),” in La place et le rôle des femmes dans l’histoire de Cluny, ed. Jean-​Paul Renard et al. (Saint-​Just-​près-​Brioude, 2013), 79–​112.

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that medieval lay or ecclesiastical hierarchies might have attempted to impose on monastics. Even after the seven years that have gone into the preparation of these two volumes, including the vigorous and challenging debates that animated our contributors’ workshop at the former Cistercian monastery of Heiligkreuztal (Germany) in July of 2015 and the many fruitful conversations with our graduate students at the University of Toronto and The Ohio State University, we are left with more questions than answers about where to place the boundaries of monasticism. Is it valid, for example, to exclude, as we did, the military orders? Where is the boundary between “monastic” and “secular”? Should monasticism really be positioned in opposition to forms of religious life more oriented toward engagement in the secular world, such as communities that focused on pastoral care and public preaching, or communities created to manage hospitals, lodge pilgrims, and so on? In the end, we opted to raise questions and open debates rather than to resolve them, and to allow for rich variation across contexts. All of these decisions regarding inclusion and exclusion could be challenged with various arguments.

The Organization of the Volumes The two volumes are organized into four sections. Volume I  covers the origins to the eighth century (Part I) and the Carolingians through to the eleventh century (Part II). Volume II covers the long twelfth century (Part III) and the later Middle Ages (Part IV). The chronological break between Part I and Part II corresponds to the stabilization of Western monasticism under the Carolingians, with the (theoretically) general adoption of the RB within the empire. It was also marked by the attempt to establish a clear distinction between monks and canons, a fundamental distinction for some monastic authors that was nevertheless challenged again and again through the centuries by monks and regular canons. We refer to the period covered by Part II as the central Middle Ages in order to distinguish it from the late antique and early medieval periods that precede it, and from the high and late medieval periods that follow. The division between Part III and Part IV marks the emergence of the “new” monasticism that developed first in Italy in the eleventh century with key figures such as Romuald of Ravenna and Peter Damian, and then north of the Alps in the second half of the eleventh century and early twelfth century. Part IV starts with the beguines and the flowering of the mendicant orders. It offers a fresh look at the evolution of monasticism in the late Middle 9

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Ages, forcefully and convincingly challenging common characterization of the period as marked by decadence and decline. There are obvious limitations to this, and indeed any, chronological division. Continuities can and should be observed, and comparisons over time are essential. For example, how different were the house ascetics of Marcella and Jerome’s circle from the beguines and recluses of the late Middle Ages? How do the “wandering monks” of the first centuries compare to the early mendicants almost a thousand years later? Many of the articles here consciously cross these chronological divisions, as their titles reflect. With so many articles including material from across the four periods, we have provided ample cross-​ references, and the index to the volumes is a vital resource for readers seeking to make connections and identify additional related material. Each of the four parts that comprise these volumes begins with a historiographical essay pointing to both past and future research and an article that surveys the range of surviving primary sources for the period covered:  for Origins to the Eighth Century, Albrecht Diem and Claudia Rapp (historiography) and Anne-​Marie Helvétius, with the collaboration of Michel Kaplan, Anne Boud’hors, Muriel Debié, and Bénédicte Lesieur (sources); for the Central Middle Ages, Felice Lifshitz (historiography) and Scott Bruce (sources); for the Long Twelfth Century, John Van Engen (historiography) and Lauren Mancia (sources); and for the Later Middle Ages, Elisabeth Lusset and Bert Roest (historiography) and Cécile Caby (sources).

Other Central Geographic, Thematic, and Interpretive Questions The full list of authors reflects a rich diversity of approaches to the history of medieval Western monasticism. Contributors come from all over Europe, North America, and Australia, and many are presenting their work here in English for the first time. While the majority are historians, more than one third are specialists in disciplines such as archaeology, art, music, philology, religious studies, and theology. There is also a wide range of specializations reflected among the historians, including economic, political, social, and gender history. Although the geographical focus of the two volumes is continental western Europe and the British Isles, Part I, which covers the first centuries of the history of Christian monasticism, also includes the eastern part of the Mediterranean. There was no fixed border in the Roman Empire between the Greek East and the Latin West, and one cannot understand 10

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Western monasticism without appreciating and studying its Eastern origins. Individuals, texts, and ideals flowed between East and West, and primarily from East to West, during the third, fourth, and fifth centuries, as the articles by Anne-​Marie Helvétius, David Brakke, and Roberto Alciati show. Moreover, it is useful to compare the shapes taken by Western monasticism with solutions adopted in the East, for instance regarding rules, as Albrecht Diem and Philip Rousseau have done in their contribution. Peter Jeffery’s article traces the development of monastic liturgies from the first centuries of Christianity down to the Carolingians—​a contribution that illustrates the advantages of breaking down the boundary between East and West for the first centuries of monasticism. As early as the sixth century, however, and certainly by the eighth century, the differences between Greek and Latin forms of monasticism had become sufficiently significant to justify confining the focus of the rest of the book to the Latin world. Nevertheless, this is another boundary that several of our authors have tested, questioned, and crossed. As the article by John Howe shows, there was continued contact between East and West from the late eleventh century onward, and Greek monks were present in southern Italy throughout the Middle Ages, as discussed by Valerie Ramseyer. The article by Michel Kaplan presents the evolution of the Byzantine monasteries throughout the Middle Ages (from the standpoint of economics), providing the basis for interesting comparisons with the West. Two articles offer a view of border areas in which Eastern and Western forms of monasticism interacted: Ramseyer for Italy up to the eleventh century, and Emilia Jamroziak for east-​central Europe in the later Middle Ages. In the West, internal linguistic and territorial frontiers are not essential to understanding medieval monasticism, even though surveys have too often been defined by modern political boundaries. While we have been keen to avoid such anachronism, we have not entirely ignored regional variations. We have tried especially to give a sense of the remarkable diversity that existed within Western monasticism outside the Frankish kingdoms and their heirs. To that end, a number of articles focus on regions beyond that area, including Pablo Díaz’s contribution on Hispania before the Umayyad conquest of the eighth century, Lisa Bitel’s overview of Irish monasticism in the early Middle Ages, Colmán Ó Clabaigh’s discussion of the impact of colonialism on Irish monasticism in the High Middle Ages, and Jamroziak’s discussion of monasticism in areas that were the precursors of modern Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Christopher Jones traces the original shape of Anglo-​Saxon monasticism in the time of Bede and Boniface, and Janneke 11

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Raaijmakers discusses the complex role played by nuns and monks in the colonization of the eastern and northern frontiers in the same period. Finally, the article by Sigrid Hirbodian highlights the fruitfulness of bringing together a variety of archival and literary sources to produce regional monastic history, and Steven Vanderputten likewise insists on the necessity of considering the reform of any monastery in its local political context. To encourage connection and dialogue among this diverse group of authors, we suggested an ambitious range of thematic and interpretive problems, beginning with the pressing need to reconsider received definitions and traditional boundaries. Kathryn Jasper and John Howe study the challenges that the eremitical movements of the eleventh and twelfth centuries posed to contemporary forms of cenobitic monasticism. Gert Melville theorizes about the transformation of monasticism into an order-​based institution, while Ursula Vones-​Liebenstein explores the complex frontier between regular canons and monks. Elma Brenner describes the monastic ideal that guided the organization of life in hospitals and leprosaria. Cristina Andenna’s article studies the blurred boundary between mendicant women and nuns in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and Alison More and Anneke Mulder-​Bakker’s contribution investigates the commonalities and differences between cenobitic and pious lay women. The physical shape and location of monasteries evolved across time and space, but never as dramatically as in the first half of our period. Two teams of archaeologists—​Darlene Brooks Hedstrom and Hendrik Dey for East and West in late antiquity, and Sébastien Bully and Eleonora Destefanis for Italy and Gaul in the early Middle Ages—​take a close look at the first centuries of monastic architecture, before monasteries took on the shape we know so well. The contributions by Michel Lauwers, Adam Cohen, Isabelle Cochelin, and Hedwig Röckelein also showcase recent innovative research on spatial analysis, sacralization of space, and issues of accessibility, offering new possibilities for the study of the interaction between monasteries and the outside world. Liturgy was always fundamental to the life of medieval monastics, and six articles are specifically devoted to this topic. Jeffery discusses psalmody and prayer in early monasticism, and Jesse Billett traces further developments in the divine office down to the eleventh century. Susan Boynton gives us a sense of the rich panorama of liturgical activities in the high and late Middle Ages. Gordon Blennemann focuses on the emergence in late antiquity of the fundamental intercessory roles of monastics and the increasing importance of the celebration of the Eucharist in monasteries, especially since the Carolingian 12

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period. Fiona Griffiths places the celebration of the mass more specifically in the context of female monasteries of the later periods, and Gisela Muschiol provides an overview of gender studies in the framework of monastic liturgy throughout the Middle Ages. Recent research on medieval gender and sexuality also stands at the center of a number of articles discussing a wide range of topics:  Isabelle Réal describes the day-​to-​day activities of monastics in the early Middle Ages; Alison Beach and Andra Juganaru address the challenges of research on medieval double monasteries; Fiona Griffiths explores the relationship between nuns and the priests in charge of their cura animarum; and Paulette L’Hermite-​Leclercq discusses reclusion. Although most of the articles here integrate female and male monasticism, several look exclusively at forms of religious life for women. Eliana Magnani offers the first ever synthetic treatment of the phenomenon of house ascetics from late antiquity to the eleventh century. More and Mulder-​Bakker provide an overview of the lives of religious women outside the cloister up to the late Middle Ages. Maria Chiara Giorda explores the role of family in late antique Egyptian female monasticism. Andenna examines the dynamics between popes, bishops, male orders, and female religious from the long twelfth century to the late Middle Ages. The fundamental importance of monastic education and erudition throughout the Middle Ages has indeed long been recognized. While many articles touch on learning within both female and male monasteries, several focus more particularly on this theme. Alciati evokes the textual communities at the origin of different interpretations of monasticism in late antiquity, and John Contreni provides an overview of Carolingian learning. Constant Mews tackles the debates around theology in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, while James Clark discusses how monks shaped, and were shaped by, universities. Other authors approach the issue of learning from a variety of angles: Jones, for example, explores the particulars of Anglo-​Saxon monastic learning, including its bilingualism, while Christoph Rolker highlights the study of law up to Gratian, and Brenner the role played by medical knowledge in high and late medieval monasteries. Two articles investigate the writing, reading, and preaching of sermons in monastic contexts: Timothy Baker and Beverly Kienzle for the period up to the long twelfth century, and James Clark and Kate Bush for the later Middle Ages. The article by Eva Schlotheuber and John McQuillen traces the history of monastic libraries from the eighth century to the invention of the printing press.

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While discussions of monastic artistic production are integrated into many articles, the articles by Cohen (focusing on the period from c. 700 to 1100) and Alexandra Gajewski and Stefanie Seeberg (treating the twelfth century to the fourteenth) are dedicated to the topic. Gajewski and Seeberg include previously ignored forms of art (notably textiles) in their discussion, forms that are also touched upon by Muschiol and Griffiths, suggesting how much remains to be said about the role of religious women in artistic production and patronage. The economic aspects of Western monasticism have also too often been downplayed, even though monks and nuns were key players in the economy of medieval Europe. Three articles were specifically written by economic historians: Kaplan discusses the economy of Eastern monasteries up to the end of the Byzantine Empire, while Jean-​Paul Devroey focuses on monastic economy in the Carolingian period, and Constance Berman in the high and late Middle Ages. Other articles also deal with economy to a greater or lesser extent:  Isabelle Rosé for the central Middle Ages, to explain how abbeys transformed themselves into feudal lords; Jonathan Lyon for the long twelfth century, when monasteries were intricately linked with the local families; and both Röckelein and Hirbodian for the high and late Middle Ages. Monasteries were very much part of the politics of the non-​monastic world, both ecclesiastical and secular, contrary to the old claim that monks and nuns lived in desert-​like isolation. Billett, Jones, and especially Rutger Kramer and Vanderputten discuss monastic reforms in England and on the Continent in their political context. Tristan Sharp explores the interaction between monasteries and the secular Church, and particularly with bishops. Several of our authors highlight the political role that monastics played, or were made to play, throughout the Middle Ages, showing how their relations with the world beyond the monastery changed and evolved. Besides Kramer’s for the Carolingian Empire, the article by Rosé explores more particularly the rhetoric of power developed by some great abbots in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The contributions by Lyon and Hirbodian further reflect the continued engagement of monastics within family or kin groups in the high and later Middle Ages respectively. Two articles consider both the self-​perception of regulars and the ways in which lay people (and not only the lay and/​or ecclesiastical authorities) viewed medieval monks and nuns. Sita Steckel offers a nuanced discussion of anti-​monastic satire in secular literature from the twelfth century to the later Middle Ages, and Roest takes on the common perception of decline and decay within the monastic world of the late Middle Ages. Both of these 14

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General Introduction

articles contribute to our understanding of the social role that monasteries played within medieval society at large. Finally, the lives of “ordinary” monks and nuns, as well as the lives of non-​ professed or non-​choir religious men and women (lay brothers and sisters, and men and women living within or beside a monastic precinct) have attracted less scholarly attention than those of their more extraordinary counterparts, and there is still much to be learned about everyday life within monasteries. Réal discusses the daily activities of monks and nuns from late antiquity to the Carolingian period on the basis of rules and saints’ Lives, while Cochelin considers the interaction of the simple monks with lay servants and abbots, primarily using customaries. Christian Knudsen offers a broader depiction of the daily life of monks in the late Middle Ages, drawing on the wealth of sources for this later period, especially visitation records. Megan Cassidy-​ Welch has written a much needed synthesis on the lay brothers and lay sisters who lived in or around monasteries, seeing to the material needs of monks and nuns during the high and later Middle Ages. The History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West brings together into a single resource the work of a diverse and international team of scholars to offer the most comprehensive treatment of late antique and medieval monasticism in the Latin West published to date. The mise en parallèle of all these different voices and perspectives highlights new directions in research for coming generations of scholars. The polyphony of monasticisms presented here demands that future research not be constrained by definitions, categories, and narratives inherited from the rich and complex legacy of order-​ based histories of the monastic tradition. The articles that comprise these two volumes together constitute an inflection point in medieval monastic historiography. It is our hope that they will inspire research guided by a more flexible palette of terms and more permeable boundaries that allow religious women and other religious figures too long left in the shadows or considered marginal or second class—​the house ascetics, the lay brothers and lay sisters in monasteries, urban recluses, and a wide array of others who defy easy categorization—​to take their proper place in the story of medieval monasticism.

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PA RT   I *

THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM TO THE EIGHTH CENTURY

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The Monastic Laboratory: Perspectives of Research in Late Antique and Early Medieval Monasticism A l bre cht Die m a n d Claudia   Rapp Someone in need of a first orientation about the origins and the early history of monasticism, whether in the West or in the East, might feel confused and lost.1 Only one generation ago, a volume like this would have started in the Greek East with chapters on Antony and the Desert Fathers, Pachomius and the origins of cenobitism, Basil and his Rule; then moved on to the Latin West with Martin, Lérins, Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) and his Rule for nuns, Benedict and the Regula Benedicti (RB); continued further north with Columbanus (d. 615) and Irish monasticism; returned to the Continent with Anglo-​Saxon monks; and concluded with Benedict of Aniane and the triumph of the RB in Carolingian times. For the Greek-​speaking East, the storyline would have taken a different turn after Basil, continuing on to the laura-​ style monasticism propagated by Sabas in the Judean desert, the monastic reform by Theodore the Studite (d. 826) in the ninth century, and the foundation of the Great Lavra by Athanasius the Athonite in the tenth.2 And Albrecht Diem’s contribution to this chapter was made possible by the SFB F 4202 “Visions of Community,” funded by the Austrian Science Funds (FWF), the Faculty of History and Cultural Sciences of the University of Vienna, and the Austrian Academy of Science. Claudia Rapp’s contribution benefited from the financial support of the University of Vienna and the FWF (Austrian Science Fund) Wittgenstein-​Prize Project “Mobility, Migration and Personal Agency.” We would like to thank Pater Marcel Albert OSB, Matthieu van der Meer, and the students of Isabelle Cochelin’s graduate workshop “Out of the Hermitage” for their comments and suggestions. 1 For a comprehensive bibliography on late antique and early medieval monasticism, see www.earlymedievalmonasticism.org/​bibliographymonasticism.htm (date of last access: 27 August 2018). 2 General overviews:  C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism:  Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, 4th ed. (London and New York, 2015); Marilyn Dunn, The Emergence of Monasticism:  From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages (Oxford, 2000); Gert Melville, The World of Medieval Monasticism:  Its History and Forms of Life (Kalamazoo, MA, 2016); William Harmless, Desert Christians:  An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism (Oxford and New York, 2004); Peter Hatlie, The Monks and Monasteries of Constantinople, c. 350–​850 (Cambridge, 2009).

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there would have been the obligatory twenty-​f ive or fewer pages on female monasticism.3 Now, the situation has changed. In the old monastic drama, Antony, Athanasius, Martin, Macrina, Eustochium, Melania, Sabas, Patrick, Cassian, Caesarius, Benedict, Radegund, Columbanus, or Theodore the Studite stood center stage. But since their stories (as far as they are told in hagiographic works) have fallen prey to rigorous source criticism in recent years, they are beginning to lose contours or even recede into the background.4 Much of what has been taken for granted—​such as the importance of Lérins, the Irish impact, the idea of monasticism as a vita regularis, female monastic enclosure, the preeminent role of the RB (and Benedict’s authorship of the Rule), or the role of Benedict of Aniane as a praeceptor regulae—​has been subject to critical new assessment.5 The traditional narrative has gradually lost its persuasive force, and it is uncertain whether new comprehensive narratives can or even should be expected soon. The study of monasticism, especially since the 1990s, has diversified into a multitude of thematic approaches that postulate new turning points,

Surveys on female monasticism: Susanna Elm, “Virgins of God”: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1994); Jo Ann McNamara, Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia (Cambridge, MA, 1996); Jane Schulenburg, Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society c. 500–​1100 (Chicago, IL, 1998); Jeffrey Hamburger and Susan Marti, eds., Crown and Veil: Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries (New York, 2008); Gert Melville and Anne Müller, eds., Female vita religiosa between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages. Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts (Münster and Berlin, 2011); Alice-​Mary Talbot, Women and Religious Life in Byzantium (Burlington, VT, 2001); Lioba Theis, Margaret Mullett, Michael Grünbart, and Matthew Savage, eds., Female Founders in Byzantium and Beyond (Vienna, 2014). 4 For example, Clare Stancliffe, St. Martin and His Hagiographer:  History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus (Oxford, 1983); Richard J. Goodrich, Contextualizing Cassian: Aristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in Fifth-​Century Gaul (Oxford, 2007); William E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: The Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul (Cambridge, 1994); Thomas M. Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000), 344–​90 (on Columbanus); Anna Silvas, Macrina the Younger, Philosopher of God (Turnhout, 2008); Yizhar Hirschfeld, The Judean Desert Monasteries in the Byzantine Period (New Haven, CT, 1992); Joseph Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism: A Comparative Study in Eastern Monasticism (Washington, DC, 1995); Thomas Pratsch, Theodoros Studites (759–​826)—​zwischen Dogma und Pragma. Der Abt des Studiosklosters in Konstantinopel im Spannungsfeld von Patriarch, Kaiser und eigenem Anspruch (Frankfurt and New York, 1998). 5 For example, Conrad Leyser, Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (Oxford, 2000); Ian N. Wood, “The Irish in England and on the Continent in the Seventh Century: Part I,” Peritia 26 (2015): 171–​98; Albrecht Diem, “Inventing the Holy Rule: Some Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram:  The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 53–​84; Rutger Kramer, Rethinking Authority in the Carolingian Empire:  Ideals and Expectations during the Reign of Louis the Pious (813–​828) (Amsterdam, 2019). 3

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transcend traditional frameworks and ask new questions.6 Monastic studies now often focus on “the desert” in addition to the Desert Fathers; on “gender,” “the body,” or “masculinity” in addition to nuns, convents, chastity, and virginity; on “charisma” in addition to the Lives of saints; and on “normativity” in addition to monastic rules or regular observance. “Discipline” draws more attention than obedience and fasting; we explore “monastic landscapes” and “monasticisms” rather than just focusing on Lérins, Montecassino, Luxeuil, or other eminent monastic foundations. We now talk about “identity,” “networks,” and “communication” as a way of thinking about monastic orders; about “life cycles” when we want to discuss novices; and about “sacred space” when we explore the concept of enclosure. Most of the contributions in this volume follow these new paths and elaborate on their themes within a well-​defined regional or temporal framework, shying away from broad summaries and sweeping claims. They provide methodological suggestions, point to sources outside the canon, and lay down tracks for future research, rather than offering superficially convenient syntheses and deceptively definitive, but telescopically foreshortened answers. In this section, for example, the studies of female ascetics who lived in organized groups in Egypt (Maria Chiara Giorda), of domestic female asceticism in the Latin West and its increasing appropriation by the Church (Eliana Magnani), and of nuns and manual labor (Isabelle Réal) engage with female monasticism from entirely different perspectives, in different periods and contexts. They show two approaches that are equally legitimate and productive: studying female religious life as a phenomenon distinct from and largely independent of the male monastic traditions, and as a particular form of a monastic life that largely transcends gender differences. A number of contributions in this volume address different “monastic landscapes”: Visigothic Spain (Pablo Díaz), southern Italy (Valerie Ramseyer), Ireland (Lisa Bitel), Anglo-​ Saxon England (Christopher Jones), and the northern and eastern frontiers of the Frankish world ( Janneke Raaijmakers). Instead of drawing a detailed and comprehensive “map” of early medieval monasticism, these contributions create an itinerary of methodologies to study monastic life in particular regions on the basis of specific sets of sources: monastic rules, penitentials and instructional narratives, and hagiography, as well as charters and other forms of documentary evidence. They do

Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram; Krijn Pansters and Abraham Plunkett-​Latimer, eds., Shaping Stability. The Normation and Formation of Religious Life in the Middle Ages (Turnhout, 2016); Maciej Bielawsi and Daniël Hombergen, eds., Il monachesimo tra eredità e aperture (Rome, 2004).

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so with an eye on conflict and competition, the impact of political structures, and the connections between monastic and familial identities. The impulse to seek firm ground in focused and detailed studies, along with the reluctance to produce syntheses, is a result of the emancipation from the monastic master narrative. Monastic studies are in flux. Liberated from old paradigms, and using sources that had been overlooked or ignored,7 they might well be one of the most dynamic fields of medieval studies today. New syntheses may come at some point—​and the articles in this volume are opening new perspectives for a future road map—​but we are not there yet.

The Traditional Narrative and its Shortcomings From early on, monastic communities created their identity on the basis of invented traditions that were later, simplified by time, synthesized into the grand monastic narrative we have been accustomed to hear and tell. The traditional narrative that carries us from Egypt to Mount Athos or Kornelienmünster is not just a modern construct that can be phased out and shelved like other inventions of modern historiography, such as “feudalism,” the medieval “state,” the “Carolingian Renaissance,” or Byzantine “caesaropapism.” Indeed, it is a storyline that has its own, medieval history, which took shape largely in the context of the Carolingian monastic reforms of the ninth century. Carolingian scriptoria and libraries created a canon of Latin sources and shaped the idea of monasticism as “regular” life (vita regularis)—​a development discussed in the contribution of Diem and Rousseau in this volume. The late antique and Byzantine East, where each monastery followed its own set of rules (typikon), offers an interesting counterpoint.8 The absence of monastic orders meant that the institutional development of monasticism was not foregrounded to the extent of becoming the protagonist in a master narrative. Instead, the medieval chain of tradition that linked the lived present with the foundational period in the late antique past was not so much focused

As exemplified by the contribution of Helvétius in this volume; see also the monumental Adalbert de Vogüé, Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique dans l’antiquité. Première partie: le monachisme latin, 12 vols. (Paris, 1991–​2008); and Adalbert de Vogüé, Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique dans l’antiquité. Deuxième partie: le monachisme grec, 3 vols. (Rome, 2015). 8 The English translation of more than sixty Greek monastic rules, beginning with late antiquity, has given new impetus to the study of Byzantine monasticism, and is available online at www.doaks.org/​research/​publications/​books/​byzantine-​monastic-​ foundation-​documents-​a-​complete (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 7

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on texts and rules, but mainly on individual saints (Antony first and foremost, but also other Desert Fathers9) who provided models for monastic conduct, or on spiritual guides who offered inspiration through their teaching, especially Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399) and John Climacus (d. c. 650). With regard to the emergence of Western monasticism, Benedictine scholars of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries added their part to this linear view of the history of monasticism by producing widely available editions of texts considered to be canonical, and a methodological tool kit to analyze them. They created a narrative that provided their own monastic world with an empowering past and an origin myth that legitimated their own existence and mostly ignored female monastics. Monastic history largely became male ‘Benedictine’ history; its protagonists became, where possible, Benedictines or at least Proto-​Benedictines. This also resulted in a narrowing of the geographic focus, leaving us with the impression that everything relevant happened in the Frankish kingdoms, in a few monasteries in Italy (mainly Montecassino), and, maybe, in the Irish and Anglo-​Saxon world—​as far as it had an impact on the monastic heartlands.10 A  number of contributions to this volume focus therefore on monastic landscapes and traditions that have often been considered peripheral:  Visigothic Spain (Pablo Díaz), the northern and eastern frontiers ( Janneke Raaijmakers), and southern Italy (Valerie Ramseyer). Many of the elements that became a part of the monastic master narrative, such as the Egyptian origins, the myth of the desert,11 the dichotomy of cenobitism and eremitism, the role of some obvious monastic foundations (for example Lérins, Montecassino, and Luxeuil), or the notion of a distinctly Irish monastic ideal, are, as it were, based on “situational constructs” that served very specific agendas in the periods they were created.12 Moreover, the master narrative of monasticism is predominantly a Western phenomenon based on Latin sources. The neglect of the monastic worlds of the eastern Mediterranean, in Byzantium, and in the regions under Islamic rule



A good example is the accretion of stories about Abba Poimen. See William Harmless, “Remembering Poimen Remembering,” Church History:  Studies in Christianity and Culture 69 (2000): 483–​518. 10 On the history of early modern monastic historiography, see David Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises: Problems in Monastic History (London, 1963). 11 James E. Goehring, Ascetics, Society and the Desert. Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism (Harrisburg, PA, 1999); Claudia Rapp, “Desert, City and Countryside in the Early Christian Imagination,” in The Encroaching Desert: Egyptian Hagiography and the Medieval West, ed. Jitse Dijkstra and Mathilde van Dijk (Leiden, 2006), 93–​112. 12 See, for example, the article by Bitel in this volume. 9

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(including Spain) may be one of the greatest omissions in traditional monastic historiography.13 Aside from creating a past that serves the present, many of the sources available to us express what are, in fact, diverse and often controversial theological viewpoints under the pretense of consent and common sense. Authors of rules, hagiographic texts, ascetic treatises, letters, and charters operate, for example, on the basis of distinct ideals of sanctity, eschatologies, notions of sin and salvation, conceptions of human nature, theories on the relationship between grace and human agency, viewpoints on the nature of the Eucharist, models of penance, or rationales of the effect of ascetic life and renunciation of the world. The debates on grace, predestination, and free will in the West or on the veneration of images in the East that are articulated openly by medieval authors are only the tip of an iceberg of countless discretely pursued theological debates that lurk below the apparent calm and immutable surface of our sources.14 One can smuggle a lot of—​potentially controversial—​theology into the story of an unquestionably saintly individual or into a seemingly inconspicuous sequence of miracula.15 The textual techniques and rhetorical strategies that monastic writers deployed in order to evoke a suitable past and argue about fundamental theological questions under the guise of harmony and consensus would repay further exploration in their own right, as has already been demonstrated with much success in other areas of study.16 The timeless monastic ideal with its origins in a remote past is linked to the present through the slow construction of a canon of texts of the sancti patres. Monastic bestsellers such as Cassian’s (d. 435)  work, the Regula Basilii, the Vitae Patrum (including the Life of Antony and Jerome’s (d. 420) hagiographical





Arthur Vööbus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient: A Contribution to the History of Culture in the Near East, 3  vols. (Louvain, 1958–​68); Florence Jullien and Marie-​ Joseph Pierre, eds., Monachismes d’Orient (Turnhout, 2011); Peter Brown, Treasure in Heaven: The Holy Poor in Early Christianity (Charlottesville, VA, 2016). 14 Rebecca Harden Weaver, Divine Grace and Human Agency: A Study of the Semi-​Pelagian Controversy (Macon, GA, 1996); Marie-​France Auzépy, L’hagiographie et l’iconoclasme byzantin. Le cas de la Vie d’Étienne le Jeune (Brookfield, VT, 1999). 15 For a case study, see Albrecht Diem, “‘Die ‘Regula Columbani’ und die ‘Regula Sancti Galli’: Überlegungen zu den Gallusviten in ihrem karolingischen Kontext,” in Gallus und seine Zeit. Leben, Wirken, Nachleben, ed. Franziska Schnoor, Karl Schmuki, Ernst Tremp Peter Erhart, and Jakob Kuratli Hüeblin (St. Gall, 2015), 65–​97. 16 Jamie Kreiner, The Social Life of Hagiography in the Merovingian Kingdom (Cambridge, 2014); Geoffrey Koziol, The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas:  The West Frankish Kingdom (840–​987) (Turnhout, 2012); Monique Goullet, Écriture et réécriture hagigraphiques. Essai sur les réécritures de Vies de saints dans l’Occident latin médiéval (VIIIe–​XIIIe s.) (Turnhout, 2005). 13

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œuvre), the Apophthegmata Patrum, the monastic Historiae in Latin and Greek, and eventually the RB all play a complex double role as cornerstones for the creation of a monastic identity and consequently as preferred sources for modern explorations of monastic history.17 It is often difficult to keep these roles apart—​as Roberto Alciati shows in his contribution to this volume. Most narrative and normative texts, theological works, letters, and charters related to monastic life situate the present within a tradition reaching back to the supposed origins of monastic life and thus make distinct historical claims. Whatever past they constructed depended on the purposes and objectives of their authors and the expectations of their audience. Monks (but also nuns) could find their forefathers in the prophets of the Old Testament, in the asceticism of John the Baptist, in the apostolic community, in Antony’s hermitage, in Pachomius’ koinobion, or, closer to home, in the communities founded by Honoratus, Patrick, or Benedict. The authors of our sources proclaim, restore, or adapt a seemingly timeless monastic ideal, an ideal state that had been established in a distant past. No medieval text—​at least none written from an insider’s perspective—​would praise innovations and transformations, let alone openly admit that the ideal of the sancti patres had been abandoned. If we read these sources uncritically, we gain the impression that monasticism has indeed little history in itself aside from ‘spreading’ into different regions and establishing itself in newly Christianized parts of the post-​Roman world:  Lérins becomes a Western outpost of ‘Egyptian’ monasticism; the impenetrable forests of the Jura are transformed into a climate-​adjusted variant of the desert; and there is an Antony hidden in almost every good monastic founder. If we were to take these sources literally, not much would have happened, aside from slightly adjusting this timeless ideal to different regions (and weathers), except for returning to an imagined ideal state conveniently situated in a remote past and often in another country. Traditional monastic historiography, both medieval and more recent, used to synthesize this assemblage of constructed pasts (despite all contradictions) into one narrative revolving around two ideal types of monastic organization:  cenobitism and eremitism, both of them in complete harmony with the teaching and the hierarchy of the Church. If we follow our sources

On the impact of the Vitae Patrum in the Latin West, see Pascal Bertrand, “Die Evagriusübersetzung der Vita Antonii. Rezeption-​ Überlieferung-​ Edition. Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Vitas patrum-​Tradition” (PhD diss., University of Utrecht, 2006). See also the new edition of the two Latin versions of the Vita Antonii in Vitae Antonii versiones latinae. Vita beati Antonii abbatis Evagrio interprete. Versio uetustissima, ed. Lois Gandt and Pascal Bertrand, CCSL 170.

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(as has been done in the past) and apply their categories (for example, the four types of monks proposed at the beginning of the RB) and distinctions (between orthodox and heterodox, true monks and dangerous frauds), we tell the story of monasticism the way they told it themselves. But if we read our sources against the grain and force them to disclose what they want to disguise, a story with many different facets emerges: processes of diversification, transformation, and experimentation that produced an almost unlimited diversity of forms of spiritual or ascetic communities that vastly differ in settings, practices, ideologies, economic bases, and theological frameworks. We find what we used to call “monks” or “nuns” in caves, tombs, and huts, on islands, in a real or symbolic desert, in lavish Roman villas, on the fringes of cities but also right at their centers.18 Monastic communities could consist of a charismatic leader surrounded by a handful of followers, of married couples or “non-​traditional” families bound in spiritual brotherhood,19 or domestic communities of praying virgins and widows,20 but also as streamlined organizations and veritable monastic cities.21 Some communities were culturally refined, theological think-​tanks, places of education and learning, and recruiting grounds for a future ecclesiastical elite, while others kept a deliberate distance from learning and scholarship. Some fostered collective poverty; others became large economic centers for the quasi-​industrial production of goods, or places living off the revenues of vast estates that had been owned by those who had entered the community or of donations pro remedio animae with the expectation of receiving intercessory prayer in return.22 And it is important to keep in mind that these responses inevitably change over time:  a hermitage might turn into a factory of intercessory prayer; a renowned center of learning might fall into obscurity within a generation. Collective poverty, in particular, is usually a rather short-​lived ideal.23





See also the article by Dey and Brooks Hedstrom in this volume. See the article by Díaz in this volume; Claudia Rapp, Brother-​Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual (New York, 2016). 20 See the article by Magnani in this volume; Elizabeth A. Clark, Women in the Early Church (Wilmington, DE, 1983); Kristina Sessa, The Formation of Papal Authority in Late Antique Italy: Roman Bishops and the Domestic Sphere (Cambridge and New York, 2012). 21 Philip Rousseau, Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-​Century Egypt, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA, 1999). 22 See the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume; Peter Brown, The Ransom of the Soul:  Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity (Cambridge, MA, 2015). On monastic intercessory prayer, see also the article by Blennemann in this volume; Renie S. Choy, Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms (Oxford, 2017). 23 See the articles by Kaplan and Devroey in this volume. 18 19

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Each community developed different responses to the challenge of living a secluded and more rigorous life than ordinary Christians, often (though not always) determined by a quest for perfection and a pursuit of salvation, and with the goal of establishing stable structures that would outlast the lifespan of their individual members. Calling all of these communities and organizations “monasteries” and subsuming them under the umbrella term “monasticism” might be misleading and not do justice to their diversity.24 We should at least use the plural “monasticisms.” Yet almost all of these monasticisms had one thing in common: their claim to represent the “real thing” and the most perfect manifestation of the timeless ideal of the sancti patres. Our sources either ignore other monasticisms or dismiss them as reproachable products of deviation and decline. Monks and nuns often had few good things to say about each other, and monastic historiography tended to follow the verdicts of the ones who survived the longest. The four types of monks that we find in the Rule of the Master and in the RB (good monks and hermits, bad Sarabaites and gyrovagi) were not so much a classification but a polemic and enduringly effective tool for exclusion. If we were to take Benedict seriously, many protagonists of our saints’ Lives would perfectly deserve to be called gyrovagi (“wanderers”), in Benedict’s eyes the worst kind of monks. What is, after all, the difference between a gyrovagus and a peregrinus? The communities arising around many holy men (Martin, Romanus, and Lupicinus), or the monastic pioneers in Gregory of Tours’ (d. 594) Liber vitae Patrum could easily be categorized as Sarabaites—​those who live without a rule.25 Indeed, monastic communities properly living sub regula vel abate were still a minority in Benedict’s time. Any form of communal religious life that was not acknowledged as monastic by the canon of monastic sources had little chance of gaining a place in the history of monasticism. This applies especially to communities placed outside the boundaries of orthodoxy. Yet there is no reason to deny Nestorian, Monophysite, Arian, Donatist, or Melitian communities their rightful place in monastic history just because we know much of them through polemics and distorted descriptions. Whether one ended up on the wrong or right side of history is often enough based on historical coincidences and on the sources that happen to have been preserved. The self-​serving origin myths within the Christian tradition that our sources tend to offer should not prevent us from searching for the origins

See the article by Bitel in this volume. Rapp, Brother-​Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, 88–​157.

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of monastic life—​as a spiritual quest, as an ascetic effort, and as a form of social organization—​in philosophical schools,26 in gnostic communities,27 among Essenes, Manichaeans, and Encratites, or in the many other groups that posed a challenge or were in opposition to the emerging church structure that was in unison with Roman society after 313.28 It is therefore fruitful to step away from the notion that monasticism was built upon a unified body of doctrine and clear boundaries between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, as David Brakke discusses in his contribution to this volume. The challenge to deal with the provocations of Augustine’s notion of original sin, lack of agency, and dependence on grace may have overshadowed monastic theology for centuries, but it was by no means the only focal point of theological strife and dissent. The decisions to define a monastic community as congregatio sancta and a monastery as locus sanctus, to proclaim the effectiveness of the medicamenta paenitentiae, or to postulate that impenetrable boundaries establish a higher degree of purity seem obvious claims from our post facto positions but they were in fact first and foremost fundamental innovative doctrinal matters. We should not underestimate the level of reflection and sophistication, and the willingness to address these problems in the texts produced by early medieval monks and nuns. Particularly in the late antique and early medieval period, the margins of orthodoxy were much wider than one might assume.29 This, however, requires putting the magnifying glass to every programmatic statement and seeing diversity and dissent under a thick layer of pretended harmony and unity.

The Darker Side of Monasticism(s) Scholars used to approach monasticism—​and certainly the achievement of creating powerful and permanent institutions—​with a high degree of reverence and respect. Among the few exceptions are historians such as Edward Gibbon (1737–​94), who claimed that monks contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire, and those Protestant or Enlightenment scholars who located

Samuel Rubenson, ed., Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia (Leuven, 2013). David Brakke, The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual and Diversity in Early Christianity (Cambridge, MA, 2010). 28 Peter Brown, The Body and Society:  Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York, 2008); Richard Valantasis, ed., Religions of Late Antiquity in Practice (Princeton, NJ, 2000). 29 Felice Lifshitz, Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia:  A Study of Manuscript Transmission and Monastic Culture (New York, 2014); David Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (Baltimore, MD, 1998). 26 27

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the roots of Catholic superstition in the texts of the monastic fathers.30 The generally admiring and sympathetic views on monastic achievements, however, make us overlook the fact that, at least in the late ancient world, monks (and to a lesser extent nuns) did not enjoy unequivocal popularity. Libanius (d. c. 393), the pagan rhetor of Antioch, had harsh words of condemnation for the Christian ascetics who made a public display of their virtue while eating and drinking to their hearts’ content thanks to the charity of others.31 He was certainly not the only one. Most variants of monastic life were met with suspicion, resistance, or blunt aversion, from cultivated pagans, Christian bishops, and Roman bureaucrats alike. Far into the seventh century, secular laws and acts of councils approached monastic life with little sympathy and primarily with the purpose of crisis management.32 Ascetic communities were, from the viewpoint of powerful outsiders, an unavoidable nuisance—​often just too popular to be suppressed.33 The iconoclastic policy of Byzantine emperors in the eighth and ninth centuries specifically targeted monks and monasteries that had become too powerful in spiritual and economic terms.34 The Church as it was guided by local bishops could function perfectly well without monks, though veiled virgins and widows did have an established place in Church structures from an early date.35 It is very difficult to find contemporary voices of unequivocal praise of monastic life, let alone a general call for monastic conversion. This is understandable given that monastic groups claimed superiority by living according to higher standards—​in discipline, chastity, renunciation of wealth, liturgical practice—​which represented a provocation to those who did not meet these standards. In particular, they posed a challenge to the authority of the leaders of the emerging Church structures under episcopal control. This structural conflict phased out only



Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. David Womersley, vol. 2 (London, 1994), 411–​30, Book 3, chap.  37; Adolf von Harnack, Das Mönchtum, seine Ideale und seine Geschichte (Giessen, 1881). 31 Libanius, Oration 30.8–​13 (Pro Templis), in Libanius, Selected Works, with an English Translation, Introduction and Notes, ed. A. F. Norman (Cambridge, MA, 1972), 107–​13. 32 Codex Iustiniani, Novella 123, c. 34–​44 (a d 546), in R. Schoell and W. Kroll, eds., Corpus 25. On Merovingian monastic legislation, see Iuris Civilis, III (Berlin, 1888), 618–​ Albrecht Diem, Das monastische Experiment. Die Rolle der Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens (Münster, 2005), 273–​89. 33 Albrecht Diem, “Gregory’s Chess Board: Monastic Conflict and Competition in Early Medieval Gaul,” in Compétition et sacré au haut Moyen Âge. Entre médiation et exclusion, ed. Philippe Depreux, François Bougard, and Régine Le Jan (Turnhout, 2015), 165–​91. 34 John Haldon and Leslie Brubaker, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680–​850: A History (Cambridge and New York, 2011). 35 See the article by Magnani in this volume; Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (New York, 2013).

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slowly, though there was, undoubtedly, a general trend toward integration of monastic communities into ecclesiastical structures, which had a deep impact on both sides.36 Bishops became founders and patrons of monasteries; the foundation of a monastery was a legal transaction; monasteries served as recruiting places of new elites.37 But this process (which might form another backbone of a new monastic narrative) never applied to all variants of monastic life and, even in the Carolingian period, was not yet fully implemented. Still, only death and a remote memory could turn annoying, potentially dangerous, subversive, unkempt, and smelly troublemakers and their followers into saints and holy communities. A  refreshing alternative perspective on monasteries can be gained if we look at them through the eyes of people like the angry priest Florentius, who tried to tempt Benedict’s community by having a group of naked women dance in front of the monastery’s window.38 Perhaps he had good reasons for disliking Benedict and his followers, even if his measures were somewhat drastic. Even monks with their insider’s perspective, full of praise for their own way of life and the tailor-​made past that legitimated its existence, could be critical and often even hostile toward the ants from a different hill.39 Palladius (d. before 431) wrote the Historia Lausiaca as a cautionary tale, exposing praiseworthy examples because there were so many bad ones around.40 Jerome’s letters contain more warnings against corrupt monks than praises of rightful ones.41 Augustine’s De opere monachorum, an angry outburst against monks who claimed that their status exempted them from work, wandering monks, and traders in fake relics, became a bestseller throughout the Middle Ages: [The most skillful enemy] has so many hypocrites under the disguise of monks spread around everywhere, who roam around in the province, not





Robert Austin Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990); Claudia Rapp, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition (Berkeley, CA, 2005). 37 This was already the case in late antique Egypt. See Ewa Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte (IVe–​VIIIe siècles) (Warsaw, 2009). 38 Gregory I, Dialogi II 8.1–​7, SC 260, 160–​4. 39 See, for example, Regula communis 1–​2, in Julio Campos Ruiz, ed., San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda (Madrid, 1971), 172–​7; see also the article by Díaz in this volume; and numerous studies by Paula Barata Dias, who is preparing a critical edition of the Visigothic monastic rules. 40 Palladius, Historia Lausiaca, prol. II.8–​15, in Adelheid Wellhausen, ed., Die Lateinische Übersetzung der Historia Lausiaca des Palladius (Berlin and New  York, 2003), 488–​91; Claudia Rapp, “Palladius, Lausus and the Historia Lausiaca,” in Novum Millennium: Essays in Honor of Paul Speck, ed. Sarolta Takács and Claudia Sode (Aldershot, 2001), 279–​89. 41 Jerome, Ep. 22.34, 50, 52.5–​6, 54.5, and 57.2, CSEL 54, 196–​7, 388–​95, 421–​6, 470, and 504–​5; Ep. 82.10 and 92, CSEL 55, 117 and 147–​55; Ep. 130.7 and 133.3, CSEL 56, 182–​6, and 244–​7. 36

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being sent anywhere, not belonging anywhere, not staying nor settling down anywhere. Some hawk the limbs of martyrs (if they were martyrs), others praise their rags and chains, others pretend to have heard that their parents or kin live in some region or another and that they are on the way to them. All of them are begging; all of them make demands, either of the expenses of a profitable poverty or of a reward for their pretended sanctity. Since in the meantime they are everywhere debunked for their evil deeds or in one way or another exposed, your intention is defiled along with the general reputation of monks—​an intention so good and holy that we wish it to flourish in Christ’s name both throughout other regions and throughout all of Africa.42

Even in the seventh century, when we would expect that monks had gained an established place within a Christian society, Isidore of Seville (d. 636) gives the impression that they are corrupt until the opposite is proven: Monks are chosen according to humility. To be sure, the disease of vainglory stains many of them, and abstinence puffs up many, and knowledge exalts. They do good things, but for fame and not for eternal life, in other words so that they may grasp the glory of praise or reach the height of the desired honor. Among them discord often arises, and the jealousy of envy concerning fraternal successes is produced, the love of temporal things walks about, pursuing earthly yearnings just as uselessly as frequently, doing so before human eyes without shame. Such as these, therefore, should never be called monks, because they are joined to God only by profession and not by action.43

Such comments make a sharp distinction between those who are monks only in name and those who truly deserve that appellation. They imply a call for internal renewal according to the “true” monastic spirit of yore, but they can also be read as harsh criticism of contemporary manifestations of monastic living, though we should avoid taking their side too easily.

The Monastic Experiment If we listen to the critics of monastic life and screen out the rhetoric that claims that such life fulfills a timeless ideal from which it evolved organically



Augustine, De opere monachorum XXVIII.36, CSEL 41, 585. On wandering monks, see Maribel Dietz, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims: Ascetic Travel in the Mediterranean World, A.D. 300–​800 (University Park, PA, 2005); Daniel Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks: Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA, 2002). 43 Isidore of Seville, De ecclesiasticis officiis XVI (XV) 18, CCSL 113, 79–​80; translated in Thomas L. Knoebel, ed., Isidore of Seville: De ecclesiasticis officiis (New York, 2008), 89.

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and in harmony with its surroundings (leaving aside those described as unquestionably evil or possessed by demons), late antique and early medieval monastic history starts to look like a long process of internal strife, competition, and experimentation. Founding, organizing, controlling, and reforming a religious community meant experimenting with ways to overcome the odds of internal conflicts and centrifugal powers. Monasteries had to deal with lack or decline of discipline and motivations, uprisings, the challenge of institutionalizing charisma, economic constraints, and the necessity of fending off external control and interference. They had to make efforts to defend their own theological and spiritual basis. Can monastic life surmount or circumvent human weakness and inherent sinfulness? Is it possible to “organize” and institutionalize sanctity and turn monasteries into places that are suitable for pursuing eternal salvation?44 Some of these experiments in the early Middle Ages were more audacious and revolutionary than anything we find in later centuries. Antony, Basil, Pachomius, Shenoute, Evagrius, Cassian, Theodoret, Caesarius, Benedict, Columbanus, Jonas of Bobbio, and Fructuosus deserve recognition as radical thinkers and geniuses of their own sort. Monasteries can be seen as laboratories for exploring techniques of perfection and attempting to realize utopias—​laboratories that operated with constantly changing experimental arrangements. They evolved in a late and post-​Roman world in flux, where political structures, moral codes, and religious practices were not yet consolidated. Hardly any monastic writer would admit that many of these experiments failed miserably, though it is easy to read crisis and struggle for survival between the lines. Often only miraculous intervention could save a community that was on the brink of starvation, under siege by hostile surroundings, or embroiled in a conflict that threatened to destroy it. The violent uprising of the nuns in Radegund’s foundation in Poitiers marks one of the most spectacular failures of a monastic experiment.45 Many communities did not survive the death of their founder. Only a minority of monastic enterprises succeeded in establishing the institutional continuity that we tend to praise and admire—​at least until there were recognized models, legal frameworks, and network structures



Albrecht Diem, “L’espace, la grâce et la discipline dans les règles monastiques du haut Moyen Âge,” in Enfermements II. Règles et dérèglements en milieu clos (VIe–​XIXe siècle), ed. Isabelle Heullant-​Donat, Julie Claustre, Élisabeth Lusset, and Falk Bretschneider (Paris, 2015), 215–​38. 45 Kathrin Götsch, “Der Nonnenaufstand von Poitiers:  Flächenbrand oder apokalyptisches Zeichen? Zu den merowingischen Klosterfrauen in Gregors Zehn Büchern Geschichte,” Concilium Medii Aevi 13 (2010): 1–​18.

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that could support and unify monastic foundations and move them more smoothly beyond the experimental stage. Within the Frankish world, such institutionalization may have arisen in the aftermath of Columbanus’ arrival on the Continent. Under his successors we find the first formulae for elaborately phrased privileges and grants of immunity, along with a firm belief in the necessity of a text-​based regular life.46 The rise of established models of monastic organization and the slow (though never complete) disappearance of pioneering experiments might at some point form yet another structuring element of a new monastic narrative.

New Opportunities for Scholarship: Crossover Methodologies New perspectives on the history monasticism can be gained by borrowing approaches and methodologies from adjacent scholarly disciplines. Talking about monasteries as “laboratories” might cause confusion and reluctance among traditional historians, church historians, and theologians (though probably not so much among some monks and nuns today), but it helps to convince scholars in other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that the first centuries of monastic history offer a wealth of material for them that has still hardly been broached. Psychologists working on emotions, queer theorists breaking down gender binaries, architects theorizing about space, anthropologists interested in the mechanisms of collective memory, cognitive scientists interested in modes of perception and mental control, sociologists interested in charisma—​to mention but a few of the possibilities—​may discover that early medieval monasticism provides a wealth of opportunities for comparative approaches. It offers test cases to support, dismantle, or refine their theories. More importantly, these “monastic laboratories” produced models, practices, categories, and semantic repertoires with a long staying power that extends to the present day. The “discovery” of monasticism by disciplines outside history, theology, and philology would open a two-​way street that could unlock opportunities to explore new methodological repertoires and to ask questions we would never have thought to ask. Erwing Goffman’s “total institutions,” Michel Foucault’s “confessing animal” and his “battle for chastity,” or Max Weber’s “routinization of charisma” and Mary Douglas’s “ritual purity” have now become familiar within monastic studies, but there is much more potential, as Barbara Rosenwein’s emotional

Barbara H. Rosenwein, Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (Ithaca, NY, 1999).

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communities, Felice Lifshitz’s Anglo-​Saxon feminism, Jo Ann McNamara’s third monastic gender, or Inbar Graiver’s work on demonology and cognitive science show.47

Archaeology of Concepts Many aspects of monastic life that we take for granted and that our sources depict as timeless and essential are, in fact, products of the long monastic experiment, often developed and implemented against fierce resistance. Intercessory prayer, regular observance, unconditional obedience and submission, support of the poor, manual labor, enclosure, the notion of the monastery as sacred space, the role of monasteries as places of education and preservation of knowledge, and formal procedures for monastic foundations as a legal transaction are all conceived as essential and uncontested features of monastic life. This was not the case, and—​as has been suggested above—​ we can trace their genesis by listening to the muffled voices of dissent. The emergence of these (and many other) aspects of medieval monastic life might at some point become another basis for a new monastic narrative, notwithstanding the reluctance of our sources to tell such a story. There are countless examples of adjustment, adaptation, and change, some of which have already been studied or at least broached, such as monastic recruitment patterns, the transformation of monasteries into prisons and places of forced retreat, the development of penitential practice, shifting notions of chastity and sexuality, the rise and transformation of normative observance, and the meaning of poverty in the monastic world.48 Descriptions of slow transformations that show awareness of Gleichzeitigkeiten des Ungleichzeitigen (“simultaneity of the non-​simultaneous”) will eventually replace a linear monastic Ereignisgeschichte (“history of events”). We can access these transformations by means of an archaeology



Lifshitz, Religious Women; Barbara H. Rosenwein, Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY, 2006); Jo Ann McNamara, “Chastity as a Third Gender in the History and Hagiography of Gregory of Tours,” in The World of Gregory of Tours, ed. Kathleen Mitchell and Ian Wood (Leiden, 1999), 199–​209; Inbar Graiver, Asceticism of the Mind:  Forms of Attention and Self-​Transformation in Late Antique Monasticism (Toronto, 2018). 48 See, for example, Mayke De Jong, In Samuel’s Image: Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Leiden, 1996); Mayke De Jong, Monastic Prisoners or Opting Out? Political Coercion and Honour in the Frankish Kingdoms,” in Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Carine van Rhijn and Frans Theuws (Leiden, 2001), 291–​328; Rob Meens, Penance in Medieval Europe (Cambridge, 2014); Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–​550 AD (Princeton, NJ, 2012); Diem, Das monastische Experiment. 47

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of concepts. Here are some examples, which stand, again, for countless other options. Monachi became at some point a category distinct from laici—​a transformative process crucial to monastic history, though not yet fully explored. For Caesarius of Arles monks were still lay people. Roughly a decade later, his successor Aurelianus (d. 551) wrote a new monastic rule that was largely based on Caesarius’ works. Diverting from Caesarius, however, he emphasized that his monks were a category apart: neither laici nor clerici. It would be wrong to assume that in 550 c e monks stopped being lay men, but Aurelianus’ revision of Caesarius’ rules nevertheless points toward a new monastic world.49 We see a similar shift taking place at roughly the same time if we compare the RB, which does not refer to laici at all, with the Regula magistri, which applies a clear distinction between monachi and laici even in places where both rules have the same wording otherwise. Benedict’s world seems to be that of the past, while the Master’s rule points into the future. This may be a good reason to reopen the debate on the relative sequence of the two rules.50 A second example asks what “asceticism” entails, keeping in mind that the Greek term askesis has no Latin equivalent.51 None of our sources would admit this, but there are clear indications that the repertoire and the function of ascetic practices profoundly changed and diversified between the fourth and the seventh (or ninth) centuries. In general—​and admittedly oversimplifying—​fasting turned into regulated eating, the battle against ever-​ present sexual desire into closely controlled sexual abstinence (with a deep impact on how monastic communities and spaces are organized); mortificatio of the body turned into a regime of disciplining and caring for the body; the demonic battleground of the desert got replaced by the safe and sacred monastic confines; radical poverty and austerity turned largely into the practice of sharing property; and the dramatic renunciation of the world was transformed into a regulated monastic conversion that went along with carefully calibrated legal transactions.





Albrecht Diem, “ ‘…ut si professus fuerit se omnia impleturum, tunc excipiatur’: Observations on the Rules for Monks and Nuns of Caesarius and Aurelianus of Arles,” in Edition und Erforschung lateinischer patristischer Texte. 150 Jahre CSEL. Festschrift für Kurt Smolak zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. Victoria Zimmerl-​Panagl, Lukas J. Dorf bauer, and Clemens Weidmann (Berlin, 2014), 191–​224. 50 Still the most important contributions to this debate are the articles between Adalbert de Vogüé and Marilyn Dunn, the last of which was Marilyn Dunn, “The Master and St Benedict: A Rejoinder,” English Historical Review 107 (1992): 104–​11. 51 See the article by Alciati in this volume.

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Particularly important is the transformation of the practice and function of prayer. The ideal of ceaseless prayer, deliberate sleep deprivation, and constant weeping gave place to detailed ordines psallendi, to liturgical discipline, and to an almost industrial production of prayers and masses as a practice of collective intercession for the benefit of the founders and supporters of the monasteries.52 Intercessory prayer became for many (though not necessarily for all) monastic communities one of the main raisons d’être and a cornerstone for the integration of monasteries into wider political and ecclesiastical structures.53 In middle and late Byzantium, this was especially true for the monasteries that owed their existence to aristocratic family foundations, often founded by high-​born women.54

Texts and Stones The work of “real” archaeologists reminds us that there are physical remains of the monasteries we thought to know only from texts. The monastic worlds emerging from an increasing wealth of material evidence are often strikingly different from those worlds evoked by narratives and norms. They stubbornly resist simple syntheses. The different monasticisms—​those emerging out of texts and those emerging out of soils—​compel us to develop new ways of reading our textual and material evidence. Hendrik Dey and Darlene Brooks Hedstrom, and Sébastien Bully and Eleonora Destefanis show this in their two contributions, which provide an exhaustive overview of current excavations of monasteries that we have tended to approach largely on the basis of textual evidence.55 Who would have thought that the “wilderness” of Luxeuil had been densely populated and of crucial strategic importance—​as the contribution of Bully and Destefanis shows; and that the bones of the austere ascetics of Lérins or the pious monks at St. Stephen in Jerusalem bear the signs of diseases caused by overindulgence rather than excessive fasting?56



See the article by Jeffery in this volume. See the article by Blennemann in this volume; Arnold Angenendt, “Missa specialis:  zugleich ein Beitrag zur Entstehung der Privatmessen,” Frühmittelalterliche Studien 17 (1983): 153–​221. 54 Catia Galatariotou, “Byzantine ktetorika typika:  A Comparative Study,” Revue des Études Byzantines 45 (1987): 77–​138. 55 Michel Lauwers, ed., Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval (Turnhout, 2014). For a general overview of the potential for the archaeological corrective of the written sources, see Olivier Delouis and Maria Mossakowska-​Gaubert, eds., La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–​Xe siècle), vol. 1. L’état des sources (Cairo and Athens, 2015). 56 Sheridan Gregoricka, “Ascetic or Affluent? Byzantine Diet at the Monastic Community of St. Stephen’s, Jerusalem from Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32.1 (2013): 63–​73; and the forthcoming work by Émilie Perez 52 53

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The excavations of Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune show us that the foundation of the monastery in 515 as it is praised in narrative sources was in fact not a foundation at all, but rather a forced and disruptive transition from one monastic model to another.57 The spatial setting of San Vincenzo al Volturno challenges everything we thought we knew about Carolingian monastic spaces based on the Plan of St. Gall, which had been guiding our imagination.58 Monastic archaeologists will continue to surprise by unearthing many more stumbling blocks for those who create worlds merely out of  words.

The Monastic Kaleidoscope Scholars studying the transformation of the Roman world, and the history of the post-​Roman barbarian kingdoms and the eastern Mediterranean, must inevitably deal with monks, nuns, and their institutions. Monasteries assumed a crucial role as repositories of knowledge and the places where key texts had been written,59 as political assets, as economic centers, as recruiting places for an ecclesiastical or even secular elite, or as focal points of collective identities. It was a long process by which these establishments—​at least some of them—​became anchors in political and cultural landscapes. A large part of the written sources that give us access to the late Roman and early medieval worlds, at least in the West, direct our gaze through a monastic filter. Reading our source material consistently against the grain and discerning the presence of this filter and its operating mechanisms is one of the greatest and most exciting challenges for future scholarship. A  particularly valuable contribution to this effort are projects reconstructing monastic libraries and making their manuscripts available digitally.60



(University of French Polynesia, Tahiti/​CNRS) based on bio-​archaeological research in Lérins and other Provençal monasteries. 57 Barbara H. Rosenwein, “One Site, Many Meanings: Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune as a Place of Power in the Early Middle Ages,” in Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Mayke de Jong and Francis Theuws, with Carine van Rhijn (Leiden, 2001), 271–​90. 58 In addition to the work of Federico Marazzi and Michel Lauwers, see Hendrik Dey, The Afterlife of the Roman City: Architecture and Ceremony in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2015), 221–​43. 59 See the article by Contreni in this volume, and the article by Schlotheuber and McQuillen in volume II. 60 For a reconstruction of the libraries of St. Gall and Reichenau, see www.stgallplan. org/​ (date of last access:  18 August 2018); for the library of Lorsch, see www. bibliotheca-​laureshamensis-​digital.de (date of last access:  18 August 2018). The Monastic Manuscript Project is online at www.earlymedievalmonasticism.org (date of last access: 18 August 2018).

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Upon closer investigation, every specific “monasticism” is the product of a social context and a mirror of institutions, models, and structures that we find in its surrounding world. Every line of conflict and competition within monasteries, every debate over monastic ideals and practices, and every experiment in organizing and perpetuating a monastic institution is a reflection of what happens in the world outside. Quite often the monastic mirrors make things visible that would otherwise remain in the dark. Even those historians of the late antique and early medieval worlds who are not primarily interested in a history of monasticism as an isolated phenomenon will realize that the “monastic kaleidoscope” or the “monastic laboratory” opens up new perspectives on innumerable aspects of this period. There is no way of understanding the transformation and diversification of the Roman world without taking the transformations and diversities of late antique and early medieval “monasticisms” into account. Continuing to historicize all aspects of monastic life and challenging the notion of a stable and trans-​historical monastic ideal, recognizing the diversity of often competing “monasticisms,” and abandoning the notion of a structural harmony between the monastic world and its surroundings open up a wealth of new vistas on an ever-​ changing phenomenon—​as many of the contributions to this volume show.

Bibliography Brown, Peter. The Ransom of the Soul:  Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity. Cambridge, MA, 2015.   Treasure in Heaven. The Holy Poor in Early Christianity. Charlottesville, VA, 2016. Choy, Renie S. Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms. Oxford, 2017. De Jong, Mayke. “Monastic Prisoners or Opting Out? Political Coercion and Honour in the Frankish Kingdoms.” In Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, edited by Carine van Rhijn and Frans Theuws, 291–328. Leiden, 2001.   In Samuel’s Image. Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West. Leiden, 1996. Dey, Hendrik, and Elizabeth Fentress, eds. Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, 2011. Diem, Albrecht. Das monastische Experiment. Die Rolle der Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens. Münster, 2005. Elm, Susanna. “Virgins of God.” The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Oxford, 1994. Goehring, James E. Ascetics, Society and the Desert:  Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism. Harrisburg, PA, 1999. Goullet, Monique. Écriture et réécriture hagigraphiques. Essai sur les réécritures de Vies de saints dans l’Occident latin médiéval (VIIIe–XIIIe s.). Turnhout, 2005. Haldon, John, and Leslie Brubaker. Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c.  680–850:  A History. Cambridge and New York, 2011.

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Research in Late Antique and Early Medieval Monasticism Harmless, William. Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism. Oxford and New York, 2004. Hatlie, Peter. The Monks and Monasteries of Constantinople, c. 350–850. Cambridge, 2009. Kreiner, Jamie. The Social Life of Hagiography in the Merovingian Kingdom. Cambridge, 2014. Lauwers, Michel, ed. Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval. Turnhout, 2014. Leyser, Conrad. Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great. Oxford, 2000. Lifshitz, Felice. Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia:  A Study of Manuscript Transmission and Monastic Culture. New York, 2014. Markus, Robert Austin. The End of Ancient Christianity. Cambridge, 1990. Meens, Rob. Penance in Medieval Europe. Cambridge, 2014. Rapp, Claudia. Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual. New York, 2016. Rosenwein, Barbara H. Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe. Ithaca, NY, 1999. Rousseau, Philip. Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-Century Egypt. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA, 1999. Vogüé, Adalbert de. Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique dans l’antiquité. Première partie: le monachisme latin. 11 vols. Paris, 1991–2008.   Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique dans l’antiquité. Deuxième partie: le monachisme grec. 3 vols. Rome, 2015.

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Re-​Reading Monastic Traditions: Monks and Nuns, East and West, from the Origins to c. 750 An n e - M ​ a rie He lv étius, with the collabor ation o f M iche l Ka p la n, A n n e B oud’h ors, Muriel De b ié, a n d B é n é dicte Lesieur ( tr a n slate d b y Susa n Boynton)

Introduction To present the textual sources of Western monasticism up to c.  750, it is essential to involve specialists of Eastern Christianity in order to take into account the exchanges and reciprocal influences that have shaped the monks from different regions of the Christian world.1 In addition to my contribution on Latin sources, Michel Kaplan was responsible for the Greek sources, Anne Boud’hors for the Coptic ones, Muriel Debié for the Syriac sources (outside Palestine), and Bénédicte Lesieur for the Palestinian ones. Nevertheless, any attempt at synthesis would be premature; if many texts have been translated—​from Greek to Latin and vice versa, but also into Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, and Ethiopian—​ no existing repertory lists them. The current state of our knowledge is still lacunary, for it relies on an outmoded vision of history that separated and even opposed East and West. The conventional narrative that appears in all syntheses of the origins of monasticism is based on the painstaking work of modern and contemporary

For the main syntheses, see Samuel Rubenson, “Asceticism and Monasticism, I: Eastern,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity, 2: Constantine to c. 600, ed. Augustine Casiday and Frederick W. Norris (Cambridge, 2007), 637–​68; Marilyn Dunn, “Asceticism and Monasticism, II: Western,” in ibid., 669–​90; Anne-​Marie Helvétius and Michel Kaplan, “Asceticism and Its Institutions,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity, 3: Early Medieval Christianities (c. 600–​c. 1100), ed. Thomas Noble and Julia Smith (Cambridge, 2008), 275–​ 98 and 703–​12. See also, Bibliography on the History of Monasticism in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, www.earlymedievalmonasticism.org/​bibliographymonasticism.htm (date of last access: 18 August 2018).

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philologists, one of the most famous of whom was Adalbert de Vogüé, who wrote a magisterial study of all the narrative texts in Latin and Greek that constitute the early monastic tradition that is commonly accepted by monks today.2 It presents the major works of the Latin world from the Life of Antony by Athanasius of Alexandria to Benedict of Aniane, including along the way Jerome, Rufinus, Ambrose, Augustine, Sulpicius Severus, John Cassian and the fathers of Lerins, Caesarius, Cassiodorus, Gregory the Great, Columbanus, Isidore, and Bede, as well as conciliar canons, the first written rules, and some saints’ Lives. The existence of this study by Vogüé makes it unnecessary to present these well-​known sources once again.3 It is nevertheless important to point out the limitations of his work. Vogüé set out to demonstrate the inevitability of the triumph of the Benedictine model in the West. According to this teleological approach, the entire history of early monasticism merely prepared the way for the imposition of the Rule of St. Benedict (RB) in the West by Carolingian legislation. From this point of view, “true” monasticism could only be cenobitic and orthodox and postdate the Council of Nicaea (325); all forms of asceticism that preceded this date were judged “deviant” or were excluded from the definition of monasticism.4 Being a good philologist, Vogüé paid little attention to apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, or anonymous texts, which lacked authority in his eyes. Thus, he neglected the majority of extant hagiographical sources, namely the Lives of saints and the anonymous Passions of martyrs. He took into account neither liturgical sources, nor historical ones such as chronicles, diplomatic, and epigraphic sources, nor archaeological research. Finally, the separation he introduced between the Latin and Greek traditions falls within a historiographic tradition that seeks to identify the specific features of the Roman Catholic Church, which are obviously anachronistic for the early Middle Ages. This article will adopt a different perspective centered on the contacts between East and West, taking the most recent research into account and emphasizing the sources that were neglected by Vogüé.5 How did early medieval monks and nuns represent the origins of their way of life? What texts did

Adalbert de Vogüé, Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique de l’antiquité. Première 2008); Adalbert de Vogüé, Histoire partie:  le monachisme latin, 12  vols. (Paris, 1991–​ littéraire du mouvement monastique de l’antiquité. Deuxième partie: le monachisme grec, 3 vols. (Rome, 2015). 3 See the article by Alciati in this volume. 4 For a more flexible conception, but still a monastic one, see Vincent Desprez, Le monachisme primitif. Des origines jusqu’au concile d’Éphèse (Bégrolles-​en-​Mauges,  1998). 5 For recent bibliography, see the article by Diem and Rapp in this volume. For examples of comparative and interdisciplinary approaches, see recent colloquia, including Jeffrey 2

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they read? What relations did they have with their eastern counterparts? To what extent can the historians of today understand the monastic traditions that circulated in the early Middle Ages? These questions will not be answered definitively here, but they deserve to be asked with an eye toward future research.

The First Latin Sources: Questions of Terminology Let us imagine how a Western monk of the seventh century would describe the first centuries of monasticism. According to Jerome (d. 420), he would first evoke “the monks of the Old Testament” (Eli, Elijah and the prophets, the sons of Rechab and some others),6 then would mention the adolescent Mary in the Temple,7 John the Baptist, Christ, and the Apostles. Having read the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339) in the translation of Rufinus of Aquileia (d. c. 410),8 as well as Jerome and John Cassian (d. 435), he would be convinced that the first Egyptian monks (men and women called therapeuts), were the direct heirs of the Apostles and of Mark the Evangelist.9 To describe the Apostles’ way of life, he would base his account not only on the canonical book of the Acts of the Apostles (particularly Acts



Hamburger et  al., eds., Frauen—​Kloster—​Kunst. Neue Forschungen zur Kulturgeschichte des Mittelalters (Turnhout, 2007); Jeffrey Hamburger and Susan Marti, eds., Crown and Veil. Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries (New York, 2008); Flavia De Rubeis and Federico Marazzi, eds., Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–​XI). Topografia e strutture (Rome, 2008); Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress, eds., Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout, 2011); Gert Melville and Anne Müller, eds., Female vita religiosa between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages:  Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts (Berlin and Münster, 2011); Michel Lauwers, ed., Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval (Turnhout, 2014); Olivier Delouis and Maria Mossakowska-​Gaubert, eds., La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–​Xe siècle), I. L’état des sources (Cairo and Athens, 2015); Marialuisa Bottazzi et al., eds., La società monastica nei secoli VI–​XII. Sentieri di ricerca. Atelier jeunes chercheurs sur le monachisme médiéval (Rome and Trieste, 2016); and three colloquia organized in 2015 on Columbanus and his legacy, the first already published as Eleonora Destefanis, ed. L’eredità di san Colombano. Memoria e culto attraverso il Medioevo (Rennes, 2017); and especially Monachesimi d’Oriente e d’Occidente nell’alto Medioevo. LXIV Settimana di Studio (Spoleto, March 31st–​April 6th 2016) (Spoleto, 2017). See also Federico Marazzi, Le città dei monaci. Storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio (Milan, 2015). 6 Jerome, Epistolae 58.5 and 125.7, in Jérôme Labourt, ed., Saint Jérôme. Lettres, 8 vols. (Paris, 1949–​63), 3:79 and 7:119. See also Desprez, Le monachisme primitif, 25, s.v. 7 Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Le monachisme féminin en Occident de l’antiquité tardive au haut Moyen Âge,” in Monachesimi d’Oriente e d’Occidente,  193–​4. 8 Eusebius of Caesarea, Histoire ecclésiastique, ed. and trans. Gustave Bardy, 4 vols., SC 31, 41, 55, and 73. Tyrannius Rufinus, Opera, ed. Manlio Simonetti, CCSL 20. 9 See, for instance, Cassian, Institutions, ed. Jean-​Claude Guy, SC 109, 64–​5, II.3.5.

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4:32–​35) but also on the apocryphal Acts, like those of Paul and Thecla, or of Peter or Thomas.10 Then he would cite the virgins of the Shepherd of Hermas,11 and also the early martyrs, both men and women, some of whom had lived in monasteries, while others had led an itinerant life. On Egypt, he would mention the “Lives of the Fathers,” meaning the collections of apophthegmata, the Historia monachorum or Historia Lausiaca of Palladius (d. before 431), then the Lives of Paul, of Antony, and of Pachomius. He would certainly know the collections of sententiae such as that of Sextus,12 the epistolary collections of exhortations to virgins, such as those attributed to Clement of Rome (d. 99),13 and other writings (letters, exegetical treatises, sermons, rules) transmitted rightly or wrongly under the name of the “fathers” of monasticism, such as Basil, Pachomius, Macarius, Jerome, and Cassian. A collection of sententiae written by a Gallic monk of the seventh century, the Liber scintillarum of Defensor of Ligugé, thus contains quotations from Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373), but also an exhortation to monks, misattributed to Ephrem.14 All these witnesses to the Eastern traditions would have reached him in Latin manuscripts containing texts of diverse genres, but he would not have had the modern critical tools to organize, assess, and date them, nor to distinguish between the authentic works and the pseudepigrapha. As for apocryphal or anonymous works, he would have understood them as authentic, as long as he found them spiritually beneficial. Therefore, he would have been exposed to Origenist, Gnostic, Enctratite, Priscillianist, and other heresies to a much greater extent than historians of today might imagine.15 In these works, he would have found an extremely diverse array of “monks” and “monasteries.” On the etymology and the meaning of the term “monk,” he would have read diverse interpretations—​the Greek term monachos, from monos, signifying one who lives in solitude, one who has removed himself





Els Rose, Ritual Memory: The Apocryphal Acts and Liturgical Commemoration in the Early Medieval West (c. 500–​1215) (Leiden, 2009); for apocryphal texts, translated in English and accessible online, see www.earlychristianwritings.com (date of last access:  18 August 2018). 11 Hermas, Le Pasteur, ed. and trans. Robert Joly, SC 53bis, 63–​4, for the Latin versions. 12 Sextus, The Sentences of Sextus, ed. Walter T. Wilson (Atlanta, GA, 2012). On the collections of sentences, see Columba M. Battle, Die ‘Adhortationes sanctorum’ (‘Verba Seniorum’) im lateinischen Mittelalter. Überlieferung, Fortleben und Wirkung (Münster, 1972). 13 On this literature, see Avitus of Vienne, Éloge consolatoire de la chasteté (sur la virginité), ed. Nicole Hecquet-​Noti, SC 546, 10–​15 and 79–​84. 14 Defensor de Ligugé, Livre d’étincelles, ed. and trans. H.-​M. Rochais, 2 vols., SC 77 and 86. 15 On these heterodox movements, see the article by Brakke in this volume.

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from the world, one who has chosen continence, or one whose soul is unified and has joined God.16 In an exegetical tractate attributed to Jerome, he would have learned that the book of Psalms, in Hebrew, already referred to monks as “those in which sin does not dwell.”17 He would have found “monasteries” everywhere, from those of the Therapeutes to those in the Life of Antony or the Life of Martin by Sulpicius Severus (d. c. 425),18 and he would understand that this term designated nothing more than a place where monks lived, whether alone or in a group. Unlike modern translators (such as his French translator, Jacques Fontaine, for the term monasterium), he would not have distinguished between “hermitage” and “monastery,”19 but he would have known that monasticism encompassed multiple ways of life, female and male, including ascetics living at home, anchorites, preachers, and itinerant mendicants, and experiences of common life or active life in the world, serving the needy or places of worship. As Vincent Desprez writes, “since the monastic vocation is very personal, there are as many monasticisms as there are monks.”20 Our example of a monk reading a particular set of texts could be multiplied ad infinitum: each monk or group of monks had certain books at his disposal and formed his own opinion. Furthermore, the monks of the seventh century were unaware of the typology that structures our current understanding of the textual sources. To give just one example, the modern definition of the term “rule” (regula) does not reflect the reality of the early Middle Ages and has led to numerous misunderstandings.21 In his presentation of monastic rules, Vogüé excluded works that are actually entitled regula in the manuscripts, and he included texts that do not have this title.22 The category thus created corresponds to



See Françoise Morard, “Monachos, moine:  histoire du terme grec jusqu’au IVe siècle:  influences bibliques et gnostiques,” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und 411; Françoise Morard, “Encore quelques réflexions sur Theologie 20 (1973):  332–​ monachos,” Vigiliae Christianae 34 (1980): 395–​401; Edwin A. Judge, “The Earliest Use of ‘Monachos’,” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 20 (1977):  72–​89. For the Coptic equivalent, see Ewa Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte (IVe–​VIIIe siècles) (Warsaw, 2009), 271 and 292–​4; for the Syriac equivalent, Marie-​Joseph Pierre, “Les ‘membres de l’Ordre,’ d’Aphraate au Liber Graduum,” in Le monachisme syriaque, ed. Françoise Jullien (Paris, 2010), 20–​4. 17 Pseudo-​Hieronymus, Breviarium in psalmos, Ps. 67:7, in PL 26, 1013. 18 See the article by Alciati in this volume. 19 BHL 5610 (for the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina number, see below, note 119): Sulpicius Severus, Vie de saint Martin, ed. and trans Jacques Fontaine, 3 vols., SC 133–​5. 20 Desprez, Le monachisme primitif, 8. 21 See the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 22 Adalbert de Vogüé, Les règles monastiques anciennes (400–​700) (Turnhout, 1985). 16

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our modern conception of a rule, but not to that of the monks who copied and read these manuscripts. At the time, the term could refer to passages from the Bible as well as to the sayings of the fathers, epistolary exhortations to virgins, sermons, or saints’ Lives. Directives for monastic life were at first transmitted orally from a master to his disciple(s), then demonstrated by the master’s own actions. Consequently, each leader could establish his “rule” without necessarily producing a written text; like every good shepherd, each one preached by word and example. Thus, the Life of the Jura Fathers, written in the sixth century in Gaul, is presented as vita vel regula (a phrase borrowed from the Rule of Four Fathers); for the author, no written rule could replace the exempla described in the Lives of the founding fathers.23 After the period under discussion here, the use of the term regula in the Latin West took on a specific meaning that was the direct result of the tendency toward the progressive “cenobitization” of monasticism, which was already apparent around 400 in the writings of Jerome and Cassian and would be reinforced in the subsequent centuries in the face of resistance from many quarters.24

The Circulation of People, Texts, and Ideas Around 400, the Western proponents of monasticism were great travelers, literate and multilingual. Jerome, who knew Greek and Hebrew, had lived in Antioch, in the Syrian desert, in Constantinople, and in Rome, before taking up residence in Palestine with Paula and Eustochium (d. 419/​20), his disciples from the Roman aristocracy. Ambrose of Milan, like Jerome, Rufinus, Melania the Elder, Pelagius, and Julian of Eclanum, knew Greek and read both Origen and the Cappadocian fathers in the original language. All of them were in contact with each other, associated with Greeks, and translated Greek texts into Latin (or had them translated). Melania sent her friend Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399) to visit the monks of Egypt. John Cassian stayed in Palestine, then in Lower Egypt, Constantinople, and Rome, before settling in Provence. Melania the Younger (d. 439), moving from Italy to Africa, and then to Egypt and Palestine, knew Rufinus, Jerome, Augustine, Paulinus of Nola, and Bassula, the mother-​in-​law of Sulpicius Severus. Severus, the biographer

BHL 7309, 5073, and 2665: François Martine, ed. and trans., Vie des Pères du Jura, SC 142, 236. See the Rule of the Four Fathers 2.28, in Adalbert de Vogüé, ed., Les règles des saints Pères, SC 297, 1:190–​1. 24 See also Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Normes et pratiques de la vie monastique en Gaule avant 1050: présentation des sources écrites,” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines, 379–​86. 23

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of Martin of Tours, compiled the travel narrative of his friend Postumianus when he returned from Egypt.25 After Egeria,26 many Westerners went to the East to visit the Holy Land or the monks in Egypt. Some of them stayed; there were many monasteries of Latin monks in Palestine and Egypt. Throughout the early period, monks had a taste for travel.27 Even in the eighth century, the Anglo-​Saxon monk Willibald traveled to Jerusalem via Rome, Sicily, Greece, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Asia Minor, then Syria, before becoming the bishop of Eichstätt in Germany.28 Conversely, many Eastern monks in exile or fleeing the Persian or Arabian invasions found refuge in Africa or Italy before continuing to the north, like Theodore of Tarsus (d. 690), sent from Rome to Canterbury via Saint-​Denis in 668–​9.29 Even if they did not all leave behind written accounts of their travels, there is no doubt that they told western Europeans about their experiences, and brought manuscripts from the East in their bags, as Theodore of Tarsus did.30 Some of them were probably the anonymous translators of Greek texts into Latin, and vice versa. In Rome there were many Greek monks,31 as in southern Italy and Sicily;32 most of the bishops of Rome at the end of the seventh century and the first half of the eighth were of Greek or Syriac origin. One of them, Zachary (741–​ 52), translated the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (d. 604), including the Life of Benedict of Nursia.33 Thus, the Latins who went on pilgrimage to Rome could meet Greeks there, hear their accounts of their travels, and obtain translations





See the article by Alciati in this volume. Egeria, Itinerarium, in Pierre Maraval, ed. and trans., Égérie. Journal de voyage (Itinérarium), SC 296. For an English translation, see Egeria, The Pilgrimage of Egeria: A New Translation, trans. Anne McGowan and Paul F. Bradshaw (Collegeville, MN, 2018). 27 Daniel Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks:  Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA, 2002); Maribel Dietz, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims:  Ascetic Travel in the Mediterranean World, A.D. 300–​800 (University Park, PA, 2005). See also Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, A.D. 300–​900 (Cambridge, 2001). 28 Hugeburc, Vita Willibaldi, ed. O.  Holder-​Egger, MGH SS 15.1, 86–​106; translated as Charles H. Talbot, “The Hodoeporicon of Saint Willibald,” in Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Thomas F. X. Noble and Thomas Head (Philadelphia, PA, 1995), 141–​64. 29 Michael Lapidge, ed., Archbishop Theodore:  Commemorative Studies on His Life and Influence (Cambridge, 1995). See also the article by Howe in this volume. 30 See David N.  Dumville, “The Importation of Mediterranean Manuscripts into Theodore’s England,” in Lapidge, Archbishop Theodore, 96–​119. 31 Jean-​Marie Sansterre, Les moines grecs et orientaux à Rome aux époques byzantines et carolingiennes (milieu du VIe s.–​f in du IXe s.), 2 vols. (Brussels, 1983). 32 See the article by Ramseyer in this volume. 33 Louis Duchesne and Cyrille Vogel, eds., Liber Pontificalis. Texte, introduction et commentaire, 4 vols. (Paris, 1886–​1957), 1:435; Michel Aubrun, trans., Le livre des papes. Liber Pontificalis (492–​891) (Turnhout, 2007), 126. 25

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of Greek texts. They stopped at monasteries along the way and could therefore transmit information to other monks. The monasteries situated along the major travel routes, such as Lérins on the main sea route34 or Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune on the principal land route from north to south,35 were in a privileged position to contribute to the spread of texts and ideas; even if information gathered in this way was subject to scrutiny, it shaped the more or less idealized Western representations of the monks and nuns of the distant East.

The Sources for the History of Eastern and Western Monasticism In order to summarize the wealth of documentation available to those interested in the early history of monasticism, we present here a brief survey of some texts of particular interest. The Latin sources are obviously the most numerous but, since they are also the best known and some of them are explored in detail elsewhere in this book (particularly those of Ireland, Spain, and Italy36), we emphasize various regions of the East, and also the relationships that linked the Latin, Greek, Syriac, and Coptic cultural spheres. For the sake of clarity, we classify them by type, despite the reservations we have expressed about the relevance of these categories. The sources for the history of the first centuries of monasticism are of various kinds—​archaeological, epigraphical, diplomatic, legislative or normative, theological, liturgical, historiographical, and hagiographical. Written sources are in Latin, Greek, Coptic in Egypt, and Syriac in west Asia. Syriac—​ the dialect of Aramaic which originated in or around Edessa/​Urhoy (modern Urfa/​Şanlιurfa in southeast Turkey), the metropolis of the Roman province of Osrhoene—​has until now been both the literary and the ecclesiastical language of the Christian populations in Ancient Syria, Palestine, northern Mesopotamia, Iraq, and Iran. Syriac is the language of the third-​largest surviving corpus of late antiquity, and it remained in use alongside Greek in the Roman/​Byzantine Empire, Pahlavi in the Sasanian Empire, and Arabic from the seventh century on. The sources on monasticism west of the Euphrates were written in both Greek and Syriac, those east of the Euphrates and Tigris

Mireille Labrousse et al., eds., Histoire de l’abbaye de Lérins (Bellefontaine, 2005); Yann Codou and Michel Lauwers, eds., Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge (Turnhout, 2009). 35 Bernard Andenmatten and Laurent Ripart, eds., L’abbaye de Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune, 515–​ 2015 (Saint-​Maurice, 2015). 36 See the articles by Bitel, Díaz, and Ramseyer in this volume. 34

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in Syriac alone. The spread of monasticism did not come to a halt with progressive Islamicization. Monastic authors like Evagrius influenced Syriac monasticism; conversely, Syriac monastic literature had a broad influence on Latin, Greek, and eastern European monasticism through monastic authors such as Isaac of Nineveh/​the Syrian (seventh century, Assyria), whose works were ultimately included in the Russian Philokalia.37

Archaeology and Epigraphy Since other contributions in this volume are dedicated to archaeology,38 we will mention just a few aspects of monastic archaeology in the East. The area occupied by Egypt, Palestine, and, to a lesser extent, Syria, presents a notable contrast with the rest of the empire. To the west, in the Balkans, there is little evidence for monasticism in our period, except for a limited number of ancient sites that were reoccupied by proto-​Byzantine monasteries. There are just a few comparable sites of this kind in Asia Minor. More sites are known in the areas bordering on Mesopotamia, which were marked by the Syriac tradition, such as the region of the Tur ‘Abdin, south of the Tigris.39 In the rocky areas of Cappadocia formed by volcanic tufa, there are certainly many monasteries, but they are mostly later than the period under consideration here.40 The archaeological record is much richer for Syria, Palestine, and especially Egypt.41 There have been recent overviews of the architecture of Egyptian monks42 and of daily life in the monasteries.43 Data from archaeology should be studied together with the information from written sources.



Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian), “The Second Part”, Chapters IV–​XLI, ed. Sebastian P. Brock (Leuven, 1995). On Isaac, see Hilarion Alfeyev, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian (Kalamazoo, MI, 2000); Sebastian P. Brock, “Syriac into Greek at Mar Saba: The Translation of Isaac the Syrian,” in The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present, ed. Joseph Patrich (Leuven, 2001), 201–​8. 38 See the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, and by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 39 Olivier Delouis, “Portée et limites de l’archéologie monastique dans les Balkans et en Asie Mineure jusqu’au Xe siècle,” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines,  256–​9. 40 Catherine Jolivet-​Lévy, “La vie des moines de Cappadoce (VIe–​Xe siècle): contribution à un inventaire des sources archéologiques,” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines, 215–​49. 41 Essential reference for Egypt: Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte. See also Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 42 Włodziers Goldweski, “Monastic Architecture and Its Adaptation to Local Features (Egypt),” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines,  1–​21. 43 Maria Mossakoska-​Gaubert, “Alimentation, hygiène, vêtements et sommeil chez les moines égyptiens (IVe–​VIIIe siècles),” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines,  23–​55. 37

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For Latin epigraphy, one can consult the database of the Corpus inscriptionum latinarum,44 to be supplemented for the Middle Ages by a series of regional repertories.45 There is no overview specifically devoted to the epigraphy of the monastic world, but research on monasticism in the period under discussion here increasingly makes use of epigraphical sources.46 For Byzantium, one must consult the Chroniques of Denis Feissel under the terms “monks, monasteries, nuns” (with more than eighty references).47 A remarkable synthesis by Sylvain Destephen on monasticism in the diocese of Asia demonstrates the importance of various sources, especially epigraphical ones, in a vast region that had relatively few monasteries.48 The book includes a table of monasteries that are attested or thought to have existed, followed by a map.49 Another epigraphical source is provided by the monastery of Choziba in Palestine, between Jerusalem and Jericho; its cemetery contains 200 epitaphs of monks, of which 68 state their place of origin.50 Two came from Rome, which doubtless means the West; the seventeen Palestinians are in the minority compared to those from the dioceses of Asia and Pontus, especially Cilicia (eleven) and Cappadocia (seven). There are also numerous inscriptions in the monasteries of Egypt, where, surprisingly, Greek dominates even in the Coptic-​language monasteries, but Coptic takes over starting in the sixth century.51 However, the region does not have the kind of epigraphical corpora found in Syria.52 Funerary inscriptions mention the ecclesiastical rank for monks who had acceded to it, and sometimes their occupation, showing a significant degree of specialization. Two monastic necropolises stand out from the rest: those of Apa Jeremia in Saqqara53 and of Anba Hadra in Assouan.54



Online: http://​cil.bbaw.de/​cil_​en/​dateien/​datenbank_​eng.php (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 45 For Gaul, see repertories by Edmond Le Blant, then the volumes in Corpus des inscriptions de la France médiévale (VIIIe–​XIIIe siècle), www.persee.fr/​collection/​cifm (date of last access: 18 August 2018). For guidance, see also http://​handley-​inscriptions. webs.com/​(date of last access: 18 August 2018). 46 For instance Yvette Duval, Auprès des saints corps et âme. L’inhumation “ad sanctos” dans la chrétienté d’Orient et d’Occident du IIIe au VIIe siècle (Paris, 1988). 47 Denis Feissel, Chroniques d’épigraphie byzantine, 1987–​2004 (Paris, 2006), 420. 48 Sylvain Destephen, “Quatre études sur le monachisme asianique (IVe–​VIIe siècle),” Journal des savants (2010): 193–​264. 49 Ibid.,  202–​7. 50 Alfons Maria Schneider, “Das Kloster der Theotokos zu Choziba im Wadi el Kelt,” Römische Quartalschrift 39 (1931): 297–​332. 51 See the bibliography in Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte,  663–​8. 52 Ibid., 99–​106. 53 Cäcilia Wietheger, Das Jeremias-​Kloster zu Saqqara unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Inschriften (Altenberge, 1992). 54 Henri Munier, “Les stèles coptes du monastère de Saint-​Siméon à Assouan,” Aegyptus 11 (1930–​1): 257–​300 and 433–​84. 44

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Engraved or painted inscriptions appear later on the walls of rooms in the monasteries, such as the monks’ cells, and principally those intended for prayer. These inscriptions often accompany paintings.55

Diplomatic and Documentary Sources In the West, the first diplomatic sources appear in the sixth century, first the testaments of founders and donations to monasteries, then acts of foundation (such as that of Eligius for Solignac in 632), royal and episcopal privileges granted to monasteries, formularies (such as that of Marculf ), and so on. Sometimes the originals are preserved but most of the extant documents are copies. There is no systematic repertory of this corpus but there are editions and recent studies of some of the documents.56 The quantity is certainly not as great as it would be from the Carolingian period onward,57 and many are forgeries. These documents, often difficult to interpret, elicit scholarly debate, but the study of false acts is just as interesting for the context of their redaction.58 Among the oldest collections, the most important is that of Saint-​Denis, which Olivier Guyotjeannin has begun publishing online.59 A  discovery in the twentieth century brought to light the seventh-​century accounts of Saint-​Martin in Tours, preserved in the form of parchment or papyrus fragments that had covered the binding of a manuscript.60 Among





Paul C. Dilley, “Dipinti in Late Antiquity and Shenoute’s Monastic Federation:  Text and Image Painting of the Red Monastery,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 165 (2008): 111–​27. 56 For the royal diplomas in the Frankish world, see Theo Kölzer, Die Urkunden der Merowinger, 2 vols., MGH DMer 1; for the diplomas of the mayors of royal palaces, see Ingrid Heidrich, Die Urkunden der Arnulfinger (Hanover, 2011). For England, see Peter Sawyer, Anglo-​Saxon Charters, now online at www.esawyer.org.uk/​about/​index. html (date of last access: 18 August 2018). Regarding testaments, see Sylvie Joye and Paul Bertrand, “Les ‘testaments de saints’ en chrétienté occidentale,” in Normes et hagiographie dans l’Occident latin (VIe–​XVIe siècle), ed. Marie-​Céline Isaia and Thomas Granier (Turnhout, 2014), 293–​307. On royal and episcopal privileges, see Eugen Ewig, Spätantikes und fränkisches Gallien. Gesammelte Schriften (1952–​1973), ed. Hartmut Atsma, 2 vols. (Zurich and Munich, 1976–​9). On formularies, see Alice Rio, Legal Practice and the Written Word in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2009). 57 See the article by Bruce in this volume. 58 Fälschungen im Mittelalter, 6 vols. (Hanover, 1988). 59 See École nationale des chartes, “Chartes médiévales de l’abbaye de Saint-​Denis (VIIᵉ–​ XIIIᵉ siècle),” www.chartes.psl.eu/​fr/​publication/​chartes-​medievales-​abbaye-​saint-​ denis-​viie-​xiiie-​siecle (date of last access: 18 August 2018). See also Daniel Sonzogni, “Le chartrier de l’abbaye de Saint-​Denis en France au haut Moyen Âge: essai de reconstitution,” Pecia. Ressources en médiévistique 3 (2003): 9–​210; Olivier Guyotjeannin and Anne-​ Marie Helvétius, eds., Écrire pour Saint Denis. Productions hagiographiques et documentaires médiévales (Paris, 2018), 5–​370. 60 Pierre Gasnault, ed., Documents comptables de Saint-​ Martin de Tours à l’époque mérovingienne (Paris, 1975). 55

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these documents written in Latin, some, written in Greek, preserve the text of a homily of Ephrem the Syrian.61 For our period, the Eastern sources are limited to Egypt and a few rare findings in Palestine.62 The sources for Egypt are extremely rich, not only those from monasteries,63 but also administrative ones, such as legal acts, economic texts, and letters, mostly written on papyrus scraps or pottery shards and small bits of limestone that are collectively known as ostraca. These objects are dated to the period between the end of the sixth century and the end of the eighth century. A series of discoveries has made possible the reconstruction of entire groups of documents.64 Many are letters that show the relations between monks or with outsiders. Some include documents that attest to the social and economic activity of a monastery, such as the center of Wadi Sorga, the monastery of Apa Thomas.65 The extant tax documents, some of them in relatively good condition, attest to the roles of monks and monasteries in local society, such as the fiscal register of Aphrodito,66 which complements the publication of the land register.67 According to the editors of the land register, approximately a third of the lands belonged to the village’s seven monasteries.68 Despite the difficulties of interpreting the papyrological data, they offer a mass of information that is unavailable for Byzantium before the tenth or eleventh century.

Normative Sources The situation is different for the normative sources, which are mostly legislative or canonical. The most important of these were the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, issued jointly by the bishops and the emperor; the monks created disorder, especially in Constantinople, and it was necessary to subject them to episcopal authority, which most of them did not recognize,

BnF, suppl. grec 1379. G. J. Kraemer, Excavations at Nessana, 3: Non-​Literary Papyri (Princeton, NJ, 2015). Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte,  69–​99. 64 See, for instance, Sarah J. Clackson, ed., Coptic and Greek Texts Relating to the Hermo­ polite Monastery of Apa Apollo (Oxford, 2002), with more than sixty-​six documents edited. 65 W. E. Crum and H. I. Bell, Wadi Sarga:  Coptic and Greek Texts from the Excavations Undertaken by the Byzantine Research Account (Copenhagen, 1922). 66 Constantin Zuckerman, Du village à l’empire. Autour du Registre fiscal d’Aphroditô (Paris, 2004). 67 Jean Gascou and Leslie MacCoull, “Le cadastre d’Aphroditô,” Travaux et mémoires 10 (1987): 103–​58. 68 Zuckermann, Du village à l’empire,  226–​9. 61

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as they were not ordained clerics.69 The council placed monks under the authority of the bishop, beginning with those monks who were priests; it forcefully asserted the perpetual authority of the bishop over the monasteries (whose foundation he had authorized), and over their possessions. Although several of his predecessors had issued legislation concerning the monks,70 Justinian (r. 527–​65) gave them particular emphasis in three laws, all restrictive,71 focused entirely (Novellae 5,72 535 and 133,73 from 539) or partly (novella 123,74 from 546) on monasteries. The first, which reserves the foundation of monasteries for bishops, prescribes a novitiate of three years and the dormitory. This law dwells at length on monastic property; the bishop chooses the hegumen (the head of the religious community). All these prescriptions were equally applicable to female monasteries. Novella 133 emphatically repeats these prescriptions by specifying them, because they are not always applied. Again prohibiting double monasteries as he had already done in the Code, Justinian decrees that the monks must leave, and he gives the nuns the choice of the priest serving them. This novella is the origin of our modern conception of monasteries, which became complexes including dormitories and refectories surrounded by enclosures. The novella again addressed monastic property, which seems to have been a subject of growing concern, but did not put an end to double monasteries, which are attested at this time in Gaul, Spain, England, and Ireland.75 In the East as in the West, monks and nuns were the focus of innumerable conciliar canons that have not yet been studied systematically.76 We will mention just a few cases of canons concerning the internal organization of





Gilbert Dagron, “Les moines et la ville:  le monachisme à Constantinople jusqu’au concile de Chalcédoine,” Travaux et mémoires 4 (1976):  229–​76, reprinted in Gilbert Dagron, La romanité chrétienne en Orient. Héritages et mutations (London, 1984), chapter VIII. 70 See for instance Valentinian I, Valens, and Gratian in 370: Code Théodosien XVI.2.20, in T. Mommsen and P. Meyer, eds., J. Rougé and R. Delmaire, trans., Les lois religieuses des empereurs romains de Constantin à Théodose II (312–​438), vol. 1: Code Théodosien XVI, SC 497, 160–​3; Theodosius II and Valentinian III in 434: Code Théodosien, V.3.1, in ibid., vol. 2: Code Théodosien I–​XV, Code Justinien, Constitutions sirmondiennes, SC 531, 80–​1. 71 For a useful summary, see Adalbert de Vogüé, “La législation de Justinien au sujet des moines,” Revue Mabillon 14 (2003): 139–​51. 72 Justinian, Corpus Iuris Civilis III, ed. R. Schoell and G. Kroll (Hildesheim, 1993), 29–​35. 73 Ibid., 666–​76. 74 Ibid., 620–​5, ­chapters 37–​42. 75 See the article by Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 76 For the West, see Jean Gaudemet, Les sources du droit de l’Église en Occident du IIe au VIIe siècle (Paris, 1985); and Jean Gaudemet, Les sources du droit canonique, VIIIe–​XXe siècle (Paris, 1993). Terence P. McLaughlin, Le très ancien droit monastique de l’Occident (Ligugé and Paris, 1935) is still useful.

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monasteries.77 Pachomius (292–​346), founder of the monastery of Tabennesis, in the Thebaid on the east bank of the Nile, was a Coptic-​speaking soldier who converted to Christianity around 314, became an anchorite (initiated by Palamon), lived a few years with Antony, and in 324 founded his first, extremely successful community. His sister Mary founded a female community on the other bank of the river.78 In addition to his own community, which had several hundred monks, at his death Pachomius was the head of six to nine monasteries of men and two of women. With few exceptions, his works were written down in their entirety only after his death. His monasteries followed the model of Egyptian villages and were organized by occupation, so as to be self-​sufficient. His rules, which were first transmitted orally in Coptic, have come down to us only in the Latin translation made by Jerome in 404 from the Greek translation of the Coptic text (which survives only in fragments). The fragments of the original text exhibit some differences in comparison to Jerome’s translation, which supplements the Coptic text with explanations as well as adding his own commentary, but this was the version of the writings of Pachomius that was known to monks in the West.79 The works of Shenoute (d. 465), the superior of the White Monastery in the fourth and fifth centuries, constitute the most original corpus among the Coptic literary sources, for these texts are known only in Coptic, and their author was completely unknown to Western Christianity. His works comprise eight volumes of Discourses (not specifically monastic) and nine volumes of sermons on monastic discipline (Canons).80 An international team of scholars is preparing a critical edition of this corpus.81 After the Council of Chalcedon (451), which declared the church of Alexandria schismatic, Egyptian monks were mostly monophysites. The persecutions that followed in the sixth century generated a polemical and apologetic literature with a strong hagiographic tendency, for example around



See the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. In a very extensive bibliography, besides Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte, 47–​60 and 419–​26, see Philip Rousseau, Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth Century Egypt (Berkeley, CA, 1985). 79 Amand Boon, ed., Pachomiana latina. Règle et épîtres de S. Pachôme, épître de S. Théodore et ‘Liber’ de S. Orsiesius. Texte latin de S. Jérôme (Louvain, 1932). 80 Stephen Emmel, Shenoute’s Literary Corpus (Leuven, 2004). 81 Anne Boud’hors, Le Canon 8 de Chénouté (d’après le manuscrit Ifao Copte 2 et les fragments complémentaires). Introduction, édition critique, traduction (Cairo, 2013). On the Discourses, see Ariel G. Lopez, Shenoute of Atripe and the Uses of Poverty (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 2012). On the canons, see Bentley Layton, The Canons of Our Fathers: Monastic Rules of Shenoute (Oxford, 2014). 77

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the figure of Abraham of Pboou (or of Farshut).82 The corpus tends to associate Shenoute closely with Pachomius so as to present him as a unique figure in the literary tradition. Later Egyptian monastic movements were inspired by this two-​headed figure far more than by the works themselves. Turning to Asia Minor, the case of Basil of Caesarea is even more complex and his influence greater.83 Born around 329 at Neocaesarea, Basil studied at Caesarea, while his sister Macrina (d. 379) transformed the family villa of Annisa into a mixed ascetic community. Basil was baptized and joined this community, then circulated among various monastic groups. In 365, he returned to Caesarea and completed the first “edition” of his Small Asketikon, a work which he would continue to supplement. In 370, he became the metropolitan of Caesarea, the principal seat of the civil diocese of Pontus, until his death in 379. The monks of the region pressed him to supply a revised version of his Small Asketikon, which became the Great Asketikon; from that time, various versions circulated in Caesarea and in other regions of Pontus. In reality, the distinction between the two texts of the Asketikon is artificial, for the entire text was in continuous development. The Small Asketikon is known to us only through a Syriac version (which is presumably the oldest version), some Greek fragments, and the Latin translation of Rufinus,84 which was widely received in the West under the name of the Regula Basilii; in its emphasis on the life of the community and obedience to the abbot, it is one of the texts that inspired the Benedictine Rule. The later redaction, organized in the manuscripts into 55 long responses and 318 brief responses, is the only version preserved in Greek and would require a lengthy editorial process.85 The Asketikon as a whole consists of questions from monks with Basil’s response. This text does not itself constitute a rule in the modern sense of the term, but it is called a regula, as in RB 73. Paradoxically, the influence of Basil is easier to follow in the West than in the East. Eastern monasteries are ruled by their foundation charter, or typikon, which is both regulatory and liturgical, except when there are two different documents; no such case is known before the ninth century. The other sources from the seventh and

82



83



See James E. Goehring, Politics, Monasticism, and Miracles in Sixth Century Egypt (Tübingen, 2006). See most recently Anna M. Silvas, The Asketikon of St Basil the Great (Oxford, 2005); on the lasting influence of Basil, there is a volume in preparation by Olivier Delouis and Annick Peters-​Custot. 84 Basilius, Basilii Regula a Rufino Latine Versa, ed. Klaus Zelzer, CSEL 86; translated as Anna M. Silvas, ed. and trans. The Rule of St Basil in Latin and English: A Revised Critical Edition (Collegeville, MI, 2013). 85 Paul J. Fedwick, Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis, 3: The Ascetica (Turnhout, 1997).

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eighth centuries are too rare to yield any real conclusions. By contrast, in the decade around 800, Theodore the Studite (d. 826) clearly had access to the works of Basil, who inspired all subsequent Byzantine monasticism, directly or through Theodore. Evagrius Ponticus, as his name indicates, was born on the Hellespont around 346.86 The son of a country bishop, he was ordained lector by Basil, then deacon by Gregory of Nazianzus, whom he accompanied to Constantinople and then Jerusalem, where he became a monk. Well read in the works of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, Evagrius left for Egypt in 383 on the advice of Melania the Elder (d. 410); he died there in 399, surrounded by disciples who were essentially Origenists. His considerable œuvre has reached us in Greek only in lacunary form, doubtless as a result of the condemnations of Origenists at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, but he had an important influence on the West through the translations of Rufinus and the Collationes of John Cassian.87 The Asketikon of Isaiah,88 a hermit resident in the south of Gaza, attests to the observance of an eremitic and itinerant way of life in this region in the years 460–​80. The anti-​Chalcedonian sources enable us to discern the same developments in Gaza as in the Judean desert. A  koinobion was founded in 492 near Maiuma by the disciples of Peter the Iberian.89 The Plerophories show that the monastery of Isaiah, a simple hermitage housing a small colony of disciples of the holy recluse until the 480s, could also have given way to a koinobion in the years 500–​10.90 The text that was surely the most widely read in Eastern monasticism, judging from the manuscript tradition, was written by a Syrian monk born in 579 who died in his monastery in the Sinai desert around 650. He is known as John Climacus based on his principal work, The Ladder of the Divine Ascent, which presents a path of sainthood for monks.91 On the model of Jacob’s

Antoine Guillaumont, Un philosophe au désert. Évagre le Pontique (Paris 2004). See especially Evagrius Ponticus, Traité pratique, ou Le moine, ed. and trans. Antoine and Claire Guillaumont, 2 vols., SC 170–​1. 88 Abba Isaiah, Τοῦ ὁσίου πατρὸς ἡμῶν ᾿Αββὰ ᾿Ησαΐου Λόγοι ΚΘ, ed. Augoustinos, new ed. ( Jerusalem, 1962); Abba Isaiah, Abba Isaiah of Scetis: Ascetic Discourses, trans. John Chryssavgis and Pachomios Penkett (Kalamazoo, MI, 2002). 89 BHO 955 (for the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis number, see below, note 119): John Rufus, The Lives of Peter the Iberian, Theodosius of Jerusalem, and the Monk Romanus, ed. and trans. Camelia B. Horn and Robert R. Phenix (Atlanta, GA, 2008), 2–​281. 90 John Rufus, Plérophories. Témoignages et révélations contre le concile de Chalcédoine par Jean Rufus évêque de Maïouma, ed. and trans. François Nau (Paris, 1911), 11–​161, additional texts, 162–​83. 91 PG 88, 631–​1209; or Walther Völker, ed., Scala Paradisi. Eine Studie zu Johannes Climacus und zugleich eine Vorstudie zu Symeon dem Neuen Theologen (Wiesbaden, 1968).

86 87

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ladder, each of the thirty chapters is a step toward Paradise, with the risk of falling from each rung. Seven chapters address the ascetic virtues; the following nineteen chapters instruct the reader how to overcome various vices by espousing the corresponding virtues; and the final four chapters present the highest virtues attainable through the ascetic life. The text does not seem to have been translated into Latin before the thirteenth century. As for Syriac sources, the canonico-​liturgical texts such as the Didascalia of the Apostles attest to the existence in the third century of organized groups (tagma or ordo) serving local communities. In the first half of the fourth century, the Demonstrations of Aphraates (Persian empire, c. 330–​340)92 and the Carmina Nisibena of Ephrem the Syrian (Nisiba, then Edessa) allude to the bnay and bnāt qyāmā, virgin or continent women and men who were established to serve Christian communities through prayer and aid to the sick. They are the counterparts of the kanonikoi and kanonikai mentioned by Basil of Caesarea;93 these ascetics who sang and prayed in the churches of the martyria were probably at the origin of canonical life. The great Syriac poet Ephrem reportedly wrote hymns for the female ascetics, the bnāt qyāmā, and led choirs of both men and women; his reputation quickly spread to the West. Aphraates’ sixth and seventh Demonstrations (written in 336/​7) are more specifically witnesses to the early history of the bnay qyāmā and iḥidāyē (solitaries).94 All sorts of canons also provide interesting information about them, especially those by Rabbula, bishop of Edessa (411–​32)95. More familiar forms of monasticism following the model of the laura and coenobium, where ascetics or hermits were more or less loosely connected to the monastery and under the guidance of the rēsh dayrā/​archimandrite/​abbot, gradually developed in the fourth and fifth centuries. We have

Aphraates, Aphraatis. Sapientis Persae Demonstrationes, ed. J. Parisot (Paris, 1894); Aphraates, Aphrahat. Demonstrations, trans. Kuriakose A. Valavanolickal (Kerala, 2005). 93 Basil of Caesarea, Letter 52, in Saint Basil: The Letters, ed. and trans. Roy J. Deferrari (London, 1926–​34); see infra. 94 For a thematic bibliography on Syriac monasticism, see Jullien, Le monachisme syriaque, 305–​32; see also the very useful Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity, http://​ csc.org.il/​db/​db.aspx?db=SB (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 95 François Nau, ed., Les canons et les résolutions canoniques de Rabboula, Jean de Tella, Cyriaque d’Amid, Jacques d’Edesse, Georges des Arabes, Cyriaque d’Antioche, Jean III, Théodose d’Antioche et des Perses (Paris, 1906); Arthur Vööbus, ed., Syriac and Arabic Documents Regarding Legislation Relative to Syrian Monasticism (Stockholm, 1960), for Marūtā of Maipherqaṭ, Rabbūlā of Edessa, Abraham of Kaškar, Dadišo’ Qatraya, and Babai the Great. See also Robert Phenix and Cornelia Horn, eds., The Rabbula Corpus: Comprising the “Life of Rabbula,” His Correspondence, a Homily Delivered in Constantinople, Canons, and Hymns (Atlanta, GA, 2017).

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extensive information about these more institutionalized monasteries thanks to the many canons that contain monastic rules written in Syriac by important bishops and abbots in the Roman and Persian empires.96

Epistolary, Narrative, and Liturgical Sources The surviving correspondence of Eastern monks furnishes dispersed but significant information; here we will discuss the most important of these corpora. From Egypt, besides the ostraca mentioned earlier, letters attributed to Pachomius are preserved in Coptic, some of which are still unpublished.97 The Letters of Antony present the same problems of attribution as those of Pachomius. If they are authentic, they could have been composed in Greek or Coptic.98 In any case, these letters seem to come from an Egyptian milieu of an Origenian bent. If the monks of Lower Egypt were Origenian from the outset, like the Pachomian monks, there are very early traces of the opposing position in the texts of Upper Egypt.99 The letters of Basil of Caesarea are fundamental for the Greek world,100 but we must also mention the interesting correspondence of Barsanuphius with John of Gaza,101 two recluses residing in a koinobion to the south of Gaza; this correspondence confirms the rise of the cenobitic way of life and the decrease in independent eremitic practices in the years 520–​60. John and Barsanuphius were, in fact, hermits who no longer lived in their own hermitage, but in a koinobion, where they were subjected to the authority of a hegumen. Another point of view is offered by the correspondence of a Christian Greek orator of Gaza, Procopius, who was a witness to the continuity of urban asceticism.102





François Nau, ed., “Littérature canonique syriaque inédite:  Concile d’Antioche; Lettre d’Italie; Canons des ‘saints Pères’, de Philoxène, de Théodose, d’Anthime, d’Athanase etc,” Revue de l’Orient Chrétien 14 (1909): 1–​49, 113–​30 [MS Paris, BnF, syr. 62]. For other canons, see Nau, Les canons et les résolutions canoniques, and A. Vööbus, ed., The Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition (Leuven, 1975). See also Sabino Chialà, “Les règles monastiques syro-​orientales et leur caractère spécifique,” in Jullien, Le monachisme syriaque, 107–​22. 97 See Christoph Joest, Die Pachom-​Briefe. Übersetzung und Deutung (Leuven, 2014). 98 Samuel Rubenson, Letters of St. Antony: Monasticism and the Making of a Saint, new ed. (Minneapolis, MN, 1995). 99 See Anne Boud’hors, “Coptic Literature,” in Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, ed. Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Oxford, 2012), 224–​46. 100 Basil of Caesarea, Saint Basil: The Letters. 101 François Neyt et al., ed. and trans., Barsanuphe et Jean de Gaza. Correspondance, 3 vols., SC 427, 450, and 468. 102 Eugenio Amato, ed., Rose di Gaza. Gli scritti retorico-​sofistici e le Epistole di Procopio di Gaza (Alessandria, 2010). 96

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For the Latin world, the letters of Jerome are obviously fundamental and inspired subsequent authors.103 Among many others, those of Ambrose of Milan,104 Gregory the Great (d. 604),105 Columbanus (d. 615),106 Boniface (d. 754),107 and Alcuin of York (d. 804)108 offer valuable evidence for Western monasticism. In addition, a great many letters resemble carmina or sermons or homilies, and thus form part of the same broad corpus as the exhortationes addressed to monks or virgins, individually or collectively, and the various treatises on subjects such as asceticism, the desert, virginity, the vices and virtues, and so on.109 Rather than discussing the best-​known examples, such as those of Caesarius,110 we wish instead to point out the consolatory eulogy addressed by Avitus of Vienne (d. c. 519) to his sister Fuscine (beginning of the sixth century),111 the Ascetic and Moral Letters of Fulgentius Ruspensis (beginning of the sixth century)112 and the Sermones of Eusebius Gallicanus (seventh century).113 Even if the authors of ecclesiastical histories pay more attention to bishops than to monks, their writings are interesting from the point of view of the history of monasticism, beginning with Eusebius of Caesarea, whose Historia ecclesiastica was transmitted to the West by Rufinus.114 In the Latin world, chronicles such as the Ten Books of the Histories of Gregory of Tours (d. 594)115 or the Historia ecclesiastica populae anglicorum of Bede the Venerable (d. 735)116 are essential. Finally, regarding liturgical sources (which have not yet received sufficient

Jerome, Epistolae. Ambrose, Lettere, ed. Gabriele Banterle, 3 vols. (Milan and Rome, 1988). 105 Gregory the Great, Epistolae, MGH Epistolae 1 and 2; Registrum epistularum libri XIV, ed. Dag Norberg, CCSL 140–​140A. 106 Colombanus, Epistolae, in Sancti Columbani Opera, ed. G. S. M. Walker (Dublin, 1957), 2–​59, reprinted by B.  Färber in The Corpus of Electronic Texts, https://​celt.ucc.ie/​ publishd.html (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 107 Reinhold Rau, ed., Briefe des Bonifatius, Willibalds Leben des Bonifatius (Darmstadt, 1968); Ephraim Emerton, trans., The Letters of St. Boniface (New York, 2000). 108 Alcuin, Epistolae, MGH Epistolae 4. 109 Examples in Helvétius, “Normes et pratiques de la vie monastique,” 378–​9. 110 Caesarius of Arles, Œuvres monastiques, 2 vols., ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé and J. Courreau, SC 345 and 398. 111 Avitus of Vienne, Éloge consolatoire de la chasteté (sur la virginité), ed. and trans. Nicole Hecquet-​Noti, SC 546. 112 Fulgentius of Ruspa, Lettres ascétiques et morales, ed. and trans. Daniel Bachelet, SC 487. 113 Eusebius Gallicanus, Collectio homiliarum, ed. François Glorie, CCSL 101A. 114 Tyrannius Rufinus, Opera, ed. Manlio Simonetti, CCSL 20. 115 Gregory of Tours, Historiarum libri decem, ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 1.1; English translation, Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe (London, 1974). 116 Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. and trans. Bertram Colgrave and Roger A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1969). 103

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attention in East or West), the pioneering work of Gisela Muschiol117 and of Els Rose,118 as well as the contributions of Peter Jeffery and Gordon Blennemann in this volume, address aspects of this vast subject in the Latin West.

Hagiographical Sources Hagiography in all forms (Passions of martyrs, Lives of saints, translations of relics, miracle collections, martyrologies, and menologies) is a major source for the first centuries of monasticism, in the East as in the West. Not only does it comprise the largest number of extant texts, but it is also the body of literature that was most read by monks and nuns throughout the Middle Ages. It would be impossible to offer a complete exposition here; the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina (BHL), the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (BHG), and the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis (BHO) demonstrate the wealth of the extant texts.119 There is as yet no catalogue that would make it possible to search these collections for the texts relating to monks and nuns. In addition, the majority of historians of monasticism have privileged a few very well-​known texts that are frequently translated and commented on, to the detriment of hundreds, even thousands, of other texts that are still awaiting a good critical edition. Paradoxically, these texts are often preserved in several hundred manuscripts and in all the ancient languages but without having attracted the attention of specialists. This research area should develop in the coming years, especially since scholars have taken an interest not only in the texts but also in the manuscripts that contain them. For the Latin world, there are fortunately good references works, such as Hagiographies, initiated in 1992 by Guy Philippart and now directed by Monique Goullet. Still in progress, this series offers a critical presentation of all the Latin



Gisela Muschiol, Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern (Münster, 1994); Gisela Muschiol, “Men, Women and Liturgical Practice in the Early Medieval West,” in Gender in the Early Medieval World. East and West, 300–​900, ed. Leslie Brubaker and Julia M. H. Smith (Cambridge, 2004), 198–​216. See also the article by Muschiol in volume II. 118 Rose, Ritual Memory. 119 Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina (BHL) (Brussels, 1898–​9), reprinted 1992 with Novum Supplementum, ed. H. Fros (Brussels, 1986), in the series Subsidia Hagiographica (SH), vols. 6 and 70, and together containing more than 9,000 entries. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (BHG), ed. F. Halkin (Brussels, 1957) and Novum Auctarium (Brussels, 1984), respectively SH 8a and 65, with more than 2,500 entries. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalis (BHO) (Brussels, 1910; reprint 1970), SH 10, with more than 1,200 entries; Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica, database on Syriac hagiography: http://​syriaca.org/​bhse/​index.html (date of last access: 5 May 2019). 117

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hagiographic sources, ordered by cultural area and period. As of the time of writing, all of antiquity has been covered.120 For the period 314–​750, however, only the texts produced in Italy121 and in England, Wales, and Ireland122 have been described. Spain and the Merovingian world, for which there are already useful catalogues, have not yet been included in Hagiographies.123 Other pertinent resources are the numerous publications (edited by François Dolbeau, Martin Heinzelmann, and Joseph-​Claude Poulin since 1987)  resulting from the research project of the German Historical Institute (Institut Historique Allemand) in Paris on hagiographic sources composed in Gaul before the year 1000. The Lives of monks became known in the West at first through the legends transmitted from the East by the Latin translations of the Life of Antony, the Historia monachorum, and the Historia lausiaca, to which we will return below, but also by the Lives written by Jerome, often cited as references.124 Later, a number of important monastic settlements in Gaul spread the great Lives of the monks who had become bishops, such as, for Tours, the Life of Martin by Sulpicius Severus, inspired by that of Antony,125 and, in the circle of Lérins, the Life of Honoratus by Hilary of Arles (d. 449),126 both of which exhibit a marked ascetic character; but at that time most hagiography was about bishops. Only around 500 did there emerge Lives of monks who were not bishops: for example, in Italy, the Life of Severinus of Norcia by Eugippus (d. c. 533),127 or, in Burgundy, the Life of the Jura Fathers128 and the Life of the







Victor Saxer, “Afrique latine,” Hagiographies 1 (1994): 25–​95; Antoon A. R. Bastiaensen, “Jérôme hagiographe,” Hagiographies 1 (1994), 97–​123; Francesco Scorza Barcellona, “Agli inizi dell’agiografia occidentale,” Hagiographies 3 (2001): 17–​97. 121 Cécile Lanéry, “Les Passions latines composées en Italie,” Hagiographies 5 (2010), 15–​369; Stéphane Gioanni, “Les Vies de saints latines composées en Italie de la Paix constantinienne au milieu du VIe siècle,” Hagiographies 5 (2010), 371–​445. 122 Michael Lapidge and Rosalind C. Love, “The Latin Hagiography of England and Wales (600–​1550),” Hagiographies 3 (2001), 203–​325; Maire Herbert, “Latin and Vernacular Hagiography of Ireland from the Origins to the Sixteenth Century,” Hagiographies 3 (2001), 327–​60. 123 José Carlos Martin, Sources latines de l’Espagne tardo-​antique et médiévale (Ve–​XIVe siècles). Répertoire bibliographique (Paris, 2010); Martin Heinzelmann, “L’hagiographie mérovingienne: panorama des documents potentiels,” in L’hagiographie mérovingienne à travers ses réécritures, ed. Monique Goullet et al. (Ostfildern, 2010), 27–​82. 124 Jerome, Trois Vies de moines (Paul, Malchus, Hilarion), ed. and trans. Edgardo Morales and Pierre Leclerc, SC 508. 125 Sulpicius Severus, Vie de saint Martin. 126 BHL 3975: Hilary of Arles, Vie de saint Honorat, ed. and trans. Marie-​Denise Valentin, SC 71. 127 BHL 7655: Eugippius, Vie de saint Séverin, ed. and trans. Philippe Régerat, SC 374. 128 Martine, Vie des Pères du Jura. 120

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Abbots of Agaune.129 For female saints, also in the sixth century, there is the atypical Life of Genevieve of Paris, about an ascetic virgin who fulfilled important ecclesiastical responsibilities without entering a monastery,130 then the two Lives of Radegund, one written by Venantius Fortunatus (d. 600/​9) and the other by the nun Baudonivia (fl. c.  600)  in honor of this queen who became abbess at Poitiers.131 These sixth-​century Lives influenced, among others, Jonas of Bobbio (d. after 659), author of the Life of Columbanus and His Disciples,132 and all subsequent hagiography to such a degree that it would be impossible to describe in detail here. We will simply point out that, among these Lives, the most widely transmitted was that of Martin, which was also translated into Greek.133 The Latin world also produced large hagiographical collections, such as that of Gregory of Tours134 and especially the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, which were translated into Greek.135 The texts that were read the most by monks both in the East and in the West, however, were the Acts and Passions of the martyrs.136 More numerous in the East early on,137 they were of great concern to the bishops of the fourth century, such as Damasus of Rome,138 Basil of Caesarea,139 Gregory of







BHL 142: Éric Chevalley and Cédric Roduit, eds. and trans., La mémoire hagiographique de l’abbaye de Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune. “Passion anonyme de saint Maurice,” “Vie des abbés d’Agaune,” “Passion de saint Sigismond” (Lausanne, 2014), 117–​81. 130 BHL 3335: Vita Genovefae, M GH SS RM 3, 204–​38. See Martin Heinzelmann and Joseph-​ Claude Poulin, Les Vies anciennes de sainte Geneviève de Paris (Paris, 1986). Regarding the place of women in the clergy, see Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West (Oxford, 2007). 131 BHL 7048:  Fortunatus, Vita Radegundis auctore Fortunato, ed. Yves Chauvin and Georges Pon, in La vie de sainte Radegonde par Fortunat. Poitiers, Bibliothèque Municipale, manuscrit 250 (136), ed. Robert Favreau (Paris, 1995), 56–​113. BHL 7049: Baudonivia, Vita Radegundis auctore Baudonivia, MGH SS RM, 2, 377–​95. 132 BHL 1898: Jonas of Bobbio, Vita Columbani et discipulorum eius, MGH SRG 37, 1–​294; English translation, Alexander O’Hara and Ian Wood, trans., Life of Columbanus, Life of John of Réomé, and Life of Vedast (Liverpool, 2017). 133 BHG 1181–​1181b. 134 Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria martyrum, Liber vitae Patrum, Liber in gloria confessorum, MGH SS RM 1.2; English translations: Glory of the Martyrs, trans. Raymond Van Dam (Liverpool, 2004), Life of the Fathers, trans. Edward James (Liverpool, 1991), and Glory of the Confessors, trans. Raymond Van Dam (Liverpool, 2004). 135 Gregory the Great, Dialogues, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé and Paul Antin, 3 vols., SC 251, 260, and 265. 136 Hippolyte Delehaye, Les passions des martyrs et les genres littéraires (Brussels, 1921; 2nd ed. 1966); Hippolyte Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs, 2nd ed. (Brussels, 1933). 137 Johan Leemans et al., eds., “Let Us Die That We May Live”: Greek Homilies on Christian Martyrs from Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine (c. AD 350–​AD 450) (London, 2003). 138 Marianne Sághy, “Renovatio memoriae: Pope Damasus and the Martyrs of Rome,” in Rom in der Spätantike. Historische Erinnerung im städtischen Raum, ed. Ralf Behrwald and Christian Witschel (Stuttgart, 2012), 251–​66. 139 Mario Girardi, Basilio di Cesarea et il culto dei martiri nel IV secolo. Scrittura e tradizione (Bari, 1990).

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Nyssa,140 and John Chrysostom, whose elegies to the martyrs date to his years in Antioch (387–​96) and his tenure as patriarch of Constantinople (398–​404). Since this city had no native martyrs, the imperial court and the patriarchate were constantly translating relics, providing material for John’s elegies.141 It is beyond the scope of this chapter to list all the martyrs whose Passions (real or legendary, but impressive to posterity) were written and rewritten. Some were written in epic style; others were developed into a “Life and Passion,” thus emphasizing what preceded the martyrdom.142 The Passions of Western martyrs also circulated in the East and were highly valued in monastic circles, as seen in the famous example of the Passion of Perpetua and Felicity.143 Denis of Paris was certainly not a monk, but his cult was promoted by the important Abbey of Saint-​Denis. We know of two Latin Passions of Denis that are transmitted by 100 manuscripts before the Carolingian period; one of them was translated into Greek by the eighth century. The story of Denis, who from that time onward was confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, was transmitted in the East in various forms in Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and Arabic translations.144 Conversely, the Lives and Passions of Eastern saints were widely transmitted in the West in their Latin versions, most of which go back to the fifth and sixth centuries, as demonstrated by their presence in the earliest Latin legendaries, produced before 800.145 Thus, the Latin version of the Passion of Margaret/​Marina of Antioch is preserved in more than a hundred Western





Monique Alexandre, “Les nouveaux martyrs: motifs martyrologiques dans la vie des saints et thèmes hagiographiques dans l’éloge des martyrs chez Grégoire de Nysse,” in The Biographical Works of Gregory of Nyssa. Proceedings of the Fifth International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Mainz, 6–​ 10 September 1982), ed. Andreas Spira (Cambridge, MA, 1984), 33–​70. 141 John Chrysostom, The Cult of the Saints:  Select Homilies and Letters, trans. Wendy Mayer (Crestwood, NY, 2006). 142 Marina Détoraki, “Greek Passions of the Martyrs in Byzantium,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, ed. Stephanos Efthymiadis, 2  vols. (Farnham, 2011–​14), 2:61–​101. 143 Jacqueline Amat, ed. and trans., Passion de Perpétue et Félicité, SC 417. 144 See Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Un sermon anonyme en l’honneur de saint Denis de Paris (BHL 2187),” Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France (2013): 214–​ 25; and Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Saint Denis d’après les premiers textes,” in Saint-​ Denis dans l’éternité des rois et reines de France, ed. Pascal Delannoy (Strasbourg, 2015), 28–​33, before the publication of Guyotjeannin and Helvétius, Écrire pour Saint Denis. 145 Monique Goullet, ed., Le légendier de Turin. MS. D.V.3 de la Bibliothèque Nationale Universitaire (Florence, 2014); Martin Heinzelmann, “Ein karolingisches Legendar vom Beginn des 9.  Jahrhunderts. Montpellier, Bibl. Interuniversitaire Faculté Médecine H.55,” in Zwischen Rom und Santiago. Festschrift für Klaus Herbers zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Claudia Alraum et al. (Bochum, 2016), 211–​25. 140

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manuscripts,146 as is that of Eugenia, which relates the story of a young virgin who, dressed as a man, ultimately becoming abbot of an Egyptian monastery.147 When the Anglo-​Saxon Aldhelm (d. 709), around 700, suggested male and female models of virginity to the abbess Hildelith of the double monastery of Barking, he referred to Agatha, Lucy, Eugenia, Thecla, and many others.148 Unfortunately, most of these narratives still await a good critical edition and we often do not know whether they have been translated from Greek into Latin or the reverse. More research is needed on their connections with the biblical apocrypha and their spread between East and West.149 The Lives of saints also represent a major source for early Eastern monasticism: Greek hagiography is an enormous corpus, of which a useful synthesis already exists.150 The archetype, or at least the earliest of these Lives, is that of Antony, by the patriarch Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373).151 Written for Western monks, this is certainly one of the first Lives translated into Latin, and it had considerable success in both East and West.152 The Life of Pachomius, which is the first example of the genre of Lives of a monastic founder and leader, is a complex case; the question is whether the original Life was Coptic or Greek (which both exist in multiple redactions), and how these versions relate to the Latin and Arabic translations as well as the other texts in the Pachomian tradition.153 The second Greek Life was translated by Dionysius









Maria Carmen Viggiani, Sandra Isetta, and Monique Goullet, “Passio Marinae, BHL 5303c,” in Goullet, Le légendier de Turin, 730–​49. 147 Gordon Whatley, “Passio Eugeniae, BHL 2666,” in Goullet, Le légendier de Turin, 671–​703. 148 Aldhelm, De virginitate I. Prosa, c. 44 and De virginitate II. Carmen, in Aldhelmi opera, MGH AA 15, 296–​8 and 431. See Sarah Foot, “Flores ecclesiae: Women in Early Anglo-​ Saxon Monasticism,” in Melville and Müller, Female vita religiosa,  173–​5. 149 For pioneering works, see Franca Ela Consolino, “Modelli di santità femminile nelle più antiche Passioni romane,” Augustinianum 24 (1984): 83–​113; Consolino, “La donna negli Acta martyrum,” in La donna nel pensiero cristiano antico, ed. Umberto Mattioli (Genova, 1992), 95–​117; Alberto D’Anna, ed., Tradizioni apocrife e tradizioni agiografiche. Fonti e ricerche a confronto, Sanctorum 4 (2007): 7–​149. 150 Stephanos Efthymiadis et al., “Greek Hagiography in Late Antiquity (Fourth-​Seventh Centuries),” in Efthymiadis, Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, 1:35–​94. 151 BHG 140: Athanasius of Alexandria, Vie d’Antoine, ed. and trans. Gerard J. M. Bartelink, SC 400; and BHO 68:  Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony:  The Coptic Life and the Greek Life, trans. Tim Vivian and Apostolos N. Athanassakis (Kalamazoo, MI, 2003). 152 For the first Latin translation (BHL 609e), see Athanasius of Alexandria, Vita di Antonio, ed. Gerard J. M. Bartelink (Milan, 1974); for the second Latin translation (BHL 609), see Evagrius, Vita Antonii auctore Evagrio, AASS, Jan. II (Antwerp, 1643), 120–​48 (3rd ed., 485–​506). 153 James E. Goehring, The Letter of Ammon and Pachomian Monasticism (Berlin, 1986), 3–​23. 146

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Exiguus (d. c. 540),154 but a different Latin Life was even more widely transmitted in the West.155 The most complex case is that of the Apophthegmata Patrum, a collection of sayings and deeds of the Desert Fathers which did not lead to the writing of Lives, but which spread their wisdom first by oral transmission from master to disciple, from one kellion (habitation of one or more ascetics) to another.156 These stories gave rise to true collections. The success of the History of the Monks of Egypt157 reached far beyond monastic circles; it was translated into Latin, probably by Rufinus.158 But the principal author who drew upon this literature was the monk Palladius around 420159 in his Historia Lausiaca,160 named after Lausiakos, the eunuch and chamberlain of Theodosius II who apparently commissioned the work. In its seventy-​one brief chapters, twenty of which are about women, the author combines the Apophthegmata with miracles and literary biography to recount his experiences in Egypt. Transmitted in Constantinople, but also very broadly in the West,161 the Historia Lausiaca constitutes an outstanding











BHG 1400: François Halkin, ed., Sancti Pachomii vitae graecae (Brussels, 1932), 166–​271. BHL 6410: Vita Pachomii interprete Dionysio Exiguo, in Henri van Cranenburgh, ed., La Vie latine de saint Pachôme. Édition critique (Brussels, 1969). 155 BHL 6411–​12:  Albrecht Diem and Hildegund Müller, eds., Vita Pachomii; “‘Vita, Regula, Sermo.’ Eine unbekannte lateinische ‘Vita Pacomii’ als Lehrtext für ungebildete Mönche und als Traktat über das Sprechen,” in Zwischen Niederschrift une Wiederschrift. Frühmittelalterliche Hagiographie und Historiographie im Spannungsfeld von Kompendienüberlieferung und Editionstechnik, ed. Richard Corradini and Max Diesenberger (Vienna, 2010), 223–​72. 156 John Wortley, ed. and trans., The Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers:  A Select Edition and Complete English Translation (in Greek and English) (Cambridge, 2013). For a more exhaustive edition, see Jean-​Claude Guy, ed. and trans., Les apophtegmes des Pères. Collection systématique, 3 vols., SC 387, 474, and 498. 157 BHG 1433–​4: André-​J. Festugière, ed., Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. Édition critique et traduction annotée (Brussels, 1971); English translation:  Andrew Cain, trans., The Greek Historia Monachorum in Aegypto: Monastic Hagiography in the Late Fourth Century (Oxford, 2016). 158 BHL 6524; see Eva Schulz-​Flügel, “Zur Entstehung der Corpora Vitae Patrum,” in Critica, Classica, Orientalia, Ascetica, Liturgica, ed. Elizabeth A. Livingstone (Leuven, 1989), 289–​300; Tyrannius Rufinus, Historia monachorum sive de vita sanctorum patrum, ed. Eva Schulz-​Flügel (Berlin, 1990). 159 Bernard Flusin, “Pallade d’Hélénopolis,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité, 12.1 (Paris, 1984), 113–​26. 160 BHG 1435–​8:  Palladius, Historia Lausiaca. Geschichten aus dem frühen Mönchtum, ed. Adelheid Hübner (Freiburg, 2016); English translation, Robert T. Meyer, trans., Palladius: The Lausiac History (London, 1965). See Claudia Rapp, “Palladius, Lausus and the Historia Lausiaca,” in Novum Millennium:  Studies on Byzantine History and Culture Dedicated to Paul Speck, ed. Claudia Sode and Sarolta Takács (Aldershot, 1999),  63–​81. 161 BHL 6532–​ 4:  Adelheid Wellhausen, ed., Die lateinische Übersetzung der Historia Lausiaca des Palladius. Textausgabe mit Einleitung (Berlin, 2003). See also Heinzelmann, “L’hagiographie mérovingienne,” 34–5. 154

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work of monastic propaganda, owing in large part to its lively stories written in simple language. The works of the sixth-​century Palestinian monk John Moschos are in the same vein. A friend of Sophronius, who would become the patriarch of Jerusalem, Moschos traveled among the monasteries of Palestine and Syria, and also those of Egypt, gathering anecdotes and teachings. He then wrote the Spiritual Meadow,162 doubtless finished after his death in Cyprus in 619, during the Persian occupation of Palestine. This work is one of the most widespread in Eastern Christianity. The sanctity attributed to many bishops (some of them having been monks) was closely linked to the authority they acquired.163 Several patriarchs of Constantinople are considered saints, such as Gregory of Nazianzus (d. c. 390) and John Chrysostom (d. 407), mentioned above. The local population sometimes pushed a monk onto the bishop’s throne with more or less success: in Galatia, Theodore of Sycheon, elected bishop of Anastioupolis, had to resign for incompetence;164 in Lycia, Nicholas of Sion ended up as bishop of Pinara without known incident and had a cathedral built.165 In addition to their presence among the ranks of the martyrs, women occupied an important place in monasticism. Some of the holy women of the fourth century observed domestic asceticism without actually entering a monastery:166 Olympia, who was a deaconess;167 Melania the Younger (d. 439), well known in the West;168 Macrina, sister of Basil of Caesarea and Gregory



BHG 1441–​2:  John Moschos, Le pré spirituel, ed. and trans. Marie-​Joseph Rouët de Journel, SC 12; English translation, John Wortley, trans., The Spiritual Meadow by John Moschos (Kalamazoo, MI, 1992). 163 Claudia Rapp, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition (Berkeley, CA, 2005). 164 BHG 1748:  André-​J. Festugière, ed. and trans., Vie de Théodore de Sykéôn, 2  vols. (Brussels, 1970); partial English translation in Elizabeth Dawes and Norman Baynes, Three Byzantine Saints:  Contemporary Biographies Translated from the Greek (Oxford, 1948), 88–​192. See Michel Kaplan, “Le saint, le village et la cité,” in Pouvoirs, église et sainteté. Essais sur la société byzantine (Paris, 2011), 273–​90. 165 BHG 1347: Ihor and Nancy Ševčenko, ed. and trans., The Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion (Brookline, MA, 1984); see also Michel Kaplan, “L’espace et le sacré d’après les sources hagiographiques,” in Kaplan, Pouvoirs, église et sainteté, 367–​410. 166 See the article by Magnani in this volume. 167 BHG 1374–​5:  John Chrysostom, Lettres à Olympias 2, ed. and trans. Anne-​Marie Malingrey, SC 13bis, 407–​49; English translation, Elizabeth A. Clark, Jerome, Chrysostom and Friends (New York, 1979), 127–​57. 168 BHG 1241: Denys Gorce, ed. and trans., Vie de Sainte Mélanie, SC 90; English translation, Elizabeth A. Clark, The Life of Melania the Younger (New York, 1984). For the Latin Life, see BHL 5885: Patrick Laurence, La vie latine de sainte Mélanie par Gérontius. Édition critique, traduction et commentaire ( Jerusalem, 2002). 162

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of Nyssa.169 To satisfy their monastic vocation, other women went so far as to disguise themselves as men, following the example of the martyr Eugenia.170 This was the case of a native of Perga in Pamphylia, Matrona, whose husband opposed her monastic vocation; she disguised herself as a eunuch named Babylos to enter the monastery founded by Bassianos. The deception was revealed to Bassianos (who was also a saint) and he sent her to a female monastery of Emesa in Syria, where she ended up becoming abbess. To avoid the arrival of her husband, she fled to Beirut, where she took up residence in an ancient pagan temple, joined by many women and girls who became nuns. When her husband died, she returned to Constantinople, where, with the help of Bassianos, she founded a new monastery, probably a double community.171 In the Syriac world, the main source for information on holy men, holy women, ascetics, and monks, is a hagiographical corpus that crosses linguistic boundaries.172 Several collections of monastic biographies and monastic histories provide information on monasticism in the West and East Syriac Churches in different periods and regions. The best-​known hagiographer from this region is Theodoret of Cyrus. Born in Antioch in 393, he spent seven years in a monastery near Apamea in Syria before being elected bishop of Cyrus (Ḳūrus, in the far north of modern Syria). At first a confirmed Nestorian, in 451 he joined the Council of Chalcedon. He died around 460, leaving a considerable body of theological, epistolary, and historical writings in Greek. In addition to a Historia ecclesiastica which continues that of Eusebius of Caesarea, he wrote a History of the Monks of Syria or Historia philothaea, comprising thirty Lives of monks, followed by a Treatise on Charity.173 Ten of the monks were still alive when he wrote his History; just three were women, two





BHG 1012:  Gregory of Nyssa, Vie de Sainte Macrine, ed. and trans. Pierre Maraval, SC 178; English translation, Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Saint Macrina, trans. Kevin Corrigan (Toronto, 1989). 170 Évelyne Patlagean, “L’histoire de la femme déguisée en moine et l’évolution de la sainteté féminine à Byzance,” Studi Medievali 17 (1976): 597–​623. 171 BHG 1221: Hippolyte Delehaye, ed., Vie de Matrona de Perge, AASS, Nov. III, cols. 790–​ 813; English translation by Jeffrey M. Featherstone, in Holy Women of Byzantium, ed. Alice-​Mary Talbot (Washington, DC, 1996), 13–​64. See Nathalie Delierneux, “The Literary Portrait of Byzantine Female Saints,” in Efthymiadis, Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, 2:363–​86. 172 See Jean Maurice Fiey, Saints syriaques (Princeton, NJ, 2004); Sebastian P. Brock, “Syriac Hagiography,” in Efthymiadis, Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, 1:259–​83; André Binggeli, ed., L’hagiographie syriaque (Paris, 2012); André Binggeli, “La vie quotidienne des moines en Syrie-​Mésopotamie au miroir déformant des sources littéraires (IVe–​Xe siècle),” in Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines, 179–​91. 173 BHG 1678–​ 80:  Theodoret of Cyrus, Histoire des moines de Syrie, ed. and trans. Pierre Canivet and Alice Leroy-​ Molinghen, 2  vols., SC 234 and 257; English

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of whose Lives are grouped in the same chapter. The History of the Monks of Syria was later translated in part into Syriac.174 Theodoret tells the story of Julian Saba (the Elder, d. 367), one of the first ascetics who gathered a small community around him in the desert of Osrhoene, and the life of the famous Simeon Stylites (the Elder, d. 459), among others. The two Simeons had many imitators. Simeon the Elder, the inventor of this type of asceticism, has a rich and very complex hagiographical tradition.175 Besides the chapter which Theodoret wrote about him while he was still alive, there is a Syriac Life, contained in a manuscript dated to 474,176 and a Greek Life written by Antony, presumably one of his disciples, which was the basis of an early Latin translation known to Gregory of Tours. These texts, which need new critical editions, are transmitted in numerous Greek and Latin manuscripts.177 When the sanctuary of Simeon became monophysite, a rival Chalcedonian site was proposed to him at the other end of Antioch, on Mount Admirable, that of Simeon Stylites the Younger (521–​96). In this case, hagiography is the key to understanding archaeological findings.178 Cyril of Scythopolis (Tel Beït-​Shéan, in Israel) is another author of multiple Lives in Greek. He was born around 525, and became a disciple of Sabas (439–​ 532), whom he met in adolescence. Tonsured in 543, he followed various spiritual masters, and lived for a while as a hermit near the Jordan, before entering the monastery of Euthimius. In 557, he moved finally to the Great Laura of Sabas, but died shortly afterwards. He left behind seven Lives of varying length, of the monks Euthimius, Sabas, John the Hesichiaste, Kyriakus, Theodosius, Theognius, and Abraamius.179 The two longest Lives are those of Euthimius





translation, Theodoret of Cyrus, A History of the Monks of Syria, trans. Richard M. Price (Kalamazoo, MI, 1985). See Pierre Canivet, Le monachisme syrien selon Théodoret de Cyr (Paris, 1977). 174 Bernard Outtier, “Notule sur les versions orientales de l’Histoire Philothée (CPG 6221),” in Antidoron. Hulde aan Dr. Maurits Geerard, vol. 1 (Wetteren, 1984), 73–​80. 175 See Bernard Flusin, “Syméon et les philologues ou la mort du stylite,” in Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance, Textes, images et monuments, ed. Catherine Jolivet-​Lévy, Michel Kaplan, and Jean-​Pierre Sodini (Paris, 1993), 1–​23. 176 BHO 1121 and 1124:  P. Bedjan, ed., Vie syriaque de Syméon Stylite, Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum 4 (Paris 1894), 507–​644; English translation: Robert Doran, trans., The Lives of Simeon Stylites (Kalamazoo, MI, 1992), who has also translated the Greek Lives by Theodoret and Antonius. 177 BHG 1682–​1685k; BHL 7956–​61; see Flusin, “Syméon,” 7–​9. 178 BHG 1689: Paul Van den Ven, ed., La vie ancienne de S. Syméon Stylite le Jeune (Brussels, 1962), 255–​316. On archaeology, see the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 179 Eduard Schwartz, Kyrillos von Scythopolis (Leipzig, 1939); Cyril of Scythopolis, Lives of the Monks of Palestine by Cyril of Scythopolis, trans. Richard M. Price (Kalamazoo, MI, 1991). See Bernard Flusin, Miracle et histoire dans l’œuvre de Cyrille de Scythopolis (Paris,

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and Sabas, but Cyril was strongly influenced by the vision of Euthimius, the teacher of Sabas, transmitted in the Laura of Sabas, which is presented as the archetype of monasticism and imposes its model on other monasteries. These Lives tell us a great deal about the creation of the patriarchate of Jerusalem, the involvement of monks, and the theological disputes of sixth-​century Palestine. The term laura, which originally designated a path leading from one hermitage to another, became synonymous in the Byzantine world with a form of monastic life that combined a cenobitic house with hermitages of two or three monks who were judged worthy of living in relative isolation. The prestige of the Laura of Sabas, which still exists today above the Kidron Valley, is thus as one of the principal centers of Byzantine monasticism, whose later directions would certainly have surprised its founder. The outstanding Lives of the Eastern Saints (c. 566−568), written in Syriac by the bishop John of Ephesus (d. 586), a confidant of the emperor Justinian and also the author of an ecclesiastical history, is another major source for the sixth century. This text recounts the stories of the anti-​Chalcedonian monks and is a counterpart to the Chalcedonian Lives written by Cyril of Scythopolis.180 It provides a unique insight into the monastic communities of northern Syria at a time of persecution by the imperial Chalcedonian orthodoxy, when monastic life was disrupted and scores of monks were expelled from their monasteries and sent into exile in Egypt, where John met some of them. The History of Pseudo-​Zachariah also has information about the monasteries in the vicinity of Amida (modern Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey) and Edessa in that period.181 These histories provide information about distinctive forms of asceticism developed in the context of periodic threats by the Huns and the Persians in the border regions of the empires, as well as of the sporadic persecutions to enforce the Chalcedonian faith and imperial orthodoxy. The Egyptian model of monasticism grew more and more prestigious in the Syriac tradition, and a well-​known compilation of texts on the Egyptian fathers, entitled The Paradise, was put together by the seventh-​century East Syriac monk “Enanisho” and circulated widely.182 The histories were taken



1983); Joseph Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism: A Comparative Study in Eastern Monasticism, Fourth to Seventh Centuries (Washington, DC, 1995). See Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Asceticism and Society in Crisis: John of Ephesus and the Lives of the Eastern Saints (Berkeley, CA, 1990). 181 Geoffrey Greatrex, trans., The Chronicle of Pseudo-​Zachariah Rhetor: Church and War in Late Antiquity (Liverpool, 2011). 182 “Enanisho,” The Book of Paradise, Being the Histories and Sayings of the Monks and Ascetics of the Egyptian Desert by Palladius, Hieronymus and Others: The Syriac Texts, According to the Recension of “Anân-​Îshô” of Bêth ‘Âbhê, ed. E. A. W. Budge (London, 1904).

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from sixth-​century Syriac versions of the Historia Lausiaca by Palladius, the Historia Monachorum, and the Apophthegmata Patrum. An important reform of East Syrian monasticism is attributed to Mar Abraham of Kaškar in southern Iraq (d. c. 586),183 who allegedly traveled to the desert of Scetis in Egypt, to the Sinai, and to Jerusalem, before founding “the Great Monastery” on Mount Izla. He issued a new rule for his foundation in 570, modeled on the Egyptian type of monasticism, which promoted a way of life associating solitary and cenobitic lifestyles. His disciples soon disseminated this model all over Mesopotamia and Persia. Later, the history of the origins of eastern monasticism was reinvented in a series of Lives that attributed the introduction of Egyptian monastic forms in Mesopotamia to Mar Awgen/​Eugenios and his alleged seventy-​two disciples.184 Awgen is not mentioned in any source before the late seventh century, which indicates that his history is a late re-​elaboration. Although fictitious, these Lives contain topographical details as well as realia on monastic life that can be of interest. Numerous Lives of monastic founders were produced in the Sassanid Empire, in verse and in prose, like the verse Life of the late sixth-​century monastic founder Rabban Bar ‘Idta (d. 612),185 written by a certain John (on which a certain Abraham states that he based his own verse version), or the prose Life of another founder, Rabban Hormizd, to cite just two examples.186 Monasteries were places where manuscripts were copied, and where knowledge was transmitted.187 The Book of the Founders of Schools and Monasteries, also known as the Book of Chastity, is an East Syrian collection of abbreviated Lives of monks who founded schools and monasteries in the decades after Mar Awgen and his disciples; it was composed in the 850s by Išo’denaḥ, bishop of Baṣra.188 It is a unique source of information on the scholastic networks in the Church of the East, on the importance attached to the training of monks for the missions to Central and East Asia, and on the disputations with Manicheans and Zoroastrians, as well as with the Syrian Orthodox, who challenged the East Syrians at the court of the shahs.

BHO 14. On Abraham and his achievements, see Chialà, “Les règles monastiques syro-​orientales,” 114–​18. 184 BHO 120–​2, in two recensions. Disciples: twelve Lives are known, not all edited so far. 185 BHO 137. 186 Jean Maurice Fiey, Assyrie chrétienne. Contribution à l’étude de l’histoire, de l’archéologie et de la géographie ecclésiastiques et monastiques du Nord de l’Iraq, 3 vols. (Beirut, 1965–​8), 1:270–​83 and 2:533–​48. 187 Muriel Debié, “Livres et monastères en Syrie-​ Mésopotamie d’après les sources syriaques,” in Jullien, Le monachisme syriaque, 123–​68. 188 Išo’denaḥ of Baṣra, Le livre de la chasteté composé par Jésusdenah, évêque de Baçrah, ed. and trans. Jean-​Baptiste Chabot, in Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire 16 (1896): 225–​92. 183

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Monastic schools in the region known as Bet Qatraye (which comprised the peninsula of Qatar but also its hinterland and the coast of northeast Arabia as far as Oman and the islands) are known for having produced in the sixth and seventh centuries important monastic Syriac writers, including Isaac of Nineveh, Dadišo, Gabriel, Abraham bar Lipeh, Aḥob, all nicknamed Qatraya (from Qatar), who wrote ascetic, biblical liturgical, and mystical works.189 Their production of a few hagiographical works as well gives precious information about monastic spirituality and life on these shores until well into the Islamic period.

Conclusion We hope to have shown the wealth of extant sources for the history of monasticism in East and West in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, but also the problems of interpretation that they present and the extensive research that remains to be done. This period saw the development of extremely diverse ascetic and monastic ways of life, which authorities attempted to unify little by little, not without difficulty. The writings of the time attest to the numerous conflicts that could arise between monks and their hierarchy, and sometimes among the monks themselves, but also the forms of solidarity that developed among them. In fact, they shared many common traditions, reading and exchanging the same texts. According to the Life of Genevieve, written in 520, from atop his column Simeon Stylites the Elder had enjoined Syrian merchants on their way to distant Gaul to obtain news of the Parisian virgin and to send her his greetings!190 The history of these connections between the monastic trends in different regions of the world remains to be written, and requires an extensive linguistic background: not only is there a vast bibliography in a multitude of modern languages, but the extant sources, many of them still unpublished, are written in a great variety of ancient languages. No modern translation can transmit the experience of reading these texts in their original language, in their original form. The study of manuscripts benefits from ever more refined new technologies. The digitization of an increasing number of sources will facilitate



See Jean Maurice Fiey, “Ichô‘dnah, métropolite de Basra, et son œuvre,” L’Orient syrien 11 (1966): 431–​50. Sebastian P. Brock, “Syriac Writers from Beth Qatraye,” Aram periodical 11–​12 (1999–​2000): 85–​96. 190 Vita Genovefae 27, 226. 189

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their use more than ever before. Archaeological excavations are constantly in progress, resulting in discoveries of new remains or documents that continuously enrich our knowledge of the period. Without a doubt, future research will reveal an ancient monastic world that was much more open, multicultural, and connected than has been imagined until now.

Bibliography Battle, Columba M. Die ‘Adhortationes sanctorum’ (‘Verba Seniorum’) im lateinischen Mittelalter. Überlieferung, Fortleben und Wirkung. Münster, 1972. Bottazzi, Marialuisa et al., eds. La società monastica nei secoli VI–XII. Sentieri di ricerca. Atelier jeunes chercheurs sur le monachisme médiéval. Rome and Trieste, 2016. Boud’hors, Anne. “Coptic Literature.” In Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, edited by Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, 224–46. Oxford, 2012. De Rubeis, Flavia, and Federico Marazzi, eds. Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–XI). Topografia e strutture. Rome, 2008. Delehaye, Hippolyte. Les passions des martyrs et les genres littéraires. Brussels, 1921; 2nd ed. 1966. Delouis, Olivier, and Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert, eds. La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–Xe siècle), I. L’état des sources. Cairo and Athens, 2015. Desprez, Vincent. Le monachisme primitif. Des origines jusqu’au concile d’Éphèse. Bégrollesen-Mauges, 1998. Destefanis, Eleonora, ed. L’eredità di san Colombano. Memoria e culto attraverso il Medioevo. Rennes, 2017. Dey, Hendrik, and Elizabeth Fentress, eds. Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, 2011. Dunn, Marilyn. “Asceticism and Monasticism, II:  Western.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, 2:  Constantine to c.  600, edited by Augustine Casiday and Frederick W. Norris, 669–90. Cambridge, 2007. Duval, Yvette. Auprès des saints corps et âme. L’inhumation “ad sanctos” dans la chrétienté d’Orient et d’Occident du IIIe au VIIe siècle. Paris, 1988. Efthymiadis, Stephanos, ed. The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography. 2 vols. Farnham, 2011–14. Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550. 7 vols. Turnhout, 1994–. Hamburger, Jeffrey, and Susan Marti, eds. Crown and Veil. Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries. New York, 2008. Hamburger, Jeffrey, et al., eds. Frauen—Kloster—Kunst. Neue Forschungen zur Kulturgeschichte des Mittelalters. Turnhout, 2007. Heinzelmann, Martin. “L’hagiographie mérovingienne:  panorama des documents potentiels.” In L’hagiographie mérovingienne à travers ses réécritures, edited by Monique Goullet et al., 27–82. Ostfildern, 2010. Helvétius, Anne-Marie, and Michel Kaplan. “Asceticism and Its Institutions.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, 3: Early Medieval Christianities (c. 600–c. 1100), edited by Thomas Noble and Julia Smith, 275–98 and 703–12. Cambridge, 2008.

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Anne-Marie Helvétius   et al. Isaia, Marie-Céline, and Thomas Granier, eds. Normes et hagiographie dans l’Occident latin (VIe–XVIe siècle). Turnhout, 2014. Jullien, Françoise, ed. Le monachisme syriaque. Paris, 2010. Lauwers, Michel, ed. Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval. Turnhout, 2014. Marazzi, Federico. Le città dei monaci. Storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio. Milan, 2015. Martin, José Carlos. Sources latines de l’Espagne tardo-antique et médiévale (Ve–XIVe siècles). Répertoire bibliographique. Paris, 2010. McLaughlin, Terence P. Le très ancien droit monastique de l’Occident. Ligugé and Paris, 1935. Melville, Gert, and Anne Müller, eds. Female vita religiosa between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages: Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts. Berlin and Münster, 2011. Monachesimi d’Oriente e d’Occidente nell’alto Medioevo. LXIV Settimana di Studio (Spoleto, March 31st–April 6th 2016). Spoleto, 2017. Muschiol, Gisela. “Men, Women and Liturgical Practice in the Early Medieval West.” In Gender in the Early Medieval World. East and West, 300–900, edited by Leslie Brubaker and Julia M. H. Smith, 198–216. Cambridge, 2004. Rose, Els. Ritual Memory:  The Apocryphal Acts and Liturgical Commemoration in the Early Medieval West (c. 500–1215). Leiden, 2009. Rubenson, Samuel. “Asceticism and Monasticism, I:  Eastern.” In The Cambridge History of Christianity, 2: Constantine to c. 600, edited by Augustine Casiday and Frederick W. Norris, 637–68. Cambridge, 2007. Vogüé, Adalbert de. Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique de l’antiquité. Première partie: le monachisme latin. 12 vols. Paris, 1991–2008.   Histoire littéraire du mouvement monastique de l’antiquité. Deuxième partie:  le monachisme grec. 3 vols. Rome, 2015.   Les règles monastiques anciennes (400–700). Turnhout, 1985. Wipszycka, Ewa. Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte (IVe–VIIIe siècles). Warsaw, 2009.

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The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries D ar l e n e L .   B ro oks He dstro m a n d H endrik   Dey

Intensive regional surveys and a growing interest in monastic archaeology are providing new evidence for the history of the earliest monastic settlement in both East and West, and demonstrating above all the enormous variety in the morphology of monastic structures and the contexts in which early monastics lived. Monks reoccupied and modified older, sometimes derelict structures such as villas, farms, temples and sanctuaries, and urban houses; they lived in caves and rock-​cut chambers; and they constructed new complexes of the most varied typologies, from small clusters of huts built in perishable materials to large, elaborate structures in stone and mortared masonry.1 The recent surge of attention to the architectural contexts and the material culture of early monasticism has also effectively highlighted the limits of current knowledge regarding the constructed environments inhabited by early monks, and begun to rectify past misconceptions, many of them resulting from past generations of scholars’ reliance on the textual corpus at a time when well-​documented, scientifically excavated monastic sites were few and far between.2 The extant hagiographical and prescriptive texts, while quite numerous for both East and West before 600 c e, are nearly always frustratingly vague on the physical contours of monastic settlement, and very often misleading. Texts produced by or for monks naturally stressed their otherness, their separation from the world, and the distinctiveness of their unique calling. Moreover, prescriptive or normative documents, monastic rules above all, tend to impart

Amr al-​Azm and Daniel J. Hull, “The Hauran Monastic Landscapes Project,” Newsletter of the Council for British Research in the Levant (2004): 31–​2; Béatrice Caseau, “The Fate of Rural Temples in Late Antiquity,” in Recent Research on the Late Antique Countryside, ed. William Bowden, Luke Lavan, and Carlos Machado (Leiden, 2004), 105–​44; Olivier Delouis and Maria Mossakowska-​Gaubert, eds. La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–​Xe siècle) (Cairo, 2011); Federico Marazzi, Le città dei monaci. Storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio (Milan, 2015). 2 Delouis and Mossakowska-​Gaubert, La vie quotidienne des moines. 1

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Figure 4.1  Map of selected monastic sites, East and West. Map by David Jaeger.

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a spurious air of regularity and homogeneity to the monastic experience, when they are in fact responses to a far more complex and heterogeneous reality. These factors, coupled with a tendency to project the origins of the (relatively) more standardized, quadrangular cloister with adjacent church characteristic of the high Middle Ages farther back in time than the evidence warrants, led earlier scholars to assume a much more pronounced distinction between vernacular and monastic architecture than often existed in reality, from one end of Christendom to the other.3 Thus, in East and West alike, probable monastic sites that diverged from presumed norms often failed to be recognized as such, while the identification of other sites once assumed to be monastic has now been called into question or refuted entirely. A number of additional common points emerge from the following survey of early monastic environments in both East and West, among the most important of which is the observation that, for the period before c. 600 ce, the spaces occupied by both male and female monastics are, more often than not, architecturally and archaeologically indistinguishable from the vernacular architecture of the regions in which they are located. In a great number of cases, in the East and perhaps even more so in the West, ascetics occupied existing structures, often with minimal alterations and only essential repairs; and even new constructions conformed with prevailing regional architectural typologies. Even with careful excavation and study, then, it is difficult to confirm monastic provenance on the basis of physical evidence alone.4 The problem is still more acute in cities, which the textual record implies were teeming with monasteries from the fourth century on—​there may indeed have been more ascetic communities in urban environments than in the countryside in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries,5 though their fame, then as now, was eclipsed by remote, forbidding bastions of isolation such as Lérins or Luxeuil in Gaul and the large monastic estates in Egypt.6 But since urban communities generally occupied houses indistinguishable from the rest, located moreover in places often continuously occupied up to the present, it has proven



Oliva Remie Constable, Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World: Lodging, Trade, and Travel in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2003), 29–​37. 4 Kim Bowes, “Houses, Villas and the Archaeology of Asceticism in the Late Roman West,” in Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram, 315–​51. 5 Isabella Baldini Lippolis, “Private Space in Late Antique Cities: Laws and Building Procedures,” in Housing in Late Antiquity, ed. Luke Lavan et  al. (Leiden, 2007), 197–​238. 6 See the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 3

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almost impossible to find them.7 Material traces of female monasticism are thus especially scarce, as nuns were almost always based within the protected confines of towns and cities in the period before 600 ce. One thing, however, is quite clear:  in terms of both their physical structure and the daily routines of their inhabitants, monasteries—​from Ireland to Syria—​very often had much closer links with lay society than the hagiographical and prescriptive sources indicate.

Eastern Monastic Settlements We begin with the eastern Mediterranean, the birthplace of Christian monasticism, where the rise of female and male monastic communities was presented in monastic literature as involving a widespread spate of monastic construction and new settlements. The physical evidence for these communities before 600 c e, however, is elusive. Many discussions of early monastic settlements and their foundation were drawn purely from the literary sources without any supporting archaeological evidence. When monastic settlements were identified, the chronology for construction and later phases was often difficult for earlier excavators to discern. The majority of the Egyptian settlements have been identified as male, monastic communities. Monastic correspondence between archimandrites and female leaders demonstrates that women’s communities did exist, but we do not have any archaeological evidence for these settlements.8 Since religious women predominantly lived in domestic quarters that were similar to non-​monastic dwellings, and as monastics may not have owned the gendered items that male excavators in the early twentieth century anticipated as artifacts of female occupation, the sites of female monastics are indistinguishable from other domestic habitation, and thus the line between vernacular and monastic architecture is almost entirely blurred.9



Catherine Saliou, Les lois des bâtiments. Voisinage et habitat urbain dans l’empire romain. Recherches sur les rapports entre le droit et la construction privée, du siècle d’Auguste au siècle de Justinien (Beirut, 1994). 8 Claudia Rapp, “Early Monasticism in Egypt,” in Female vita religiosa between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages: Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts, ed. Gert Melville and Anne Müller (Zurich, 2011), 21–​42. 9 Carolyn S. Sniveley, “Invisible in the Community? The Evidence for Early Women’s Monasticism in the southern Balkan Peninsula,” in Shaping Community:  The Art and Archaeology of Monasticism, ed. Shelia McNally (Oxford, 2001), 57–​66; James Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert:  Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism (Harrisburg, PA, 1999),  53–​72. 7

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Monastic literature points to the development of monastic settlements in the East as a somewhat linear process that began in the late third century. Greater scrutiny of late antique sources and documentary evidence, including papyri, ostraca (accounts and letters written on broken ceramic sherds), and inscriptions, reveals a far more complex and moderate process of settlement.10 Thus, the literary sources and the archaeological evidence need to be read in concert to ascertain when and where monasteries were built. Far too often, discussions of the archaeology of early monasticism in the East have been based on literary traditions alone, or on the physical presence of a church even where essential buildings for housing a monastic community are lacking. Egypt, Palestine, and Syria offer the greatest evidence for early forms of monastic settlement. While early monastic literature highlights the importance of physical isolation from non-​monastic communities in the desert, the archaeological evidence points to a diversity of locations for monasteries, which were often located in closer proximity to settlements than previously thought.11

Egypt Monastic communities elected to establish settlements in a variety of locations. Some were along the edges of the Nile or in nearby desert cliffs in naturally formed caves or preexisting tombs, which must have made the settlements quite visible and known to local communities traveling by foot or by boat.12 Other communities were large, purpose-​built settlements that looked like small villages; and still others were more modest settlements, emerging from the remodeling of abandoned quarries, tombs, or temples. The documentary evidence from ostraca and papyri clearly illustrates that the affinity for isolation espoused in the literary sources was not evident in daily living: monks were deeply engaged in the lives and experiences of lay communities.13



Maria Chiara Giorda, “Le désert devint une ville.” À la recherche d’une identité monastique en Égypte dans l’antiquité tardive (Saarbrücken, 2010). 11 Darlene Brooks Hedstrom, “Divine Architects:  Designing the Monastic Dwelling Place,” in Egypt in the Byzantine World, 300–​700, ed. Roger Bagnall (Cambridge, 2007), 368–​89; Ewa Wipszycka, Moines et communautés monastiques en Égypte (IVe–​VIIIe siècles) (Warsaw, 2009). 12 Darlene Brooks Hedstrom, The Egyptian Monastic Landscape in Late Antique Egypt: An Archaeological Reconstruction (Cambridge, 2017). 13 Malcolm Choat, “Property of Ownership and Tax Payment in Fourth-​ Century Monasticism,” in Monastic Estates in Late Antique and Early Islamic Egypt: Ostraca, Papyri, and Essays in Memory of Sarah Clackson, ed. Anne Boud’hors et  al. (Cincinnati, OH, 2009), 129–​40.

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The two most famous settlements known to the Mediterranean monastic world, thanks to the writings of travelers to Egypt such as John Cassian (d. 435), Jerome (d. 420), and others, are Kellia and Scetis. They are both located in the northwest Delta in Lower Egypt, and are examples of large monastic communities that were not cenobitic, but rather loose configurations of independent monastic residences that resembled small villages. Kellia (“the Cells”) consists of seventeen discrete areas or mounds with at least 1,500 buildings, including several churches, chapels, martyria, and oratories. As the entire community was not enclosed, the individual dwellings consist of a range of forms, from two-​roomed private residences for a solitary monk to fifty-​roomed buildings that could house more than a dozen monks. Although Kellia was eventually abandoned in the ninth century, Scetis (modern Wadi Natrun) has had a continuous monastic presence. Excavations at and near the four contemporary monasteries (Dayr Anba Maqar, Dayr Anba Bishoi, Dayr al-​Suryan, and Dayr al-​Baramous), as well as in between these sites, illustrate that these settlements originally began as unenclosed clusters of residences.14 The monastic communities dot a low-​lying valley marked by several large natron (salt) lakes. With similar residential designs to Kellia, Scetis had hundreds of multi-​roomed buildings scattered throughout the desert and clustered together to form small villages with churches, monastic houses, guest halls, and kitchen facilities.15 Only a few of these structures, however, may date to before 600, and the majority were built in the period after the Arab conquest. Numerous cliffs line the Nile Valley and are pierced by pharaonic tombs. Monks often used the long-​abandoned tombs, with their multi-​roomed floor plans, as a foundation for a new settlement and then built out from the opening onto the terraces with mud brick and timber additions. The occupants Christianized the residences with white plaster upon which they painted crosses, added multicolored Christian iconographic programs, and inscribed their Coptic prayers. The most well-​known concentration of monastic adaptive reuse of pharaonic tombs and mortuary complexes is found in the western hills of Thebes in Upper Egypt.16 Hundreds of monks lived in Thebes, at communities such



Hugh Evelyn White, The Monasteries of the Wadi Natrun, 3 vols. (New York, 1932). Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom, Stephen J. Davis, et al., “New Archaeology at Ancient Scetis:  Surveys and Initial Excavations at the Monastery of St. John the Little in Wadi al-​Natrun:  Yale Monastic Archaeology Project,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 64 (2010): 217–​28; Karel Innemée, “Excavations at Deir al-​Baramus 2002–​2005,” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 44 (2005): 55–​68. 16 Guy Lecuyot, “The Valley of the Queens in the Coptic Period,” in Acts of the Fifth International Coptic Congress, Washington D.C., 11–​16 August 1992, vol. 2/​1, ed. David W. Johnson (Rome, 1993), 263–​76. 14 15

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as the Monastery of St. Phoibammon, Deir el-​Roumi, Deir el-​Medina, Deir el-​Bachit, and Deir el-​Bahri. The sites include invaluable ostraca documenting monastic life, leases of cells, and economic exchanges with local communities. The Monastery of Epiphanius, a small seventh-​century residence, was excavated in 1913–​14 and typifies the method of extension of an ancient tomb for late antique habitation.17 In the region of Fayyum, the monastic community at Naqlun is the best representative of a late antique settlement in a semi-​oasis area. It is a site with two distinct components, including more than ninety independent residences (Coptic ma nshōpe; Arabic manshubiya) built into the natural shale and limestone cliffs.18 Further south at the site of Esna, south of Thebes, a team discovered fifteen sixth-​century semi-​subterranean monastic dwellings.19 The buildings are cut into the geophysical strata, and are accessed only by a staircase that leads down from the desert valley into a sunken open-​ air courtyard with attached sleeping quarters, oratories, and kitchens. All of these sites were relatively unknown outside Egypt and therefore offer a completely different perspective on monasticism in Egypt from that found in the hagiographic literature associated with Antony (d. 356), the Desert Fathers, and Pachomius (d. 348). Although Pachomius and his cenobitic monasteries were a central feature of Egyptian monasticism, we do not have any archaeological remains for his multi-​site community, which had dissolved by the early sixth century. The best example of Upper Egyptian cenobitic monasticism is found near the cities of Sohag and Akhmim at the White Monastery associated with Shenoute of Atripe (d. 465). Shenoute’s surviving works—​including treatises, sermons, monastic rules, and homilies in the Canons and Discourses—​provide the largest literary corpus of the Sahidic dialect (the earliest Coptic dialect) from one author, with over 3,800 pages preserved.20 Fortunately the remains of Shenoute’s White Monastery Federation are still visible and include several components: a large men’s community with its imposing fifth-​century limestone church, one of the best preserved late antique Christian monuments still in use (now the White Monastery);21 a second men’s community at the

Herbert Winlock and Walter E. Crum, The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, 2 vols. (New York, 1926). 18 Wlodzimierz Godlewski, “The Hermitage of Apa Phoibamon,” in Les civilisations du bassin méditerranéen. Hommages à Joachim Sliwa, ed. Joachim Sliwa, Krzystztof Cialowicz, and Janusz Ostrowski (Cracow, 2000), 92–8. 19 Serge Sauneron and Jean Jacquet. Les ermitages du désert d’Esna, 4 vols. (Cairo, 1972). 20 Stephen Emmel, Shenoute’s Literary Corpus (Leuven, 2004). 21 Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom et al., “The White Monastery Federation Project: Survey and Mapping at the Monastery of Apa Shenoute (Dayr al-​Anba Shinūda), Sohag, 17

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nearby Red Monastery;22 a women’s community to the south in the village of Atripe;23 a collection of independent hermitages in the limestone cliffs to the west; and the tomb of its most revered leader, Shenoute.24 Another example of a large purpose-​built monastery founded in the late fifth and sixth century is the Monastery of Jeremias, built in the valley just south of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. The site provides a rich array of material evidence with three elaborate stone and mud brick churches, a refectory, residences, chapels, a hospital, and a series of rooms for monks and pilgrims in stone, wood, and mud brick.25 A further contemporary and extensively excavated site in Middle Egypt is at Bawit. It contains a complex settlement known as the Monastery of Apa Apollo, with an unprecedented number of monastic residences covering 40 hectares.26 Papyri and ostraca recovered from the Monastery of Apollo reveal a monastic community with wide economic ties to a variety of smaller monastic settlements and neighboring cities, illustrating the interconnectivity between lay and monastic communities.27







2005–​2007,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 65 (2013): 333–​64; Peter Grossmann et al., “Second Report on the Excavation of the Monastery of Apa Shenute (Dayr Anba Shinuda) at Suhag,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 63 (2009): 167–​220. 22 Elizabeth Bolman, ed. The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt (New Haven, CT, 2016). 23 Excavation by Yale Monastic Archaeology Project South (Sohag), http://​egyptology​.​ yale.edu/​expeditions/​current-​expeditions/​yale-​monastic-​archaeology-​project-​south-​ sohag/​atripe (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 24 Elizabeth Bolman, Stephen Davis, and Gillian Pyke, with contributions by M. Abdel Rahim, et al. “Shenoute and a Newly Discovered Tomb Chapel at the White Monastery,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18 (2010): 453–​62; Stephen Davis et al., “Life and Death in Lower and Upper Egypt: A Report on Recent Monastic Archaeology at Yale,” Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 3 (2012): 9–​26. 25 James E. Quibell, Excavations at Saqqara (1905–​1910) (Cairo, 1907–​13). 26 Tomasz Herbich and Dominique Bénazeth, “Le kôm de Baouît:  étapes d’une cartographie,” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 108 (2008):  165–​204; Emile Chassinat, Fouilles à Baouit, vol. 13 (Cairo, 1911); Jean Clédat, Le monastère et la nécropole de Baouit, vols. 12 and 39 (Cairo, 1904–​16); Jean Clédat, Le monastère et la nécropole de Baouit, ed. Dominique Bénazeth and Marie-​Hélène Ruschowscaya (Cairo, 1999); Dominique Bénazeth, “Histoire des fouilles de Baouit,” in Études Coptes IV (Louvain, 1995), 53–​62. 27 Anne Boud’hors, Ostraca grecs et coptes. Des fouilles de Jean Maspero à Baouit (Cairo, 2004); Sarah Clackson, Coptic and Greek Texts Relating to the Hermopolite Monastery of Apa Apollo (Oxford, 2000); Sarah Clackson, “Reconstructing the Archives of the Monastery of Apollo at Bawit,” in Atti del XXII Congresso Internazionale di Papirologia, Firenze, 23–​29 agosto 1998, ed. Isabella Andorlini et  al. (Florence, 2001), 219–​36; Sarah Clackson, It Is Our Father Who Writes:  Orders from the Monastery of Apollo at Bawit (Cincinnati, OH, 2008).

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Palestine (Gaza and the Judean Desert) Monasticism in the Holy Land is often divided into two areas of activity—​ the land of the Judean desert and the land of Gaza.28 The two areas spawned regional variations in settlement and in literary production that reflect the same pattern of individuality observed in the early monastic settlements of Egypt.29 Perhaps the most famous of its monastic founders is a Cappadocian named Sabas (439–​532 ce), who relocated to the deserts of Judea and established the Great Laura, later known as Mar Saba—​still the most important of the early Palestinian monasteries.30 Over seventy monastic sites nestle around Mar Saba, including the Monastery of Choziba, Gerasimus, and Euthymius. Under Sabas, the Kidron Basin became a monastic center to rival the great reputations of Egyptian and Basilian monasticism.31 Most of the dwellings employ elements of the natural landscape and served as long-​term residences, not merely as temporary shelters. The builders remodeled natural caves with additional walls made of rocks, mud, and fieldstones, and then applied plaster to secure most surfaces. A few residences contained mosaic paving. Doors, windows, and roofing were frequently made from wooden beams, whose post slots and sills are still visible in the cliff faces. Surveys in the 1980s documented the remains of more than fifty-​f ive early settlements in the region of the Dead Sea, Judea, and Jerusalem alone that were not previously recognized as monastic settlements.32 The surveyed







Lorenzo Perrone, “Byzantine Monasticism in Gaza and in the Judean Desert:  A Comparison of Their Spiritual Traditions,” Proche-​Orient Chrétien 62 (2012):  6–​22; Lorenzo Perrone, “Monasticism in the Holy Land:  From the Beginnings to the Crusaders,” Proche-​Orient Chrétien 45 (1995):  31–​63; Vassilios Tzaferis, “Early Christian Monasticism in the Holy Land and Archaeology,” in The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present, ed. Joseph Patrich (Leuven, 2001), 317–​22. 29 Theodoret of Cyrus, Histoire des moines de Syrie, ed. and trans. Pierre Canivet and Alice Leroy-​Molinghen, SC 234 and 257; English translation, Theodoret of Cyrus, A History of the Monks of Syria, trans. Richard M. Price (Kalamazoo, MI, 1985). Cyril of Scythopolis, Lives of the Monks of Palestine, trans. R. M. Price (Kalamazoo, MI, 1991). 30 John Binns, Ascetics and Ambassadors of Christ:  The Monasteries of Palestine, 314–​631 (Oxford, 1994). See also the article by Brakke in this volume. 31 Joseph Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism: A Comparative Study in Eastern Monasticism, Fourth to Seventh Centuries (Washington, DC, 1995), 55; Joseph Patrich, “The Cells (Ta Kellia) of Choziba, Wadi el-​Qilt,” in Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land: New Discoveries, ed. Giovanni C. Bottini et al. ( Jerusalem, 1990), 205–​26; Joseph Patrich, “The Sabaite Monastery of the Cave (Spelaion) in the Judean Desert,” Liber Annuus 41 (1991): 429–​48; Joseph Patrich, Beni Arubas, and Beni Agur, “Monastic Cells in the Desert of Gerasimus near the Jordan,” in Early Christianity in Context: Monuments and Documents, ed. Frédéric Manns and Enrico Alliata ( Jerusalem, 1993), 277–​96. 32 Yizhar Hirschfeld, “List of the Byzantine Monasteries in the Judean Desert,” in Bottini et al., Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land: New Discoveries, 1–​90; Yizhar Hirschfeld, The Judean Desert Monasteries (New Haven, CT, 1992); Yizhar Hirschfeld, “Monasteries and Churches in the Judean Desert in the Byzantine Period,” in Ancient Churches Revealed, 28

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sites include cells, dining halls, kitchens, storerooms, and a chapel.33 Many of the monastic sites line the major Roman roads leading between Jerusalem and Jericho and would thus have provided lodging and food for religious travelers. The travelogues of fourth-​century Egeria and later sixth-​century Antoninus of Placentia provide vivid descriptions of many encounters with monks, their experiences with hospitality, and their stays at monastic hostelries along routes within the Holy Land.34 Khirbet ed-​Deir, which has the best-​preserved cave church in the Judean desert and dates to the late fifth to mid-​seventh century, is an excellent example of the type of communities that Egeria might have visited.35 The site contains monastic residences, a chapel, stables, gardens, and facilities for a variety of agricultural activities. The site of Khirbet es-​Suyyagh in the Judean Shephelah offers an example of a rural cenobium, possibly the site of the Monastery of Samson mentioned in John Moschos’s (d. c.  619)  Spiritual Meadow.36 The settlement includes a gate, a tower, dining rooms, a kitchen, a bakery, a hospice for pilgrims, workshops for wine and oil production, a domestic area, and nearby agricultural lands. A unique feature at Khirbet es-​Suyyagh is the separation of the church from the monastery proper, which may stem from the fact that the site was originally a farmhouse. In contrast with the extensive archaeological evidence in the Judean deserts, little is visible of the monastic communities in Gaza, for they are located in areas continuously occupied and largely urban. Therefore, Gazan monasticism, founded in the fourth century by Hilarion, according to Jerome, is known to us almost exclusively from an impressive corpus of texts such as the Questions and Answers of Barsanuphius and John, the Instructions of Dorotheus, and the Asketikon of Isaiah of Gaza.37 Little archaeological evidence survives



ed. Yoram Tsafrir ( Jerusalem, 1993), 149–​54; Yizhar Hirschfeld, “Deir Qal’a and the Monasteries of Western Samaria,” in The Roman and Byzantine Near East, vol. 3, ed. John H. Humphrey (Portsmouth, RI, 2002), 155–​90. 33 Patrich, Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism,  165–​6. 34 Maria Kazakou and Vasileios Skoulas, eds., Egeria:  Mediterranean Medieval Places of Pilgrimage (Athens, 2008). 35 Yizhar Hirschfeld, The Early Byzantine Monastery at Khirbet ed-​ Deir in the Judean Desert: The Excavations in 1981–​1987 ( Jerusalem, 1999). 36 Itamar Taxel, Khirbet es-​Suyyagh:  A Byzantine Monastery in the Judaean Shephelah (Tel Aviv, 2009). 37 Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony and Aryeh Kofsky, “Gaza Monasticism in the Fourth–​Sixth Centuries:  From Anchorite to Cenobitic,” Proche-​Orient Chrétien 50.1–​2 (2000):  14–​62; Yizhar Hirschfeld, “The Monasteries of Gaza: An Archaeological Review,” in Christian Gaza in Late Antiquity, ed. Brouria Bitton-​Ashkelony and Aryeh Kofsky (Leiden, 2004), 61–​81; Catherine Saliou, ed. Gaza dans l’antiquité tardive. Archéologie, rhétorique et histore. Actes du colloque international de Poitiers (6–​7 mai 2004) (Salerno, 2005).

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to substantiate a fourth-​century founding for the monastic communities in the area. The Monastery of Hilarion at Umm el-​’Amr has a Byzantine-​period church, a chapel, the tomb of Hilarion, a bathhouse, a hostel, and cells, and the whole community was dismantled during the Umayyad period.38 The monastic complex near Khirbet Jemameh may date to as early as the sixth century.39 Its central church, which the excavators think originally functioned as a farmhouse, includes a crypt and a vaulted burial chamber. Additional rooms radiate off from the courtyard and include a large hall, a kitchen, and a possible dormitory. Many of the features could have been part of the original agricultural estate, subsequently modified for monastic habitation.40 Thus, as in Egypt, Gazan monks modified existing structures for monastic use and adapted desert monasticism for more populous areas.

Cappadocia and Syria Few early monastic settlements have been as extensively excavated or surveyed as those found in Egypt and Palestine. Select monastic sites from late antique Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Syria, however, contain instructive evidence of how monastic settlements emerged alongside church complexes, pilgrim centers, and remodeled farmhouses.41 In eastern Anatolia, in the region of Cappadocia, Basil the Great (d. 379) wrote treatises on ascetic practice and rules for cenobitic communities. He was writing from a primarily urban settlement, and no trace of his monastic communities remains. Unlike the Syrian, Palestinian, and Egyptian monks who sought to reoccupy abandoned sites



René Elter and A. Abd el-​Rhadan, “Le monastère de saint Hilarion:  évolution et développement architectural d’un sanctuaire de pèlerinage dans le sud de Gaza (Palestine),” Cahiers de Saint-​Michel de Cuxa 38 (2007):  121–​36; René Elter and Ayman Hassoune, “Le complexe du bain du monastère de Saint Hilarion à Umm el-​’Amr: première synthèse architecturale,” Syria 85 (2008): 129–​44; René Elter, “Le monastère de saint Hilarion: les vestiges archéologiques du site de Umm el-​’Amr,” in Saliou, Gaza dans l’antiquité tardive, 13–​40; Jean-​Baptiste Humbert and Ayman Hassoune, “Brefs regards sur les fouilles byzantines à Gaza,” in ibid., 1–​11; Jean-​Baptiste Humbert, ed., Gaza méditerranéenne. Histoire et archéologie en Palestine (Paris, 2000). 39 Ram Gophna and Nurit Feig, “A Byzantine Monastery at Kh. Jemameh,” ‘Atigot 22 (1993): 97–​108. 40 Hirshfeld, “Gaza Monasticism,” 78–​9; Gophna and Feig, “A Byzantine Monastery at Kh. Jemameh,”  106–​7. 41 Jean-​Luc Biscop and Jean-​Pierre Sodini, “Travaux récents au sanctuaire syrien de Saint-​ Syméon le Stylite,” Comptes-​rendus des Séances de l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-​lettres (1983):  335–​72; Jean-​Luc Biscop and Jean-​Pierre Sodini, “Qal’at sem’an et les chevets à colonnes de Syrie du Nord,” Syria 61 (1984):  267–​330; Jean-​Pierre Sodini, “Qal’at Sem’an:  centre de pèlerinage,” in Syrie:  mémoire et civilisation, ed. Sophie Cluzan, Eric Delpont, and Jeanne Mouliérac (Paris, 1993), 350–​7; Jean-​Luc Biscop, Dominique Orssaud, and Marlia M. Mango, Deir Déḥès. Monastère d’Antiochène. Étude architecturale (Beirut, 1997). 38

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or settle in uninhabited areas, Cappadocian monks, both male and female, elected to live in communities in close proximity to non-​monastics and to fellow monks.42 Early monasteries do exist, for example, in Cilicia. The twenty-​ year excavations at the mountain ledge site at Alahan in southern Anatolia present evidence for how a fifth-​century pilgrimage center eventually evolved into a monastic settlement with a cave church, two basilicas, and a baptistery. As with many other church complexes, it is often difficult to identify or locate other monastic buildings except for the monumental structures.43 In Syria, the most famous monastic center is Qal’at Sim’an, with a martyrium at its center for the first stylite, Simeon the Elder (390–​459), described by Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393–​460).44 Simeon lived at a monastic community near Teleda in the early fifth century, but moved to new locations to find higher, more substantial pillars to occupy. His eventual location at Qal’at Sim’an would make the site one of the most famous Christian centers of the Mediterranean. Like other pilgrimage centers, it contains extensive architectural remains of both a monastic community and buildings reserved for pilgrims, and naturally it is often difficult to differentiate between the two areas. At times the difference lies in the eye of the excavator, especially when conclusive epigraphic or documentary evidence is not available. In a recent effort to reexamine the evidence, one study proposed a 50  percent reduction in the presence of monastic settlements in the northern Syrian limestone massif.45 Surveys west of Antioch, at St. Barlaam on Mount Kasios and St. Simeon the Younger Stylite on Wondrous Mountain, provide ample evidence of monastic communities built in the countryside in the sixth century, inspired by the other stylite martyria complexes.46 As at Qal’at Sim’an, the monastery for



Existing Cappadocian monastic structures date to the Middle Byzantine period (c. 800–​1204) or later. Robert Ousterhout, Visualizing Community: Art, Material Culture and Settlement in Byzantine Cappadocia (Washington, DC, 2017); J. E. Cooper and M. Decker, Life and Society in Byzantine Cappadocia (New  York, 2012), 108; Robert Ousterhout, “Questioning the Architectural Evidence for Cappadocian Monasticism,” in Work and Worship at the Theotkos Evergetis, ed. Margaret Mullett and A. Kirby (Belfast, 1997), 420–​31. 43 Michael Gough, ed., Alahan: An Early Christian Monastery in Southern Turkey (Toronto, 1985); Cyril Mango, “Germia, A Postscript,” Jahrbuch der österreichischen Byzantinistik 41 (1991): 297–​300. 44 Theodoret of Cyrus, Historia Religiosa, in Theodoret of Cyrus, L’histoire des moines de Syrie; English translation, A History of the Monks of  Syria. 45 Daniel Hull, “A Spatial and Morphological Analysis of Monastic Sites in the Northern Limestone Massif, Syria,” Levant 40 (2008): 89–​113. 46 Wachtang Djobaze et al., Archaeological Investigations in the Region West of Antioch-​on-​the-​ Orontes (Stuttgart, 1986). 42

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St. Simeon the Younger Stylite had a hostel for pilgrims, dining areas, a kitchen, a refectory, and a complex water supply system. In many cases in Syrian monasticism, the popularity of stylites led the way for the construction of both pilgrimage centers and monasteries.47

Western Monastic Settlements While instances of ascetic Christian lifestyles are attested in the West as early as the second century,48 the first flowering of both communal (cenobitic) and solitary (eremitic or anchoritic) monasticism occurred in the mid-​to late fourth century, when news of the desert monks of the East inspired a spate of ascetic conversions.49 In urban contexts, home to the majority of the first ascetic foundations—​among them the monasterium clericorum established by Eusebius of Vercelli (d. 371)  next to the cathedral in that city in the 360s, upon returning from exile in the East,50 and the cloistered communities in Rome and Milan observed by Augustine (d. 430) in the 380s51—​it has proven almost impossible to identify sites of monastic habitation in the archaeological record, in large part because monasteries so frequently occupied structures effectively indistinguishable from those inhabited by other city-​dwellers. Textual sources indeed suggest that urban ascetics tended to reuse existing buildings, particularly houses, that often presumably belonged to the Mediterranean tradition of the atrium-​house, with rooms arranged around one or more atria or courtyards. Notable examples include the aristocratic Roman women (e.g. Paula, Marcella, Melania, Eustochium), best attested in Jerome’s letters, who turned their households into ascetic retreats in the later fourth century,52 and, later, the several Roman popes who established monasteries in their family residences, beginning with the future Pope Gregory I’s



Lukas Amadeus Schachner, “The Archaeology of the Stylite,” in Religious Diversity in Late Antiquity, ed. David M. Gwynn and Susanne Bangert (Leiden, 2010), 329–​98. 48 Georg Jenal, Italia ascetica atque monastica. Das Asketen-​und Mönchtum in Italien von den Anfängen bis zur Zeit der Langobarden (ca. 150/​250–​604) (Stuttgart, 1995). 49 Andreas E. J. Grote, Anachorese und Zönobium. Der Rekurs des frühen westlichen Mönchtums auf monastische Konzepte des Ostens (Stuttgart, 2001). 50 Jenal, Italia ascetica atque monastica,  12–​15. 51 Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae 1.33.70, CSEL 90, 74–​5; Augustine, Confessiones 8.6.15, CSEL 33.1, 181–​2. 52 Jenal, Italia ascetica atque monastica, 33–​ 64; Marilyn Dunn, The Emergence of Monasticism: From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages (Oxford and Malden, MA, 2000), 46–​56. See also the article by Magnani in this volume. 47

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transformation of his ancestral home on the Caelian Hill into the monastery of Sant’Andrea in the 570s.53 Another increasingly prominent feature of the urban landscape in the West were the monasteries established in the immediate vicinity of cathedrals and other prestigious churches, among the earliest and most influential examples of which are the two ascetic communities founded by Augustine at Hippo Regius around 400, one for the cathedral clergy and one for non-​ordained monks, which like Eusebius’ clerical monastery at Vercelli lay adjacent to the city’s cathedral.54 Again, however, despite the growing archaeological interest in cathedral complexes in recent decades, it continues to be extremely difficult to identify spaces occupied by monks with much confidence. At Hippo, excavations revealed that several domus (houses) surrounding the basilica presumed to be the cathedral continued to be occupied and in some cases modified and repartitioned following the construction of the church, including one that communicated directly with the north aisle of the church.55 While this last house might well be the location of one of Augustine’s monasteries, the fact remains that nothing about the architecture or the associated finds attests unambiguously to the presence of monks; it remained effectively indistinguishable, in architectural terms, from the atrium-​houses occupied by the other late antique inhabitants of  Hippo. Similar uncertainties surround the identification of the clusters of rooms arranged around courtyards adjacent to the so-​called ‘Catholic’ and ‘Donatist’ cathedrals at Theveste,56 as well as the row of rectangular cells built along the north flank of the northern cathedral at Geneva around 400.57 The simple fact is that such “basilical monasteries,” so well attested in the textual record, are nearly impossible to distinguish in reality from the extensive clusters of residential and charitable facilities that proliferated around urban churches in the fifth and sixth centuries.



Guy Ferrari, Early Roman Monasteries: Notes for the History of the Monasteries and Convents at Rome from the V through the X Century (Vatican City, 1957). 54 Grote, Anachorese und Zönobium, 33–​7; George Lawless, Augustine of Hippo and His Monastic Rule (Oxford, 1987), 58–​60. 55 Bruno Bizot, “La basilique et ses abords,” in Hippone, ed. Xavier Delestre (Aix-​en-​ Provence, 2005), 193–​215. 56 Noël Duval, “Les témoignages archéologiques du monachisme nord-​africain,” in Le site monastique copte des Kellia. Sources historiques et explorations archéologiques, ed. Philippe Bridel (Geneva, 1986), 273–​87. 57 Charles Bonnet, “Habitat des premiers clercs dans le groupe épiscopal de Genève,” i n Wohn-​und Wirtschaftbauten frühmittelalterlicher Klöster, ed. Hans Rudolf Sennhauser (Zürich, 1996), 11–​23. 53

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The same might be said for the great suburban pilgrimage center at the grave of St. Felix at Nola/​Cimitile, extensively rebuilt by Paulinus (d. 431)  beginning around 395, where the “monastery proper” inhabited by Paulinus and his ascetic companions was subsumed within a contiguous ensemble of buildings that included two basilicas and two colonnaded atria.58 Unfortunately, while the basilicas (the basilica vetus, of c.  350–​375, and Paulinus’ basilica nova of c. 400) have been extensively studied, little is known archaeologically of the residential—​and in particular the monastic—​buildings.59 Paulinus’ testimony indicates the presence of spaces reserved for the poor and the sick, for distinguished guests, and for the members of the monastic community, all grouped in close mutual proximity; the smaller of the two atria perhaps featured a peristyle at ground level, topped by a second story comprising cells for Paulinus and his ascetic companions.60 In any case, it appears that the complex as a whole, including the spaces occupied by its monastic inhabitants, remained firmly rooted in the traditions of Mediterranean vernacular architecture. Even in the sixth century, the available information on the physical contours of urban monasteries still derives more from generally vague textual references than archaeological data. The problem is particularly acute in the case of female monasteries, which were overwhelmingly located within the protected confines of city walls,61 and thus in places often occupied continuously from antiquity to the present, where the venerable sites of early Christian cult have been subject to constant remodeling, covered over, or lost entirely. In Gaul, urban topography inherited from the late Roman period apparently did much to condition the architectural contours of two leading nunneries: Caesarius’ convent of St. John in Arles, founded in 512, and the convent of St. Croix at Poitiers, established by the Merovingian queen Radegund in the 560s. Both were situated just inside the late Roman city walls, which, in addition to offering protection, would have helped to ensure the strict claustration demanded by Caesarius’ rule (RCaeV 36–​43), in use at





Tomas Lehmann, Paulinus Nolanus und die Basilica Nova in Cimitile/​Nola (Wiesbaden, 2004); Maria M. Kiely, “The Interior Courtyard: The Heart of Cimitile/​Nola,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 12.4 (2004):  443–​79; Hugo Brandenburg and Letizia Pani Ermini, eds., Cimitile e Paolino di Nola (Vatican City, 2003); Carlo Ebanista, Et manet in mediis quasi gemma intersita tectis. La basilica di S. Felice a Cimitile. Storia degli scavi, fasi edilizie, reperti (Naples, 2003). 59 Lehmann, Paulinus Nolanus, 121–​2 and 241–​46. 60 See Kiely, “The Interior Courtyard,” esp.  253–​54, a conjectural reading of Paulinus’ Carm. 27. 61 See, for example, Hartmut Atsma, “Les monastères urbains du nord de la Gaule,” Revue d’histoire de l’Eglise de France 62 (1976): 163–​87, esp. 184. 58

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both places.62 Gregory of Tours’ (d. 594) description of Radegund’s funeral indicates that, at St. Croix, the nuns had access to the battlements and towers of the wall, which they may even have occupied.63 Excavations conducted at St. Croix at the beginning of the twentieth century revealed a small, single-​ aisled church, flanked by two small rooms optimistically identified by the excavators as the cell and oratory of Radegund herself, though the dating of these structures is insufficiently precise to permit a confident attribution to the sixth-​century phase.64 At St. John in Arles, new excavations have begun to uncover traces of the monastic church, a basilica with a semicircular apse,65 but at present neither the archaeology nor the writings of Caesarius suffice to reconstruct the remainder of the convent in any detail. While rural monasteries stand a better chance of surviving in recognizable form than those in cities, an observation that holds for the East as well as the West,66 it is proving nearly as difficult to identify monastic architecture in the countryside. It is clear that the fifth century and even more so the sixth witnessed substantial growth in rural populations of both hermits and cenobites across much of the West, and much attention has been devoted to finding traces of their presence, especially in the remains of villas. Although ascetics undoubtedly did often occupy the remains of older villas and other rural settlements, it is increasingly apparent that, in the large majority of cases where a monastic presence on an earlier site is plausible, there is a hiatus between the ‘primary’ occupation of villas by the landowning elites of the later Roman Empire and the period of their reuse, which generally occurred when the original structures were at least partly in ruins.67 Further, the identity of these later populations is notoriously difficult to establish. Most additional construction seems to have been in perishable materials

Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum 9.39, 9.42; see also Jacques Biarne, “L’espace du monachisme gaulois au temps de Grégoire de Tours,” in Grégoire de Tours et l’espace gaulois, ed. Nancy Gauthier and Henri Galinié (Tours, 1997), 131–​6. 63 Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria confessorum 104, MGH SS RM, 1.2, 365. 64 Yvonne Labande-​Mailfert, “Poitiers:  abbaye Sainte-​Croix,” in Les premiers monuments chrétiens de la France, vol. 2, ed. Guy Barruol (Paris, 1996), 284–​9. 65 Marc Heijmans, “L’enclos Saint-​Césaire à Arles, un chantier controversé,” BUCEMA (Hors série no 3, 2010), http://​cem.revues.org/​index11405.html (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 66 On the Levant, see Yizhar Hirschfeld, “The Monasteries of Palestine in the Byzantine Period,” in Christians and Christianity in the Holy Land:  From the Origins to the Latin Kingdoms, ed. Ora Limor and Guy G. Stroumsa (Turnhout, 2006), 401–​19. 67 John Percival, “Villas and Monasteries in Later Roman Gaul,” JEH 48 (1997):  1–​21; Francisco Moreno Martín, “La configuración arquitectonica del monasterio hispano entre la tardeantigüedad y el alto medioevo:  balance historiográfico y nuevas perspectivas,” Anales de Historia del Arte (número extraordinario 1, 2009):  199–​217; Bowes, “Houses, Villas,” 315–​51. 62

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largely invisible in the archaeological record, and the meager traces (post-​ holes, hearths, ceramics) that survive might equally well belong to secular communities or monks; the same applies a fortiori to the scattered caves and huts occupied by anchorites and rural populations alike.68 Even when there are surviving traces of churches, either installed in existing rooms or newly built in stone, neither typology nor construction techniques usually suffice to demonstrate a specifically monastic connection.69 In Italy, textual and archaeological data combine to permit three of the most important sixth-​century monasteries, all of which made extensive use of earlier structures, to be identified with reasonable certainty. The first is Subiaco, where a monastic community occupied the remains of the Neronian villa straddling the River Aniene during the period of Benedict’s residence in a nearby cave in the early sixth century, prior to his move to Montecassino. While recent archaeological investigations at the villa, particularly in “Nucleus A,” a rectangular block of rooms measuring some 70 by 20 m, have revealed substantial signs of sixth-​century habitation in the form of ceramics and hearths, which likely do relate to the phase of monastic occupation, the scarcity of substantial modifications to the existing fabric of the Neronian complex is striking. Apart from essential repairs made to shore up damaged masonry, the original plan of the site was hardly altered.70 The second site is Benedict’s later monastery on the acropolis at Montecassino, founded c.  529, which rose among the remains of an altar and a small temple dedicated to Apollo, both of which were transformed into modest, one-​room churches, measuring 7.6 by 15.25  m and 7 by 7  m respectively.71 The structures in which the monks slept, ate, and worked have disappeared completely enough to suggest that they were built of perishable materials. If the Rule of St. Benedict can be trusted as a guide to the initial configuration of the monastery, there was a communal eating space (RB 43.13, 63.18) and several communal dormitories intended for the use of





Francisco José. Moreno Martín, “Los escenarios arquitectónicos del eremitismo hispano. Límites para su studio,” in El monacato espontáneo. Eremitas y eremitorios en el mundo medieval, ed. José Ángel García de Cortázar and Ramón Teja (Aguilar de Campoo, 2011), 87–​119. 69 Francisco Moreno Martín, “Arquitectura y usos monásticos en el siglo VII:  de la recreación textual a la invisibilidad material,” Anejos de Archivo Español de Arqueologia 51 (2009): 281–​2. 70 Maria Grazia Fiore Cavaliere, Zaccaria Mari, and Angelo Luttazzi, “La villa di Nerone a Subiaco e la fondazione del monastero benedettino di S. Clemente,” in Il Lazio tra antichità e medioevo, ed. Jean Coste, Zaccaria Mari, Maria Teresa Petrara, and Maria Sperandio (Rome, 1999), 341–​67. 71 Angelo Pantoni, L’acropoli di Montecassino e il primitivo monastero di S.  Benedetto (Rome, 1980). 68

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groups of ten or twenty monks under the guidance of a superior (RB 22.3), all surrounded by a walled enclosure (RB 4.78, 67.7). Finally, there is Vivarium, the monastery founded by Cassiodorus (d. c. 583) in his Calabrian villa in or shortly after 555. Excavators working in the 1980s identified the remains of a small (15 by 5 m), single-​nave church built into the remains of a triconch in the late Roman villa, apparently at the time of its conversion into a monastery.72 Apart from what might be a section of an irregularly shaped enclosure wall uncovered near the apse of the church,73 further traces of construction belonging to the monastic phase of occupation are lacking; as in the case of Subiaco, we might assume that the remainder of the existing villa largely sufficed to meet the needs of the monks. All three foundations thus appear to share a number of common features: their churches are small, single-​nave structures, evidently intended for the use of a restricted number of monks (surely fewer than fifty); there is little trace of communal spaces for eating and sleeping, which may either have occupied existing buildings or have been built of perishable materials; and they make heavy use of older structures. It is noteworthy that these leading Italian monasteries all appear to have been far smaller and less populous than many of their sixth-​century contemporaries in Egypt and Syria discussed above. Much the same can be said for several of the most influential early foundations north of the Alps. The site of Martin of Tours’ (d. 397) first ascetic community at Ligugé, founded in the 360s, evidently took shape among the ruins of an extensive villa abandoned a generation or two earlier. An apsidal hall measuring roughly 14 by 5 m, presumably a church, was installed in the remains of a semi-​subterranean basin or cistern located beneath the remains of the later monastic church of St. Martin.74 This structure may date to as late as the sixth century, however, and there is no clear sign of further buildings attributable to the Martinian phase of the community, perhaps because they were built in wood, like the cells inhabited by the monks at Martin’s second foundation at Marmoutier.75 At the end of our period, Columbanus’ (d. 615)  Luxeuil, founded in the 590s, also rose among the remains of a substantial Roman-​period settlement,

François Bougard and Ghislaine Noyé, “Chronique:  Squillace,” MEFRM 98 (1986): 1195–​1212. 73 Ibid., 1202. 74 Paul-​Albert Février and Noël Duval, “Ligugé:  Église Saint-​Martin,” in Les premiers monuments chrétiens de la France, vol. 1, ed. N. Duval (Paris, 1996), 278–​83. 75 Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 10.4–​5,  274–​5.

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described by his biographer Jonas as a defunct castrum surrounded by a strong wall.76 Recent excavations at the site have confirmed the presence of a nucleated settlement with abundant structural remains datable to between the first and fourth centuries, and suggest—​contra Jonas—​continuing occupation throughout the fifth and sixth centuries, when a large (c. 34 by 19.5 m) funerary basilica with a tripartite nave and square apse was built in petit-​appareil masonry (small blocks of mortared stone) amid a late antique necropolis, where the monks of the adjacent monastery were buried from the seventh century on.77 The original nucleus of the monastery itself, including its oratory dedicated to Mary, perhaps occupied the nearby remains of a monumental, apsidal building datable to the second century.78 In any case, the current state of the evidence suggests that the monastic community first settled among the Roman-​period structures, occupying their standing remains and/​or recycling their materials. In the case of monasteries founded on previously unoccupied sites, however, where there were no older structures to be inhabited or ransacked for building supplies, wood often remained the material of choice throughout the fifth and sixth centuries, even for churches, as in the fifth-​century Jura monasteries such as Condat.79 In Ireland, too, the first monastic architecture hardly differs from the secular. The monasteries founded in the fifth and sixth centuries (and indeed for another half-​millennium) tend to resemble closely the ubiquitous “ring-​forts,” some 60,000 of which still survive throughout the island, which may variously have functioned as settlements, pastures, and forts. These roughly circular or oval enclosures, surrounded by one or more concentric dry-​stone walls and/​ or ditches, are both extremely durable and very hard to date, a problem all the more vexing given that they continued to be built from the prehistoric period through the high Middle Ages.80 Some older, presumably abandoned structures were reoccupied by monastic communities, while newly built



Jonas of Bobbio, Vita Columbani 1.10, MGH SRG 37, 169–​ 70. Columbanus’ first Continental foundation at nearby Annagray is also said to have occupied a “ruined castrum” (castrum dirutum): Vita Columbani 1.6 (ibid., 163). See also the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 77 Sébastien Bully et  al., “L’église Saint-​ Martin de Luxeuil-​ les-​ Bains (Haute-​ Saône), deuxième campagne,” BUCEMA 14 (2010): 39–​43. 78 Sébastien Bully and Christophe Gaston, “Luxeuil-​les-​Bains (Haute-​Saône), deuxième campagne de diagnostic archéologique des places du centre ancien,” BUCEMA 11 (2007): 50–​6. 79 Alain Dubreucq and Christian Lauranson-​Rosaz. “De l’ermitage au monastère:  aux origines de l’espace monastique en Gaule à partir de deux exemples:  Burgondie et l’Auvergne (fin Ve–​début VIIIe siècle),” HAM 9 (2003): 279–​94. 80 T. M. Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000), 148–​51. See also the article by Bitel in this volume. 76

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monasteries tended to be similarly configured. Inside such enclosures, monks and seculars alike dwelt in round, dry-​stone “beehives” (clochans), but built (generally tiny) quadrangular churches as early as the fifth century, a typological innovation apparently introduced from mainland Europe along with Christianity. The monasteries, however, tended to feature a founder’s tomb, along with one or more inscribed crosses or grave-​markers; the presence of a nearby cemetery with a high proportion of male—​or in theory female—​ burials can also help to identify a site as a locus of monastic habitation.81

Conclusion In the period before 600 c e, nothing approaching a standardized paradigm for the configuration of monasteries existed anywhere in the West. The variety of architectural solutions chosen by early monks is simply too heterogeneous, though it is true that monastic texts of the sixth and especially the seventh century begin to display a more standardized architectural vocabulary in relation to the principal components of communal monastic space (oratories, refectories, dormitories), a trend that likely reflects similar developments in physical reality.82 By the sixth century, too, if not before, relatively impermeable perimeter walls were an increasingly ubiquitous part of the monastic landscape.83 Nonetheless, there was no standard configuration for these various components of monastic topography by the end of the sixth century, nor indeed for centuries thereafter, much less anything resembling the quadrangular cloisters flanking abbey churches that made their first appearance in the eighth century and became widespread during the high Middle Ages.84 So too in the East, where physical remains are only somewhat less sparse, especially prior to the fifth century, the monastic settlements surveyed above in Anatolia, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria illustrate the multifarious



Michael Herity, “Les premiers ermitages et monastères en Irlande, 400–​700,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 36 (1993):  219–​61; Michael Herity, “The Building and Layout of Early Irish Monasteries Before the Year 1000,” Monastic Studies 4 (1983):  247–​84. On female communities in Ireland, see Lisa Bitel, “Women’s Monastic Enclosures in Early Ireland: A Study of Female Spirituality and Male Monastic Mentalities,” JMH 12 (1986): 15–​36. 82 Pierre Bonnerue, “Éléments de topographie historique dans les règles monastiques occidentales,” Studia Monastica 37 (1995): 57–​77. See also the article by Lauwers in this volume. 83 Hendrik Dey, “Building Worlds Apart:  Walls and the Construction of Communal Monasticism from Augustine through Benedict,” Antiquité tardive 12 (2004): 357–​71. 84 Werner Jacobsen, “Die Anfänge des abenländischen Kreuzgangs,” in Der mittelalterliche Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm, ed. Peter K. Klein (Regensburg, 2004),  37–​56. 81

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development of newly built environments and the diverse modifications of existing landscapes, older structures, and the natural environment for Christian use.85 As in the West, a number of sites once thought to be monastic settlements, many in Cappadocia and Syria, are now no longer regarded as exclusively monastic.86 Also as in the West, Byzantine monastic foundations often shared the same architectural plans and materials as non-​monastic domestic spaces, a convergence of form that in the past led to the mistaken identification of rural agricultural settlements as monasteries simply on the basis of the more humble materials and methods employed in their construction.87 The pace and chronology of the spread of monastic settlement also varies considerably between regions. Communities of ascetics and the built spaces they inhabited emerged rapidly in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the fifth and sixth centuries, but more slowly in Anatolia and Greece until after 600. Regional variations such as stylite monasteries, double monasteries, and the combined pilgrimage-​monastic center further complicate the story of Eastern monasticism. There are additional, supra-​ regional differences between East and West, though the physical and textual data remain sparse enough to make generalizations and interregional comparisons difficult and inevitably provisional. It seems that, in the eastern Mediterranean, communal monasteries often far exceeded the size of Western foundations, in terms of both their physical extent and the number of monks they housed. Few Western sites can be imagined, on the basis of archaeological evidence, to have housed more than several dozen monks, a figure that was regularly exceeded in Egypt and the Levant, where communities often numbered in the hundreds. The extant remains also indicate that non-​communal living arrangements were extremely common in the East, where monasteries often consisted of more-​ or-​less diffuse clusters of individual cells. Textual evidence from the West, where the physical evidence is almost nonexistent, shows that similar groups of individual cells were present at early foundations such as Martin of Tours’ second monastery at Marmoutier; by the sixth century, however, texts such as



Saba Farès, “Christian Monasticism on the Eve of Islam: Kilwa (Saudi Arabia),” Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 22 (2011): 243–​52; Nina Garsoïan, “Introduction to the Problem of Early Armenian Monasticism,” Revue des études arméniennes 20 (2005–​7):  177–​236; Fergus Millar, “Christian Monasticism in Roman Arabia at the Birth of Mahomet,” Semitica et Classica 2 (2009): 97–​115; G. R. D. King, “A Nestorian Monastic Settlement on the Island of Ṣīr Banī Yās, Abu Dhabi: A Preliminary Report,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 60.2 (1997): 221–​35. 86 For numerous Western examples, see Bowes, “Houses, Villas.” 87 Doron Bar, “The Christianization of Rural Palestine during Late Antiquity,” JEH 54 (2003): 401–​21. 85

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the Rule of the Master and the RB (and later the Rule of Fructuosus and others) presume communal sleeping arrangements in dormitories.88 For Bonnerue, there was thus a profound shift in the direction of communal spaces in the West, for eating and working as well as sleeping, beginning in the sixth century,89 a development that perhaps came more slowly and less consistently to the East. Yet despite the vast range of political structures, ecclesiastical institutions, theological preferences, cultural norms, and environmental conditions that prevailed across the vast sweep of the Christian world in late antiquity, there are common threads in the development of monastic landscapes and topographies in the period before 600 c e. It was a time, above all, when diversity of forms and practice prevailed everywhere, despite all efforts by would-​be monastic legislators, none of whose “rules” were widely, much less exclusively, followed.90 As a result, there were nearly as many different spatial configurations as there were monasteries. Indeed, if there is a single conclusion to be drawn based on the current state of knowledge, it is that the early history of monastic architecture in East and West alike is inextricably linked with, and usually effectively indistinguishable from, the history of vernacular architecture in the various regions touched by the ascetic movement.

Bibliography Biarne, Jacques. “L’espace du monachisme gaulois au temps de Grégoire de Tours.” In Grégoire de Tours et l’espace gaulois, edited by Nancy Gauthier and Henri Galinié, 131–6. Tours, 1997. Biscop, Jean-Luc, Dominique Orssaud, and Marlia M. Mango, Deir Déḥès. Monastère d’Antiochène. Étude architecturale. Beirut, 1997. Bolman, Elizabeth, ed. The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt. New Haven, CT, 2016. Bolman, Elizabeth, Stephen Davis, and Gillian Pyke, with contributions by M.  Abdel Rahim, et  al. “Shenoute and a Newly Discovered Tomb Chapel at the White Monastery.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18 (2010): 453–62. Bonnerue, Pierre. “Éléments de topographie historique dans les règles monastiques occidentales.” Studia Monastica 37 (1995): 57–77.



See, for example, RB 22.3; on Marmoutier, see Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 10.4–​5,  274–​5. 89 Bonnerue, “Éléments de topographie historique,” esp. 72–​6. 90 Albrecht Diem, “Inventing the Holy Rule:  Some Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West,” in Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram, 53–​83. See also the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 88

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The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries Bonnet, Charles. “Habitat des premiers clercs dans le groupe épiscopal de Genève.” In Wohn- und Wirtschaftbauten frühmittelalterlicher Klöster, edited by Hans Rudolf Sennhauser, 11–23. Zürich, 1996. Brooks Hedstrom, Darlene. The Egyptian Monastic Landscape in Late Antique Egypt:  An Archaeological Reconstruction. Cambridge, 2017. Clédat, Jean. Le monastère et la nécropole de Baouit, ed. Dominique Bénazeth and MarieHélène Ruschowscaya. Cairo, 1999. Delouis, Olivier, and Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert, eds. La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–Xe siècle). Cairo, 2015. Dey, Hendrik. “Building Worlds Apart:  Walls and the Construction of Communal Monasticism from Augustine through Benedict.” Antiquité tardive 12 (2004): 357–71. Dey, Hendrik, and Elizabeth Fentress, eds. Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, 2011. Dubreucq, Alain, and Christian Lauranson-Rosaz. “De l’ermitage au monastère:  aux origines de l’espace monastique en Gaule à partir de deux exemples: Burgondie et l’Auvergne (fin Ve–début VIIIe siècle).” HAM 9 (2003): 279–94. Dunn, Marilyn. The Emergence of Monasticism:  From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages. Oxford and Malden, MA, 2000. Ferrari, Guy. Early Roman Monasteries: Notes for the History of the Monasteries and Convents at Rome from the V through the X Century. Vatican City, 1957. Giorda, Maria Chiara. “Le désert devint une ville.” À la recherche d’une identité monastique en Égypte dans l’antiquité tardive. Saarbrücken, 2010. Gough, Michael, ed. Alahan: An Early Christian Monastery in Southern Turkey. Toronto, 1985. Grote, Andreas E. J. Anachorese und Zönobium. Der Rekurs des frühen westlichen Mönchtums auf monastische Konzepte des Ostens. Stuttgart, 2001. Herity, Michael. “The Building and Layout of Early Irish Monasteries Before the Year 1000.” Monastic Studies 4 (1983): 247–84. Hirschfeld, Yizhar. The Judean Desert Monasteries. New Haven, CT, 1992.   “The Monasteries of Gaza:  An Archaeological Review.” In Christian Gaza in Late Antiquity, edited by Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony and Aryeh Kofsky, 61–81. Leiden, 2004. Hull, Daniel. “A Spatial and Morphological Analysis of Monastic Sites in the Northern Limestone Massif, Syria.” Levant 40 (2008): 89–113. Humbert, Jean-Baptiste, ed. Gaza méditerranéenne. Histoire et archéologie en Palestine. Paris, 2000. Jacobsen, Werner. “Die Anfänge des abenländischen Kreuzgangs.” In Der mittelalterliche Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm, edited by Peter K. Klein, 37–56. Regensburg, 2004. Jenal, Georg. Italia ascetica atque monastica. Das Asketen- und Mönchtum in Italien von den Anfängen bis zur Zeit der Langobarden (ca. 150/250–604). Stuttgart, 1995. Marazzi, Federico. Le città dei monaci. Storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio. Milan, 2015. Moreno Martín, Francisco José. “Los escenarios arquitectónicos del eremitismo hispano. Límites para su studio.” In El monacato espontáneo. Eremitas y eremitorios en el mundo medieval, edited by José Ángel García de Cortázar and Ramón Teja, 87–119. Aguilar de Campoo, 2011. Ousterhout, Robert. Visualizing Community: Art, Material Culture and Settlement in Byzantine Cappadocia. Washington, DC, 2017.

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Egyptian Nuns in Late Antiquity as Exemplars M a ria Chia r a   G io rda (t r a n slate d b y A l e ssia B er ardi)

One day two elderly men from the region of Pelusio went to Mother Sarra. Along the way, they were saying to each other:  “Let’s humiliate this old woman!” They said to her, “Be careful that you do not exalt yourself in your mind and say:  ‘Behold, the anchorites come to me, who am a woman!’ ” Mother Sarra said to them, “In nature I am a woman, but not in thought.” (AP/​G Sarra 4)1 She said again to the brothers: “I am a man and you are women.” (AP/​G Sarra 9)

The role of the Christian woman in late antiquity has been widely studied, and many aspects of female asceticism have recently been brought to light.2 The result has been a denunciation of the sexism of the tradition and a rehabilitation of great exceptional figures, but with one serious consequence:  nuns are often made into folkloristic figures.3 Writing the history of the women who undertook the path of religious life, and particularly monastic women, both in their everyday life and through radical choices that often mirrored the masculine ones, is risky owing to the discontinuity of the sources, the complexity of their chain of transmission, and the gaps and grey areas that still remain.4

Apophthegmata Patrum. Collectio Graeca alphabetica (AP/​G); Greek text edited by J.-​B. Cotelier (PG 65.71–​440); English translation by Benedicta Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Kalamazoo, MI, 1975). 2 Gillian Clark, Women in Late Antiquity: Pagan and Christian Lifestyles (Oxford, 1993); Kate Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride:  Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, MA, 1996); Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (London, 2013). See Susanna Elm, “Virgins of God”:  The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford and New York, 1994), 6, n. 21, for further bibliographical references. 3 Jo Ann Kay McNamara, Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia (Cambridge, MA, 1998). 4 On the difficulty of identifying late antique female monasteries, see the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 1

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This article aims to investigate the social and cultural implications of the choice for virginity or chastity (for widows) in late antiquity, in order to explore the possibility that the religious life allowed women to free themselves from submission to paternal figures and avoid relegation to the margins of society. I will highlight the contemporaneous emergence of the female and male ascetic choice, starting from the experiences of domestic ascetic life. I  will also address the continuous tension between a reality in which female monastic life had its own roots and traditions, and a rhetoric that makes it a mere variant of a male monastic model. Although this volume is dedicated to the West, much can be made by drawing attention to the situation in Egypt and reflecting on the tension between the centrality and marginality of the female monastic experience, a common thread in both Latin and Greek Christianity. I  will thus offer examples intended to emphasize similarities, dependencies, and fractures among diverse ascetic and monastic female experiences. In the second section, I will focus on the continuity between family life and monastic life. The preservation of biological ties even after the religious choice allowed some women to continue in their role as mothers, sisters, and even wives within their monasteries, thus reflecting the ambiguous positions open to women choosing the religious life. Finally, I  will offer some examples of women who played the role of spiritual mothers, daughters, and sisters within their monastic family. This complexity of roles prevents us from determining who had the greater or lesser freedom and emancipation: the women who decided (or were forced) to marry, or those who chose (or were forced into) the monastic life. The reality was ambiguous and complex, characterized by intersecting spiritual, cultural, social, and economic factors.

From Household to Monastery: First Steps of Women’s Asceticism Reconstructing the history of female asceticism is not an easy task. The sources from the first centuries are difficult to interpret, and the evidence for women choosing not to have a family, and of both spiritual and corporal practices analogous to those that were particular to female monasticism from the fourth century onward, are fragmented. It is true that, already at the end of the second century and at the beginning of the third, women no less than men were attracted by (perpetual) chastity, which purified them and made them more suitable for the reception of the Spirit. Thus, within

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all of the churches, groups of abstinent and virgin women arose, as well as real orders of widows. In the middle of the third century, there were around 1,500 poor and needy widows in Rome; at the end of the fourth century, the city of Antioch supported some 3,000 widows and virgins. Moreover, wealthy widows also supported Christian communities, as in the case of Olympia, the spiritual friend of Chrysostom (d. 407), or of the widows in Jerome’s (d. 420) circle.5 The invitation to chastity and virginity is, after all, a theme often present in New Testament apocryphal literature such as the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles or the Acts of Paul and Thecla, in which the women are models of both physical and spiritual integrity and solidity. It is not enough, however, to trace the first forms of female asceticism through the choice for virginity or chastity. It is also necessary to trace the performance of bodily practices such as fasts, vigils, and the renunciation of food. The first forms of female ascetic practice were carried out at home in a domestic manner, albeit with a definitive physical detachment from the everyday life of the family. Entry into a formal female monastery was not expected of these ascetics. The first hints of these practices can be found in Acts 21:8–​9, where we encounter Philip’s daughters, virgins and prophetesses living at home. Female domestic asceticism was a longstanding phenomenon that did not disappear with the spread of a more structured monastic model.6 The diffusion of this way of life is confirmed by different types of sources, including canonical literature and papyri, in which female virgin ascetics are compared to widows because of their consecration to God. The conjugal bond is clearly overcome by a lifestyle considered to be both different and superior, freeing woman from worldly ties. It is no coincidence that these women were called the “brides of Christ.” Their matrimonial bond was consummated only on a religious-​spiritual level, creating both a new and an “other” marriage, which replaced marriage to a husband. Through greater physical detachment from daily dwelling places, and in particular through a more explicit adoption of life rules that formalized ascetic practices, monasticism called family ties further into question. Women who chose either an anchoritic or cenobitic monastic life by joining



Peter Brown, The Body and the Society:  Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York, 2008). 6 See the article by Magnani in this volume, and the article by More and Mulder-​Bakker in volume II. 5

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one of the communities spreading throughout the area often set aside previously held family bonds. Such bonds, however, were sometimes preserved, and monastic choices within the same biological family could, in fact, reinforce them.7 The fourth-​century canons attributed to Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria (Ath. Can.) report that some virgins left their homes and families to live in a monastery of virgins under the guidance of a mother.8 Women who lived apart from their families, homes, and villages could attend celebrations in the church as a group, but not during feasts or at night. They were to fast until sunset, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays; they were not allowed to talk with married women; and they could visit their families only if accompanied by other virgins.9 The contents and the terminology used in the text seem to attest to a formal monastic model. It is interesting to note that some of these regulations were transmitted through the centuries and accepted within the sixth-​century rule for nuns of Caesarius of Arles (RCaeV), the pivotal Western source for the female monastic experience. While several papyri provide information about forms of female monastic asceticism that seem no longer to have been domestic, the classification of these communities of women, their identification as monasteries, and the kind of asceticism practiced there remain unclear. Perhaps they reflected a transition from domestic asceticism to monastic asceticism, or were confraternities of some kind that continued to exist within the villages, possibly also within houses. In any case, what can be seen here is the communitarian development of asceticism, which clearly represents a further stage in the spread of female monasteries, now separated from the world, within Egyptian territory, a development also seen later elsewhere in both East and West. The first occurrences of the term monaché (nun) used in a technical way appear in the fourth-​century papyri that are one of the main documentary source bases for the history of Egyptian monasticism. Although papyri are closely tied to their local historical and geographical contexts, they remain excellent instruments for collecting accurate and concrete information about monastic life. The text

Philip Rousseau, “Blood-​ Relationship among Early Eastern Ascetics,” Journal of Theological Studies 23 (1972):  135–​44; Andrew S. Jacobs and Rebecca Krawiec, “Fathers Know Best? Christian Families in the Age of Asceticism,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11 (2003): 257–​63; Rebecca Krawiec, “From the Womb of the Church: Monastic Families,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11 (2003): 283–​307. See also the article by Alciati in this volume. 8 Athanasius, The Canons of Athanasius of Alexandria: The Arabic and Coptic versions, ed. and trans. Wilhelm Riedel and Walter Ewig Crum (London, 1904), Ath. Can. 48, 92, 99. 9 Ibid., Ath. Can. 92. 7

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PSI VI 698,10 from Oxyrhynchus in 392, mentions the house of a nun. Was this a nun (monaché) who continued to own her house or, perhaps less likely, a woman who practiced domestic asceticism? The fifth-​century papyrus P.Princ. II, 84, which concerns the selling of a house that belongs to Euphemia monazousa, raises similar questions. Judging by the terminology and the content of these documents, I am inclined to see in them evidence of female monastic praxis in places detached from the house and the family of origin. Two texts from the beginning of the fourth century, P.Oxy XIV, 1774 and SB III 9746, mention a certain Didyma, who seems to be a mother superior of a group of spiritual sisters.11 It is important to remember that within the available Greek and Coptic sources, it is often very difficult to distinguish between references to biological relationships and references to spiritual bonds. Given the context and function of the correspondence, I  am convinced that this text refers to the latter. Alongside these documentary sources, there is abundant evidence in the most ancient literary sources for the existence of a female cenobitic way of life, for example in the Life of Antony, in the Lives of Pachomius, and in the Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. The Latin translations of these texts also provide insight into their transmission and influence on occidental Christianity. Some of the Apophthegmata, the maxims of monks from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in the fifth century, are attributed to women, namely to Sara, Theodora, and Syncletica. It is undeniable that the presence of only three women within the whole corpus of maxims is a sign of marginality, if not of the feminine experience itself, at least in terms of the way in which this same experience was welcomed, accepted, and transmitted. It is indeed telling that more space was not given to women. But, although the category of “Desert Mothers” has been heavily disputed in the past, the existence of women in this setting can no longer be questioned.12 It is striking that the content of the female maxims almost completely mirrors the male ones. I would like to focus here, in particular, on the conditions of community life within female monasteries, because this context offers a more productive space for complex reflection about family and the relationships between

All the abbreviations for papyri, ostraca, and tablets can be found at http://​papyri.info/​ docs/​checklist (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 11 Mario Naldini, Il Cristianesimo in Egitto. Lettere private nei papiri dei secoli II–​IV (Fiesole, 1998), letters 36 and 37, 173–​80. 12 Caroline Schroeder, “Women in Anchoritic and Semi-​ Anchoritic Monasticism in Egypt: Rethinking the Landscape,” Church History 83 (2014): 3; William Harmless, Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism (Oxford and New York, 2004),  440–​2.

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nuns and family than ascetic life or semi-​anchoritic life. A text reported in the Historia Lausiaca (HL) from the fifth century explicitly speaks about a female community within the Pachomian complex.13 This included 400 women, and had the same constitution and largely the same manner of life as the male monastery. The women lived across the river from the men. When a virgin died, the other virgins prepared her body for burial and, acting as bearers, laid it on the riverbank. The brethren, crossing in a ferry with palm leaves and olive branches, retrieved the body, singing psalms as they went, and buried it in their own cemetery. Apart from the priest and the deacon, no man was to cross over to the women’s monastery, and then only on Sundays. There are cases recorded of women who ran away to become nuns, and accounts of others who were forced to become nuns. There are also nuns who escaped from monasteries, nuns who had a family and children, and nuns who never had a family. Because all of these are situations that were also reported for monks, I do not think that it is possible to discern a precise and detailed distinction between the female and male motivations for entering the monastic life from the available sources. Similarly, it is not entirely clear if and how male monastic rules were applied by the nuns, or at least proposed to them.14 As Schroeder noted, Shenoute (d. 465), archimandrite of the monastery of Atripe (afterwards called the White Monastery), alludes to male and female hermits connected to his monastery, but the degree to which the women within the boundaries of his community submitted to the rules is unclear.15 How much direct supervision and control these nuns received and whether they were full members of the monastic community remains unknown. One variant features a woman dressed as a man in order to be accepted into a monastery. One anonymous monk, for example, lived alone in a cave and grew famous for his discipline in plaiting rope and refusing to speak to visitors. This monk’s female sex was revealed only after death.16 These marginal cases are interesting, whether they reflect reality or were merely



Palladius, Historia Lausiaca, in Die Lateinische Übersetzung der Historia Lausiaca des Palladius, ed. Adelheid Wellhausen (Berlin and New York, 2003), 29. See also HL 29–​30, 33, 49, 56, 59, and 67. 14 See the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume; on the RB and RCaeV, see Albrecht Diem, “The Gender of the Religious: Wo/​Men and the Invention of Monasticism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, ed. Judith M. Bennett and Ruth Mazo Karras (Oxford, 2013), 439–​44. 15 Schroeder, “Women in Anchoritic and Semi-​Anchoritic Monasticism,” 5–​6. 16 AP/​G Bessarione 4. 13

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rhetorical constructions. The reasons for the persistence of this topos, however, have not yet been explored.17 The female monastic phenomenon consolidated and spread from the first decades of the fourth century in parallel with the spread of male forms of monastic life. Women, however, were marginalized in the contemporary literature on the topic, which was written exclusively by male authors. But even while monastic women were pushed to the margins in ancient sources (and in modern scholarship), female virginitas was the subject of constant reflection, from Tertullian (d. after 220), to Athanasius (d. 373), to Aldhelm (d. 709).

Families in the Monastery: Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters Still In renouncing their sexuality by devoting themselves to virginity or to chastity and following the ascetic path, these women became spouses of Christ. They were also willing to give up their houses, husbands, and children to become members of a new monastic family as mothers, sisters, and daughters, either for a limited period of time or indefinitely. In some cases, however, it is possible to observe the preservation of familial bonds “in the flesh.” Biological sons and daughters might follow their mothers in the monastic choice, or women might follow their children, husbands, and, more easily, their brothers. This may have happened more frequently in the West as the result of its family typology and the structure of its first monasteries: there, whole families, many from noble or wealthy backgrounds, moved into or founded monasteries, taking with them all the members of their household, including the servants, as in the case of Melania and Pinianus or the community of St. Honoratus, on the island of Lérins. From its beginnings in the fifth century, many of Lérins’ aspiring ascetics came from the same family. Eucherius (d. 449) and Salvianus, for example, abandoned the world with their wives and children and joined the island monastery.18 The case of Jura offers the best comparison with Oriental monasticism. Romanus, a monk whose story is narrated in the biographies of the fathers of the Jura, was soon joined by his brother and sister.19 In this way, he anticipated by a century the famous story



John Anson, “The Female Transvestite in Early Monasticism:  The Origin and Development of a Motif,” Viator 5 (1974): 1–​32. Roberto Alciati and Maria Chiara Giorda. “Legami carnali e spirituali nel monachesimo cristiano antico (IV–​VII secolo),” in Famiglia monastica. Prassi aggregative di isolamento, ed. Maria Chiara Giorda and Francesca Sbardella (Bologna, 2012), 92–​5. On Lérins, see also the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, Alciati, Diem and Rousseau, and Lauwers in this volume. 19 On the monastery of Condat in the Jura, see the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 17

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of the monastic choice of Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) and his sister. The typological similarities (an ascetic monastic community in the process of organizing itself ) and the fact that the familial bonds were not only kept, but also were not hidden by the sources, allow us to compare the case of Lérins and that of Jura to the Egyptian circles. Along with a discourse of renunciation of the familial/​biological bonds—​ first and foremost in the written sources, and in monastic rhetoric, but also in the visual arts—​one can simultaneously observe the maintenance of bonds within what is called the monastic family.20 From the senatorial aristocracy of Rome to the farmers of Coptic Egypt, the organization of the family influenced the spread of different monastic forms throughout the Mediterranean basin, even as the biological family remained present within monasticism.21 The importance of the relationships between siblings, in particular, was expressed right from the origins of Egyptian monasticism. Palladius’ (d. before 431) Historia Lausiaca recounts the story of Ammonius (d. c. 242), one of the most famous monks of the Egyptian desert of Nitria. Ammonius undertook the hermitical life with three brothers and two sisters. The siblings lived in separate and distanced cells, which they occasionally left to visit one another.22 The most famous case, however, is that of Amun (d. c. 357). According to Palladius, Amun retired into the desert after years of unconsummated conjugal life.23 What is noteworthy here is that Amun’s wife chose to live under the same ascetic conditions, first in communion with him, and later separated from him, remaining in the family house. The choice of a husband and wife to live an ascetic life together epitomizes the tension and ambiguity that can be observed throughout monastic literature when family relationships are in view. That some couples cohabited for years is evidence that monastic life does not necessarily imply a total annihilation of pre-​existing bonds. Examples of this sort of cohabitation can also be found in the West, both between husband and wife and among the members of both sexes of the same family. Beyond the aforementioned Melania and Pinianus, there are the cases of Paulinus and Therasia (husband and wife) and of Sulpicius and Bassa (son-​in-​law and mother-​in-​law, the latter in fact substituting for Sulpicius’ dead wife), who declared that they were living

Maria Chiara Giorda and Francesca Sbardella, “Esperienze monastiche e logiche famigliari: un’ipotesi di ricerca,” in Famiglia monastica. Prassi aggregative di isolamento, ed. Maria Chiara Giorda and Francesca Sbardella (Bologna, 2012), 13–​24. 21 Schroeder, “Women in Anchoritic and Semi-​Anchoritis Monasticism,” 280–​1. 22 HL 11. 23 HL 8.2.

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together not only in chastity but also with total indifference toward gender.24 Their complete dedication to asceticism led to the emptying of gender and the overcoming of sexual differences. Their bond did not prevent them from progressing in asceticism, but instead helped them along their spiritual path. It is interesting that Paulinus and Therasia gave a precious gift to Sulpicius and Bassa, validating this sort of spiritual twinning. Precept 143 of the corpus of rules from the Pachomian circle gives some instructions for the monastery of virgins: Let us also speak about the monastery of the virgins. None shall go to visit them unless he has there his mother, a sister or a daughter, relatives or cousins, or the mother of his children. If there is the necessity to see them, either because, before they renounced the world and entered the monastery, they were entitled to an inheritance from their father, or for some other evident reason, an elderly man of proven conduct shall be sent with them: they will see the virgins and they will come back together. None shall go to them, except those we just mentioned. If these ones want to see them, they shall first of all inform the father of the monastery, and he will send them to the elderly men (ad seniores) who have been delegated for the spiritual service of the virgins (ministerium virginum).25

Since the addressees of the Pachomian rules are male, it is evident that this exhortation focused on the conduct of the monks, with particular attention to their relationship with the nuns. That only monks with relatives in the female monasteries were allowed to visit the latter shows that the monastic choice was shared, in some cases, by members of the same family, and suggests that this kind of relationship within the different communities was fairly frequent. A non-​cenobitic monastic context more akin to that described in the Apophthegmata is that of the monk Frange, who lived in a tomb in the western part of the Thebaid in the seventh century. The precious dossier of sources, comprising mainly letters written by and to this exemplary monk, documents the familial bonds among the men and women who shared his experience of retreat and isolation. It would thus seem that it was possible to live an ascetic life within the family in a domestic environment or, in any case, in ways less radical than those followed by Frange. Of particular interest is a group of five



R. Alciati M.  Giorda, Possessions and Asceticism:  Melania the Younger and Her Slow Way to Jerusalem. In:  “Zeitschrift für Antike und Christentums/​Journal of Ancient Christianity”, 14(2) (2010): 425–​444 p. 235. 25 Amand Boon, ed., Pachomiana latina. Règle et épîtres de St. Pachôme, épître de St. Théodore et “Liber” de St. Orsiesius. Texte latin de St. Jérôme (Louvain, 1932), 57.

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ostraca that refer to a quarrel that involved a woman from Pétémout.26 One of Frange’s sons played a role in the episode, although it is not clear whether he was a spiritual or a natural son.27 The appellation “father” has caused scholars to interpret this as a mixed monastic environment, within which biological family ties were maintained and nurtured.

The Monastery as Family: New (Spiritual) Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters If the monastery can be considered a family, it is necessary to ask what role the women played in it and how that role compares to the one that they had held in their worldly families, as wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. The term “wife” or “spouse,” central to the experience of the virgin ascetics styled as spouses of Christ, was made less prominent through new functions that women performed within the monastic family. In the new setting, religious women were essentially either mothers or daughters, as well as sisters to each other. The epithet “mother” is used extensively in cenobitic contexts in reference to the mothers superior of the monasteries, as in the case of Maria, Pachomius’ sister, who was mother of the virgins for her whole life.28 The documentary texts from the fourth to the seventh century are filled with attestations of spiritual mothers, ama/​amma, also referred to by diminutives such as “godmother” and “nurse,” which is similar to the use of apa, originally a term of endearment for a father. Mothers unquestionably could hold roles of responsibility, even toward monks, as some letter exchanges attest.29 SPP X 35 (sixth century, Oxyrhynchus) names ama Herais as a spiritual mother of nuns within a list of monasteries. An inscription from the monastery of apa Geremia in Saqqara, mentions Susanna, mother (ama) of the great monastery.30 In most of the occurrences the term “mother” is found in the singular form; this is a female authority for a group of nuns. Mothers, however, were not the only authorities within monasteries. They were often accompanied and supported by, and sometimes subjected to, a male head of the family. This model is easy to observe in double monasteries,



Fragments 167–​71 of Frange’s archive in Anne Boud’hors and Chantal Heurtel, Les ostraca coptes de la TT 29. Autour du moine Frangé, vol. 1 (Brussels, 2010), 19. 27 Ibid., 17–​18, with regard to familial bonds, and 142 for the relationship between Frange and this son. 28 Louis Théophile Lefort, ed., S. Pachomii Vita, Bohairice Scripta (Louvain, 1925), 27. 29 Boud’hors and Heurtel, Les ostraca coptes, 19. 30 James Edward Quibell, Excavations at Saqqara 1906–​1907 (Cairo, 1909), 36–​7, no. 27. 26

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where the female precinct was adjacent to the male one.31 The case of Moses, who lived in the second half of the fifth century, is revealing because he wrote as father (and thus as the highest authority) to his spiritual daughters who lived in the monastery under the guidance of their mother.32 Finally, the role of mother within monasteries was also exercised by the women who contributed physically to the expansion of the monastic family by ceding their children to the monastery. In this case, they were not mothers of nuns or of monasteries, but mothers within the monasteries, and their main role was to contribute to the growth of the number of monks or residents (sometimes lay people). This is the case in several instances of the donation of children, entrusted to the care of a spiritual father or directly to the monastery, as attested by the literature and the papyri.33 The sources do not discuss the role of these mothers after the donation but, because of the way in which the monastic life was organized, it is likely that they were no longer involved in the rearing of their children. The high level of integration between genders in the Shenoutian family is particularly striking. Shenoute was the highest authority figure for the women, in an even more direct and decisive way than Pachomius (d. 348) for what can be called his female monasteries. The texts of Shenoutian monasticism contain a rhetoric of unity within the monasteries; the monastic experience was said to unite men and women and provide a model that could be followed by both. This aspect of Shenoutian monasticism reveals the fraternal bonds between monks and nuns, who were called and who referred to themselves as brothers and sisters. Shenoute, in fact, uses the Coptic term for brothers (sneu) to refer to both monks and nuns. While the women were integrated into the monastic family, there was no intention on the part of the father of the monastery to erase their female nature. Shenoute led his monks, the brothers both male and female, in two distinct communities: his, which was male, and another one, female. While there is no denying Shenoute’s rhetoric of unity, he repeatedly provided tools aimed at distinguishing gender roles, restraining women, subordinating them first to himself and second to the other authoritative monks, and separating the men and women. In the Shenoutian monasteries, power relationships between the two sexes remained asymmetrical, reproducing the family

On double monasteries, see the article by Beach and Juganaru in this volume. “Vie de Moïse,” in Émile Amélineau, Monuments pour servir à l’histoire de l’Égypte chrétienne aux IVe et Ve siècles (Paris, 1895), fasc. 2, 694. 33 See bibliography cited in Maria Chiara Giorda, Il regno di Dio in terra. I monasteri come fondazioni private (Egitto V–​VII secolo) (Rome, 2011), 156, n. 123. 31

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structure and the positions of power and authority that were to be found within natural families: Shenoute was thus the father of the monastic family, and the monks and nuns his children. The familial model that inspired his monasteries was a patriarchal one that expected the male head of the family to be a present and strong authority. He followed and created no fracture with the patriarchal model that was to be found in secular society. The nuns were sisters among themselves, and the daughters of a mother and a father.34 Finally, all of the nuns who were subject to the mothers and fathers in charge of monastic communities were included within the category of spiritual daughters. There were also several cases of women who approached the spiritual fathers who lived within the monasteries to ask for prayers and for spiritual support. In papyrus P.Lond.Copt. VI 1926 (c. 340), for example, a certain Valeria writes to an ascetic living in Heracleopolis, apa Paphnutius, her spiritual father. She asks for his help and entrusts her daughters Bassiane and Theoklia and her whole household to him. A similar father–​daughter relationship is reflected two centuries later in surviving documents from Wadi Sarga (where the monks call themselves brothers and a father of the monastery is mentioned). Here (P.Sarga 164), a woman addresses a holy father, as she already had in the past, recognizing his capacity for praying, as well as for granting forgiveness and offering intercession. Even more clearly than in the previous example, this daughter did not reside within the monastery, which was more certainly a strictly male environment. Nevertheless, I think that it is correct to speak again here of a monastic family. The Wadi Sarga text also highlights the growing separation between East and West from the sixth century onward. As the bonds loosened between the Greek and Latin parts of the Mediterranean, so does the possibility of a comparison between their various monastic environments. In the West, the Jeromian and then the Benedictine line progressively established themselves, creating an anti-​family monastic mainstream.35 In the East, however, and particularly in Egypt, the regional divisions and the later Islamization of the country, as well as a very different economic situation, led to a change in the balance of power and to both a different conservation of familial bonds and a different role for women. We can, therefore, observe in the East the creation of a new familia, not biological but spiritual, with some bonds tight and others loose. In this family,

Rebecca Krawiec, Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery (New York, 2002), 136 and  144–​7. 35 Roberto Alciati, “Da Oriente a Occidente:  contatti fra le due parti dell’Impero,” in Monachesimo orientale, ed. Giovanni Filoramo (Brescia, 2010), 193–​229.

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some features were different from the existing non-​monastic familial model, apart from the concrete and essential physical separation between the two sexes.36 Within the monastic environment, and thanks to the combination of a rhetoric of unity and equality that tended simultaneously to distinguish and separate, women now became mothers, now sisters (though in some cases absorbed and intermixed among the brothers), now daughters, and their position was one of a greater symbolic equality with the monks. The deeply rooted sexist and patriarchal structures present in the biological families were not entirely eradicated and overcome, especially within double monasteries. The nuns did, however, gain greater responsibility and autonomy. It is interesting to reflect upon the fact that the women who lived in monasteries without men, or far from men, had such independence and autonomy that they were able to manage even the economy of their communities.37 The intersections between social, affective, and economic bonds that the experiences of female monastic life highlight are complex. Indeed, female asceticism could be an instrument of liberation, an attestation of greater independence, or a way to increase security and protection through affiliation with or proximity to a male monastery.38

Conclusions Complex and intertwining spiritual, social, cultural, and economic factors make any attempt to construct a rigid monastic taxonomy of practices, places of residence, and organization for monastic women (as indeed also for monastic men) fruitless and misleading. Some tentative conclusions, however, can be drawn. This article has attempted to cast some light on the roles of religious women by reflecting upon the ways in which they rethought and maintained their familial roles, and by examining the strategy for (re)generation that they carried out in the absence of the possibility of biological generation. This is an anthropological and historical trait present within every human society, whatever its specific expression in terms of family, domestic organization, and ways of parenting. It is not possible to determine whether the denial of the reproductive function weighed more heavily upon monks or nuns. Since one of the most common roles among the women of that era was that of biological mother, however, the choice of the monastic life

Roberto Alciati M. Giorda Famiglia cristiana e pratica monastica (IV-​VII secolo). In: “Annali di storia dell’esegesi”, 27(1) (2010): 265–​290. 37 Schroeder, “Women in Anchoritic and Semi-​Anchoritic Monasticism,” 14–​15. 38 Ibid.,  16–​17.

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must have represented a clear demarcation between the nuns and the women active in the lay world. But the testimonies given by the sources seem to support a reevaluation of the notion that entry into the monastic life in this era demanded the total fracturing of worldly biological and familial ties. There are numerous references within the sources to maintaining both horizontal and vertical familial bonds, regulated according to the different sensibilities of the heads of monasteries, who might be more or less strict in dealing with situations of cohabitation, with the proximity of members of the same family who had embraced the monastic life, and with the possibility of visiting relatives coming from the world outside the monastery. Such familial ties were maintained not only concretely but also narratively and metaphorically. These relationships can be ascribed to the survival strategies of monastic families, as a paradoxical reversal of the interruption of natural reproduction. As with biological families, there was a generative necessity within monasteries, not only spiritually and theologically, as monastic literature and art show, but also socially, economically, and legally, as demonstrated by the persistent presence of children, parents, brothers, and sisters, by the relationships with biological families and the external world, and by the use of an easily recognizable terminology of the family.

Bibliography Alciati, Roberto, and Maria Chiara Giorda. “Legami carnali e spirituali nel monachesimo cristiano antico (IV–VII secolo).” In Famiglia monastica. Prassi aggregative di isolamento, edited by Maria Chiara Giorda and Francesca Sbardella, 69–97. Bologna, 2012.   “Possessions and Asceticism: Melania the Younger and Her Slow Way to Jerusalem.” Zeitschrift für Antike und Christentums 14 (2010): 425–44. Brown, Peter. The Body and the Society:  Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. 2nd ed. New York, 2008. Clark, Gillian. Women in Late Antiquity: Pagan and Christian Lifestyles. Oxford, 1993. Cooper, Kate. Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women. London, 2013.   The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity. Cambridge, MA, 1996. Diem, Albrecht. “The Gender of the Religious:  Wo/Men and the Invention of Monasticism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, edited by Judith M. Bennett and Ruth Mazo Karras, 432–46. Oxford, 2013. Elm, Susanna. “Virgins of God”:  The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Oxford and New York, 1994. Giorda, Maria Chiara. Il regno di Dio in terra. I monasteri come fondazioni private (Egitto V–VII secolo). Rome, 2011. Harmless, William, Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism. Oxford and New York, 2004.

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Psalmody and Prayer in Early Monasticism P ete r Je ffe ry,   OblSB Meanings of “Psalmody” Though the word “psalmody” literally refers to the singing of psalms, it has been used for every kind of psalm performance, including recitation in a speaking voice and silent mental repetition. Thus, when reading ancient and medieval texts, it may be hard to tell which kind of performance an ancient writer had primarily in mind. Latin and Greek words for say, sing, recite, and even meditate can all refer to either speaking, chanting monotonously, singing musically, or rehearsing silently in one’s mind.1 In early monasticism, though, psalmody was not the same thing as prayer. In some early sources, reciting a psalm is a lot like reading the Bible: the scriptural words moved the monk to respond by praying, often in his own words.2 In others, reciting large numbers of psalms resembles a penitential or ascetic practice, comparable to (and often combined with) fasting, deliberate poverty, uncomfortable body positions, or sleep deprivation. Once memorizing the Psalter became part of the process of becoming a monk, psalmody could also have an initiatory aspect. As monastic practices became more established, psalmody came to be regarded as an obligation that the monk owed to God. It is this sense of obligation that gave rise to the terms “divine office” (from Latin officium divinum), and opus Dei (“the work of God”) to express the monk’s duty to get through the required psalms.3

John Wortley, “How the Desert Fathers ‘Meditated’,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 46 (2006): 315–​28. 2 Adalbert de Vogüé, “Psalmodier n’est pas prier,” Ecclesia Orans 6 (1989): 7–​32; Andrew Nugent, “Benedict: A Sense of Prayer,” American Benedictine Review 50 (1999): 149–​60; Columba Stewart, “The Use of Biblical Texts in Prayer and the Formation of Early Monastic Culture,” American Benedictine Review 62 (2011): 188–​201. 3 Irénée Hausherr, “Opus Dei,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 13 (1947): 195–​218, trans. Bert Breiner in Monastic Studies 11: On Benedictine Monasticism (Pine City, NY, 1975), 181–​204. Ambrose Wathen, “Opus Dei,” in Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, vol. 6 (Rome, 1980), 753–​61. 1

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Since the word “psalmody” refers to a wide range of practices that were understood differently by different people, retracing the origins and early development of monastic psalmody requires a lot of untangling.4 Many issues remain in dispute. The task is complicated by several tensions that made themselves felt as the monastic movement emerged from within the wider Christian community. Particularly important was the distinction between clergy and laity. Male monks were originally laity, since (like nuns) they were not ordained. As a result, some apparently monastic practices may actually have been of lay origin: monks and nuns simply continued using them or even developed them further. Yet, as exemplary, committed Christians, monks and nuns could be held in greater honor, admired and emulated even by some of the clergy. Thus, even practices that were originally monastic were widely imitated by non-​monks, including the clergy. In any case, as late antiquity passed into the Middle Ages, male monks were increasingly clericalized through ordination to the priesthood, while the clergy was to some degree monasticized:  encouraged to adopt celibacy and obliged to recite a divine office. Thus some practices that should be seen as originally monastic came to be perceived incorrectly as clerical or priestly in nature. As far as psalmody and prayer were concerned, however, the tension was between clerical and lay, not between male and female. Psalmody was not a sacrament and so was never gendered: monastic rules that were written expressly for women or men quote each other, recommend similar psalmodic practices, and were read by celibate monastics of both genders. Other tensions that may confuse the researcher on early psalmody involve relationships between group worship and private practices, between the singing of biblical texts and newly composed hymnody, and between the life of prayer and the need for mundane work. Many of these tensions can be seen in the crucial distinction between the “monastic” and “cathedral” forms of the divine office.

Monastic vs. Cathedral Offices Liturgical historians can detect that the legalization of Christianity in the fourth century brought two distinct approaches to public worship. In the

Most of the early sources are learnedly unraveled in Robert Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West: The Origins of the Divine Office and Its Meaning for Today, 2nd. ed. (Collegeville, MN, 1993), which also contains valuable information about the medieval and modern Eastern liturgies. The medieval and later traditions of the West are dealt with more cursorily.

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last hundred years, scholars have adopted the labels “cathedral office” and “monastic office” for them. The difference is something of an abstraction, since most liturgies for which we have historical evidence incorporated elements of both. Debate about the terminology continues.5 But understanding the difference is indispensable to making sense of the vast array of traditions and sources. In principle, the cathedral (I would prefer “urban”) office was led by the clergy, under the bishop, who was based in his cathedral—​the church building where his throne (cathedra) was located. However, this type of worship did not remain in the cathedral. It was stational: over the course of the year, the bishop and his entourage traveled to other church buildings around the city, celebrating mass and parts of the “cathedral” office with the local clergy and parishioners, who were joined by Christians from all over the city. Monastic communities that resided inside the city also joined in,6 so that in some sources we can still recognize discrete segments of monastic and cathedral psalmody.7 Monastic worship, in theory, claimed the legacy of the early monks who, according to the idealized model, had left civilized society to live in the desert. It therefore had reason to reject some features of urban/​cathedral worship. Since most early monks were lay people, for instance, clerical hierarchy had little relevance. Monastic hierarchy was based on seniority—​the length of time that an individual had been a monk. Thus it was the more experienced monks who would lead psalmody and prayer. Since monastic life had an austere, ascetic character, some early monks also claimed to reject the poetic and melodic hymnody that flourished in cathedral/​urban worship, preferring the unadorned texts of Scripture and the psalms.8 The Apophthegmata, the stories and sayings of the Desert Fathers of lower (northern) Egypt, have little to say about liturgical practices as such, but they describe feats of ascetical heroism

Paul Bradshaw, “Cathedral and Monastic: What’s in a Name?” Worship 77 (2003): 341–​ 53. Robert Taft, “Cathedral vs. Monastic Liturgy in the Christian East:  Vindicating a Distinction,” Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata 3rd ser. 2 (2005):  173–​219. Stig Ragnvald Frøyshov, “The Cathedral–​ Monastic Distinction Revisited. Part I:  Was Egyptian Desert Liturgy a Pure Monastic Office?” Studia Liturgica 37 (2007): 198–​216. 6 Jean-​Miguel Garrigues and Jean Legrez, Moines dans l’assemblée des fidèles à l’époque des pères, IVe–​VIIIe siècle (Paris, 1992). 7 For examples, see Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 31–​3, 48–​50,  230–​7. 8 Stig Simeon Frøyshov, “La réticence à l’hymnographie chez des anachorètes de l’Égypte et du Sinaï du 6e au 8e siècles,” in L’hymnographie. Conférences Saint-​Serge, XLVIe semaine d’études liturgiques, Paris, 29 juin–​2 juillet 1999, ed. Achille M. Triacca and Alessandro Pistoia (Rome, 2000), 229–​45; Georgi R. Parpulov, “Psalters and Personal Piety in Byzantium,” in The Old Testament in Byzantium, ed. Paul Magdalino and Robert Nelson (Washington, DC, 2010), 77–​105. 5

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that could include the recitation from memory of entire books of the Bible or all 150 psalms. There are frequent discussions of how to balance unceasing prayer with the need to work. Another common theme is the difficulty of keeping one’s attention focused on psalmody or prayer; in fact, elder monks sometimes recount visions in which they observed devils trying to distract monks with temptations and impure thoughts. For Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399), one of the first monastic theologians, paying close attention to the texts of the psalms was a way to quiet the passions and keep distracting thoughts at bay, experience divine healing, and encounter Christ, the Word of God present in the psalms.9 In the prosopographical approach to exegesis, the Psalter was the book of the Bible in which the voice of Christ and of the Church could be heard most directly, and the monk could perceive his true sinful self most clearly, as if in a mirror, and so be brought to tears of compunction over his sins, which would motivate him to pray.10 Intense praying could lead to an ecstatic state that was likened to being on fire.11 But the most obvious distinction had to do with the construction of time. The cathedral office hinged on the daily transitions between light and darkness, or rather between natural and artificial light. Thus the blessing of lamps (lucernarium) at Vespers in the evening, and the return of daylight at the morning praises (Lauds), were both imbued with biblical and Christological symbolism. The annual cycles of fixed and movable feasts were also central. Monastic worship, on the other hand, aimed at the New Testament ideal to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), which made the passage of time relatively less important. Of course, it is literally impossible for a human being to pray with no interruption. Even monks had to do agricultural or handicraft work to support the monastery, as well as find time for spiritual reading, sleep, and other bodily needs. Accommodations had to be made, and this spawned a wide variety of local traditions, each with its own way of structuring the daily and weekly liturgical cycles. Most of the Latin traditions have identifiable antecedents in Eastern Christianity, particularly from Egypt or the Holy Land, which were



Luke Dysinger, Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius Ponticus (Oxford, 2005). Columba Stewart, Cassian the Monk (New York, 1998), 121–​2. Peter Jeffery, “Monastic Reading and the Emerging Roman Chant Repertory,” in Western Plainchant in the First Millennium: Studies of the Medieval Liturgy and its Music in Memory of James W. McKinnon, ed. Sean Gallagher, James Haar, John Nádas, and Timothy Striplin (Aldershot, 2003), 55–​8. Athanasius, The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus, ed. Robert C. Gregg (Mahwah, NJ, 1980). 11 Stewart, Cassian the Monk, 117–​22; William Harmless, Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism (New York, 2004), 243 and 397–​8. 9

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visited by numerous Western pilgrims who then recounted their experiences back home. Actual routes of transmission are therefore difficult to trace, since it was an oral transmission of experiences and memories more than a transmission of texts. In fact, many of the relevant Greek texts were never even translated into Latin, and some of those that were, like the Rule of St. Basil, offer relatively little liturgical information. Of early Latin sources that describe Eastern practices, the most important are (1) the incompletely preserved travelogue of Egeria, describing the liturgies she witnessed in Jerusalem in 383–​4;12 (2) Latin translations of the Apophthegmata of the Desert Fathers; and (3) the Institutes of John Cassian (d. 435), written about 420 to promote a reform in the monasteries of southern Gaul, and detailing the celebrations he remembered participating in in Egypt and Palestine some decades earlier.13 However, probably the most useful way to classify the early traditions is according to the ways they divided up the day and night.

Unceasing praise (laus perennis) The most obvious way to pray without ceasing was through a ritual that literally never ended. The monks were divided into groups that would take turns celebrating the office in shifts, so that part of the community was always at worship. Best known for this approach were the monasteries of akoimetoi (“sleepless”) monks in Constantinople.14 In the Latin West, however, the only well-​known example was the Abbey of Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune, at the eastern tip of Lake Geneva.15



John Wilkinson, ed. and transl., Egeria’s Travels, 3rd ed., corrected (Oxford, 2006); on the date, see 169–​71. Egeria, Journal de voyage (Itinéraire), ed. Pierre Maraval, SC 296; for an English trans., see Egeria, The Pilgrimage of Egeria:  A New Translation, trans. Anne McGowan and Paul F. Bradshaw (Collegeville, MN, 2018). Jesús Alturo, “Deux nouveaux fragments de l’’Itinerarium Egeriae’ du IXe–​Xe siècle,” Revue bénédictine 115 (2005): 241–​50. 13 Stewart, Cassian the Monk, 29–​32. See also the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 14 Peter Hatlie, The Monks and Monasteries of Constantinople, ca. 350–​850 (Cambridge, 2007), 69–​71, 74–​80, 85–​90, 102–​13, and elsewhere. 15 Homilia XXIV (515 Sept. 22), in Œuvres complètes de saint Avit, Évêque de Vienne, new ed. (Lyon, 1890), 337–​9. The same text is Homilia XXV in Rudolphus Peiper, ed., Alcimi Ecdicii Aviti Viennensis Episcopi Opera Quae Supersunt, MGH AA 6 pars posterior (Berlin, 1883), 145–​6, 180–​1. François Masai, “La ‘Vita patrum iurensium’ et les débuts du monachisme à Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune,” and Bonifatius Fischer, “Bedae de titulis psalmorum liber,” in Festschrift Bernhard Bischoff zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, ed. Johanne Autenrieth and Franz Brunhölzl (Stuttgart, 1971), 43–​69, 90–​110. Barbara H. Rosenwein, “Perennial Prayer at Agaune,” in Monks & Nuns, Saints & Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society: Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little, ed. Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein (Ithaca, NY, 2000), 37–​56. Albrecht Diem, “Who Is Allowed to Pray for the King? Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune and the Creation of a Burgundian Identity,” in Post-​Roman

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Twenty-​Four  Hours Another approach was to organize the office in twenty-​four sections, one for each “hour” of the Greco-​Roman day. The period of daylight and the period of darkness were each divided into twelve equal sections (hōrai in Greek; compare John 11:9; Acts 23:23; Martial, Epigrams 4.8) which had no fixed duration, since the length of the daylight period varied by time of year and also by latitude: longest in the summer, but shorter as one got farther away from the equator. Recent research has found that an office of twenty-​four hours was used by the monastic community located in the basilica of the Anastasis (Resurrection) in Jerusalem (where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands) and, early on, in the Great Laura of Sabas in the Judean desert.16 It appears that the monks, or at least some of them, gathered for worship at every one of the twenty-​four hours, but had time for other matters in between. The most influential twenty-​four-​hour office was celebrated in Egypt. In its simplest form, as found in the Codex Sinaiticus of the Greek Bible, it consisted of twelve morning psalms and twelve evening psalms, apparently the same psalms every single day.17 The original idea may have been to recite one psalm per hour, but in the extant sources the psalms were recited one after another: twelve at an evening service and twelve more at a vigil before dawn. As a result, this type of monastic office was a largely nocturnal affair. Eventually formalized as “the Rule of the Angel,” it became widely known and influential in the West through the writings of Cassian, who tells us how it was performed: one monk stood up to recite a psalm while the others sat on the ground weaving baskets for the monastery to sell. When he finished, all stood up, extended their arms, and prayed silently. Then they knelt, prostrated, stood up again, stretched out their arms and continued praying silently. Finally, a priest would say a prayer out loud that “collected” the thoughts of all





Transitions: Christian and Barbarian Identities in the Early Medieval West, ed. Walter Pohl and Gerda Heydemann (Turnhout, 2013), 47–​88. 16 Stig Ragnvald Frøyshov, “L’horologe ‘géorgien’ du Sinaiticus ibericus 34” (PhD diss., Université de Paris IV Sorbonne, Institut Catholique de Paris, and Institut de théologie orthodoxe Saint-​Serge, 2003). See also Stig Ragnvald Frøyshov, “The Georgian Witness to the Jerusalem Liturgy: New Sources and Studies,” in Inquiries into Eastern Christian Worship, ed. Bert Groen, Steven Hawkes-​Teeples, and Stefanos Alexopoulos (Leuven, 2012), 227–​67, esp. 249–​57. 17 Frøyshov, “The Cathedral–​Monastic Distinction,” 205–​13; Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 58–​ 9, 62, 72, 202, and 252. The Byzantine Hexapsalmos appears to be a remnant of a similar grouping of twelve psalms: see Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 198–​200 and 279; Neil Moran, “Zwei Herrscherakklamationen in einer griechischen Handschrift aus Süditalien (Codex Messina gr. 161),” Die Musikforschung 30 (1977): 5–​6; Maxime (Leila) Ajjoub and Joseph Paramelle, Livres d’Heures du Sinaï, SC 486, 63–​9 and 73.

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the monks, and therefore became known in Latin as a collecta (English cóllect). Then all would sit, and another monk stood up to recite the next psalm.18

Three Times a Day Probably the earliest Christian practice was to pray three times a day. This is the only system with clear Jewish precedent (Ps. 55:18; Dan. 6:11). Private, individual Jewish prayer was not organized around cycles of psalmody, but was designed to coincide with the rituals of the Temple in Jerusalem. Since the Temple’s destruction, the three prayer times survive in the Siddur or prayer book of the synagogue: Shaḥarit coincided with the morning sacrifice in the Temple, and also included the morning recitation of the Shema (Deut. 6:4–​9, etc.); Minḥah coincided with the afternoon sacrifice in the Temple; Ma’ariv was the time for the evening recitation of the Shema. By the time that the New Testament was written, these three prayer times had become identified with the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the Greco-​Roman twelve-​hour day (Matt. 20:1–​16; Luke 1:10; Acts 3:1, 10:3, 9, 30),19 roughly corresponding to 9 a.m., 12 noon, and 3 p.m. on the modern twelve-​hour clock. For Christians, these three times acquired further significance through the chronology of Jesus’ Passion:  at the third hour he was nailed to the cross (Mark 15:25); at the sixth hour he was condemned by Pilate ( John 19:14–16) and there was darkness at midday (Mark 15:33); at the ninth hour Jesus died (Mark 15:34–39). The third hour was also the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, who were gathered in prayer on the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–​15). Such New Testament symbolism is therefore frequently found in both Eastern and Western prayer at these hours. Midnight “Until the close of the early modern era, Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major intervals of sleep bridged by up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness.”20 The emergence of the modern pattern of “monophasic sleep”21 that we now regard as normal seems to have resulted

Armand Veilleux, La liturgie dans le cénobitisme pachômien au quatrième siècle (Rome, 1968), 279–​87, 292–​323, and 324–​39. Taft, Liturgy of the Hours,  5–​11. 20 A. Roger Ekirch, At Day’s Close:  Night in Times Past (New  York, 2005), 300; see also 300–​23, 335, 337; David Randall, Dreamland:  Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep (New York, 2012), 17–​18. 21 Brigitte Steger and Lodewijk Brunt, “Introduction: Into the Night and the World of Sleep,” in Night-​Time and Sleep in Asia and the West: Exploring the Dark Side of Life, ed. B. Steger and L. Brunt (London, 2003), 1–​23, esp. 15–​20. 18 19

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from the invention of street lighting and other modern conveniences, which made it easier to stay up late instead of retiring soon after dark.22 Early Christians, of course, used the nightly interval to pray, and this was formalized in some monastic office traditions, producing the type of midnight office known in Greek as mesonyktikon. Early examples are attested in Cappadocia and in the rules of Columbanus and Fructuosus of Braga.23 Similarly, the Roman cursus of the 150 psalms (see below) began at the night office leading into Sunday morning, whereas Byzantine monks begin the Psalter at Vespers on Saturday.

Night Vigils Whatever the normal sleep pattern may have been, one could also deprive oneself of sleep as an ascetical practice. Deliberately giving up sleep in order to pray (Greek agrypnía) was already a custom in New Testament times (Matt. 25:1–​13; Mark 14:37; 2 Cor. 6:5, 11:27; Col. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:7), which monasticism preserved and continued. In the urban/​cathedral liturgy this developed into several types of vigils or nocturnal services. The first was the Resurrection Vigil, celebrated every Sunday morning in Jerusalem before the Tomb of Jesus, but widely imitated elsewhere; it consisted of three psalms, after which the bishop of Jerusalem read a resurrection account from one of the four Gospels.24 The baptismal vigil, with twelve Old Testament readings followed by baptisms and then a mass, was celebrated on Easter and Pentecost in the Roman rite, on Epiphany and Easter in the East. Finally, there were vigils held at a saint’s tomb, either as a private devotion or as a public celebration the night before the saint’s feast; to fill the time it became common to recite all 150 psalms in order.25 Monastic vigils could take a variety of forms, but some





Petr Strobl, Die Macht des Schlafes in der griechisch-​römischen Welt. Eine Untersuchung der mythologischen und physiologischen Aspekte der antiken Standpunkte (Hamburg, 2002), 75–​81; Craig Koslofsky, Evening’s Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2011). 23 Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 86–​7, 114, and 119. On these rules, see the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 24 Stig R. Frøyshov, “The Resurrection Office of the First Millennium Jerusalem Liturgy and Its Adoption by Close Peripheries. Part I: The Pre-​Gospel Section,” in Studies on the Liturgies of the Christian East:  Selected Papers of the Third International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy, Volos, May 26–​30, 2010, ed. Steven Hawkes-​Teeples, Bert Groen, and Stefanos Alexopoulos (Leuven, 2013), 31–​57. 25 Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 165–​90. Peter Jeffery, “A Faithful Witness in Heaven: Keeping Vigil with St. Apollinaris,” in Looking Beyond: Visions, Dreams, and Insights in Medieval Art and History, ed. Colum Hourihane (Princeton, NJ, 2010), 128–​47. In the Ethiopic rite, this type of vigil (known as Keštat za-​ ̔aryām) goes systematically through the fifteen Biblical canticles: see Bernard Velat, Études sur le Me ̔rāf. Commun de l’Office divin éthiopien (Paris, 1966), 133–​5 and 398–​431. 22

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Western rules would gradually increase the number of psalms as winter nights grew longer, then decrease them again as the short nights of summer approached.26

Divisions of the Night Another practice was to divide the period of darkness into either three or four segments. The Roman army held four watches during the night (Acts 12:4; see also Mark 6:48; Matt. 14:25). Jewish sources disagree as to whether the Levites, who guarded the doors of the Temple all night, worked in four shifts or three.27 There was also some ambiguity about when the night ended, since roosters begin crowing well before the sun actually comes up. Thus there were four nocturnal markers that could serve as times for prayer: dusk, midnight (when people woke up temporarily), cockcrow, dawn (see Mark 13:35).28 It is likely, then, that the ancient Hebrew psalmist who wrote “Seven times a day I  praise thee” (Ps. 119:164, Vulgate 118:164) was thinking of the three daily prayer times of the Jewish Temple plus four Levitical watches during the night. No Christian source, however, interprets it that way. “Seven Times a Day” Most of the prayer traditions that survived into the Middle Ages are based on a combination of the systems described above. What may have happened in some places was that the dawn and sunset hours of the cathedral office, laudes matutinae and vesperae, were combined with the three daily prayer times to form a core of five celebrations: Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers.29 To this would be added one of the arrangements for the night office. We have such a five-​hour daily cycle in one of our earliest Latin monastic texts, the North African Ordo Monasterii that was incorporated into the Rule of St. Augustine (RA).30 It is combined with a night office that grows longer and shorter with the seasons of the year. The Ordo adds to this “the usual psalms before sleep,”



Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 109, 114. Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 3a–​3b. Compare Lam. 2:19; Judg. 7:19; Luke 12:36–​40; Exod. 14:24; 1 Sam. 11:11. 28 For classical Roman authors’ discussions of how to divide the day and night, see Michael P. J. van den Hout, A Commentary on the Letters of M. Cornelius Fronto (Leiden, 1999), 82–​4 and 31, 10–​16. 29 Stig Simeon Frøyshov, “The Formation of a Fivefold Cursus of Daily Prayer in Pre-​ Constantinian Christianity: Backward Inferences from Later Periods,” in Toxotēs: Studies for Stefano Parenti, ed. Daniel Galadza, Nina Glibetić, and Gabriel Radle (Grottaferrata, Rome, 2010), 121–​38. 30 Conrad Leyser, “Augustine in the Latin West, 430–​ca. 900,” in A Companion to Augustine, ed. Mark Vessey (Oxford, 2012), 460–​4. 26 27

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which would develop into Completorium or Compline, said at the time of retiring. It was short and often textually invariable, so that it could be recited in the dormitory with the lights out. Some traditions added an office at the first hour of daylight (roughly 6  a.m.), so that there were four of what came to be called “the Little Hours”:  Prime, Terce, Sext, and None. Research into this development is ineluctably entangled with Cassian’s description of the monastic office in Palestine, which (he says) originated by combining the two nocturnal services of the Egyptian monastic office with the three daily hours, then expanding further. Cassian’s complicated account has proved difficult to interpret. But it was Cassian (Institutes III, 4.197) who began the long tradition of appealing to Ps. 118:164 to justify the full cycle: “Seven times a day I praise thee”—​even though the total number of services in each twenty-​four-​hour period was usually more than seven, perhaps even in Cassian’s case.

The Main Latin Syntheses Irish syntheses As we move from late antiquity toward the Middle Ages, more complex Latin syntheses of these originally Eastern elements emerge. The simplest of these can be found in Irish monastic sources, which reached their most developed form in the traditions and texts of the Céli Dé or Culdees. While the Apophthegmata include stories of monks heroically reciting all 150 psalms, the Irish texts seem to make this the daily responsibility of every monk, to be completed in “three fifties” along with other texts, such as the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–​12). One finds Irish liturgical offices in which the three fifties form part of an even larger course of daily psalmody, but more often the recitation seems more like an expiatory exercise for the individual monk, to be combined with other ascetic practices such as holding up the hands for long periods, numerous genuflections or prostrations, repeated blows with a scourge, fasting, exposure to harsh weather conditions, and so on. Similar practices are prescribed in some of the Irish penitentials.31 In both Irish and Continental sources we find offices based on conflating Cassian’s descriptions of the Egyptian and Palestinian offices. Examples

Peter Jeffery, “Eastern and Western Elements in the Irish Monastic Prayer of the Hours,” in The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages:  Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography, ed. Margot E. Fassler and Rebecca A. Baltzer (New York, 2000), 99–​143, esp. 102–​8. On early Irish monasticism, see the article by Bitel in this volume.

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include the fanciful celebrations in the Voyage of St. Brendan, and a pseudonymous “Rule of Cassian.” Combining the Egyptian and Palestinian traditions, however, results in a Vespers with fifteen psalms.32

Southern France More developed offices indebted to Cassian can be found in sixth-​century monastic rules from the southern French region where Cassian wrote. They are by two bishops of Arles: Caesarius (d. 542 or 543), who had been a monk at Lérins, and Aurelian (d. 552). The basic document is the Regula ad Virgines of Caesarius (RCaeV), who worked on it from about 512 to 534. Caesarius’ Regula ad Monachos is derived from the rule for virgins, as are Aurelian’s two rules for monks and virgins.33 The Cassianic grouping of psalms into threes and twelves has been expanded to six and eighteen. There is a greater use of non-​psalm elements such as readings and litanies, and increasing amounts of variability across the liturgical year. The monastic office in the rules of Arles retained the Egyptian practice in which one monk recited while others listened; at Arles each monk recited three psalms before the next one took over, rather than one as in Egypt. Silent prayer and prostration after these psalms are not clearly mentioned, however, nor is it entirely clear whether a collect was said. Similar ambiguity in other monastic rules of the sixth and seventh centuries suggest that prayer after each psalm was disappearing. One of Columbanus’ rules, which may represent the use of the monastery he founded at Luxeuil, mentions that monks knelt and prayed after each psalm, but does not mention the collect.34 In Isidore of Seville’s (d. 636) monastic rule the prostration is retained, but the collect is not mentioned.35 Nevertheless, several series of psalter collects do survive in early Latin manuscripts of the psalms.36 In the Arles rules one can see an expanding variety of other methods for performing the psalms. The sources use the Greek word antiphona, which

Jeffery, “Eastern and Western Elements,” 108–​10; Thomas O’Loughlin, “The Monastic Liturgy of the Hours in the Navigatio sancti Brendani: A Preliminary Investigation,” Irish Theological Quarterly 71 (2006): 113–​26. 33 What follows is based on:  Caesarius of Arles, Œuvres monastiques, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, 2 vols., SC 345 and 398, 1:114–​28; Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 100–​10. 34 Jeffery, “Eastern and Western Elements,” 102–​12. 35 Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 102, 114, and 115–​16. 36 André. Wilmart, The Psalter Collects from V–​VIth Century Sources (Three Series), ed. Louis Brou (London, 1949; repr. Woodbridge, 2009); Henry Ashworth, The Psalter Collects of Pseudo-​Jerome and Cassiodorus (Manchester, 1963); Juan María Canals Casas, Colectas de salmos de la serie “Visita nos.” Introducción, edición crítica e índices (Salamanca, 1978). 32

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had appeared already in the Ordo Monasterii. In Latin, as still in Greek, this word referred to a unit of psalmody (i.e., a psalm, part of a psalm, or multiple psalms) in which two choirs alternate the verses, but a common refrain is appended to every verse, and the unit ends with the Gloria patri (“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit …”). It was only about the ninth century that antiphona came to be applied to the refrain that we now call an “antiphon.” Responsorial psalmody, also mentioned in the Ordo Monasterii, was an older and simpler practice in which the verses were sung by a soloist, and the group responded by singing an invariable refrain. In addition to these two genres, the Arles sources also mention direct psalmody (directaneus, in directum) in which the entire psalm was sung straight through without refrains. The morning office at Arles included cantica or canticles, psalm-​like texts that are not from the book of Psalms.37 Finally, the Arles office was among the first to incorporate the Ambrosian hymns, strophic poems in iambic dimeter, written by Ambrose (d. 397) or in imitation of his style.

Northern Italy The earliest extant liturgical book for a Latin monastic office is the Antiphonary of Bangor—​so-​called because it contains hymns honoring the founder, monastic rule, and abbots of Bangor in Ireland. The hymn on the abbots was evidently composed during the reign of Abbot Cronan (680–​ 91); as a result the manuscript itself—​a monument of Irish paleography—​has been dated to the 680s. But there is no telling how long after Cronan’s reign the hymn might still have been copied. Since the manuscript shares a few texts with the liturgical chant repertory of Milan, it may actually represent the practice of Bobbio in northern Italy, where it was found.38 The antiphonary combines multiple small collections of hymns, canticles, collects, and antiphons (in the later sense; i.e. refrains) for an office that structurally resembles the resurrection vigil—​something we find also at Arles and Milan, as well as in Ireland.39 Central and Southern Italy When Pope Gregory sent Roman monks to England as missionaries, they brought with them their Roman liturgical practices, but we know little about them. By the eighth century, Anglo-​Saxon missionaries to the Continent were

Exod. 15, Dan. 3, the Magnificat, the Gloria in Excelsis, and the Te Deum are specifically mentioned. 38 On Bobbio, see the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 39 Jeffery, “Eastern and Western Elements,” 112–​27. 37

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encouraging the idea that everyone should follow the Roman liturgy, and so began a process of exporting manuscripts and unwritten liturgical expertise from Rome to the rest of Europe. The actual situation in Rome itself was fairly complicated, however, since there were many kinds of churches there, each with its own type of liturgy:  the great basilicas of the Constantinian era, the tituli built on the sites of early Christian house churches, monasteries both Greek and Latin, the stational liturgy used by the pope as bishop of Rome, and the less public worship of the pope’s court and household. What concern us are the traditions of the great basilicas, each of which had a handful of monasteries attached. Since it was these monasteries that supplied the clergy for daily worship in places like St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major, the divine office in the Roman basilicas was essentially of a monastic type, structured so that the entire book of psalms could be recited every week. As a result, very few traces of the non-​monastic cathedral office survive from Rome.40 The earliest source for the office of the Roman basilicas is the psalm commentary of Arnobius the Younger (mid-​f ifth century), whose monastery has not been identified, unfortunately. Arnobius mentions many random liturgical details that are consistent with other Roman evidence, and it often illustrates the kind of exegesis that underlay the selection of texts in medieval Roman and Gregorian chant. The latest sources we have for the office of the Roman basilicas are two twelfth-​century musical manuscripts of so-​ called Old Roman chant, both of which come from the orbit of St. Peter’s.41 In between is a complex of sixth-​century monastic rules, beginning with the Rule of the Master. This curious text, written in a question-​and-​answer format imitating the Rule of St. Basil, avoids assigning specific psalms to specific times, but repeatedly insists that the psalms be sung in numerical order. Every psalm, whether antiphonal or responsorial, is to be followed by prostration and prayer, so that there are twenty-​four prostrations every day and another twenty-​four every night—​with a few exceptions: only twenty were required on short summer nights, and prostrations were not made on Sundays or during the Easter and Christmas–​Epiphany seasons. Since the psalms are not



Peter Jeffery, “The Roman Liturgical Year and the Early Liturgy of St. Peter’s,” in Old Saint Peter’s, Rome, ed. Rosamond McKitterick, John Osborne, Carol M. Richardson, and Joanna Story (Cambridge, 2013), 157–​76. 41 London, British Library, Additional MS 29988; Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticano, MS San Pietro B 79. A  facsimile edition of the latter manuscript is B.  G. Baroffio and S.  J. Kim, eds., Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Archivio S.  Pietro B 79. Antifonario della Basilica di S. Pietro (sec. XII), 2 vols. (Rome, 1995).

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synchronized to the days of the week, it appears that the entire Psalter could be completed in about four days.42 The Rule of St. Benedict (RB), which owes much of its wording and arrangement to the Rule of the Master, offers a fixed weekly cursus, said to be derived from the usage of the “Roman Church” (RB 13.10). The weekly psalter begins on Monday, with Psalms 1–​19 assigned to the weekday offices of Prime. The psalter continues in the night office, with Psalms 20–​108 distributed from Sunday to Saturday, in the Egyptian number of twelve psalms per day. Psalms 118–​27 are distributed across the other Little Hours, and most of the remaining psalms (109–​16, 128–​47) are assigned to Vespers. Psalms 148–​50 are sung as one psalm at the end of Lauds, as in almost all Eastern and Western medieval traditions. This arrangement, known as the Monastic cursus, was used by all communities following the RB up to 1977, after which it still remains a legal option.43 The RB itself is lenient in this matter: “if anyone finds this distribution of psalms unsatisfactory, he should arrange whatever he judges better, provided that the full complement of one hundred and fifty psalms is by all means carefully maintained every week, and that the series begins anew each Sunday at Vigils.”44 But what was the usage of the Roman Church from which the Monastic cursus derived? It was probably closer to the so-​called Roman cursus, which was used by all medieval Roman-​rite clergy and non-​Benedictine religious orders. It is first attested by the Carolingian liturgist Amalarius of Metz (d. c.  850–​852),45 and in at least one way it seems more primitive than the Monastic cursus:  the Roman cursus begins with Psalm 1 at the night office between Saturday and Sunday, as if the day began at midnight. By triangulating among the Monastic and Roman cursus and the two Old Roman chant manuscripts, scholars have surmised that the original idea seems to have been to divide the psalter in half, with psalms 1–​108 assigned to Matins, psalms 109–​ 47 assigned to Vespers, the very long psalm 118 assigned to the little hours, and a few selected psalms assigned, outside numerical order, to Lauds and Compline. The Roman cursus was abolished by Pope Pius X (r. 1903–​14) in

Taft, Liturgy of the Hours, 122–​30. Joseph Dyer, “Observations on the Divine Office in the Rule of the Master,” in Fassler and Baltzer, Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages,  74–​98. 43 Thesaurus Liturgiae Horarum Monasticae (Rome, 1977); Marcel Rooney, “Thesaurus Liturgiae Horarum Monasticae: A Treasure Still Hidden,” American Benedictine Review 44 (1993): 408–​11. 44 RB 18.22–​3; translation from Timothy Fry, et al., eds. and transl., RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes (Collegeville, MN, 1981). 45 Amalarius of Metz, Liber Officialis IV and Liber De Ordine Antiphonarii, in Amalarii Episcopi Opera Liturgica Omnia, ed. J. M. Hanssens, 3 vols. (Vatican City, 1948–​50), 2:401–​ 543; 3:13–​109; and see also 3:139–​43. 42

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his apostolic constitution Divino Afflatu (1 November 1911), so that liturgical books published after that time are not useful for medieval historical research.

The Medieval Period The first community known to have lived by the RB was the group that restored Benedict’s abbey of Montecassino in 718. It was from there that the rule and the Monastic cursus (somewhat expanded) were imported into Carolingian Europe, and eventually adopted by all monasteries following the reform of Benedict of Aniane. However, the Monastic cursus may have been used earlier in the monasteries of “double rule” that followed the rules of both Benedict and Columbanus. The library at Bobbio once preserved some manuscripts illustrating this practice, but much was destroyed in the 1904 fire at the Turin National Library.46 For much of the medieval period, communities celebrating the office required a variety of books: a psalter; a hymnal; an antiphoner; a bible or lectionary of readings; books of sermons and hagiographical texts for reading during the nocturnal hours; a book of collects for the leader. By about the thirteenth century, however, it had become common to combine all the material (often with the readings shortened) into a single volume, or a set of two or four volumes. Such books are known as breviaries (since they abbreviate some material). They made it possible for a priest to carry the texts with him and read them privately when he was unable to attend the community celebration. The best way to understand the medieval Divine Office, therefore, is to obtain a breviary and learn to read it.47

Bibliography Ashworth, Henry. The Psalter Collects of Pseudo-​Jerome and Cassiodorus. Manchester, 1963. Bradshaw, Paul F. Reconstructing Early Christian Worship. Collegeville, MN, 2010. Egeria. The Pilgrimage of Egeria:  A New Translation, trans. Anne McGowan and Paul F. Bradshaw. Collegeville MN, 2018.

Jeffery, “Eastern and Western Elements,” 142, n. 89; 138–​9, n. 55. Most useful for the Roman cursus:  Knut Peters, ed., Breviarium Lincopense, 4  vols. in 7 (Lund, 1950–​8). For the Monastic cursus: J. B. L. Tolhurst, ed., The Monastic Breviary of Hyde Abbey, 6  vols. (London, 1932–​42; last volume reprinted Woodbridge, 1993). Other helps include Andrew Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology (Toronto, 1982); and Margot Fassler, “Sermons, Sacramentaries, and Early Sources for the Office in the Latin West: The Example of Advent,” and László Dobszay, “Reading an Office Book,” in Fassler and Baltzer, Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages, 15–​47,  48–​60.

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Psalmody and Prayer in Early Monasticism Fassler, Margot E., and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography. New York, 2000. Fry, Timothy, et al., eds. and trans. RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in Latin and English with Notes. Collegeville, MN, 1981. Harmless, William. Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism. New York, 2004. Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology. Toronto, 1982. Jeffery, Peter. “Eastern and Western Elements in the Irish Monastic Prayer of the Hours.” In Fassler and Baltzer, The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages, 99–​143. Stewart, Columba. Cassian the Monk. New York, 1998. Taft, Robert. The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West: The Origins of the Divine Office and Its Meaning for Today. 2nd. ed. Collegeville, MN, 1993. Veilleux, Armand. La liturgie dans le cénobitisme pachômien au quatrième siècle. Rome, 1968. Wilkinson, John, ed. and trans. Egeria’s Travels. 3rd ed., corrected. Oxford, 2006. Wilmart, André. The Psalter Collects from V–​VIth Century Sources (Three Series), ed. Louis Brou. London, 1949; repr. Woodbridge, 2009.

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Heterodoxy and Monasticism around the Mediterranean Sea Dav id  B r a kk e Sometime between 444 and 451, Dioscorus, the patriarch of Alexandria (d. 454), wrote to Shenoute (c.  348–​465), the leader of a large monastic community near Atripe, on the west side of the Nile, opposite Panopolis. Dioscorus asked Shenoute to help him enforce a memorandum that he had sent to three local bishops (appended to the letter) in which the patriarch banned a “heretic” named Elijah from the monasteries near Panopolis. Elijah, a priest and almost certainly a monk, promoted the teachings of the Alexandrian Origen (c. 185–​253/​4), the patriarch explained. He expressed satisfaction that a priest named Psenthaesios and “the monks with him” had rejected and expelled Elijah, but he lamented that a monastery called “The Encampment” was known to possess books by Origen and “other heretics.” Dioscorus urged Shenoute to investigate the situation in the region’s “cities and monasteries” and to unite them in opposition to Elijah and in support of Psenthaesios and his monks.1 We do not know what action, if any, Shenoute took in response to Dioscorus’ letter, but certainly he would have been receptive to the patriarch’s appeal: Shenoute wrote an extensive anti-​heretical treatise that targeted Origen and his teachings in particular.2 The Elijah affair illustrates the ambiguous relationship between heterodoxy and monasticism in late antiquity. On the one hand, Dioscorus knew that monks like Shenoute vigorously and consistently opposed heresy (as well as paganism), and he believed that Shenoute would be effective in the effort to silence Elijah. Although Dioscorus instructed the local bishops to confiscate

Herbert Thompson, “Dioscorus and Shenoute,” in Recueil d’études égyptologiques dédiées à la mémoire de Jean-​François Champollion à l’occasion du centenaire de la lettre à M. Dacier relative à l’alphabet des hiéroglyphes phonétiques lue à l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-​lettres le 27 septembre 1822 (Paris, 1922), 367–​76. 2 Shenoute, I Am Amazed, in David Brakke and Andrew Crislip, eds., Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great:  Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt (Cambridge, 2015), 54–​82; Coptic text:  Hans-​Joachim Cristea, ed., Schenute von Atripe. Contra Origenistas (Tübingen, 2011). 1

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and send to him any heretical books they might find, it was Shenoute whom he told to investigate and unite the cities and monasteries in the area. The abbot Shenoute must have been the most significant leader of Christianity around Panopolis. On the other hand, Dioscorus knew also that a heretic like Elijah could find shelter in monastic communities and that monasteries could possess heretical books. Monks could be reliable defenders of orthodoxy, but in their communities heretical people, texts, and ideas could escape the reach of episcopal control. Christian monasticism of the fourth and fifth centuries encompassed a variety of experiments in abandoning traditional married family life in the household for new ascetic living arrangements.3 If scholars once understood early monasticism as easily defined and organized into standard types (eremitical, semi-​eremitical, cenobitic), they now emphasize the fluid and shifting nature of early monastic communities and the difficulty of distinguishing “monks” and “monasticism” from Christian ascetics and asceticism in general. As Christians settled into caves, transformed estates into ascetic communities, stood on pillars, and the like, they created new modes of living, some that persisted and others that disappeared or were condemned. Efforts to standardize monastic communities and connect them more closely to other church institutions conflicted with persistent ascetic impulses to improvise, to try new ways of seeking God and establishing fellowship with others, and to preserve independence from society and (in many cases) from the Church. As they have taken a more dynamic approach to monasticism, so too historians no longer treat “heterodoxy” or “heresy” as something that can be easily contrasted with a stable “orthodoxy” from which it deviated. Instead, the discourse of “orthodoxy,” “heresy,” and “schism” developed as a means of establishing and maintaining communal and ideological boundaries, of defending and challenging local traditions of thought and practice, and of configuring the relationship between particular beliefs and universal claims to truth.4 Charges of heresy in the early years of monasticism performed these same functions. They sometimes also reflected discomfort with new living arrangements or ascetic practices and preoccupations, even as monks themselves often prioritized shared ascetic values over doctrinal differences. As monasticism emerged, church officials labeled several innovative ascetic leaders as heretics. In the final decades of the fourth century and into the fifth,

3

See the article by Giorda in this volume. J. Rebecca Lyman, “Heresiology:  The Invention of ‘Heresy’ and ‘Schism’,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 2: Constantine to c. 600, ed. Augustine Casiday and Frederick W. Norris (Cambridge, 2007), 296–​313.

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however, major accusations of heresy divided monastic communities and created or exacerbated tensions between monastic groups and other forms of Christianity. Just as struggles over Trinitarian and Christological heresies took place primarily in the Greek-​speaking East, so too these monastic heresies were mostly Eastern affairs that involved Western monks only tangentially, with Pelagianism being the great exception. Likewise, male rather than (the numerous) female monastics tended to dominate and devote energy to these disputes, but gender was often a precipitating factor, and wealth and status sometimes made it impossible for men to ignore leading women. Charges of Origenism, anthropomorphism, Messalianism, Pelagianism, and the like focused not simply on doctrines (as did charges of Arianism or Nestorianism), but also on ascetic practices and spiritualities. It is difficult for the historian to know precisely how widespread these movements were, not only because reliable evidence from antiquity is always scarce, but also because authors tended to exaggerate or play down the strength of rival movements for rhetorical reasons and to construe as organized heresy people and texts that simply shared certain suspect ideas or practices. Instances of monastic heresy in the late antique Mediterranean world arose from conflicts that were both theological and social. Spiritualities of ontological fluidity, highly indebted to Origen, suggested the possibility of radical transformation of the self, even of the body; these views clashed with theologies that stressed ontological stability and the persistence of the flesh. So, too, monastic social improvisations challenged ecclesiastical and imperial interests in order and hierarchy. Such conflicts must not be understood, however, entirely in terms of an opposition between “monasticism” and other institutional forms of Christianity (“the Church”), but also as symptomatic of tensions within and among communities that we call “monastic.”

“Heresy” among Monastic Pioneers Some of the earliest known monks were also “heretics”—​or charged with being so. For example, both Athanasius of Alexandria and Epiphanius of Salamis (c.  315–​403) condemned as heretical the teachings and practices of the ascetic pioneer Hieracas of Leontopolis in Egypt, who was active in the middle of the fourth century.5 They complained that Hieracas’ doctrines

David Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (Oxford, 1995), 44–​57; James E. Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert:  Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism (Harrisburg, PA, 1999), 110–​33.

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of the resurrection and of Christ were unorthodox, but even more that he condemned marriage and had formed an ascetic community of celibate men and women that scandalously mixed the sexes and arrogantly separated itself from the wider Church. These bishops, both highly sympathetic to monasticism, feared an ascetic movement that would deprecate married Christians and the parish churches to which they belonged. In a similar vein, Athanasius (d. 373) criticized as heretics monks who advocated sleep deprivation or who absented themselves from the Eucharist when they experienced nocturnal emissions.6 At what point did some Church leaders perceive that monastic attention to the body and commitment to a more rigorous lifestyle had gone too far? Charging ascetics with heresy pushed back against what bishops saw as extreme or separatist tendencies in the new movement. The monastic experiments that Eustathius of Sebaste (d. c. 377), a contemporary of Hieracas, initiated or inspired in Asia Minor likewise elicited charges of heresy.7 Here, too, gender and the deprecation of marriage weighed on the minds of bishops, this time gathered at a synod in Gangra in 340 or 341. Celibate women and men were living together; the women dressed like men; these ascetics avoided worship led by married priests. Eustathius seems also to have inspired other monastic communities later revered as orthodox, such as that of Macrina (d. 379; the sister of Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa) and her family at Annesi,8 but, thanks to his position in the trinitarian controversy, he proved a convenient target for opponents of the more troubling ascetic practices. Indeed, Eustathius and his allies supported the homoiousian (“of similar essence”) position on the Son’s divinity, which lost out to competing formulations (above all, homoousios, “of the same essence”). “Eustathians,” if they even formed such a group, ended up as heretics both doctrinally and monastically:  like that of Hieracas, their experiments in monastic living ran afoul of episcopal interests in gender distinction and communal solidarity. “Manichaeism” emerged as a useful charge with which to label ascetics or monastics whose teachings or practices struck bishops and other leaders as too extreme. Condemned under the emperor Diocletian in 295, the Manichaeans often presented their dualistic teaching as the true meaning of Christianity, and they arranged themselves in communities that had at their core a group

Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism,  84–​99. Susanna Elm, “Virgins of God”: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1994), 106–​36. 8 On Macrina’s monastic community, see ibid., 78–​105; and the article by Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 6 7

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called the Elect, whose ascetic lifestyle of celibacy, financial dependence on others, restricted diet, and communal living resembled that of other Christian monks. Labeling a Christian ascetic Manichaean suggested that this person had a heterodox commitment to dualism and a penchant toward mythological speculation and denigration of the body. In Spain, for example, the asceticism and learned exegesis of the teacher Priscillian (d. c. 386) brought him into conflict with his bishop, Hydatius of Merida. Once again, anxiety about gender added fuel to concerns about asceticism and orthodox doctrine, for Priscillian was accused of seducing women with his “Manichaean” teachings. Like the Egyptian monks who concerned Dioscorus, Priscillian read Christian works of dubious orthodoxy: he wrote a treatise in defense of reading non-​ canonical texts entitled On Faith and Apocrypha. He was executed in Trier around 386.9 Priscillian pioneered a form of monastic life—​the independent ascetic scholar who teaches interested and possibly ascetically inclined lay people—​ that men like Jerome (d. 420)  and Pelagius (d. after 418)  practiced and perfected. That historians tend to call Jerome a “monk” and Pelagius and Priscillian “ascetics” (as well as “heretics”) demonstrates the success of campaigns to restrict the category of “monk” to ascetics with the correct doctrines. “Monks” are also those who, like Jerome, settled at a greater physical remove from urban circles of learned Christians and their bishops—​even if, like Jerome, they remained deeply engaged with Mediterranean-​wide networks of lay wealth and episcopal power. If branding ascetic innovators as heretics started quite early in the history of monasticism, so too did efforts like that of Dioscorus to recruit monks for episcopal campaigns against doctrinal heresies. In the 350s Athanasius wrote letters to monks urging them not to share fellowship with “Arian” colleagues, and in his Life of Antony he depicted the monastic hero as refusing to have anything to do with Arians, Melitians, Manichaeans, or other heretics.10 It was probably an uphill struggle for these bishops. As Dioscorus noted, some monasteries included “heretical” books in their libraries. Although the monastic provenance of the notorious Nag Hammadi codices cannot be proven, it is certainly possible or even probable.11 And historians can document that Egyptian monks worked and lived together across sectarian or doctrinal

Virginia Burrus, The Making of a Heretic:  Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy (Berkeley, CA, 1995). Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism, 129–​40 and 247. 11 Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott, The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices (Tübingen, 2015). 9

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lines:  shared commitment to ascetic practice took precedence over church politics and doctrine.12 As scholars have told this perhaps not so surprising story of episcopal power and interference, they have been careful to point out that monastic leaders were often equally ready to label certain ascetic lifestyles as heretical. Among the earliest Christian men called “monks” were “renouncers” (apotaktikoi) who alone or in informal communities practiced asceticism in cities and villages.13 Such men were imitating female virgins who had been doing the same thing since at least the early third century and possibly from the days of Paul (1 Cor. 7:25–​38). Documented in the sources as early as the late third century, the male renouncers were a respected and even unremarkable presence in urban Christianity—​until new models for male monastic life emerged that appealed to leading figures as more orderly and disciplined and less entangled with ecclesiastical affairs. Some authors’ preference for the solitary life of the desert hermit or, even more, the formal cenobitic monastery organized under a rule led them to brand the venerable tradition of the renouncers as, if not explicitly heretical, at least a threat to proper ascetic devotion to God. Thus, in his famous Letter to Eustochium, Jerome condemned the renouncers, calling them “inferior” and “pests” and labeling them “Remnuoth,” a term of mysterious, allegedly Egyptian, origin.14 Probably drawing on Jerome, John Cassian (d. 435), himself a monk, divided monks into two “very good” kinds, cenobites and anchorites, and one “blameworthy” kind, “Sarabaites.”15 Sarabaites, in contrast to other monks, followed their own will, lived wherever and however they liked, and acquired money. Although Cassian did not call them heretics explicitly, his depiction of the Sarabaites drew on the rhetorical tropes of heresiology:  like other heresies, the Sarabaites developed later than legitimate forms of Christian monasticism as an aberration from them; they had an exotic name and sought their own selfish interests. Cassian insinuated some connection between the Sarabaites and Arianism, and he lamented that they made up about half of the



Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert, 196–​218. Edwin A. Judge, “The Earliest Use of Monachos for ‘Monk’ (P. Coll. Youtie 77) and the Origins of Monasticism,” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 20 (1977): 72–​89; Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert,  53–​72. 14 Jerome, Epistolae 22.34–​5. On Jerome’s Remnuoth and Cassian’s Sarabaites, see Malcolm Choat, “Philological and Historical Approaches to the Search for the ‘Third Type’ of Egyptian Monk,” in Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millennium: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Coptic Studies, ed. Mat Immerzeel and Jacques Van der Vliet (Leuven, 2004), 857–​65. 15 John Cassian, Conferences 18.4; trans. in Boniface Ramsey, ed., John Cassian:  The Conferences (New York, 1997), 637.

12 13

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monks of Egypt and a majority in other regions.16 The men who pioneered the monastic life in third-​century Egyptian cities and villages became associated with Egypt’s arch-​heretic, Arius.

The Monastic Heresies of Late Antiquity Messalianism Cassian’s alarm at the ubiquity of lawless Sarabaitic monks resembles the concerns that other authors expressed about the prevalence of other forms of heretical monasticism, such as Origenism and Messalianism. Like Cassian’s Sarabaites, the term “Messalians” (“people who pray”) marked as heretically innovative a traditional pattern of ascetic living that predated many of the forms of monastic living that their opponents preferred.17 Unlike the Sarabaites, however, Messalians faced explicit and formal condemnations as heretics, on account both of their ascetic practices and of doctrines that they were alleged to profess. Epiphanius appears to have first identified a movement of Messalians and to have established a profile of their aberrant behaviors, which included wandering, lack of any personal property, indiscriminate mingling of men and women, and especially the refusal to perform labor and thus the reliance on others for material support.18 He provided a behavioral template that others could use to label suspiciously disorganized or disruptive ascetic groups. Some monks thereby identified as Messalians provided theological rationales for their lifestyle, most significantly the beliefs that a demon adheres to the human soul and can be expelled only by constant prayer (not by baptism alone) and that a liberated soul could achieve freedom from the passions. The resulting package of practices and doctrines provided the basis for the formal condemnations of Messalians at the Council of Ephesus (431) and in other settings. Daniel Caner has demonstrated that no coherent Messalian movement, heretical or otherwise, existed in late antiquity.19 Rather, from at least the second century, a variety of ascetic Christians across the Mediterranean had followed the Apostles’ example by wandering to preach and teach, and by depending on the support of more settled Christians for their livelihood. Evidence suggests that such practices were especially prevalent in Syria. As more organized

Cassian, Conferences 18.7.8; trans. in Ramsey, John Cassian: The Conferences, 642. Daniel Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks:  Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA, 2002). 18 Epiphanius, Panarion 80. 19 Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks. 16 17

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forms of monasticism developed in the fourth century, the persistence of this apostolic model of ascetic life troubled ecclesiastical leaders: apostolic monks were filtering into urban areas and disrupting emerging models of episcopal patronage and ideals of monastic self-​sufficiency. In the East, the vivid, biblical imagery of Syrian asceticism—​for example, claims that evil “dwelled” within a person and required “uprooting”—​disturbed philosophically inclined Greek readers as it was translated into Greek texts.20 Theologians expressed alarm at Messalianism’s deprecation of baptism and claims to spiritual purification, while Church authorities sought to create and privilege stable monastic communities that did not draw lay support away from the episcopal network. In the West, Augustine (d. 430)  likewise in his On the Work of Monks (401) condemned monks who eschewed labor for the sake of prayer, depended on others for their material support, and grew their hair long; these monks, too, followed the “apostolic” tradition, but otherwise show no connection to Messalianism (nor did Augustine mention any).21

Origenism and Anthropomorphism Epiphanius was not only the first to identify Messalianism as a monastic heresy, but also ignited the first Origenist controversy, which involved monks and ascetics in Egypt and Palestine and extended its reach to Constantinople, where it claimed the formidable John Chrysostom (d. 407)  as a victim.22 Origen’s theology combined a deep biblicism with an open-​minded spirit of speculation and an ascetic emphasis on personal transformation. In the second and third centuries, Gnostic and Valentinian Christians had highlighted the role of cosmic elemental substances—​pneuma, psychē, and hylē—​in their mythologies in a way that suggested to their critics soteriological determinism and extreme deprecation of the body. In response, Origen emphasized the freedom of every human being to choose the good and to cooperate with God’s grace; he considered the body’s state an index of the soul’s return to God, which would climax in the possession of a spiritual body, certainly not the present body of flesh. His theology provided a meaningful framework for ascetic practices of bodily discipline and self-​transformation. On the other hand, it provoked controversy even in his lifetime:  Origen’s emphasis on the continued freedom of rational creatures to choose the good

20



21

Columba Stewart, “Working the Earth of the Heart”: The Messalian Controversy in History, Texts, and Language to A.D. 431 (Oxford and New York, 1991). Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks, 117–​22. 22 Elizabeth A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy:  The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton, NJ, 1992).

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suggested the possibility of salvation even for demons, and a body open to profound change seemed to conflict with belief in a resurrected fleshly body continuous with the present body. In general, although Origen was a dedicated adherent of the “orthodox” Church, his spirituality of transformation and openness to intellectual inquiry strained against emerging structures of orthodoxy. Christian authors had been criticizing and defending Origen almost continuously before Epiphanius catalogued the alleged deficiencies in his thought in works of the 370s. Epiphanius set off the Palestinian dimension of the controversy in 394 by attacking Bishop John of Jerusalem (r. 387–​417) and warning against such teachings as the fall of pre-​existent souls into bodies, the subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father, the salvation of the devil, and allegorical interpretation of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis. Eventually the debate brought the rival scholars (and translators of Origen) Jerome and Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 340–​410) into a sustained and bitter conflict, which divided ascetic and monastic Christians and their wealthy lay supporters not only theologically but also along lines of patronage, friendship, and other personal ties. A key ally of Rufinus was Melania the Elder (342–​410), whose great wealth enabled her to found and direct monasteries in Jerusalem and to support men like Rufinus. For these ascetic intellectuals, questions about the body that Origen’s theology raised—​its origin, its relationship to the soul, and its nature in the resurrection—​were entangled with charges of ascetic extremism and poor translation skills. Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria (d. 412) emerged as the leading player in the Egyptian branch of the controversy, which divided monks in the northern Egypt desert of Nitria. When in 399 Theophilus used his annual Festal Letter to criticize an anthropomorphic conception of God, who he argued is incorporeal, some monks traveled to Alexandria to protest. Denial of divine anthropomorphism undermined prayer focused on some image of God and called into question the goodness of the physical body and its eventual resurrection in the flesh. Theophilus then reversed himself: allegedly declaring to see “the face of God” in those of his monastic critics, he anathematized the books of Origen, whose allegorical interpretation undermined a “literal” understanding of humanity’s creation “in the image of God.” He violently expelled leading “Origenist” intellectuals from the monastic communities; when these refugee monks sought shelter with John Chrysostom in Constantinople, they initiated events that enabled Theophilus to get his ecclesiastical rival condemned and exiled. A similar fate befell John’s confidante Olympias, who had used her wealth to found and lead a monastery of some 250 women in 136

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the city. John’s attempts to exert more control over monks in Constantinople had already earned him the enmity of monastic leaders and their lay patrons, which Theophilus used to his advantage. Similar tensions in the capital city underlay the theological conflicts and charges of heresy that surrounded the later bishops Nestorius and Flavian.23 John Cassian was in Egypt when Theophilus issued his anti-​ anthropomorphite Festal Letter; he later presented as the paradigmatic anthropomorphite an elderly monk named Serapion whose “ignorance and rustic naïveté” led to the error of imagining that God has a human body.24 Following Cassian’s lead, modern scholars have tended to attribute anthropomorphism to the origin of Egyptian monasticism among illiterate “Coptic” monks (Serapion is an Egyptian name), whose conception of an embodied God reflected their background in Egyptian paganism. Origenism, then, entered the Egyptian desert with the arrival of learned Greek speakers like Evagrius Ponticus, who died shortly before the dramatic events of 399. Theophilus’ expulsion of the Origenist intellectuals represented the removal of a later and foreign element from the simple faith of Egyptian monks. Cassian, a disciple of Evagrius, looked back on this episode with regret. Recent scholarship has called this traditional interpretation into question. On the one hand, the earliest Egyptian monks were more literate and philosophically inclined than previously thought: the letters of Antony the Great (d. 356)  indicate that, although Athanasius’ Life presented the legendary hermit as illiterate and uneducated, he in fact wrote sophisticated monastic epistles and pursued ascetic self-​transformation within a cosmological theology indebted to Origen.25 Evagrius’ spirituality, which sought a knowledge (gnōsis) of God beyond all images, may have been distinctive, but it was by no means foreign to previous Egyptian monastic tradition.26 On the other hand, visionary experiences of God in human form appear not to have been remnants of paganism, but rooted in a long tradition of learned Jewish and Christian prayer and speculation based on biblical passages that suggested divine anthropomorphism. Evidence for such exegetically based mysticism and for Christologies that emphasized the glory of God in human form

Samuel Rubenson, “Asceticism and Monasticism, I: Eastern,” in Casiday and Norris, Cambridge History of Christianity, 2, 661–​3. 24 Cassian, Conferences 10.1–​4; trans. in Ramsey, John Cassian: The Conferences,  371–​3. 25 Samuel Rubenson, The Letters of St. Antony:  Monasticism and the Making of a Saint (Minneapolis, MN, 1990). 26 David Brakke, “Research and Publications in Egyptian Monasticism, 2000–​2004,” in Huitième congrès international d’études coptes (Paris 2004): I. Bilans et perspectives 2000–​2004, ed. Anne Boud’hors and Denyse Vaillancourt (Paris, 2006), 111–​26. 23

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appears in a range of monastic literary sources, and thus the attribution of anthropomorphism primarily to uneducated monks is no longer persuasive.27 The anthropomorphite episode of the first Origenist controversy, then, arose from the diversity of the monastic movement in Egypt (which was not unique to that region); varied traditions of prayer and Christology that had awkwardly coexisted for decades came into open conflict and generated charges of heresy, thanks to the heavy-​handed and clumsy intervention of Theophilus, who appears as an ambiguous and little loved figure in later monastic literature. Evagrius’ name is not mentioned in the sources for the first Origenist controversy, but Clark argues persuasively that his teachings about the fall of souls, the necessity to pray without any images (of God or anything else) in one’s mind, the eventual transformation of the body, and the final restoration of all rational beings to communion with God (the apokatastasis) lay behind the “Origenism” that Theophilus and others condemned. ( Jerome, indeed, seems to have realized Evagrius’ importance some years later.28) There is no doubt that Evagrius’ teachings motivated the second Origenist controversy, which roiled monastic communities in Palestine in the first half of the sixth century.29 He compellingly combined Origen’s cosmological vision of fall from and return to God with a carefully constructed and psychologically astute plan for the monastic life. The monk, he argued, advances from ascetic practice to knowledge (gnōsis) of nature and of God primarily by doing battle with demonically inspired “thoughts” (logismoi), which he systematized under eight demons (gluttony, fornication, love of money, sadness, anger, listlessness, vainglory, and pride). Many monastic teachers in the East tried to reap the benefits of Evagrius’ ascetic wisdom without appropriating his teachings on the fall of rational beings, the resurrected body, and the apokatastasis, which they considered of dubious orthodoxy. Others found it safer simply



Alexander Golitzin, “The Vision of God and the Form of Glory: More Reflections on the Anthropomorphite Controversy of a d 399,” in Abba:  The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West:  Festschrift for Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, ed. John Behr, Andrew Louth, and Conomos Dimitri (Crestwood, NY, 2003), 273–​ 97; Paul A. Patterson, Visions of Christ:  The Anthropomorphite Controversy of 399 CE (Tübingen, 2012). 28 Clark, Origenist Controversy. 29 Franz Diekamp, Die origenistischen Streitigkeiten im sechsten Jahrhundert und das fünfte allgemeine Konzil (Münster, 1899); Antoine Guillaumont, Les “Kephalaia Gnostica” d’Évagre le Pontique et l’histoire de l’origénisme chez les Grecs et chez les Syriens (Paris, 1962); Daniël Hombergen, The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis’ Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-​Century Origenism (Rome, 2001). 27

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to avoid completely Origen, Evagrius, and the elevated intellectual problems that their works raised. In Palestine, open conflict between proponents and critics of Evagrian Origenism divided the Great Laura, the monastic community that John Sabas had founded in 483 in the desert near Jerusalem.30 Precisely why the conflict arose and became as virulent as it did may never be fully known, but it seems that a leadership failure in the Great Laura resulted in the formation of a group of intellectually inclined monks at the New Laura. Attracted to the theologies of Origen and Evagrius but, even more, simply to theological work as such, these monks coalesced into a genuine faction under the intellectual leadership of Nonnus and Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543). A power struggle ensued and was resolved by the Council of Constantinople in 553, which condemned Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus the Blind, another ascetic teacher of the fourth century whose theology drew on Origen. Part of the motivation for the condemnation was to lure back to the imperial Church miaphysite (“one-​nature”) Christians, who rejected the dyophysite (“two-​natures”) Christology of the Council of Chalcedon (451). The division between Chalcedonian and anti-​Chalcedonian Christians undermined the unity of the Byzantine Empire and vexed its emperors, who repeatedly tried in vain to end it. The condemnation of Origen and Origenists in 553 was one more such attempt: presumably the miaphysites would share disgust at such obvious heretics and their doctrines. It is unlikely that all the monks charged with Origenism shared the same beliefs or even espoused all of the condemned doctrines. Even hostile sources divide the Origenists into parties; one group, for example, was called Isochristoi because they allegedly taught that the fully redeemed human soul would enjoy equality with the soul of Christ in the apokatastasis. Leontius of Byzantium may have earned the label “Origenist” because his Christology’s stress on the two natures of Christ resisted a trend toward greater accommodation of miaphysite sensibilities and because he embraced theological speculation and tolerance for a variety of viewpoints.31 Charges of heretical Origenism, then, served a variety of purposes: rapprochement between dyophysites and miaphysites, securing of one set of leaders over against another, contesting the place of intellectual study and speculation in the monastic life, and

John Binns, Ascetics and Ambassadors of Christ:  The Monasteries of Palestine, 314–​631 (Oxford and New York, 1994), 201–​17. On the Great Laura, see the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 31 Brian Daley, “The Origenism of Leontius of Byzantium,” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 27 (1976): 333–​69.

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determining the limits of acceptable theological diversity within monastic communities. Evagrian Origenism’s emphasis on transformation of the self (intellect, soul, and body) suggested a fluidity of boundaries that troubled some monastic and ecclesiastical leaders.

(Semi-​)Pelagianism If Origen’s cosmic vision of fall and return attracted charges of heresy among monastic communities in the eastern Mediterranean, it was his emphasis on human freedom and optimism about the possibility of human perfection that became problematic in the Latin-​speaking West—​at least for Augustine. Although Augustine converted to an ascetic Christian lifestyle that sought not only to know the good but also to do it, by the turn of the fifth century he was developing a theology of grace that undercut any pretension to achieving spiritual and moral perfection in this life, at the level both of the individual and of the Church. His version of monasticism emphasized pursuit of a perfect community of love, exemplified by the sharing of possessions, rather than pursuit of individual perfection.32 In contrast, the British monk Pelagius stressed traditional themes of human freedom and cooperation with God’s grace in response to the Bible’s call to a life of righteousness, a message that understandably resonated with the monastic life of disciplined self-​improvement.33 As Origen had developed his theology in part to defend the justice of God, who could not be arbitrary in his dealings with human beings, so too Pelagius argued that God would judge human beings fairly. And should not monks and virgins receive a greater reward for their greater virtue? John Cassian attacked Pelagian views from a monastic perspective in his Conferences: like Augustine, he emphasized absolute reliance on God’s grace, but, unlike Augustine, he attempted to preserve and even to measure more precisely the monastic project of advance in virtue.34 The condemnation of Pelagius and his supporters as heretics in 418 hardly put to rest the questions raised by these competing and overlapping views. Scholars once constructed a single “Semi-​Pelagian Controversy” from conflicts over divine grace and human free will that engaged bishops and monks in the West from the 420s to the Council of Orange in 529. The

Robert A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990), 45–​83 and 157–​79. Rudolf Lorenz, “Die Anfänge des abendländischen Mönchtums im 4.  Jahrhundert,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengechichte 77 (1966): 36–​8. 34 Conrad Leyser, “Lectio Divina, Oratio Pura: Rhetoric and the Techniques of Asceticism in the Conferences of John Cassian,” in Modelli di santità e modelli di compartamento, ed. Giulia Barone et al. (Turin, 1994), 79–​105. 32 33

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term “semi-​Pelagian,” however, was invented in the early modern era, and scholars now understand these conflicts as attempts to appropriate the teachings of both Augustine and Cassian in response to competing views that stressed either predestination or human freedom too strongly.35 It is worth remembering that it was Augustine’s teachings that initially elicited concerns about extremism among monks at Hadrumetum in North Africa in 427 and that Vincent of Lérins (d. c. 450) shortly thereafter complained of “predestinarians” who he alleged took divine election as permission for moral laxity. Discussion of Augustine’s teachings continued through the remainder of the fifth century, but conflict flared anew around 520, when monks from the Dobrudja (on the western shore of the Black Sea) arrived in the West and tried to stir up opposition to Faustus of Riez (d. c. 490) as insufficiently orthodox on the necessity of divine grace. In his work On Grace, Faustus had condemned Pelagius, but he also opposed any “predestinarianism” that left humanity completely helpless after the fall. In a manner similar to the charges of Origenism in the East during this period, accusations of Pelagianism were linked to Christology, especially to an alleged “Nestorian” emphasis on the two natures. The Council of Orange restated the Augustinian position on grace in a way that cohered with the monastic discipline that had become dominant in Gaul: the required grace given at baptism, it argued, empowers the human will to persevere in pursuit of the moral life.

Conclusion According to Jerome, as diverse as they were, the heretics Origen, Priscillian, Evagrius, Pelagius, the Manichaeans, and the Messalians shared one opinion: “that it is possible for human virtue and knowledge to attain perfection, by which I mean not merely likeness, but equality with God.”36 This statement exemplifies in a monastic context two heresiological strategies: the exaggeration of the opponent’s position to an unacceptable extreme (equality with God!) and the linking of disparate groups into a diabolical genealogy (all go back to Origen).37 But perhaps Jerome was onto something about heterodoxy and monasticism in late antiquity. Early monasticism was about experimentation: monks transgressed the expected and the established to seek new

Conrad Leyser, “Semi-​Pelagianism,” in Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. Allan Fitzgerald et al. (Grand Rapids, MI, 1999), 761–​6. Jerome, Dialogue with the Pelagians, prol.1, trans. in Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks, 92. 37 Susanna Elm, “The Polemical Use of Genealogies: Jerome’s Classification of Pelagius and Evagrius Ponticus,” Studia Patristica 33 (1997): 311–​18. 35

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forms of community and greater experiences of prayer and contemplation; many of them drew inspiration for their projects of self-​transformation and pursuit of perfection from theologies that can be traced to Origen. And yet community and moral progress also seemed to require both stable social structures (at least for the transmission of wisdom) and personal humility, that is, recognition of what one could not do, at least not on one’s own. Even among and between monks, central values of continuity, humility, and stability could come into conflict with equally compelling values of innovation, perfection, and transformation—​and generate charges of heresy.

Bibliography Binns, John. Ascetics and Ambassadors of Christ: The Monasteries of Palestine, 314–​631. Oxford and New York, 1994. Brakke, David. Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism. Oxford, 1995.   “Research and Publications in Egyptian Monasticism, 2000–2004.” In Huitième congrès international d’études coptes (Paris 2004):  I.  Bilans et perspectives 2000–2004, edited by Anne Boud’hors and Denyse Vaillancourt, 111–26. Paris, 2006. Burrus, Virginia. The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy. Berkeley, CA, 1995. Caner, Daniel. Wandering, Begging Monks: Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity. Berkeley, CA, 2002. Choat, Malcolm. “Philological and Historical Approaches to the Search for the ‘Third Type’ of Egyptian Monk.” In Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millennium: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Coptic Studies, edited by Mat Immerzeel and Jacques Van der Vliet, 857–​65. Leuven, 2004. Clark, Elizabeth A. The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate. Princeton, NJ, 1992. Daley, Brian. “The Origenism of Leontius of Byzantium.” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 27 (1976): 333–​69. Diekamp, Franz. Die origenistischen Streitigkeiten im sechsten Jahrhundert und das fünfte allgemeine Konzil. Münster, 1899. Elm, Susanna. “Virgins of God”: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Oxford, 1994. Goehring, James E. Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism. Harrisburg, PA, 1999. Hombergen, Daniël. The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis’ Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-​Century Origenism. Rome, 2001. Judge, Edwin A. “The Earliest Use of Monachos for ‘Monk’ (P. Coll. Youtie 77) and the Origins of Monasticism.” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 20 (1977): 72–​89. Leyser, Conrad. “Semi-​Pelagianism.” In Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, edited by Allan Fitzgerald et al., 761–​6. Grand Rapids, MI, 1999. Lundhaug, Hugo, and Lance Jenott. The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices. Tübingen, 2015.

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The Invention of Western Monastic Literature: Texts and Communities Rob e rto A lciati Monks, Ascetics, and Textual Communities The words “monk,” “monastery,” “monasticism,” and their derivations, which are still found in contemporary religious discourses and institutions, bear only a slight relationship to the forms of Christian ascetic life that flourished in the second half of the fourth century. At that stage in the movement, these forms were very diverse and closely interwoven with the local environment. The clearest example is the use of the Greek word monachos: not in evidence in non-​Christian literature, its first appearance dates to 180, and it was first used as a technical term defining a separated group of persons in an Egyptian papyrus from 324.1 Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339)  and Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373)  were probably the writers who first introduced this set of words into literary texts, and, consequently, the earliest known use of the word monachus in Latin is found in the anonymous translation of Athanasius’ Life of Antony (originally written in Greek around 357; available in Latin by 373)2. The same observation could be made for the word monasterium: this new Latin word appeared for the first time in the translation of this same text made by Evagrius of Antioch



Edwin A. Judge, “The Earliest Use of Monachos for ‘Monk’ (P. Coll. Youtie 77)  and the Origins of Monasticism,” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 20 (1977):  72–​89; Samuel Rubenson, “Mönchtum I:  Idee und Geschichte.” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 24 (2012):  1011. On the relationship between asceticism and monasticism, see now Roberto Alciati, “Norm and Exercise: A Useful Pair of Lenses,” in Norm and Exercise: Christian Asceticism between Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages, ed. R. Alciati (Stuttgart, 2018), 13–​23. 2 L.  W. Barnard, “The Date of S.  Athanasius’ Vita Antonii,” Vigiliae Christianae 28 (1974): 169–​75; Ludovicus T. A. Lorié, Spiritual Terminology in the Latin Translations of the Vita Antonii (Nijmegen, 1955), 2. See also now the two introductory texts in Vitae Antonii versiones latinae. Vita beati Antonii abbatis Evagrio interprete. Versio uetustissima, ed. Lois Gandt and Pascal Bertrand, CCSL 170. 1

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(d. after 392), in which the term is always used (except once) to translate the Greek equivalent.3 Because of this, we commonly consider the biography of Antony and its Latin translations to be the first texts comprising the dossier known as “monastic literature.” Even if the old theory, which traced the monastic impulse in all corners of the empire back to an original Egyptian inspiration with a supposed persistent dispute between the eremitic and the cenobitic forms of life, has proven to be a literary fiction, Antony (d. 356) is still placed at the very beginning of any literary history of the monastic movement. But the image of Antony as the father of Christian monasticism is more correctly a product of its subsequent success, multiplied in turn by the success of the vita.4 Even if the Life of Antony offers little evidence for the historical origins of monasticism, an interpretative dispute grew up around the authenticity of its model, especially in the West. This literary fortune may be represented with the scheme of a family tree in which biological and social bonds are schematically drawn. Such a tree is better known as a stemma, and for the student of ancient literatures and philology, the process of building a stemma to schematize the relationships between manuscripts has always been the basis of textual analysis, because this is the starting point for any critical edition. If we look at monastic literature with this stemmatic method, at the bottom of our ideal diagram the extant textual evidence has been classified according to the language in which each text was written. The middle level is the most significant; here we see the main division of the texts between Eastern and Western recensions. Finally, at the top of the stemma we have the archetype from which all copies are supposed to derive. In our case, the archetype is the Life of Antony, whose value has been deeply analyzed and judged—​explicitly or otherwise. Nevertheless, as with any “origins,” monastic origins and their literature are a discontinuous, complex, and contradictory process. To write the history of monastic literature, therefore, means to reconstruct declaratory processes that led to the invention of a past monastic unity or canon. This canon was defined by a few Church fathers: Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339), who was probably the first for the Greek-​speaking world; and Rufinus (d. c. 410), Jerome (d. 420), and the Gallic ascetic circles, who were the mediators to the Latin part of the empire.

Lorié, Spiritual Terminology. An overview is now provided in Roberto Alciati, Monaci d’Occidente. Secoli IV–​IX (Rome, 2018), 72–​7. 4 James E. Goehring, “The Origins of Monasticism,” in Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism, ed. Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata (Leiden, 1992), 235–​55. 3

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Mediation means to make texts available, often in different languages. When this process starts, the power of authors and exegetes to impose an “authorized” reading is ranged against the power of the reader to generate new interpretations.5 One manifestation of this power exercised over and through texts was the development of communities whose life and identity revolved around reading, writing, and living in accordance with particular texts. Latin monastic literature was born with these “textual communities”: that is, social groups organized around the common understanding of a text. Such a textual community need not be entirely composed of literates, because the minimal requirement is just one literate, the interpres, who understands a set of texts and is able to pass its message on verbally to others.6 Within each textual community, literates, unlettered, and semi-​lettered members are linked together and the main consequence of this interpretive action is a mixture of oral and written communication, which has the powerful aim to create an other-​world. For these religious virtuosi, texts are steps by which members climb toward perfection.7 This approach allows the history of monasticism to fragment into a series of (more or less) rival textual communities in which the relationships that comprise the ideal triangle of reader–​interpreter–​texts make the difference; the effects of shared readings or recitations8 are central to the formation of a group’s hermeneutic practices.9 This interpretative model has a twofold advantage. First, it offers scholars a greater awareness of (and with it, the possibility of emancipation from) the conditioning caused by the set of sources, here by the stemma that the “fathers” created for their own purposes. Second, it reveals the network of relationships established reciprocally among the “actors” in the community. It was both latent and blatant disputes about the texts that produced the canon of monastic literature.



Alan K. Bowman and Greg Wolf, “Literacy and Power in the Ancient World,” in Literacy and Power in the Ancient World, ed. Alan K. Bowman and Greg Wolf (Cambridge, 1994),  1–​16. 6 On the concept of the textual community, see Brian Stock, Listening for the Text: On the Uses of the Past (Baltimore, MD, and London, 1990). 7 Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, NJ, 1983), 90. 8 On recitation in monasticism, see Lillian I. Larsen, “The Aphophtegmata Patrum: Rustic Rumination or Rhetorical Recitation,” Meddelanden från Collegium Patristicum Lundense 23 (2008): 21–​30. 9 David Brakke, “Scriptural Practices in Early Christianity:  Towards a New History of the New Testament Canon,” in Invention, Rewriting, Usurpation:  Discursive Fights over Religious Traditions in Antiquity, ed. Anders-​Christian Jacobsen, D. Brakke, and Jörg Ulrich (Frankfurt am Main, 2012), 263–​80. 5

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EX ORIENTE LUX

Western Interpretations of the Eastern Christian Way of  Life The fortune of the Life of Antony offers a good example of these competing interpretations, especially if we look at the moment when the text reached the Latin West. Here, a comparison among the surviving witnesses shows, for example, how much the language used in the two Latin translations of Athanasius’ Greek biography changes. The description of Antony at the beginning of his monastic life is an interesting case in point:  according to Athanasius, Antony “devoted himself from then on to the exercise (askesis) rather than the household, giving heed to himself (prosechon eauto)” (Life of Antony 3). Here Athanasius uses two ancient philosophical concepts: prosoche (attention) and askesis (exercise). The earliest anonymous Latin translation rendered these two terms with the words attendere and studium deificans. Evagrius of Antioch simply omitted them. His decision may be interpreted as a negative evaluation of the philosophical tradition, which he considered to be a source of error or heresy.10 But it also reveals a trace of a selective process that should be read as a deliberate attempt to define—​or invent—​ the “authentic” or orthodox monastic way of life for a Latin (i.e. Western) audience. Evagrius’ translation seems undoubtedly to have played a crucial role in the spreading of the Eastern ascetic ideal, if we are to believe Augustine of Hippo (d. 430). In Book 8 of the Confessions, Augustine and his friend Alypius were visited in Milan in the summer of 386 by Ponticianus, a high court official. During their conversation, this visitor discovered a copy of Paul’s epistles lying open on Augustine’s gaming table and, believing his hosts to be Christians like himself, told them about the story of Antony. Augustine became familiar with two other related issues at the same time: the organization of a group of monastic communities by Ambrose (d. 397) in the suburbs of Milan and the story of the conversion of two members of the emperor’s court at Trier by their reading of the Vita Antonii (Confessions 8.6.15). Augustine was deeply shaken and cried out:  “What is wrong with us? What does it mean what you heard? Uneducated people (indocti) are rising up and capturing heaven



10

Mark Sheridan, “Mapping the Intellectual Genome of Early Christian Monasticism,” in Church, Society and Monasticism: Acts of the International Symposium, Rome, May 31–​ June 3, 2006, ed. Eduardo López-​Tello García and Benedetta S. Zorzi (Rome, 2006), 323–​40.

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[Matt. 11:12], and we with our high culture without any heart (cum doctrinis nostris sine corde), we roll in the mud of flesh and blood” (8.8.19).11 This simple mention of Antony made everything clearer in Augustine’s mind and immediately provoked a reaction: “there was a small garden attached to the house we lodged: now the landlord, our patron did not use this space. I now found myself driven by the torment in my heart … and so I retreated to this garden (abscessi ergo in hortum), suddenly followed by Alypius” (8.8.19). We do not know if Augustine was also shocked by the reading of the Life of Antony, but in c­ hapter 72 (of the Evagrius translation) there is a dramatic scene that seems quite similar to Augustine’s conversion. When Antony saw a group of philosophers approaching him, he said: If you come to me, a foolish man (stultum), your labor is superfluous; but if you consider me wise (sapientem) also, the wisdom is a good thing that you consider to be imitated, because it is right to imitate good things. If I had come to you, I would have imitated you, but because you have come to me as to a wise man, you will be Christian as I am. They departed (abscesserunt) feeling admiration for his high intelligence (acumen ingenii) and seeing how he put all demons to flight.12

The wise philosophers discovered another wisdom, the foolish wisdom of the ascetic way of life, and came back transformed. Similarly, the highly educated Augustine moved to the backyard, the hortus of the villa, firmly intending to begin a new way of life. This is the foundation of the community of Cassiciacum, at the end of 386. Augustine’s interpretation of the ascetic life is the Christian version of the otium liberale: no desert or withdrawal from the world, but a restful life animated by conversations in a bookish atmosphere. Jerome’s approach was radically different. In 382, after visiting the eastern Mediterranean, he went back to Rome and was warmly welcomed by Pope Damasus (366–​84) and the heterogeneous world of the Roman aristocracy. Here he met Paula (d. c. 404), a wealthy Christian widow, Marcella (d. 410), the founder of an emerging ascetic circle, and many others. These women were especially attracted to and fascinated by his depiction of the ascetic life in the East.13 Three years before, he had finished his first biography of an Eastern ascetic, Paul of Thebes (d. c.  342), whom he presented as the real founder of the Egyptian ascetic way of life. The success of the Life of Antony

Translation adapted from Augustine, Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford, 1991). Athanasius, The Life of Saint Antony, trans. Robert T. Meyer (Westminster, MD, 1950). Franca E. Consolino, “Tradizionalismo e trasgressione nell’élite senatoria romana: ritratti di signore fra la fine del IV e l’inizio del V secolo,” in Le trasformazioni delle élites in età tardoantica, ed. Rita Lizzi (Rome, 2006), 65–​139.

11 12

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convinced many that he was the first monk, but Jerome asserted that he had learned from two of Antony’s disciples, Amathas and Macarius, that Paul had moved to the desert many years earlier and was there discovered by Antony. In the prologue, Jerome writes that “seeing, then, that an account of Antony has been recorded in both Greek and Latin, I  have decided to write a few things about the beginning and end of Paul’s life, more because these things have been neglected than because of any talent on my part” (Life of Paul 1.3).14 The prologue to the Life of Paul and Jerome’s Letter 10 leave little doubt that Jerome’s intention was to write a sort of reply to Athanasius’ bestseller. Other items by Jerome to be listed among the key texts of early Latin monastic literature are surely the Life of Malchus—​or, to use Jerome’s title, On the Captive Monk (388–​91)—​and the Life of Hilarion (389–​91).15 At the beginning of the first biography, Jerome claims that he heard Malchus’ life story viva voce from Malchus (d. c. 390) himself, whom he met in a small village south of Antioch around 375 (Life of Malchus 2.3). Because of his strong intention to become a monk, Malchus faced the opposition of his father and suddenly decided to leave the family house. His new home was the desert of Chalcis. After the death of his father, he desired to return to his town and see his mother, but he was kidnapped on the way. Having spent some time in captivity with a married woman who was captured during the same raid (and who committed herself to the same ideal of chastity during her captivity), both decided to escape. Thus begins a series of adventures during which all of their persecutors died. In the end, they settled down in a remote place and lived in complete chastity until death.16 The literary structure clearly follows that of Hellenistic romance, but with this new ascetic flavor and particular attention to its readers’ community: for instance, once settled, Malchus lived in chastity with a female slave who had decided to embrace the ascetic life after having met him. When Jerome wrote his third and last hagiography, he returned once more to Paul: “We despise voices of abuse of some who, as they once disparaged my Paul, will now perhaps disparage Hilarion” (Life of Hilarion 1). In other words, from the very start, the author wanted to report on the reception of the first text of the series, disparaged by some skeptical readers. This is an

Jerome, “The Life of St. Paul, the First Hermit,” trans. M. L. Ewald, in Early Christian Biographies: A New Translation, ed. Roy J. Deferrari (Washington, DC, 1952), 219–​38. 15 The chronology of this ascetic trilogy is still disputed. My dates are established in Pierre Leclerc, “Introduction,” in Jerome, Trois vies de moines (Paul, Malchus, Hilarion), ed. Edgardo M. Morales, trans. Pierre Leclerc, SC 508, 11–​72. 16 Jerome, Vita Malchi: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary, ed. Christa Gray (Oxford, 2015). 14

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important sign of an ongoing discussion and tensions between Athanasius’ Antony and Jerome’s Paul or, to be more precise, between the hagiographers Athanasius and Jerome. In fact, Antony’s presence in the Life of Hilarion is again very important: Hilarion, a very well-​educated man, went to the desert to become a disciple of Antony. Because too many followers flocked to him, he chose to leave Egypt and find another desert place. After traveling through  different parts of the Mediterranean, he decided to come back to his original land: Gaza in Palestine. From this moment, in Jerome’s eyes, the Palestinian desert could count its own hero, stemming from the tree rooted in Antony’s tradition, but proudly independent. It is important to stress just one element: Hilarion seems to be very similar to Antony. Even the literary structure of his vita echoes the biography written by Athanasius. But there is a crucial difference: Hilarion is a literate and cultured man. Here, clearly, “classical education and social respectability are harmonized with the ideal of Christian asceticism.”17 The last important interpretation of the Eastern ascetic way of life was made by Rufinus of Aquileia, the Latin translator of Basil of Caesarea. Rufinus, Jerome’s fierce opponent during the Origenistic controversy, had another reason to strike at his counterpart: divergence regarding the translation of the Greek ascetic corpus. The first round of the dispute took place in the mid-​390s in Palestine, when Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403) charged John of Jerusalem with Origenism and Rufinus aligned himself with John. Under attack, Rufinus defended his theological orthodoxy in a statement to Pope Anastasius and in his Apology against Jerome. Nevertheless, he continued to translate Origen’s writings until the time of his death in about 410. As Elizabeth Clark masterfully demonstrated, “students of early Christianity can readily guess that other, nontheological issues lay only slightly beneath the surface of the controversy.”18 Only portions of the discussions actually concerned Origen, while much dealt with ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the definition of the authentic monastic way of life.19 Jerome preferred biographies; Rufinus opted for rules and “handbooks.” And, as noted above, Rufinus was the great mediator to the West of Basil’s ascetic treatises, especially when, after he disembarked in Italy, he was very pleased to accept hospitality

Samuel Rubenson, “Philosophy and Simplicity: The Problem of Classical Education in Early Christian Biography,” in Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. Tomas Hägg and Philip Rousseau (Los Angeles, 2000), 123. 18 Elizabeth A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy:  The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton, NJ, 1992), 14. 19 See the article by Brakke in this volume. 17

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in a monastery at “Pinetum” (somewhere near Terracina on the Tyrrhenian coast). As Rufinus related in his own prefatory letter, Ursacius, the abbot of the community, begged him to translate for his monks the Asketikon of so renowned an author. This text soon became known as the Rule of St. Basil (c. 397). Some years later, Rufinus translated Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History from Greek into Latin (c. 403), compressing the original ten books into nine, and adding a further two of his own. These two sections contain the first mention of monasticism within a general history of the Church. The first insertion of monasticism in the ecclesiastical history thus dates back to the very beginning of the fifth century, and is in Latin. Another important translation related to asceticism is still known today under the title of the Sentences of Sextus. According to Rufinus, Sextus (or Xystus) was a man honored in Rome with the glory of being both a bishop and a martyr. His Latin translation of Sextus’ Sentences was meant to answer the request of the Roman aristocratic Avita, the wife of his friend Apronianus, for a manual of asceticism: as Rufinus wrote, the aspiration of the work is moral perfection (ad totius posit perfectionem vitae sufficere); it is not a pious entertainment, but an instrument to initiate people “into the studious practice of self-​discipline.”20 Jerome, however, condemned both the text and its translation because self-​discipline sounded to him like a return to non-​Christian philosophy—​a new otium with a false Christian attitude, totally unrelated to the “real” Eastern model.

(The Proper) Western Monasticism: Country Leisure and Familial Relationships If we move further to the west and north in these same years, this mix of a new Christian otium, engagement with biography (hagiography), and the coming together of well-​educated people still predominates. A singular example of original Latin monastic writing is the well-​known Life of St. Martin by Sulpicius Severus (d. c. 425), completed around 397. At the beginning of the following century (c. 404), Sulpicius published his second work on Martin, the Dialogues. In this work, the genre has shifted from biography to something similar to a philosophical dialogue. Three main characters play a role in this work: Postumianus, a man who had just returned to Gaul after



Valerio Pevarello, The Sentences of Sextus and the Origins of Christian Asceticism (Tübingen, 2013), 18.

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visiting Jerome and making a journey in Egypt; Gallus, an ascetic who was said to have been a disciple of Martin; and, finally, Sulpicius himself.21 This group is a perfect example of Martin’s upper-​class sympathizers, members of the imperial governing staff, but at the same time people who maintained solid relationships and interests in their native region. After serving with distinction in the imperial administration, they often chose to return to their estates, devoting themselves to estate management and the upkeep of fields and vineyards. In writing Martin’s biography, Sulpicius was keen to stress how familiar Martin was with important landowners. As he passed by the estate of a certain Lupicinus, he restored to life a young slave who had hanged himself (Life of Martin 8.1); on another occasion, he rescued the estates of the ex-​prefect Auspicius in southern Gaul from devastation (Dialogues 3.7); at yet another time, he exorcized the slave of the former proconsul Tetradius, who then renounced his paganism to become a catechumen (Life of Martin 17). Sulpicius also lived in a villa, and he remained the dominus there even after his conversion to ascetic life. Although he described himself as an ascetic following the model of Martin, the passage from otium ruris (country leisure) to a real withdrawal from the world had yet to be fully achieved. Sulpicius’ Dialogues are noteworthy for their explicit mention of some young slaves (pueri) living in his estate at Primuliacum, where the Dialogues take place. They seem to be the members of a community who share a new way of life with the dominus.22 At the same time, this community is clearly organized around the reading and discussion of texts. On the second day of Postumianus’ conference (Dialogues 3.1.4), neighboring crowds of monks, clerics, and lay men appeared, who, as Clare Stancliffe notes, seemed “to live close enough to have got wind of the story-​telling session, and had come to join in.”23 These people were not members of this community per se, but may easily have embraced the same way of life and seem to have enjoyed the learned debates hosted at Sulpicius’ house, which is commonly defined by modern scholars as a monastery. The ascetic community based on the Lérinian islands, offshore from modern-​day Cannes, was also a monastery (or a series of monasteries). Lérins

Sulpicius Severus, Gallus. Dialogues sur les vertus de saint Martin, ed. Jacques Fontaine, SC 510. 22 On the uncertain and fluctuating boundaries of the monastic community, see also the article by Díaz in this volume. 23 Clare Stancliffe, St. Martin and His Hagiographer: History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus (Oxford, 1983), 32. 21

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was founded in the early fifth century and many of its inhabitants are known to us. They appear to have been related to each other but their solidarity was also reinforced by their joint pursuit of literary interests.24 This was not simply the manifestation of their love of literature, but also a precise strategy intended to consolidate a textual community in a process not dissimilar to the examples offered above. Honoratus (d. 429), who was a member of a consular family, settled on the island c. 400–​410, and about ten years later, Eucherius (d. 449), another eminent Gallic aristocratic, arrived. Honoratus had come with a certain Caprasius, and later persuaded his young relative Hilary, the son of a prefect of Gaul, to join them there. Around 430, Eucherius composed a text entitled On the Renunciation of the World, in which he urges a young man (perhaps his relative Valeranius) to leave the secular world and embrace the ascetic life. Shortly before, in 425 or 426, the brothers Vincent and Lupus of Toul had also joined the community. Vincent had formerly been a secular official, and Lupus was the husband of Hilary’s sister, Pimeniola.25 Further, Sidonius Apollinaris (d. c.  489), a representative of the inner “governing circle” of the Rhone valley,26 describes a certain Antiolus, another member of the community, as “a cellmate of the Lupuses” (Luporum concellita; Letters 8.14.2). Finally, Salvian, who was possibly a native of Trier or Cologne, and who later became a priest at Marseille, arrived. All of these men wrote texts that are rightly considered the original nucleus of Latin monastic literature. They wrote letters (and collections of letters), encomia, poetry, exhortations to virginity, and sermons. As Conrad Leyser has said, at Lérins “monastic renunciation was no more or less than a more stringent and exacting rendition of the otium in which the governing elite expected to indulge between their exertions—​negotium—​on behalf of the state.”27 We can think of this series of texts as books on the shelf of the ancient Christian library. They (and their authors) may also, however, be thought of as products of the intersection between monasticism and social relationships. Such an approach provides us with a way to reflect on how textual



Ralph W. Mathisen, Ecclesiastical Factionalism and Religious Controversy in Fifth-​Century Gaul (Washington, DC, 1989), 83. 25 Salvatore Pricoco, L’isola dei santi. Il cenobio di Lerino e le origini del monachesimo gallico (Rome, 1978) remains the best guide to Lérins. A useful update is available, however, in Yann Codou and Michel Lauwers, eds., Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge (Turnhout, 2009). See also the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, and Lauwers in this volume. 26 Alan Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2010), 404. 27 Conrad Leyser, Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (Oxford, 2000), 34. 24

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communities took shape in late ancient Christianity.28 As noted above, a textual community was shaped not only by specific texts but also by familial bonds and relationships. Discussion about texts and conversation (and dispute) among authors implies the establishment of multiple kinds of relationships. The above-​ mentioned texts might bind together persons of highly asymmetrical social standing, such as patrons and clients. The relationship between teachers and pupils, for example, seems to have been very successful, not only in the realm of “pagan” philosophical schools but also in the ascetic realm.29 Textual production within such relationships normally took the form of exhortations (from the master monk to the would-​be monk), sets of stories and biographies of the ideal fathers of the ascetic life, or letters often written as short tractates about some different aspects of this new way of  life. At the time when the men discussed in the previous pages were writing, their valiant efforts were directed toward projecting an image of unity. In the real world, however, beyond writings on the ideal nature of the monastic community, “blood was always thicker than ink. For in late Roman Africa, as elsewhere, blood got things done.”30 By the early fifth century, monasticism was promoted as a source of prestige for family nobility: it was not only the monks themselves, but their whole family, who gained from their glory.31 In his treatise Against the Opponents of the Monastic Life, John Chrysostom (d. 407) pointed out that ascetics found approval everywhere and that their parents would be famous and honored alongside them (3.20–​1). He thus composed his treatise about monasticism, addressed precisely to fathers opposing their sons who wanted to be monks. He admonished them that they were wrong to be angry, and that monks were, in fact, conferring a great benefit on their sons, because ascetic communities offered a sort of boarding-​ school education. These monasteries were not schools proper—​monastic schools only came into being centuries later—​but they did provide training for the monastic life, an education, or more precisely “an apprenticeship, designed to discipline the body to enable the soul to live a life of prayer and

Kim Haines-​ Eitzen, “Textual Communities in Late Antique Christianity,” in A Companion to Late Antiquity, ed. Philip Rousseau (Chichester and Malden, MA, 2009), 246–​57. 29 This is evident in late antique Gaul. See Roberto Alciati, Monaci, vescovi e scuola nella Gallia tardoantica (Rome, 2009). 30 Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–​550 AD (Princeton, NJ, 2012), 174. 31 Ville Vuolanto, “Children and the Memory of Parents in the Late Roman World,” in Childhood, Memory and Family Identity in Roman Culture, ed. Véronique Dasen and Thomas Späth (Oxford, 2010), 178. See the article by Giorda in this volume. 28

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contemplation.”32 Unfortunately, Chrysostom did not describe in detail the kind of education the monks could offer, but would-​be monks were surely taught about monastic routine and various spiritual exercises for bodily and mental discipline.33 The clearest proof of the persistence of family solidarity in this context is the above-​mentioned community of Lérins, whose members were deeply interested in providing education to the boys living alongside them. Here, textual community is profoundly entangled with bonds of blood. Eucherius urged relatives to join him and he had himself resolutely taken his whole family—​his wife, Galla, and their two sons, Veranus and Salonius—​to the island. The two boys surely enjoyed the upper-​class culture of the environment, but did not become ascetics themselves. After being taught and trained by their father and other learned ascetics, they both became bishops in the surrounding area. Among their masters there was also Salvian, who had married a certain Palladia before his arrival and had a daughter, Auspiciola. All three appear to have entered into some kind of monastic seclusion at the same time.

Friendship and Litteratura All of the ascetic and monastic circles mentioned above were entirely constructed around these three pillars:  family, as we have seen, friendship, and litteratura (the last understood here as literacy and textuality). Regarding the pairing of friendship and litteratura, the dialogues written by Augustine in this period, which reflect communal discussion, may also be considered among the first texts belonging to Western monastic literature; in fact, even if framed in a classical philosophical environment, one finds in them a vivid description of the ascetic ideal. In one of the dialogues that took place at Cassiciacum (On Order), the topic was progress. It is discussed from a scientific and moral point of view in Book 1 and examined as a component of two schemas for self-​progress in Book 2, namely the practice of the ascetic life and the study of liberal arts. In the preface, Augustine tells us something about the setting in which the conversations took place as a sort of externalizing of inner dialogues. Here we discover that the location was a borrowed villa some distance from Milan, where, in the company of pupils, friends,

John H.  W.  G. Liebeschuetz, Ambrose and John Chrysostom:  Clerics between Desert and Empire (Oxford, 2011), 111. 33 Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life:  Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. Michael Chase (Malden, MA, 1995).

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and relatives, he was free to pursue a number of ethical questions. These discussions were taken down by secretaries, and the record, after correction and revision, became the “dialogues” as we know them (On Order 1.2.5). These erudite persons had both ascetic and philosophical motives. They resisted “transitory things, and the passions, and by fleeing these, live a life of moral purity” in order to reach the knowledge of God.34 In this environment, those who were able to reach divine contemplation were also eruditi; in other words, they were able to bring together in unity what was spread about in various branches of learning. This complex process was possible because, in addition to biological ties and philosophical conversations, textual communities were animated by familiaritas, a sense of intimate friendship between individuals. A  familiaris could be a companion or a relative involved, with a counterpart, in a relationship, for example, of patron and client, which over the years took on the more intimate form of a relationship between two like-​minded friends. Moreover, familiaritas seems to describe life in community better than individual friendship.35 Asceticism, implying chastity, is normally intended as a way to end biological succession. But this does not mean, even if some ascetic texts seem to advocate for it, that the relationship with one’s offspring and other family members had to disappear or be neglected, especially when the members of a textual community belonged to well-​established Roman senatorial families. This was the case for Paulinus of Nola (d. 431), another illustrious man who turned to the ascetic life in Campania. Unlike Augustine, Paulinus established an ascetic community from his own personal wealth with a clear purpose: not to promote obedience to a monastic rule, but rather to reconfigure the tradition of Roman patronage in a very traditional place, the Roman villa. The project started with a progressive differentiation from his master, the grammarian, rhetor, and poet Ausonius of Bordeaux (d. c. 395). Careful readings of Ausonius’ writings enable us to feel the texture of “a confidential ‘worldly’ Christianity” very different from the Christianity of the younger generation of his pupil Paulinus. Ausonius was a Christian; Paulinus was a Christian too, but, as Peter Brown has argued, “by the 390s, the old man’s Christianity was out-​of-​date (or, rather, it had been declared to be out-​of-​date by a small but vocal minority in the churches of the Latin West).”36

Brian Stock, Augustine’s Inner Dialogue:  The Philosophical Soliloquy in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010), 147. Brian P. McGuire, Friendship and Community:  The Monastic Experience, 350–​ 1250 (Kalamazoo, MI, 1988), 152–​3. 36 Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, 202. 34 35

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Ausonius was a representative of the Christianity of the earlier generation, “still … at ease in the world” and unable to understand the renunciation of “treasure on earth … so that it could become treasure in heaven.”37 This renunciation was, however, either actually or rhetorically, central to the conversion of Paulinus and of several other Western ascetics who considered the East (and Egypt in particular) their ideal homeland. What Brown once wrote about ancient Christianity could now be applied to the rise of Christian monasticism in the West: “the question which faced [monks] in the world of late antiquity was how much of the past could be put in the past, and how much could be allowed to linger in the present.”38 Paulinus’ new life conditions led him to reject the literary otium learned by his master. If late antique hagiography leaves “the impression of an ongoing, even restless experimentation at work,”39 this experimentation, surely related to the process of defining male sanctity, is quite clear in the case of Paulinus. He completely reshaped his poetic writings within a hagiographic and ascetic framework and found new colleagues in the province of the empire in which asceticism and litteratura had celebrated their marriage—​southern Gaul, where Lérinian monasticism and Martin’s companions had established the criteria for Latin monastic literature. And, just as in Italy with Jerome and Rufinus, the dispute was once more about the definition of a real and authentic genealogical tree of ancient monasticism. The unceasing weaving of texts was the result of competition, and its goal was paideia. What mattered was not simply an education, but a comprehensive intellectual, moral, cultural, and social formation of young men (and young women). Exactly as in non-​Christian society, this new paideia produced men of knowledge, prestige, and power, the accumulation of which produced symbolic power, because paideia served as both a point of reference and a place of competition in this confrontation between rival textual communities with their rival approaches to monastic life.40 This was a competition—​overt or not—​among different micro-​societies organized around the common understanding of a script or a series of scripts.41



Ibid., 207. Peter Brown, “Conversion and Christianization in Late Antiquity:  The Case of Augustine,” in The Past Before Us:  The Challenge of Historiographies of Late Antiquity, ed. Carole Straw and Richard Lim (Turnhout, 2004), 116. In the original we read “Christians” instead of “monks.” 39 Virginia Burrus, The Sex Lives of the Saints:  An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography (Philadelphia, PA, 2004), 24; see also the article by Diem and Rapp in this volume. 40 See Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-​Claude Passeron, Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, trans. Richard Nice (Beverly Hills, CA, 1970). 41 Stock, Listening for the Text, 23. 37

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The rhetorical quest for unity and harmony tended to hide the extent to which the community of authors was itself a “field of struggle between agents endowed with an objectively orchestrated habitus.”42 All of these writers were interested in promoting their own definitions of proper monasticism over alternative typologies. Their supposed theology as a unified whole is a later category, and one not undisputed in late antiquity.43 What we can define as an accumulation of cultural goods seems to have been particularly successful within the monastic groups that spread rapidly in Gaul and Italy from the second half of the fourth century. Within this particular area, textual communities appeared with their own faces; there was no clear distinction between monks and lay men, no reluctance toward ascetic family, and no seclusion in a desert. Consequently, the definition of “true monasticism” became an important element of ecclesiastical and, more generally, religious factionalism. The continuous dialogue with experienced masters and their written texts was the way to frame the orthodox monastic way of life within the mainly aristocratic Christiana societas.

Conclusion The final outcome of this process is a collection of texts that we now may rightly consider to be the first body of Western monastic literature. There is, however, at least one other phase that needs to be mentioned. All of these authors described and promoted their own ascetic ideals, but a second important selection occurred. Several centuries later, Carolingian scribes organized Christian literature as we know it: that is, they defined the canon and what today constitutes the Latin patristic tradition. This literary corpus was irreversibly shaped by decisions taken in the eighth and ninth centuries.44 The term “canon” to mean the Church fathers, taken for granted from the central Middle Ages until now and used as the rough equivalent of “early Christian writers,” still awaits the scrutiny of a historicizing approach.45

Pierre Bourdieu and Monique de Saint Martin, “La sainte famille: l’épiscopat français dans le champ du pouvoir,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 44–​5 (1982): 21. 43 Philip Rousseau, “The Historiography of Asceticism:  Current Achievements and Future Opportunities,” in The Past Before Us:  The Challenge of Historiography of Late Antiquity, ed. Carole Straw and Richard Lim (Turnhout, 2004), 89–​101. 44 On these fundamental but neglected issues, see Conrad Leyser, “Late Antiquity in the Medieval West,” in Rousseau, Companion to Late Antiquity, 29–​42 and 539–​55; and the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 45 A remarkable analysis of the literary history of ancient Christianity is Mark Vessey, “Literature, Patristics, Early Christian Writing,” in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter (New York, 2008), 42–​65. For a good example of this relentlessness, in the case of the “new” patristic 42

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Looking at the long history of the Life of Antony, we mentioned the original Greek and the two extant Latin translations; this biography has been transmitted, however, in many other languages and, as in the case of the Syriac version, with substantial differences from the Athanasius’ text.46 A similar and comparable situation can be observed with the Saying of the Desert Fathers. While this collection has long been regarded as the most faithful representation of the attitudes of the earliest Egyptian Desert Fathers, it passed through several stages of oral and written transmission. The Sayings are preserved in various collections in all the languages of the Christian tradition. As Samuel Rubenson has clearly pointed out, “these collections are eventually the result of a long development during which single sayings and minor collections were incorporated into what became, in each language, one or sometimes two comprehensive standard types of collections.”47 Consequently, historians started to doubt the usefulness and reliability of both the Life of Antony and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers for reconstructing the history of early monasticism.48 Although the Sayings is a text that seems to compile many classic, timeless teachings that have stood the test of time, we must be aware that the intention of the editors was to bring order to a complex, and perhaps even contradictory, history, and to project an image of unity. This same caveat applies when we read the biographies written by Jerome or the comparisons with the Egyptian way of life made in the texts of Sulpicius and the men of Lérins. With this awareness, however, our stock of sources can be seen in a new light. At the end of the fourth century, old questions seem to have returned to the stage. Like Clement of Alexandria wondering two centuries earlier whether the rich man would be saved (quis diues saluetur), monastic settlers and authors were defining the ascetic way of life, keeping in mind who the “real” monk was and, consequently, which monk would be saved by his own way of life. Just as evil existed in the world and Christians needed



library established at the imperial abbey of Lorsch in the middle of the eight century, see Julia Becker, “Präsenz, Normierung und Transfer von Wissen:  Lorsch als ‘patristische Zentralbibliothek’,” in Karolingische Klöster. Wissenstransfer und kulturelle Innovation, ed. Julia Becker, Tino Licht, and Stefan Weinfurter (Berlin, 2015), 71–​87. 46 For the status quaestionis, see Samuel Rubenson, The Letters of St. Antony: Monasticism and the Making of a Saint (Minneapolis, MN, 1990), 126–​32. 47 Ibid., 145. See also on this Zachary B. Smith, Philosopher-​Monks, Episcopal Authority, and the Care of the Self: The Apophthegmata Patrum in Fifth-​Century Palestine (Turnhout, 2017),  25–​64. 48 The most recent assessment of this issue is available in Samuel Rubenson, “The Formation and Re-​Formation of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers,” in Studia Patristica 55, Vol. 3: Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia, ed. Samuel Rubenson (Leuven, 2013), 5–​21.

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to know where it came from, so too did bad ascetic ways of life exist in the monastic world. Correct forms of life had to be preserved and, it was hoped, spread. But, in doing this, ascetics were asked to turn to order, to norm; thus, what we now call monastic Christianity emerged. It was not the whole of Christianity but a portion of Christian society, now shaped by norm and order. As such, it did not constitute a universal law applicable to the entire society but “the framework and prototype of ‘righteousness’ and order per se.”49

Bibliography Alciati, Roberto. “And the Villa Became a Monastery: Sulpicius Severus’ Community of Primuliacum.” In Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, edited by Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress, 85–​98. Turnhout, 2011.   Monaci, vescovi e scuola nella Gallia tardoantica. Rome, 2009. Brown, Peter. Through the Eye of a Needle:  Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–​550 AD. Princeton, NJ, 2012. Burrus, Virginia. The Sex Lives of the Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography. Philadelphia, PA, 2004. Codou, Yann, and Michel Lauwers, eds. Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge. Turnhout, 2009. Consolino, Franca E. “Tradizionalismo e trasgressione nell’élite senatoria romana: ritratti di signore fra la fine del IV e l’inizio del V secolo.” In Le trasformazioni delle élites in età tardoantica, edited by Rita Lizzi, 65–​139. Rome, 2006. Graumann, Thomas. “The Conduct of Theology and the ‘Fathers’ of the Church.” In A Companion to Late Antiquity, edited by Philip Rousseau, 539–​55. Chichester and Malden, MA, 2009. Kloppenborg, John S. “Literate Media in Early Christian Groups:  The Creation of a Christian Book Culture.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 22 (2014): 21–​59. Leyser, Conrad. Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great. Oxford, 2000.   “Late Antiquity in the Medieval West.” In A Companion to Late Antiquity, edited by Philip Rousseau, 29–42. Chichester and Malden, MA, 2009. Mathisen, Ralph W. Ecclesiastical Factionalism and Religious Controversy in Fifth-​Century Gaul. Washington, DC, 1989. McGuire, Brian P. Friendship and Community: The Monastic Experience, 350–​1250. Kalamazoo, MI, 1988. Pevarello, Valerio. The Sentences of Sextus and the Origins of Christian Asceticism. Tübingen, 2013. Pricoco, Salvatore. L’isola dei santi. Il cenobio di Lerino e le origini del monachesimo gallico. Rome, 1978.

Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Philosophical Understanding (Albany, NY, 1988), 320.

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Invention of Western Monastic Literature Rousseau, Philip. “The Historiography of Asceticism: Current Achievements and Future Opportunities.” In The Past Before Us: The Challenge of Historiography of Late Antiquity, edited by Carole Straw and Richard Lim, 89–​101. Turnhout, 2004. Rubenson, Samuel. “Mönchtum I:  Idee und Geschichte.” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 24 (2012): 1009–​54. Stock, Brian. The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Princeton, NJ, 1983.   Listening for the Text: On the Uses of the Past. Baltimore, MD, and London, 1990. Vessey, Mark. “Literature, Patristics, Early Christian Writing.” In The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, edited by Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter, 42–​65. New York, 2008.

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Monastic Rules (Fourth to Ninth Century) A l b re cht Die m a n d P hilip Rousseau

Introduction: A History Created Backwards In a study of late antique and early medieval monastic rules in the West, one logical starting point is Benedict of Aniane’s early ninth-​ century Codex regularum. We depend to an enormous degree on the sources that he has provided for us. The Codex (in the Munich manuscript, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 28118)  is by far the most extensive early medieval collection of monastic rules: twenty-​four rules for monks and six rules for nuns.1 Many of them would probably have been lost if Benedict of Aniane had not collected and preserved them. He also produced a second work, the Concordia regularum, in which he arranged most of the material of his collection so that it corresponded thematically, chapter by chapter, with what we now think of as the Rule of St. Benedict (RB), and what he thought of as the work of the sixth-​century Benedict of Nursia. Both works, the Codex and the Concordia, formed part of his endeavor to promote the RB as a rule for all Frankish monasteries. He wanted to show that the RB formed the culmination of a rich tradition of monastic norms (not excluding exemplars from the East). Benedict of Aniane’s work has had a deep impact on virtually all subsequent understanding of the origins of Western monastic life. In 1661 and 1663, the German humanist Lucas Holstenius published his own Codex regularum, which included most of Benedict’s collection, along with a few rules from other manuscripts and a number of late antique and early medieval ascetic treatises. A  later edition and expansion of this work by Marianus Brockie Albrecht Diem’s contribution to this chapter was made possible by the SFB F 4202 “Visions of Community,” funded by the Austrian Science Funds (FWF), the Faculty of History and Cultural Sciences of the University of Vienna, and the Austrian Academy of Science. 1 On the manuscript dissemination of early medieval monastic rules, see www.earlymedievalmonasticism.org (date of last access: 18 August 2018).

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formed the basis of J. P. Migne’s reprint in the Patrologia Latina (most of it in PL 103), which is still not entirely replaced by modern critical editions.2 We shall argue here, however, that we should not necessarily read Benedict of Aniane’s work as he intended it to be read. It represents a misleadingly tidy picture of what was much less ordered in its development, and imposes on early sources a meaning and purpose that they did not always possess at the time of their original composition. Moreover, Benedict has also implanted in the mind of modern historians an image of monastic life as essentially governed by a written rule. The Codex regularum, which is vaguely organized chronologically, regionally, and by gender, could be and was read as a history book depicting the emergence of Latin monasticism as a chain of changing normative observances. While the texts may have been slightly different from each other, the Codex wants its reader to believe in a basic and stable principle:  that monasteries followed rules, according to the precept of the RB itself that the cenobitic life can only exist sub regula vel abbate (RB 1.2; RM 1.2). In this chapter, therefore, we want to mount an experiment: to see what happens if we step away from this early ninth-​century paradigm of a “life following a written rule” and give what we shall call more loosely “normative observance” a genesis and a history of its own, concluding that Benedict of Aniane’s notion of a regularized monastic life was a skillfully crafted construct that served the purpose of promoting his own understanding of what it meant to “follow” the RB.

The World of the Pioneers It has to be said at the outset that this approach presents us with a paradox. On the one hand, ascetic literature (from at least the fourth century onwards) includes texts habitually thought of as “rules”: today we may speak, even write, of the “Rules of Pachomius,” the “Rules of Basil,” the “Rule of Augustine,” even though the pioneers themselves rarely used the term regula when referring to those texts. On the other hand, before the end of the sixth century it is difficult to identify ordered communities of ascetics (such as we customarily think of as “monasteries”) living according to a single set of written prescriptions. Are we suggesting, therefore, that Benedict of Aniane “invented” a Vorgeschichte (pre-​history) of the RB, concocting an illusory sequence of pioneer rule-​writers? Obviously not. It needs to be stressed

Lucas Holstenius and Marianus Brockie, Codex regularum monasticarum et canonicarum, 2 vols. (Augsburg, 1759). A complete list of the abbreviations used for rules is to be found at the end of this chapter.

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rather that his “history book” tells only a fraction of the story of the rise of Western monasticism. Pachomius (d. 348), Basil (d. 379), and Augustine (d. 430), together with others of significance, really did exist and were eager to give some order to the ascetic life. What characterizes this early period is not so much the absence of that order as a confusion of terminology, an untidiness of development, and an obscurity of dependence.3 Let us begin with terminology. Scholars use the words “monks” and “monasteries” to translate many different terms referring to a great variety of fourth-​century situations, from a single individual living a life of focused devotion to groups of such enthusiasts numbering from two or three to tens or even hundreds; and both their persons and their dwellings could bear quite different names: apotaktikoi, spoudaioi, anachoretae; coenobia, cellae, laura.4 Even more to the point, these assemblies and establishments were rarely brought together or purpose-​built from scratch. In the earliest stages of ordered asceticism, existing urban or suburban families and households or rural small-​holdings, villages, or estates were co-​opted and expanded to new moral purposes.5 As Christianity experienced more public confidence after Constantine, such centers of ascetic devotion were extended to include pilgrims’ hostels and shelters for the destitute and sick, as well as new chapels, memorial shrines, and churches. So, we should not assume that the sancti patres whom Benedict of Aniane looked back to shaped a stable and forever repeated monastic model. We should think rather of “monasticisms” in the plural (although even that may make too formal a mark). An almost infinite variety of forms—​more or less communal, more or less ascetic—​played very different roles in a rapidly changing and geographically diverse society. A  monasterium in post-​Roman Gaul, for example, could be anything from the cell of a hermit or a community gathered around a charismatic individual (in a cave, on an island, in a city dwelling, or set in remote country—​as it were, “the desert”); to a monastically redefined aristocratic villa rustica, or a saint’s or martyr’s shrine with a monastic community adjoining; to an episcopal household, a community of clerics, or a monastery connected to an episcopal see; or, finally, to

See also the article by Helvétius in this volume. Claudia Rapp, Brother-​Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium:  Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual (Oxford, 2016). 5 Kimberly D. Bowes, “Inventing Ascetic Space: Houses, Monasteries and the ‘Archaeology of Asceticism’,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 315–​51. See also the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, Giorda, and Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 3

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an urban community of praying virgins and widows. Some “monasteries” could serve as hideouts for fugitive slaves or young aristocrats escaping from their family or state responsibilities; as re-​appropriations of pagan cult sites; as training camps for a future ecclesiastical elite; as places of forced retreat for clerics who committed a major transgression; as outposts of episcopal power; as missionary bases; as places of teaching, learning, and the preservation of knowledge; or as powerful factories of intercessory prayer for the surrounding world, for kings, bishops, and aristocrats.6 Even this list is not exhaustive and there are many examples of monasteries fulfilling more than one of these roles or changing their shape and function in the course of history. Each of these manifestations of monastic life reflects the society around it, and we can see in these mirrors much that might otherwise remain invisible. Indeed, in the changing face of monastic life, we observe transformations of the Roman world itself, which make the study of late antique and early medieval monasticism relevant within a much broader framework than just monastic or religious studies.7 An analogous amalgam characterizes the texts produced within and for all those different monastic communities. Material which it appears entirely appropriate to label prescriptive is constantly enfolded within corpora of writings different (or, perhaps better, complementary) in genre. An awareness of classical culture makes this entirely unsurprising. The pursuit of virtue had been governed for centuries by tested strategies recommended and demonstrated by acknowledged experts already distinguished by the authority of their moral success. This very fact implied in turn that, within certain “schools,” devotees felt or were made to feel a need to be “governed” in this sense; to cultivate trust, seek out talented and experienced instructors (or read their posthumous recommendations), and practice regular discipline and obedience. Such was the thrust of Eunapius’ Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists (contemporary with Jerome), imitating Philostratus who wrote nearly two centuries before him, and reaching back to the moralizing portraits of Plutarch. This may not have reflected a regulated way of life as Benedict of Aniane envisioned it; but the notion had long been in moralists’ minds nevertheless. So, even as we move into the more publicly Christian world, we discover a vast diversity of other texts that expressed “monastic” ideals, “monastic”

Renie S. Choy, Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms (Oxford, 2017). 7 On the continuing monastic diversity in southern Italy and in Spain, see the articles by Ramseyer and Díaz in this volume. 6

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theology, and “monastic” discipline: ascetic treatises (like those of Evagrius and Cassian—​on whom more shortly), narrative texts (for example, the Historia monachorum, the Historia Lausiaca, the Verba seniorum, the Vitae Pachomii, or the Lives of the Fathers of the Jura), letters (like Caesarius’ Vereor), and sermons (like those of Faustus, Caesarius, and Ps.-​Ephrem the Syrian). In other words, there were regulae in the narrow sense but also regulae in a much broader sense. We shall return to this point; but it is worth saying at once that moral pedagogy, as it was subsequently inherited and developed within the Christian ascetic sphere, imposed narrower definitions on “regularity,” even as it allowed ordered devotion outside “monastic” institutions to escape, in a sense, the growing taste for the creation of “rules” as Benedict of Aniane might have later understood them. This ancient discourse of moral regulation was a necessary precondition—​ indeed, a concomitant—​of the process we are observing. In Latin, regula had a clear pedigree:  it retained, even in figurative usage, an association with “measure” and therefore with a pattern in relation to which one could assess the value or acceptability of a course of action. The Greek word hóros (Basil’s term for “rule”) functioned in a comparable way, setting up a framework of “markers” or “guidelines” within which an action became potentially fruitful or readily sanctioned, thus placing useful “bounds” to behavior in specified circumstances.8 And we are forced to broaden our field of reference still more. Given the fact that Augustine of Hippo and his master, Ambrose of Milan (d. 397), played a prominent part in the early development of Western ascetic practice, we have to take note of the way in which they made use of other terms—​officia (in Ambrose’s De officiis) and mores (in Augustine’s De moribus ecclesiae catholicae): these were words equally applicable to the description of desirable, indeed obligatory behavior; words equally old and Roman, underpinning what was considered appropriate in the public or civic sphere. There were many such terms that held sway, before regula achieved its dominance. Pursuing, therefore, our analogy with the scale and setting of ascetic practice, we note how the texts that carried a specific note of regulation were, like the ascetics themselves, part of a larger whole—​in their case, a literary whole. If we take as our initial examples the “rules” of Pachomius, Basil, and Augustine, we find two features:  first, the “rules” themselves are not homogeneous in form; and second, they are written by men who associated them integrally with other sorts of texts—​biographical, epistolary, homiletic,

Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley, CA, 1994); and Anna M. Silvas, The Asketikon of St Basil the Great (Oxford, 2005).

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exegetical, theological, even liturgical, and in a few instances mundane—​all of which, taken as a larger whole, are appropriately considered exhortatory and formative: a total “rule of life,” an ascetic politeia. Here we have a double-​barreled conundrum: a rich but diffuse body of textual reflection and advice seemingly in search of an organization to impose it on. The apparent search is the illusion, not the body of texts themselves; and the illusion springs from two sets of ambitions, one our own and one more ancient. Our own is the historian’s natural urge to expose and explain development. We know that monasteries and rules existed in the Western Middle Ages: we can find the sites (eventually) on our maps, and we can find the texts (some of them, anyway) in our medieval archives. What we need (or think we need) is a narrative of discernible and explicable growth. The ancient illusion is more insidious. It resides in a later and in the end predominantly Carolingian wish to create a monastic tradition that culminates in its own program of definition and reform—​one architect of this history being, as we said at the outset, Benedict of Aniane, the compiler of the Codex regularum, ordering the centuries before him to lead where he wished.

Entering a New World: The Fifth Century Much that we have described so far in the earliest phases of ascetic development was Greek or Syriac in its inspiration. Eastern tradition began to follow a pattern not entirely dissimilar to the one we are tracing here for the West. We observe the creation of an early ninth-​century image of ancient monasticism, based on a similarly backward-​looking narrative, reflected in the work and career of Theodore of Stoudios.9 It was played out at exactly the same time as the “Carolingian moment” (Theodore lived 759–​826, Benedict of Aniane 747–​821). Both men essayed their reform or recapitulation after some two hundred years of post-​imperial identity confusion, made worse for the Byzantines by the rise of Islam and the shaming interlude (shaming for some) of Iconoclasm. But that is a different and (in several ways) contested story, and it was the century very roughly 400–​500 that saw Western, Latin monasticism starting out on its own path. This was a century of some “monastic” obscurity. Although it witnessed the emergence of Augustine’s “rule,” the work of Cassian (d. 435), the foundation of Lérins by Honoratus of Arles (d. 429), the De laude heremi of Eucherius of Lyon (d. 449), the De vita contemplativa of Julianus Pomerius (written in Gaul toward the end of the century), and

Roman Cholij, Theodore the Stoudite: The Ordering of Holiness (Oxford, 2002).

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(a little later, but referring back several decades) the Lives of the Fathers of the Jura, there is in fact a strange silence around the middle of the century, a “gap” that is difficult to fill convincingly with a smooth-​running development of regulae and monasteria. Let us look in a little more detail at this (roughly) fifth-​century story. It begins with translation work:  Rufinus of Aquileia’s (d. c.  410)  Latin translation of the “rules” of Basil (quite possibly undertaken for Latin-​speaking companions in Palestine, before his return to the West in 397) and Jerome’s (d. 420) Latin translation of the “rules” of Pachomius (made probably in 404).10 It is difficult to know exactly what sources the two men had at their disposal or where they obtained them; but a comparison between their productions and the Coptic or Greek material at our disposal (often later copies and sometimes variant or fragmentary) leads to two relatively secure conclusions: we have no reason to suppose that either man actually falsified his originals; and so their versions probably give us at least a useful guide to the stage of development that the Eastern texts had reached by their day. We have to adopt a slightly hesitant tone here, because the very act of translating such “rules” removed them from their original context and thus perhaps modified their effect, intentionally or otherwise. But, taken together with the early sixth-​century Latin Life of Pachomius, they certainly made available to the West full-​scale attempts to “regulate” the communal ascetic life; and they were attempts that Benedict of Aniane knew about. We should also take into account the Latin translation of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (known in the original Greek as the Apophthegmata Patrum—​henceforth AP) in their so-​called “systematic” form in the middle of the sixth century (what came to be known in the West as the Verba seniorum or Vitae Patrum), since many of these “sayings” were in fact fragments of “rules” in the sense of prescriptive legacies of named ascetic heroes first collected (in Greek) at the end of the fifth century.11 There are several things to note about the Latin legacy, so to speak, of Pachomius and Basil. First, we have no evidence that their “rules” functioned in their own time as Benedict of Aniane would have understood the word. Neither man was catering for a single system of ascetic living—​not even Pachomius, whose communities varied considerably in size, character, order



Catherine M. Chin, “Rufinus of Aquileia and Alexandrian Afterlives:  Translation as Origenism,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18 (2010): 617–​47; Megan Hale Williams, The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship (Chicago, IL, 2006); but see especially Stefan Rebenich, Hieronymus und sein Kreis. Prosopographische und sozialgeschichtliche Untersuchungen (Stuttgart, 1992). 11 Jean-​Claude Guy, ed. and trans., Les apophtegmes des Pères. Collection systématique, 3 vols., SC 387, 474, and 498.

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of foundation, and overriding ethos.12 Nor can we be completely confident about the correspondence between Jerome’s translations of the specifically regulatory material and the way it was assembled in Benedict’s Codex. This applies in particular to the adduced divisions that Jerome appears to have made between iudicia, praecepta, and instituta. Basil’s rules as later appealed to in the East (after Rufinus’ time) emerged in different sets (some prolix, many more pithy), and were generated in different districts of Asia Minor and over a long period of  time. There is a particular and in some ways awkward feature of our uncertainty here. Not all serious ascetics in the fourth century thought it their primary duty to “lay down the law.” Yes, this was an age when Christian men and women were ready to lead in matters religious, and to be led by others; and they did so fully aware of the pedagogic traditions they had inherited from a classical past (as we pointed out above), with its traditions of schools, defined by their successions of masters and disciples.13 But the Christian paideia was marked in a special way by two cautious responses to the competitive self-​ assurance that had long characterized cultural formation in the ancient world:  first, something approaching “humility,” modifying one’s understanding of one’s insight and authority; and second, a conviction that one should not recommend verbally what one had not experienced in practice. These cautions are expressed within the very regulatory material itself, creating a tension precisely among those who produced or were portrayed in material collected in the Codex. In the Apophthegmata, an inquirer faced by persistent requests to act as a spiritual guide, who scrupled to acquiesce in the trust of such admirers, was confirmed in his hesitation by Abba Poemen’s counsel that he should be to them an “example,” not a “lawgiver” (AP, Poemen 174). Poemen assured another young visitor that, “just by remaining near” a potential mentor, “you will gain instruction” (AP, Poemen 65). Such anecdotes (the bulk of them surviving also in the “systematic” collection of sayings that influenced the West in its sixth-​century Latin translation) provide vivid evidence of the distance between those eager to launch into words and those who felt that well-​intentioned instruction was too easily confused with facile if not arrogant or misleading prescription. This general air of doubt and hesitation must color our assessment of the surprisingly little we do have

Philip Rousseau, Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-​Century Egypt, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA, 1999) and crucially James E. Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism (Harrisburg, PA, 1999). 13 See, among many works, Fairy von Lilienfeld, Spiritualität des frühen Wüstenmönchtums, ed. Ruth Albrecht and Franziska Müller (Erlangen, 1983).

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from the later fourth century that can even remotely be thought of as “rules.” It explains convincingly why it has always been hard to find early signs of formal monasticism. Once Jerome and Rufinus had launched upon the Latin world their limited representations of Pachomius and Basil, we might think we face some plainer sailing—​the development of a more obviously regulated culture of asceticism, in defense of which we place our bets on Augustine and Cassian. But that does not quite work either. To begin with, Augustine’s “rules” were no more stable than the early traces of Pachomius and Basil. Whatever coherence they were allowed to acquire in later hands (much later, in the late eleventh century at the soonest), they were constituted in Augustine’s own time out of a range of different texts, undoubtedly influenced by early principles reflected in his dialogues from Cassiciacum in the later 380s, and then serving the changing needs of communities established first in Thagaste (after his return to Africa in 388) and then during a long episcopate in Hippo (from 395 to his death in 430). The core document concerned, the Ordo Monasterii (OM), is built around a set of principles rather than a daily routine (in that respect not unlike Basil’s “Longer Rules”); and the whole corpus is visibly the product of a man busy writing other things at the same time and in cognate styles.14 As for Cassian, he belonged to a class and generation of ascetics (like Jerome, or Evagrius and Palladius in the East) who were neither entirely settled in a clearly defined style of life nor associated with any one region of the empire.15 (Sulpicius, by the way, must be allowed a life of his own: he was more than the biographer of Martin of Tours (d. 397), way to the north—​his Dialogues are gravely underestimated as a key to his own personality and to the ascetic culture he represented—​and his episcopal hero gained his full and markedly unmonastic stature only two centuries later, at the hands of his successor Gregory, who died in 594.) Cassian’s surviving œuvre is remarkably confused in drift and implication.16 In spite of the much later (and perhaps not entirely reliable) testimony of Gennadius (De viris illustribus 62), he shows



Luc Verheijen, La Règle de saint Augustin (Paris, 1967); George Lawless, Augustine of Hippo and His Monastic Rule (Oxford, 1987; reprinted 1990)  and Raymond Canning, trans., The Rule of Saint Augustine: Masculine and Feminine Versions, with introduction and commentary by T. J. van Bavel (London, 1984). 15 See the articles by Brakke and Alciati in this volume; Richard J. Goodrich, Contextualizing Cassian: Aristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in Fifth-​Century Gaul (Oxford, 2007). 16 Philip Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian, 2nd ed. (Notre Dame, IN, 2010); Augustine Casiday, Tradition and Theology in St John Cassian (Oxford and New York, 2007); Steven D. Driver, John Cassian and the Reading of Egyptian Monastic Culture (London and New York, 2002); and Columba Stewart, Cassian the Monk (Oxford, 1998). 14

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little sign of being a monastic “founder.” Like Honoratus, Cassian (deeply influenced during his years in the East by the teaching of Evagrius) was very much the protégé of bishops, and whatever institutions he hoped to inspire or affect were the projects of churchmen such as Leontius of Fréjus (d. 488; Honoratus’ patron) and Castor of Apt (d. before 436). The only section of Cassian’s work that comes anywhere near being a “rule” in character is Books 1–​4 of his Institutes, and even they are to do mostly with dress and ceremony. His study of the vices in the remaining books and his three sets of Conferences—​intimate “chats” with famous ascetics of Egypt—​constitute much more a theology of the ascetic life, and show a remarkably ambiguous attitude to various styles of ascetic regime. Cassian, after all, spent a good fifteen years wandering here and there between his years in Palestine and Egypt (ending with the death of Evagrius in 399) and his eventual settlement in Marseille (under the patronage of Bishop Proculus around 415). Little effort is made to disguise the tension between a regulated monastic life and the almost competitive charisma of those ascetic sages who feature in the Conferences. Even more striking, Cassian then seems to have been scarcely at the forefront of people’s minds in the century after his death, meriting only a vague allusion (to the collationes patrum) in RB 73, where Basil by contrast is mentioned by name. (The spirit of his ascetic theology nevertheless permeates RB as a whole.) Lérins, finally, presents problems of its own.17 Its founder, Honoratus, in his eastern travels in the 370s, never reached the Holy Land as he had intended, but the regime he established on the famous island, when he returned, owed much to the earliest reputation of Pachomius, giving him a cast of mind identifiably different from Cassian. Much effort has been expended, especially by Adalbert de Vogüé, on identifying a “rule” of Lérins that developed through the fifth century in various recensions.18 The funeral oration preached by Hilary of Arles (d. 449) in 429 is as reliable as such speeches can be but essentially impressionistic. Lérins became famous mostly for the men, like its founder and Hilary, who left it to become bishops, and to that extent its spirit



See the articles by Alciati, Lauwers, and Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. See also Salvatore Pricoco, L’Isola dei santi. Il cenobio di Lerino e le origini del monachesimo gallico (Rome, 1978); Salvatore Pricoco, Monaci filosofi e santi. Saggi di storia della cultura tardoantica (Soveria Mannelli and Messina, 1992); Conrad Leyser, Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (Oxford, 2000); Roberto Alciati, Monaci, vescovi et scuola nella Gallia tardoantica (Rome, 2009); and Roberto Alciati, “Il vescovo e il monaco nel De vita contemplativa di Pomerio,” in Church, Society, and Monasticism, ed. E. López-​Tello García and B. S. Zorzi (Rome, 2009), 25–​38. 18 Adalbert de Vogüé, ed. and trans., Les Règles des saints Pères, SC 297–​298. 17

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came to permeate the church of southern Gaul in later decades. The most famous of these alumni was undoubtedly Caesarius, bishop of Arles from 502 until his death forty years later.19 By Caesarius’ time the character of church life in the lower Rhône valley had become at least temporarily transformed by the settlement of the Ostrogoths in Italy, affecting the politics of both Franks and Burgundians to the north and reopening the area to the influence of the Greek East. (The “Fathers of the Jura,” further north, may have represented a more independent stance.) To that extent, Caesarius and his episcopal colleagues were able to reinterpret the meaning and tendency of ascetic culture at least in their own region: they were the first to present the “view from the future,” as Benedict of Aniane would do on a much greater scale more than two centuries later. This réécriture would continue to have an impact on the Western Church even after the fall of the Ostrogothic kingdom to the armies of Justinian (r. 527–​65) in 554. Such was the world, barely ten years after Caesarius’ death and the death of Benedict of Nursia, which ushered in a clearly new phase in the history of Latin monastic culture.

The World after Chalcedon But there was one other event in the fifth century of crucial importance for our understanding of this chapter’s theme: the Council of Chalcedon, held in the East in 451, albeit with Western representatives of standing present. Its stipulations had a profound effect in the sphere of “normative observance,” and no less in the West (although perhaps more slowly) than in the East. Canon 4 (which is of most significance in our context) makes only a few demands (and note that this is a disciplinary canon, not immediately connected with the council’s doctrinal decrees), and none that are totally clear or detailed. The most anxious is probably the declaration that monks should live in monasteries and not wander around in cities, causing “political” as well as religious upheaval—​a clear feature of the late 430s and 440s.20 (This was a point that had been made by secular decree as far back as the reign of Theodosius I.) Moreover, monasteries are not to be established at the

William E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: The Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul (Cambridge, 1994); Robert A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990). 20 Daniel F. Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks:  Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA, 2002); Maribel Dietz, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims:  Ascetic Travel in the Mediterranean World, AD 300–​800 (University Park, PA, 2005). 19

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whim of monks themselves but only with the approval of the local bishop; and, once established, no one can override the bishop’s authority over them (by the exercise of lay patronage, for example; see also canon 24). The exact nature of that authority, however, is very loosely expressed. Monks are not allowed to leave their monastery (unless the bishop has a special job for them to do—​of which canon 3 gives some examples). Within the monastery, they are expected to lead a “quiet life” (hēsuchía or quies), dedicated “only” to fasting and prayer. Throughout these canons, a constant distinction is made between ordained priests and monks. Priests should confine themselves to the place assigned to them (which, according to canon 6, can include a monastery), the implication being that, when monks are exhorted (in canon 4) to be “subject” to their bishop (hupotetáchthai and subiectos esse are the verbs used), this submission will be mediated through that priest (and will be of a type susceptible to that species of mediation). It does not seem to be expected that any monk will himself be ordained. Bishops do, nevertheless, have responsibilities of their own to provide for a monastery’s needs—​to exercise the “appropriate” prónoia or cura on their behalf. A remarkable paradox attaches to these prescriptions, which appear to impose a very thorough episcopal control over the monastic life. The paradox has two components. First, there is little attempt to provide a definition of the “quiet life” or to identify the formulae that should govern fasting and prayer (leaving, indeed, everything else a monk might do in his monastery completely unspecified). This point will reward attention. It lies at the root of important modern scholarship and anticipates later prescriptive details.21 Second, the council says nothing about the ascetic devotees (especially the female ones) who might not pursue their vocation under the label of “monk.” This cohort of enthusiasts, we shall find, had been and continued to be very large. They escaped the restrictions that Chalcedon appeared to impose, even while embracing (either alone or in small groups) the self-​discipline espoused by monks in a more formal sense. These “irregular” ascetics—​the vagantes or “wanderers”; the non-​cenobitic types of monk—​will now run in constant contrast to the “regular” life, and may indeed represent a criticism of what monasteries were attempting to achieve. This counter-​culture, within ascetic society itself, may have had a profound influence on the development of regulae, making the latter in their turn instruments of a distinctive

Both Owen Chadwick, John Cassian, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1968), and Amand Veilleux, La liturgie dans le cénobitisme pachômien au quatrième siècle (Rome, 1968), opened their scholarly investigations with the importance of a liturgical ordo.

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safeguard or badge of authenticity. But an even greater complexity attaches to this relatively new development. To adhere to a “rule” was not simply a critical assertion that one was “doing things the right way.” It served to reinforce other useful boundaries between monk and world; in particular, it limited the degree to which bishops could enforce their own agenda within a community—​subverting with a certain irony the anxious stipulations of the Council of Chalcedon. We are beginning to observe, therefore, at least two features of a new phase: the next stage in the invention of the post-​Roman bishop (compare Caesarius with a more traditional figure such as Avitus of Vienne (d. c. 519)) and a new way of ordering the relations between bishops and virgins in particular. This took time, certainly in the West. Only when imperial practice had been stabilized anew with the establishment of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy in the 490s (reverberating up the Rhône valley into Gaul) could bishops in those regions discern what a post-​imperial Church was going to look like; and a man like Caesarius could only emerge in such a context. (We only have to think of the way bishops behave in the Histories of Gregory of Tours (d. 594)  or the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (d. 604)  to be struck by the difference.) So, while we might like to think that the work of the pioneers has prepared us for what comes next, the components of the ascetic legacy that do eventually “crop up” in the sixth century and thereafter do not do so in the form in which they left the 420s. At least some ascetics (and they will become a majority) have started to change from being competitive, individualistic, charismatic figures to members of organized and disciplined communities. This, in miniature, was the way in which Caesarius transformed Augustine (although the latter ironically was the least individualistic ascetic thinker). The Desert Fathers had also been moved into a past now represented only in texts, open to fresh interpretation in very different circumstances.

Toward a Chronology of Monastic Observance in the West The route from a world of ascetic diversity, the diffuse use of regulae, and a multiplicity of genres in which monastic norms could be expressed to the world of Benedict of Aniane can be best described by identifying different stages: an “experimental” phase lasting roughly until the end of the sixth century; a phase of consolidation of normative observance during the seventh century; and the slow and shaky “victory” of the RB from the eighth century onwards. As far as we can judge from the texts that are preserved (we will never know how “complete” the Codex regularum is, how much is lost 174

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and to what extent the preserved texts were filtered and maybe even modified to fit into Benedict of Aniane’s scheme), we can then see an increase in the number of Latin regulae, along with charismata, decreta, praecepta, leges, normae, institutiones, instituta, ordines, and other such terms from the fifth century onwards. Benedict of Aniane starts his compilation with four short regulae patrum: the Regula quattuor patrum (RIVP), the Regula patrum secunda (2RP), the Regula Macharii (RMac), and the Regula patrum tertia (3RP), a group of rules produced in the course of the fifth century and today tentatively ascribed to the monastery of Lérins, the first outpost of eastern Mediterranean monasticism in Gaul. The first of these regulae patrum is presented as speeches of Egyptian Desert Fathers: Macharius, Paphnutius, Serapion, and another Macharius. If we look at the last three, we can observe a remarkable shift in literary form. The RVIP and the 2RP present themselves as short speeches given at a gathering of monks; the RMac is mostly phrased as an admonition addressing the individual monk; and the 3RP is a collection of short, straightforward regulations. The diversity of formats, however, does not end with the 3RP: on the contrary, Benedict of Aniane’s collection gives the impression of a long-​ lasting experiment of finding the right words and the right tone. In other words, authors of monastic rules tried out a great number of different ways of conveying the content of a rule:  questions and answers (RBas, RM); words of wisdom spoken by venerable fathers at monastic gatherings (RIVP, 2RP); vociferous admonitions (RMac, RCaeV); straightforward paragraphs, with (RAM, RAV, RFer, RcuiV) or without (3RP, RCaeM, RTar) biblical grounding or theological rationales; florilegia of older monastic rules (ROr; RDon); or rephrased versions of older texts (RAV, RB, RM, RcuiM, RcuiV). Rules address the singular and plural you, the us, him, her, and them, and some of them shift from one tone and addressee to another in the middle of the text: a true playground of “regulating.” Nevertheless, despite their diversity in form, most rules are tied together by a closely knit intertextual net.22 Almost every author of monastic rules used, excerpted, or rephrased already existing ones. This sends two seemingly contradicting messages. On the one hand, using previous rules shows respect for a textual tradition, giving the authors of rules the status of those sancti patres who represent the venerable monastic past. On the other hand, new rules expressed the necessity to produce new norms by rewriting, rearranging,

Adalbert de Vogüé, Les règles monastiques anciennes (400–​700) (Turnhout, 1985), 14, draws a family tree of all monastic rules.

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and amending the old ones and in that way created a distance from this venerable past. In order to retain the vigor, the spirit, and the standards of the venerable predecessors, one has to rewrite and adapt their rules and do things slightly differently from how they did them. The largest group of monastic rules preserved by Benedict of Aniane was written in the sixth century—​and here things start to shift toward a clearer notion of what regulariter vivere might mean. In Gaul, the rules of Caesarius of Arles (RCaeM and RCaeV) were followed by three rules also written by bishops, Aurelianus and Ferreolus (RAM, RAV, RFer), and one rule of unknown origin, the Regula Tarnatensis (RTar). The Regula Pauli et Stephani (RPS), the Regula Magistri (RM) and the Regula Benedicti (RB) were probably written in Italy, roughly in the same period as Caesarius’ rules. Those new rules were to be read out aloud (RAM/​RAV 1; RTar 1.5; RFer 5; RB 58, 66; RPS 41); monastic entry equaled a submission to the regula; rules started to claim to be unchangeable; and, maybe most importantly, some of them began to describe themselves as a sancta regula (RCaeV 43, 47, 62; RB 23.1, 65.18; later RDon 5, 60; RcuiV 18): an instrument to create a holy community, not just as a tool to shape order and foster discipline or establish structures. This new phase represents another large step away from a practice of individual instruction. The move toward a normative understanding of regulae went along with a shift of emphasis in the rules’ content: on the one hand, toward a regulation and de-​individualization of asceticism that imposes a moderate but sophisticated regime of fasting, manual labor, organization of the day, and a mortificatio that was rather meant to kill one’s own will than the flesh and bodily desires; on the other hand, toward an increasingly rigorous system of liturgical discipline that was meant to ensure that monasteries continuously produced payer of the highest possible quality. In some rules (e.g. RPS and RTar) liturgical discipline overshadowed every other aspect of monastic discipline; yet it is prominently present in all sixth-​century rules.23 The genesis of the rules written by Caesarius of Arles (d. 542)  and only a few decades later by his successor Aurelianus (d. 551)  can be taken as an example of this process. RCaeV, written for a female community Caesarius had founded in the city of Arles, was continuously revised over a period from roughly 512 to 534. Through its amendments, the text itself tells a history of Caesarius’ monastic project: a story of crisis management, anorexic nuns, dirty laundry, and looks from unwished visitors, but also of a profound shift of monastic ideals. At the beginning the author describes the text as merely

On the divine office, see the articles by Jeffery, Billett, and Blennemann in this volume.

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an anthology of regulations collected from other texts and adjusted to the specific situation of virgins dedicated to God: “And, because many things in monasteries of women seem to differ from the customs of monks, we have chosen a few things from among many, according to which the older religious can live under a rule with the younger, and strive to carry out spiritually what they see to be especially adapted for their sex” (RCaeV 2).24 In the course of revising his Rule, Caesarius’ notion of the function of the text changed profoundly. In c­ hapter 47 he calls his text a sancta regula: “I admonish and I charge you before God and the angels, holy and highly venerated mother of the monastery, and you, the prioress of the holy congregation, let no one’s threats or persuasions or flattery ever relax your spirit, and do not yourselves take away anything from the established form of the holy and spiritual rule” (RCaeV 47, see also 43 and 62). In the last section of the text, the Recapitulatio added to finalize the work (RCaeV 48–​73), Caesarius repeats time and again that nothing of the Regula may be changed by anyone involved with the monastery, and emphasizes that the rule as holy text plays a crucial role in attaining salvation. The rule ends by emphasizing its legal character through the subscription and confirmation of its content by six bishops (RCaeV 73). In the course of its genesis, Caesarius’ Rule became a double tool. On the one hand, it provided a disciplinary basis for defining and collectively achieving perfection:  a regula sancta to create a congregatio sancta. On the other hand, Caesarius produced an instrument for his community to gain and maintain independence from external interference and control: a rule to protect the nuns from being ruled by others and not least by those bishops who, according to the Council of Chalcedon, were in charge. All the texts that Caesarius wrote for his monastery and the vita that the nuns commissioned after his death were driven by the fear that his successors might interfere in his project and eventually destroy it.25 The ambivalence of being a disciplinary program and a basis for claims of independence will remain an important aspect of the rise of normative observance. Caesarius’ much shorter Regula ad monachos (RCaeM), one of the few monastic rules that survive from the time of their writing but do not appear in Benedict of Aniane’s collection, adds yet another important aspect of the rise of normative observance. Its prologue reports that Caesarius wrote this rule

Slightly revised translation. William E. Klingshirn, “Caesarius’s Monastery for Women in Arles and the Composition of the ‘Vita Caesarii’,” Revue bénédictine 100 (1990): 441–​81.

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as a directive for all monasteries under his supervision. As such, his rule is one of the first to be phrased as a general directive, as an instrument for external supervision, and as a potential tool for monastic reform and unification. Aurelianus, who became bishop of Arles only a few years after Caesarius’ death, decided to write a new monastic rule (RAM), though largely phrased in the words of his predecessor. Why did he do this, instead of just using what was already there and held in high regard? Despite its close proximity to Caesarius’ rules, Aurelianus’ new work marks another watershed in the development of normative observance. First of all, it is probably the first monastic rule that was written by a complete outsider, a bishop who acted as founder of monastic communities while having neither a monastic past (as Caesarius certainly did) nor the inclination to enter a monastery himself. It was written for one of the first monasteries founded in collaboration with a secular ruler, the Frankish king Childebert I (d. 558). Second, Aurelianus’ rule was composed as one piece as a blueprint for a new type of monastery. Shortly afterwards he used the same rule for another foundation, a monastery for nuns. His RAV is somewhat shorter, but both versions are in essence the same. Using both male and female monastic traditions, Aurelianus developed with his regula a monastic program that was in principle not gender-​specific.26 The “female” impact on monastic rules (for men and for women), as seen for instance in the significant influence of RCaeV on RAM, can be observed in many subsequent stages of the monastic experiment. When Benedict of Aniane composed his Concordia regularum, he had no problem in changing all segments he inserted from female rules into the male grammatical form.27 The last, and maybe most fundamental innovation in Aurelianus’ monastic rule was placing the willingness to submit oneself to the norms of the rule at the center of monastic conversion. Beautifully consistent, Caesarius and Aurelianus framed their rules by placing their central concern in the first and last chapters. RCaeV begins and ends with enforcing enclosure, and the Rule becomes a major instrument in establishing a community thriving on an irrevocable spatial separation from the surrounding world (RCaeV 2.2–​3, 73.1–​2). Caesarius’ Regula ad monachos puts perseverantia at the beginning and



Albrecht Diem, “…ut si professus fuerit se omnia impleturum, tunc excipiatur: Observations on the Rules for Monks and Nuns of Caesarius and Aurelianus of Arles,” in Edition und Erforschung lateinischer patristischer Texte. 150 Jahre CSEL. Festschrift für Kurt Smolak zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. Victoria Zimmerl-​Panagl, Lukas J. Dorf bauer, and Clemens Weidmann (Berlin, 2014), 191–​224. 27 Albrecht Diem, “The Gender of the Religious:  Wo/​ Men and the Invention of Monasticism,” in The Oxford Companion on Women and Gender in the Middle Ages, ed. Judith Bennett and Ruth Mazo Karras (Oxford, 2013), 432–​46.

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at the end, emphasizing the irreversibility of monastic conversion (RCaeM 1, 26). Aurelianus addresses both enclosure and perseverantia, but his Rule is framed by the imperative to follow the Rule. Its first chapter begins with the words: “If someone converts to monastic life, the Rule is read to him and if he/​she professes to fulfill everything, he/​she may be admitted” (RAM/​RAV 1). RM and RB were written in Italy roughly at the same time as Caesarius’ and Aurelianus’ rules and we encounter in them a similar shift toward normative observance: rules were to be read aloud and formed the basis of monastic profession.28 The long-​discussed question of whether Benedict used RM or whether the “Master” used RB has not been resolved convincingly, and the possibility that both texts independently revised a rule now lost remains an option. RM, phrased as a master’s long-​winded response to a pupil’s questions, may be more “old-​fashioned” in form and language but it is clearly more advanced particularly in one respect, which also distinguishes the rules of Caesarius and Aurelianus from one another. Neither Caesarius nor Benedict use the term laicus in opposition to monachus, while both Aurelianus and the “Master” draw a clear distinction between regulated monastic professionals and laici even in those chapters that are otherwise phrased very similarly in both previously written rules.29 It is rather unlikely that Benedict as reviser of RM carefully weeded out all seventeen references to laici and, in doing so, eliminated the distinction between monastic professionals (in a literal sense of the word) and lay people.30 Benedict of Aniane preserved for us two other rules from the second half of the sixth century, the Regula Ferrioli (RFer), a bishop’s interference within his own monastic foundation, and the Regula Tarnatensis (RTar), of unknown authorship and provenance. Both texts place themselves in the existing normative tradition, using and rephrasing among others RCaeV, Pachomius’ Rules, and (only in RTar) Augustine’s Praeceptum. As such they show again the tension between claiming to continue and fulfill the tradition of the sancti patres and adjusting to fundamentally new frameworks. The same can be said about the four preserved Visigothic rules: a rule for nuns by Leander of Seville (d. 600), one for monks by his brother Isidore (d. 636), and two sets of norms ascribed to Fructuosus of Braga (d. 656). All these authors were bishops who regulated their own monastic foundations.31

RB 53.9, 58.9–​12, 66.8; RM 24.15–​27, 79.24, 87.3, 89.1, 89.8, 90.64. RAM 4.1, 14.1, 16, 19.1, 48.1; RM 1.6, 7.31, 24.20/​23, 56.1–​15, 58.8, 61.12–​15, 78.t, 87.t, 90.t, 90.83. 30 Compare especially RM 1.6 to RB 1.6; RM 56.1–​15 to RB 50; RM 61.12–​15 to RB 51; RM 87.t/​ 90.t to RB 58.t/​61.t; RM 90.83 to RB 58.27. 31 On the Visigothic rules, see the article by Díaz in this volume.

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Such so far is the story that Benedict of Aniane wants to tell us in his Codex regularum. Some rules justify it by emphasizing that there is no alternative to living under a written rule. The RB and RM start by vilifying those monks who are ‘unregulated’ (calling them sarabaitae and monachi gyrovagi).32 Yet if we look at other textual evidence from the sixth century, this story does not pass its “reality check.” There is still that other “unregulated” monastic world in existence, which we mentioned above. In fact, we have at this point still very little evidence for the actual use of regulae outside the texts themselves. Life according to written norms may still have been simply one variant within the vast multiplicity of monasticisms, though a variant favored by bishops who founded monasteries and by other external founders with a natural interest in institutional stability and permanence in ascetic standards—​and maybe by those monks or nuns who wanted to protect themselves from interference by outsiders and other monastics alike. The work of Gregory of Tours provides a case in point for the ongoing presence of a non-​regulated monastic diversity. Of all the monasteries he mentions in his Historiae, only one, Radegund’s monastery of the Holy Cross, is associated with a rule (that of Caesarius), which serves as Gregory’s own tool to crush an uprising that took place soon after its founder had died (Histories IX.39–​40).The monastic and ascetic panoptic of his Liber vitae Patrum is described without mentioning any written rule, even though there would have been more than enough occasions (stories of foundation processes and of internal and external conflicts) to use them as a source for authority and a tool to establish discipline. In sum, certainly until the end of the sixth century we have to approach the development of monasticism under three premises. First, there was no one monasticism but rather an infinite variety of more or less “regulated” monasticisms. Second, the textual basis of monastic life—​its regula, if we want to call it that—​could manifest itself in yet another confusing variety of different texts and genres. A regula can hide in a story, in an ascetic admonition, in a theological treatise, in a letter, in a charter, in a law, or in the acta of councils of concerned bishops. Third, there was, however, a slow development toward a “regulated” way of life that did use regulae as we know them, in the way that we expect them to be used. Benedict, the Master, and, to a certain extent, Caesarius could already make the claim that there is no

See the article by Brakke in this volume, and Monica Blanchard, “Sarabaitae and Remnuoth: Coptic Considerations,” in The World of Early Egyptian Christianity: Language, Literature, and Social Context, ed. James E. Goehring and Janet A. Timbie (Washington, DC, 2007), 49–​60.

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alternative to a regulated communal life: you either live sub regula vel abbate or you are a monachus gyrovagus or sarabaita. However, not all monks and feminae religiosae—​and not even all bishops involved in monastic matters—​may have agreed with them.

The Seventh Century: Nothing (or Everything?) New Gregory of Tours may still have been alive when, sometime in the 580s, the Irish monk Columbanus (d. 615) arrived on the Continent and founded his first monasteries, Annegray and Luxeuil. If we believe Columbanus’ hagiographer Jonas of Bobbio (d. after 659)—​which we should do with great caution—​his arrival formed a true turning point. It allowed the restoration of a Christian wasteland in which, mostly thanks to the negligence of the bishops, the medicamenta paenitentiae had been almost disbanded (Vita Columbani 1.5). Gregory of Tours would not have been amused by this verdict. Jonas supports this notion of renewal by suppressing all evidence that Columbanus’ monasteries and monastic practice had any roots in existing Frankish monasticism. He does not tell us that Columbanian foundations recruited from Frankish monasteries, prayed the ceaseless prayer of Saint-​ Maurice d’Agaune, and shaped their legal situation after existing models. Two of the monastic rules written for “Columbanian” monasteries, the Regula Donati (RDon) and the Regula cuiusdam ad virgines (RcuiV), incorporated older Continental rules, most notably the RB and RCaeV. There may have been only a few royal monastic foundations before Columbanus’ arrival, but they certainly existed. Childebert I and Aurelianus founded one in Arles; Sigibert (d. 524) established Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune; Brunhild founded a monastery in Autun and Radegund one in Poitiers. In many regards, however, the monastic movement inspired by Columbanus was a watershed. It led to a great number of monastic foundations, especially in northern Francia, usually collaborative projects that involved already existing monasteries (particularly Luxeuil), bishops, aristocrats, and kings. In a different manner from older foundations, these new ones developed a remarkable institutional continuity—​thanks to their internal structure and legal status, external support, and the widely shared consensus to respect monastic boundaries. Many of them existed until the French Revolution. The monastery under a rule, which was founded by rulers and aristocrats as a place for intercessory prayer on their behalf, may have existed before Columbanus’ arrival as one variant among many; now it became a vastly successful standard model. 181

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The Regula, first labeled as Regula Columbani, then as Regula Benedicti et Columbani (which may never have existed as a specific text), and eventually as Regula Benedicti, played a central role in this process: a tool to legitimate the existence of the monasteries, to maintain standards of communal ascetic life, to shape internal structures, and to form the basis for a collective identity. Thanks to Benedict of Aniane, we have a number of written manifestations of these rules; we also have references to regulae in hagiographic texts and, most notably, in an increasing number of episcopal and royal charters that define the monastery’s rights and privileges but also their responsibilities toward their founders and the Christian world in general. The regula became a legal category, also (or maybe even primarily) for the interaction between monastery and outside world. Outsiders took an interest in regular discipline but they needed to “play by the regula,” as Jonas of Bobbio explains dramatically when he reports that the intrusion of King Theuderic II (d. 613)  and Queen Brunhild (d. 614) into Columbanus’ foundation of Luxeuil eventually caused their downfall and violent end: “If you try to destroy what has until now been strictly forbidden under the discipline of our Rule,” Columbanus replied, “I no longer want any of your gifts or support. And if you have come here for this reason, so that you might destroy the communities of God’s servants and dishonor the discipline of the Rule, I want you to know that your kingdom will quickly be destroyed entirely and all your family will be annihilated.” (Vita Columbani 1.19)

Here we have the same ambivalence that we already observed in regard to Caesarius’ and Aurelianus’ Rules:  the regula serves as a statement of independence and as a legal framework that protects communities from external interference but it also expresses an external interest in internal discipline, hierarchy, and maintaining standards. The Privilege of Rebais (632), the first preserved episcopal privilege issued for a Columbanian monastery, warned bishops (as had been done before) to be unobtrusive in their limited visits to monasteries (to be done mainly for liturgical purposes) and explains why: because monks, who are [after all] known as solitarii [“solitaries”], depend for their well-​being on an atmosphere of complete peace: led by the Lord, they then find unceasing joy; living under the Holy Rule [of Benedict and Columbanus] and following the lifestyle of the blessed fathers, they are able to pray more intensely to the Lord for the stability of the Church and the safety of the king and indeed of the fatherland. (PL 87, 1136)

Yet at the beginning of this new notion of regula stands a phantom, which shows us that Benedict of Aniane’s notion of normative observance is still 182

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far away. His Codex regularum contains a Regula Sancti Columbani (RColM combined with RColC) which looks rather different from most other rules in the collection. It consists of a general ascetic treatise (which was vaguely inspired by John Cassian) with two lengthy insertions: a liturgical ordo, and a rather chaotic monastic penitential which imposes corporal punishment, fasting, and prayers for a great number of often minor transgressions (the second insertion appears as Regula coenobialis, RColC, in modern editions). This Regula Sancti Columbani expresses several important new ideas, particularly the notion that monks have to pray for the outside world (RColM 7) and the rather revolutionary idea that confession and penance save from eternal damnation (RColC 1). Nevertheless, it is neither a program nor a legal basis for a new monastic movement.33 It is likely that the Regula Columbani that Jonas of Bobbio mentions several times in his Vita Columbani was different from the text preserved in the Codex regularum. Jonas’s work describes in great detail Columbanus’ monastic ideals, gives hints about internal structures of his monasteries and their notions of space and boundaries, but does so without quoting RColM and RColC (with the exception of one vaguely similar snippet of text). He refers to the Regula Columbani almost exclusively in the context of founding a monastery, an aspect not discussed at all in RColM and RColC. The text preserved by Benedict of Aniane may thus have been just one written manifestation of a much broader and more abstract Regula Columbani, which is just as much expressed in Jonas’s own work or in the monastic privileges issued for Columbanian foundations. There is still more in the term regula than just a written rule.34 The Regula Sancti Benedicti et (vel, seu) Columbani was a title that appeared for about half a century in some episcopal privileges. But it was probably not so much a text that combined different written rules (renamed by modern scholarship as regula mixta, a misleading neologism) but rather the RB combined with descriptions of the monastic ideal added to different texts produced by and for Columbanian monasteries. As a regula, therefore, it was indeed the “Benedictine” text that would later become the basis of Western monastic life. And yet, curiously, the first reliable traces of this future sancta

Albrecht Diem, “Columbanian Monastic Rules: Dissent and Experiment,” in The Irish in Europe in the Middle Ages: Identity, Culture, and Religion, ed. Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder (London and New York, 2016), 68–​85 and 248–​9. 34 Albrecht Diem, “Was bedeutet Regula Columbani?” in Integration und Herrschaft. Ethnische Identitäten und soziale Organisation im Frühmittelalter, ed. Max Diesenberger and Walter Pohl (Vienna, 2002), 63–​89; and Albrecht Diem, “Inventing the Holy Rule: Some Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West,” in Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram,  53–​84. 33

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regula can be found in the two already mentioned Columbanian Rules for nuns (RDon and RcuiV), which both vigorously rewrite Benedict’s text and express monastic ideals that are quite distinct from those of their model.35 This confusing interchange between “Benedictine” and “Columbanian” elements probably helps to explain why the second half of the seventh century opens another gap in the evidence. References to the Regula Columbani fade away but those to the RB also become scarce and unreliable. We have to wait for almost another century before the real takeover of the RB starts.

The Bumpy Road toward una regula Even that outcome is not straightforward. The short version of the Carolingian “Benedictine” takeover sounds simple and convenient: Carolingian rulers and reform-​minded monks, inspired initially by Anglo-​Saxon monks, realized that the RB was indeed “excellent in its discretion and splendid in its language,” as Gregory the Great expressed it in his Dialogues (2.36). They imposed the text as the single legal norm on all monasteries: monks are monks and monasteries are monasteries because they follow the RB. The “regular life” is now definitively monastic and definitively based on a written rule. This process found its culmination in the reform councils of 813 under Charlemagne and of 816/​ 817 under Louis the Pious (r. 814–​40). Benedict of Aniane played a key role in this process and expanded the una regula with a catalogue of explanations, slight alterations, and additions to the Rule.36 The attempt to submit all monasteries under Carolingian rule to one shared understanding of the RB, however, met resistance from some monasteries that wanted to cling to their own traditions, and consequently had rather limited success.37 The true catalogue of events is more complex. When the first Carolingian councils (from 742 onwards) started to promote the RB, the use of regulae seems already to have been a matter of past practice (if it had happened at all). Indeed, resistance against applying the RB did not come from monasteries that followed other regulae but from those that feared submitting to a regula



Albrecht Diem, “New Ideas Expressed in Old Words:  The Regula Donati on Female Monastic Life and Monastic Spirituality,” Viator 43 (2012): 1–​38. See the article by Kramer in this volume. Benedict of Aniane, Regula sive Collectio 35. See also Albrecht Diem, “The Capitularis, ed. Josef Semmler, CCM 1, 503–​ Carolingians and the Regula Benedicti,” in Religious Franks: Religion and Power in the Frankish Kingdoms: Studies in Honour of Mayke de Jong, ed. Rob Meens et al. (Manchester, 2016), 243–​61. 37 Josef Semmler, “Benedictus II: una regula—​una consuetudo,” in Benedictine Culture 750–​ 1050, ed. Willem Lourdaux and Daniël Verhelst (Leuven, 1983), 1–​49. 35

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would force them to give up their consuetudines, which defined the internal structure and the schedule of daily life, especially of liturgical practices. So, giving the RB the status of una regula meant introducing (or maybe reintroducing) the notion of following a written rule (not, in other words, a plethora of consuetudines) more than replacing one written norm by another. The RB itself, however, was in a sense unsuitable for this effort. Even Benedict of Aniane admitted that no monastery of his time did—​or could—​follow the RB to the letter. This is not surprising, since we are dealing with a set of norms and monastic ideals that was produced roughly 250 years before for a community that was deeply rooted in the world of fading Romanitas. Such a world could hardly be more different from that of the self-​confidently rising Carolingian Empire. Moreover, the text of the RB needed to be discussed, interpreted, submitted to an exegetical reading, taught, and memorized, so that its spirit could be captured—​or at least what the Carolingian rulers and reformers considered that spirit to be, in line with what they saw as useful for their purposes. Such a process inevitably took time and invited variation. The communities that the author of the RB had in mind probably had little to do with the Carolingian “powerhouses of prayer.”38 The RB says nothing about intercessory prayer, which was to become the main raison d’être of Carolingian monastic life; nor had Benedict of Nursia imagined that monasteries would become centers for the preservation of knowledge, of education, and of training for a new reform-​minded elite. Most likely he never envisioned that monasteries would turn into major economic and political hubs with possessions scattered over hundreds of square kilometers. Nor could he have guessed that they would become places of forced retreat for the powerful who had fallen from grace, and outposts for missions and political expansion, founded by bishops and aristocrats and ruled by (often lay) people holding key positions in the Carolingian political apparatus.39 In many regards, the earlier Carolingian monasteries were about as “un-​Benedictine” as it was possible to be. They are certainly more appropriately placed in the tradition of the Regula Columbani as described by Jonas; in Columbanian privileges and (to some extent) in those rules ascribed more directly to Columbanus. It is here that we find the political entanglement, the intercessory prayer, the economic strength, the education and book

See the article by Blennemann in this volume and Choy, Intercessory Prayer. Mayke B. De Jong, “Carolingian Monasticism:  The Power of Prayer,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 2: c. 700–​c. 900, ed. Rosamond McKitterick (Cambridge, 1995), 622–​53. See also the article by Rosé in this volume.

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production, the involved kings, aristocrats, and bishops, the assertiveness of being a congregatio sancta in a locus sanctus with carefully guarded boundaries, and the deep interest in maintaining monastic purity. In sum, it is far from surprising that we still find in Carolingian monastic charters of immunity words and sentences that first appeared in the Privilege of Rebais. During much of the eighth century, therefore, the RB as it had now survived had yet to embody categorically what might later be thought of as central and universal characteristics of Carolingian monastic existence. Its convenience consisted in meaning almost anything to anyone, and it served as a source of arguments for very different reform agendas. For the Anglo-​ Saxon church reformer Boniface (d. 754) and his contemporaries, for example, the RB was a tool to redefine the blurring boundaries between monachi and clerici canonici: monks lived under the regula; canons under (equally vague) canon law.40 Introducing this distinction had three implications. It helped to establish a clear ecclesiastic structure in the Frankish kingdoms and those regions that newly came under Carolingian power; it defined to what extent religious communities and institutions were submitted to episcopal power; and—​as a comparison between the RB and its counterparts (Chrodegang’s (d. 766) Regula canonicorum and the Institutio canonicorum) shows—​it forced communities to take a position on whether their members were allowed to own private property.41 To take another example, if we look at references to the RB in most of the charters of immunity issued by Charlemagne and his predecessors and successors, we find another context that made it especially attractive for monastic communities to place themselves sub regula sancti Benedicti. Most of these charters mention the RB in conjunction with granting a community the right to choose by itself the most suitable abbot from its own members, as the Rule prescribes. Indeed, choosing one’s abbot according to c­ hapter 64 of the Rule may have been the essence of living according to the Rule.42 It is remarkable that the documents marking what are often thought of as the heyday of monastic reform—​those related to the councils of 813 and 816/​ 817—​did not refer at all to this particular aspect of the Rule. Already the Council of Frankfurt in 794 had used select chapters of the RB as tools for

For example Concilium Germanicum (742), c. 7; Concilium Liftinense (743), c. 1; Concilium Aquisgranense (802); Concilium Cabillonense (813), c. 22, in MGH Concilia 2.1, 4, 7, 278. 41 See, for example, Chrodegang’s Privilege for Gorze, MGH Concilia 2.1, 60. Martin A. Claussen, The Reform of the Frankish Church:  Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula canonicorum in the Eighth Century (Cambridge, 2004). 42 MGH DKarl 1, nos. 52, 72, 89, 152, 157, 158, 164, 173.

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reform while at the same time explicitly rejecting a monastery’s right to choose its own abbot.43 Another, heavily contested, reform matter in which the RB could serve both ways was the question of creating liturgical unity. Should monasteries follow the Ordo Romanus or keep their own liturgical traditions—​perfectly legitimated through RB 18.22–​3? Or should they all uniformly pray for the king, the kingdom, and stability according to the liturgical ordo laid out in RB  8–​18? The conclusion to be drawn from this sluggish and contested process is not quite what we might have expected. It remains true that Benedict of Aniane presided in some sense over a (distinctly late) attempt at uniformity, which involved giving prominence to a particular “history” of monastic precedents; but his disposition to uniformity (whether it was his own or that of his masters) was not the only reason why the RB won the day as the most useful model for all monasteries. If we look at all the other contemporary arguments surrounding the implementation of the Sancta Regula, ranging from the question whether birds are meat to the question whether abbots should eat with guests or the community, we could subsume the contentious favoring of the RB under three main questions. First, which of its many regulations needed to be enforced to increase the monastic purity that enabled them to perform prayer of the highest quality? Second, which regulations might be used (rather unsuccessfully) to create uniformity among Carolingian monasteries? And third, what power and status was attached to those who ruled these Carolingian “powerhouses”? When one puts it that way, not much seems to have changed: the Rule—​and all the attempts to enforce different aspects of it—​could serve both to claim independence and to claim control. The two most important commentaries on the RB, written by Smaragdus of Saint-​Mihiel (d. c. 840) around the time of the 816 reforms and by Hildemar of Corbie (fl. c. 845) roughly a generation later, add yet another dimension to the Carolingian monastic enterprise. Two-​thirds of Smaragdus’ Expositio comment on the first seven chapters of the RB and show that Smaragdus was first and foremost interested in the theological grounding of monastic life and the role of the Sancti patres, rather than the technicalities of monastic structure and practice. Hildemar, who explained the Sancta Regula sentence by sentence to the oblates of Civate (in Lombardy), still devotes more than two-​thirds of his loquacious commentary (635 pages in modern print) to theological questions.44 If we look at the rest of his text, Hildemar’s countless

MGH Concilia 2.1, 168. Hildemar, Expositio regulae. See www.hildemar.org (date of last access: 18 August 2018).

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digressions focus on the difference between Benedict’s sixth-​century vision and the monastic practice of his own day (in this case at Civate), his deep interest in monastic purity, and his concern with uncontrolled abbatial power and the problem of how to deal with its abuse.45

Epilogue: Monastic Rules as Historical Sources Our investigation has followed a chronological order to demonstrate the benefits of not abiding by Benedict of Aniane’s view of pre-​Carolingian monastic history as a simple chain of rules to be followed. We arrive at an entirely different history of early medieval monasticism if we investigate the genesis of normative observance instead of assuming its presence, and if we accept that there was an initial—​perhaps unexpectedly long-​lasting—​diversity of monasticisms and a confusing variety of textual options to express and enforce ascetic values, monastic practices, and concepts of community. In this new narrative, the eventual triumph of the RB is neither the fruit of an organic process nor a historical necessity and, as we hope to have shown, even the Carolingian Benedictine norm needs to be reassessed. The fact that the thirty regulae collected by Benedict of Aniane (along with two or three others that were preserved elsewhere) played a less significant role than generally assumed does not diminish their eminent value as historical sources, and we have not yet sufficiently addressed their content. Aside from a long tradition of investigating the RB as a theological text and a source of spiritual wisdom, monastic scholarship has shown a striking lack of interest in what these regulae have to say and a hesitancy to approach each of them as an individual text representing its own little monastic universe. This lack of interest may have been caused by the assumption that most rules roughly say the same in different words—​as was implied in Benedict of Aniane’s Praefatio to the Concordia regularum. At first glance, the repertoire of topics addressed in rules is indeed rather limited. It includes tasks and responsibilities of monastic office holders (especially the abbot/​ abbess), liturgy and liturgical discipline, interactions among the members of the monastic community, transgressions, punishment, excommunication and exclusion, monastic entry, separation from (and interaction with) the surrounding world, manual labor, individual poverty, motivation, and negligence. To see the often fundamental differences requires a very close reading of the texts.

Diem, “The Carolingians and the Regula Benedicti,” 243–​61.

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What is most common in modern scholarship on monasticism—​and to a certain extent legitimate—​is the use of the corpus of monastic norms as a convenient and prolific quarry for details of monastic life or even early medieval daily life. Here we find mentions of shoes, kitchen tools, vegetable gardens, men holding hands, weaving women, writing utensils, and many other mundane things that are otherwise invisible in the scattered and fragmentary early medieval sources.46 Lateral cuts through the corpus of monastic norms provide a wealth of material on topics such as childhood, literacy, labor practices, liturgy, gender roles, sexualities, space and architecture, emotions, and ascetic practices, to mention only a few subjects—​and many still wait to be explored.47 Another traditional approach to rules has been the—​often unsuccessful—​attempt to assign rules to monasteries and monasteries to rules, based on the assumption that every monastery needed its regula.48 Yet a “synthetic” reading of rules that tends to use one rule to fill in the gaps of another and in which congruity is read as the indication of a pattern is problematic in many regards. The fact that many monastic rules are similar at first sight and are intertextually connected should incite us to do the opposite of combining evidence. Rules respond to other rules: the Regula patrum secunda to the Regula quattuor patrum, the Regula orientalis to the Regula Pachomii, Aurelianus’ rules to Caesarius’ rules, the Regula Tarnatensis to Caesarius’ and Augustine’s rules, the Regula cuiusdam ad virgines and the Regula Donati to the RB. They express discrete disagreement, maybe even discontent, or at least the notion that the work of previous regulators of monastic life, venerable as it may be, does not suit the new circumstances, so that the production of a new monastic rule is needed. Every regula forms a distinct contribution to the experiment to create ideal, theologically sound, practical, and perpetual





See the articles by Díaz and by Réal in this volume. See, for example, Mayke B. De Jong, In Samuel’s Image:  Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Leiden, 1996); Gisela Muschiol, Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern (Münster, 1994); Pierre Bonnerue, “Concordance sur les activités manuelles dans les règles monastiques anciennes,” Studia Monastica 35 (1993):  69–​96; Albrecht Diem, Das monastische Experiment. Die Rolle der Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens (Münster, 2005); Sofia Uggé, “Lieux, espaces et topographie des monastères de l’antiquité tardive et du haut Moyen Âge: réflexions à propos des règles monastiques,” in Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval, ed. Michel Lauwers (Turnhout, 2014), 15–​42; and the articles by Réal and Cochelin in this volume. 48 Friedrich Prinz, Frühes Mönchtum im Frankenreich. Kultur und Gesellschaft in Gallien, den Rheinlanden und Bayern am Beispiel der monastischen Entwicklung (4. bis 8. Jhd.), 2nd ed. (Munich and Vienna, 1988). 46 47

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monastic institutions. This should incite us to read them against each other rather than along with each other. Possible battlefields illustrated through the writing and rewriting of rules are the tension between charismatic authority and strict hierarchy versus a notion of equality; collaboration and individual responsibility; different ways of interacting with the outside world; the balance of fostering ascetic achievements versus collective moderation; the pool and techniques of recruitment; the balance of opus Dei, manual labor, and intellectual activity; or the question of individual and collective poverty—​to mention only a few. One particularly interesting aspect of dissent, or at least of plurality of viewpoints, addresses the theological foundation of monastic life and the problem of how monastic communities can, despite the inevitable sinfulness and destructive tendency of each individual, become holy communities, establish holy spaces, foster the expectation of eternal salvation, and even, from a certain point onwards, start to produce a “surplus” in the form of powerful intercessory prayer for the Christian community in general and monastic founders and sponsors in particular. Some monastic rules come up with vastly different ideas of how monastic discipline could be used to circumvent the challenges of Augustine’s doctrine of full dependence on divine grace and his dismissal of any justification through work—​and, more generally, they might be read as evidence for a striking plurality of theological viewpoints stretching the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy.49 Things get even more complicated if we take into account—​as we do for almost all medieval sources—​that rules may have been read and used differently at different moments in their history, initially maybe as a document of reform and crisis management, later as an identity-​forming text, as a word of wisdom of a venerable past, as a collectible to be combined with other rules (Benedict of Aniane’s Codex regularum was not the first collection), as a holy text to be submitted to careful exegesis, or even, as we know from the RB, as a text to improve one’s Latin skills.50 If we focus on the moment of genesis of a monastic rule we find yet another potentially fruitful way of approaching our texts as Gesamtkunstwerke. Norms never depict life; and any attempt to reconstruct monastic practice on the basis



Albrecht Diem, “L’espace, la grâce et la discipline dans les règles monastiques du haut Moyen Âge,” in Enfermements II. Règles et dérèglements en milieux clos (IVe–​XIXe siècle), ed. Isabelle Heullant-​Donat, Julie Claustre, Élisabeth Lusset, and Falk Bretschneider (Paris, 2015), 215–​38. 50 Matthieu van der Meer, Glosae in regula Sancti Benedicti abbatis ad usum Smaragdi Sancti Michaelis abbatis, CCCM 282.

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of rules fails for two obvious reasons: we do not know to what extent a regulation, particularly a disciplinary measure, indicates a problem or points to its solution. Moreover, aside from incidentally providing elements of stage decor, monastic rules (and narratives similarly) leave out the consensual, everything that does not need to be regulated, thus most likely the core of monastic life. Nevertheless, they inevitably reflect on a monastic reality and they are sometimes astonishingly close to “real life.” We can see the aristocratic lady who had starved herself to death and incited Caesarius of Arles’ overly anxious amendment on assessing the practice of individual fasting with great scrutiny (RCaeV 42). We can reflect on the incident of washing someone’s dirty linen that gave Caesarius a reason to prohibit his nuns from providing laundry service to priests. We can imagine how the monk who flirted with the parvuli (child monks also called oblati) urged monastic legislators to establish clear boundaries between monastic generations (RAM 35; see also RTar 13.4). And we see the monks attempting to sneak out of the monastery by crossing the river, which encouraged the author of the Regula Tarnatensis to prohibit the use of boats and punish every confidant of a monastic escape (RTar 4.5; 13.7–​ 8). Maybe we can even smell the monk who incited Ferreolus (d. 581) to prohibit the use of perfumes in his monastery (RFer 32). Every rule both conceals and reveals a number of dramas large and small, and the moment or process of composing each monastic rule has itself the potential for drama, which sometimes leaves traces in its prologue or dedicatory letter. Rules may express discontent with the existing normative tradition (or ‘unregulated’ monastic practice), but they can also indicate a very specific crisis that was the reason for abandoning a non-​regulated state, or perhaps for tossing out an existing normative basis for one’s ascetic life. It might be the nervous attempt of monastic founders or their successors to ‘routinize’ their charisma: the dying Benedict who writes down his Rule or Jonas of Bobbio who replaces Columbanus by the Regula Columbani;51 the gathering of monks whose most outspoken leaders put their ideas in writing (if we believe the setup of the Regula quattuor patrum); or the awareness that none of the old texts can form the basis of a continued existence, which motivated Caesarius and Donatus (d. after 658) to compose their rules for nuns. There is most certainly an interesting story behind the genesis of every single monastic rule. Finally, there is an irresolvable tension in monastic rules. Carolingian reformers (and Caesarius of Arles three centuries earlier) proclaimed their

Albrecht Diem, “Monks, Kings and the Transformation of Sanctity: Jonas of Bobbio and the End of the Holy Man,” Speculum 82 (2007): 521–​59.

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rule as regula sancta, as a disciplinary tool to bring their communities close to a state of collective sanctity. But rules can also be read as an expression of defeat. They show that a congregatio sancta (to use Caesarius’ term) needs to be regulated and can only exist in a hierarchical framework and a closely confined space. Rules admit that the apostolic sint vobis omnia communia (Acts 4:32) can only work if it is enforced upon the monks or nuns. They reveal, sometimes in great detail, a world of weaknesses, transgressions, and the fact that discipline and motivation is permanently in danger of being undermined by human deficiency. The remarkably scarce manuscript transmission of most monastic rules and the fact that regulae are rarely combined with other texts and are rarely excerpted or processed in florilegia or pastoral works, indicates that most rules were “for internal use only.” The RM, the (older or younger) brother or cousin of the RB, expresses unease about its own existence most pointedly in the chapter on the readings at table. If the monks are eating as a community, then let them hear the Rule. But if by chance lay people come to the table of the monastery, because of potential evil gossip in the world if a lay person gains knowledge of the secrets of God, if it pleases the abbot, [the weekly reader] should read from some other book, so that the secret of the monastery and the norms of a holy life determined by discipline will not be known to those who might make fun of them. (RM 24.20–​1)

Monastic rules can also be quite embarrassing texts.

Monastic Rules LOr: Liber Orsiesii, in Pachomiana Latina. Règle et épitres de S. Pachome, épitre de S. Théodore et “liber” de S. Orsiesius, ed. Amand Boon (Louvain, 1932), 109–47. RAM: Aurelianus of Arles, Regula ad monachos, in Albert Schmidt, “Zur Komposition der Mönchsregel des Heiligen Aurelian von Arles I,” Studia Monastica 17 (1975): 237–56; more complete in PL 68, 385–96. RAV: Aurelianus of Arles, Regula ad virgines, PL 68, 399–408. RB: Regula Benedicti, ed. and trans. Jean Neufville and Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 181–2; ed. Rudolf Hanslik, CSEL 75, 2nd ed. RBas: Basilius, Regula a Rufino latine versa, ed. Klaus Zelzer, CSEL 86; ed. and trans. Anna M. Silvas, The Rule of St Basil in Latin and English: A Revised Critical Edition (Collegeville, MI, 2013). RCaeM: Caesarius of Arles, Regula ad monachos, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, SC 398, 165–226. RCaeV: Caesarius of Arles, Regula ad virgines, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, SC 354, 35–272; trans. Maria Caritas McCarthy, The Rule for Nuns of St. Caesarius of Arles: A Translation with a Critical Introduction (Washington, DC, 1960).

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Monastic Rules RCas:  Regula Cassiani, in Henry Ledoyen, “La ‘Regula Cassiani’ du Clm 28118 et la règle anonyme de l’Escorial A.I.13: présentation et édition,” Revue bénédictine 94 (1984): 154–94. RColC: Columbanus, Regula coenobialis, in Columbani Opera, ed. and trans. G. S. M. Walker (Dublin, 1970), 142–69. RColM: Columbanus, Regula monachorum, in Columbani Opera, 122–43. RCom: Regula communis, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda, ed. and trans. Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Rocca Melia (Madrid, 1971), 172–211. RcuiM: Regula cuiusdam patris ad monachos, in Fernando Villegas, “La ‘Regula cuiusdam Patris ad monachos’: ses sources littéraires et ses rapports avec la ‘Regula monachorum’ de Colomban,” Revue d’histoire de la spiritualité 49 (1973): 3–36. RcuiV:  Regula cuiusdam ad virgines, PL 88, 1051–70 (new edition by Albrecht Diem in preparation). RDon: Regula Donati, in Monastica: Donati Regula, Pseudo-Columbani Regula monialium (frg.), ed. Victoria Zimmerl-Panagl on the basis of the preparatory work of Michaela Zelzer, CSEL 98, 1:3–188. RFer: Regula Ferreoli, in Vincent Desprez, “La Regula Ferrioli: texte critique,” Revue Mabillon 60 (1982): 117–48. RFruc: Fructuosus of Braga, Regula, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, 129–62. RI: Isidore of Seville, Regula, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, 79–125. RLea: Leander of Seville, Regula, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, 21–76. RMac: Regula Macharii, in Les règles des saints Pères, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé, vol. 1, SC 297, 287–389. RM: Regula magistri, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 105–7. RO: Regula orientalis, in Les règles des saints Pères, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé, vol. 2, SC 298, 409–95. RPac: Amand Boon, ed., Pachomiana Latina. Règle et épitres de S. Pachome, épitre de S. Théodore et “liber” de S. Orsiesius (Louvain, 1932), 1–74. 2RP: Regula patrum secunda, in de Vogüé, Les règles des saints Pères, 1:209–83. 3RP: Regula patrum tertia, in de Vogüé, Les règles des saints Pères, 2:499–543. RIVP: Regula quattuor patrum, in de Vogüé, Les règles des saints Pères, 1:57–205. RPS: Regula Pauli et Stephani, ed. Johannes Evangelista M. Vilanova (Montserrat, 1959). RTar: Regula Tarnatensis, in Fernando Villegas, “La ‘regula monasterii Tarnatensis’: texte, sources et datation,” Revue bénédictine 84 (1974): 7–65.

Bibliography Bowes, Kimberly D. “Inventing Ascetic Space: Houses, Monasteries and the ‘Archaeology of Asceticism’.” In Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram, 315–51. Casiday, Augustine. Tradition and Theology in St John Cassian. Oxford and New York, 2007. Claussen, Martin A. The Reform of the Frankish Church: Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula canonicorum in the Eighth Century. Cambridge, 2004. De Jong, Mayke B. “Carolingian Monasticism:  The Power of Prayer.” In The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 2: c. 700–c. 900, edited by Rosamond McKitterick, 622– 53. Cambridge, 1995.

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Albrecht Diem and Philip Rouss eau Dey, Hendrik, and Elizabeth Fentress, eds. Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, 2011. Diem, Albrecht. “The Carolingians and the Regula Benedicti.” In Religious Franks: Religion and Power in the Frankish Kingdoms: Studies in Honour of Mayke de Jong, edited by Rob Meens et al., 243–61. Manchester, 2016. [2016b]   “Columbanian Monastic Rules: Dissent and Experiment.” In The Irish in Europe in the Middle Ages: Identity, Culture, and Religion, edited by Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder, 68–85 and 248–9. London and New York, 2016. [2016a]   “L’espace, la grâce et la discipline dans les règles monastiques du haut Moyen Âge.” In Enfermements II. Règles et dérèglements en milieux clos (IVe–XIXe siècle), edited by Isabelle Heullant-Donat, Julie Claustre, Élisabeth Lusset, and Falk Bretschneider, 215–38. Paris, 2015.   “Inventing the Holy Rule: Some Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West.” In Dey and Fentress, Western Monasticism ante litteram, 53–84.   “Was bedeutet Regula Columbani?” In Integration und Herrschaft. Ethnische Identitäten und soziale Organisation im Frühmittelalter, edited by Max Diesenberger and Walter Pohl, 63–89. Vienna, 2002. Goehring, James E. Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism. Harrisburg, PA, 1999. Goodrich, Richard J. Contextualizing Cassian: Aristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in FifthCentury Gaul. Oxford, 2007. Guy, Jean-Claude. “Introduction.” In Les Apophtegmes des Pères. Collection systématique, edited by Jean-Claude Guy, vol. 1, 13–87. SC 387. Leyser, Conrad. Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great. Oxford, 2000. Markus, Robert A. The End of Ancient Christianity. Cambridge, 1990. Muschiol, Gisela. Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern. Münster, 1994. Rebenich, Stefan. Hieronymus und sein Kreis. Prosopographische und sozialgeschichtliche Untersuchungen. Stuttgart, 1992. Rousseau, Philip. Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian. 2nd ed. Notre Dame, IN, 2010.   Basil of Caesarea. Berkeley, CA, 1994.   Pachomius:  The Making of a Community in Fourth-Century Egypt. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA, 1999. Semmler, Josef. “Benedictus II: una regula—una consuetudo.” In Benedictine Culture 750– 1050, edited by Willem Lourdaux and Daniël Verhelst, 1–49. Leuven, 1983. Silvas, Anna M. The Asketikon of St Basil the Great. Oxford, 2005.   The Rule of St Basil in Latin and English: A Revised Critical Edition. Collegeville, MN, 2013. Stewart, Columba. Cassian the Monk. Oxford, 1998. Uggé, Sofia. “Lieux, espaces et topographie des monastères de l’antiquité tardive et du haut Moyen Âge: réflexions à propos des règles monastiques.” In Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval, edited by Michel Lauwers, 15–42. Turnhout, 2014. Verheijen, Luc. La règle de saint Augustin. Paris, 1967. Vogüé, Adalbert de. Les règles monastiques anciennes (400–700). Turnhout, 1985.

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Social Plurality and Monastic Diversity in Late Antique Hispania (Sixth to Eighth Century) P a b lo C.   Día z (t r an s late d b y Susa na G on zá l ez K now les)

Now that the world’s time has begun to wane and is almost up, charity becomes cold, the most brutal forms of iniquity gain force, and the flame of ever unappeasable and voracious human ambition rekindles, and the devil’s most maddening and covetous atrocity grows bolder. In these sacred places there are ever fewer chosen individuals who willingly embrace the Lord. And, so that these monasteries do not become abandoned ruins, they take pig-​keepers from their own slaves and humpbacks from their own herds and youth from their properties, whom they tonsure against their will so that they may attend them in their religious services, and who are given a certain education at monasteries and are falsely called monks.1

This is how Valerio, an ascetic who had spent most of his life trying to avoid ecclesiastical authorities and monastic discipline, living as a hermit in the secluded valleys of El Bierzo, in inland Gallaecia (northwest Spain), complained about the situation of monasticism at the close of the seventh century.2 While the text presents a somewhat apocalyptic scenario—​almost anticipating the end of times—​his concerns about the dissolute life led at monasteries, forced work, and the loss of the original ideal of monastic life probably stem from the immediate reality around him. Bede’s (d. 735) similar report of a continuous state of indiscipline at about the same time was one

Valerio of Bierzo, De genere monachorum 3, ed. and trans. Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz, Valerio del Bierzo. Su persona. Su obra (León, 2006), 324–​37. 2 Consuelo Maria Aherne, Valerio of Bierzo:  An Ascetic of the Late Visigothic Period (Washington, DC, 1949); Pablo C. Díaz, “Regula communis: Monastic Space and Social Context,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 117–​35. 1

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of the catalysts for the reform of the Frankish Church promoted by Pepin the Short after 742. The picture provided by Valerio, however, is mainly a result of the contrast between his own ascetic ideals—​the image of the flawless monk as the perfect athlete of Christ, a man living in concealed martyrdom—​and monastic reality. In the late seventh century, monastic life was essentially an institutional response that was perfectly integrated into its social context, far from its original conception as a set of idealized expressions of self-​sacrifice and personal conversion as a path to perfection and salvation. In fact, apart from Valerio’s own texts, the existing documentation for the development of the monastic phenomenon in the Iberian Peninsula mostly portrays a practical institution whose purpose was to adapt to the diocesan Church on the one hand, and to the multifaceted and complex social reality of late antique and early medieval Hispania on the other.

Spiritual Uniformity Valerio’s De genere monachorum is valuable because of its exceptional character. It provides information about some of the monasteries that he frequented in the area of Asturica Augusta in modern Astorga (León). These anecdotal episodes are notable because Spanish hagiography rarely concerned itself with monastic life, with the exception of this text, an anonymous Vita Fructuosi, and the De viris illustribus by Isidore of Seville (d. 636) and Ildefonso of Toledo (d. 667). Also notable is a collection of advice that Bishop Leander of Seville (d. 600)  gave to a sister who had entered a female monastery in southern Hispania, although that text says little about the functioning of the monastery. No significant archaeological documentation exists. Apart from the canons and some sentences of the Spanish councils of the sixth and seventh centuries, therefore, the Spanish monastic reality of the Visigothic period must be reconstructed mainly through the surviving rules. While Visigothic rules are not numerous, they demonstrate strongly contrasting organizational realities and social contexts.3 There are three rules, strictly speaking, and two contractual documents in which the monks included the text of their profession, the conditions of coexistence they had to accept as well as the laws that protected them. The two most widely disseminated rules originate from two well-​known bishops, Isidore of Seville

On late antique and early medieval Western monastic rules in general, see the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume.

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(Regula Isidori, RI) and Fructuosus of Braga (Regula Fructuosi, RFruc).4 These represent two opposing views regarding the rigor of discipline and reflect two clearly different socioeconomic contexts. Isidore assumes a traditional Roman agrarian environment, in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, near a city, where great agricultural properties appear to be the dominant reality. With Fructuosus (d. 656) however, we are in northeast Hispania, in an environment of more compartmentalized and less productive agrarian spaces, where cities appear to be unknown. The Regula communis (RCom) is a document that was apparently produced by a group of abbots in agreement with the bishop of Dumio.5 While its geographical environment is the same as that of the RFruc, the social reality it evokes is highly complex: an environment in which families entered monasteries together, eventually transforming complete peasant communities into monasteries. It is in this context that the two aforementioned contractual texts are to be understood. One carries the significant name of Pactum and appears to be the agreement of stability that the professed monks of the RCom had to sign.6 The other emerges from the same context, probably in an earlier period. Although it has been transmitted as the Regula Consensoria Monachorum (RConM), it does not have the structure of a rule.7 It is, rather, a pact of profession between equals. This text is interesting for its reflection of a violent society in which monasteries appear to play the role of peacemakers within a context of enormous tension. Much like the three rules mentioned above, the two contractual texts were known by Benedict of Aniane, although he used only the rules, and most extensively that of Isidore of Seville, in his Concordia regularum.8 The origins of Hispanic monasticism are unclear. With the exception of sporadic references to ascetic behaviors whose impact and presence are difficult to assess, the first allusions to the monastic institution are recorded in sixth-​century documents. It is pictured as an accepted, though relatively



Isidore of Seville, Regula, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda, ed. and trans. Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Roca Meliá (Madrid, 1971), 79–​125. Fructuosus of Braga, Regula, in ibid., 129–​62; English translation: Claude W. Barlow, trans., Iberian Fathers. II: Braulio of Saragossa. Fructuosus of Braga (Washington, DC, 1969), 155–​75. 5 Regula communis, in Ruiz and Roca Meliá, San Leandro, 165–​ 208; English translation: Barlow, Iberian Fathers, 176–​206. 6 Pactum, in Ruiz and Roca Meliá, San Leandro, 208–​11; English translation: Barlow, Iberian Fathers,  207–​9. 7 Regula Consensoria Monachorum, PL 66, 993–​6; English translation: Barlow, Iberian Fathers, 213–​20. 8 Benedict of Aniane, Concordia regularum I: praefatio. Concordantiae. Indices. II: textus, ed. Pierre Bonnerue, CCCM 168–​168A, 143–​4. 4

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new, phenomenon that thus required the establishment of guidelines to solve simple cases, instructions that were based on experiences from Gaul or the eastern Mediterranean. Canon 11 of the council held in Tarragona (516) and canon 3 of the Council of Lérida (546) both refer to earlier councils in Agde and Orleans in Gaul.9 Likewise, canon 10 of a council held in Barcelona (540) refers to the decisions taken earlier in Chalcedon. This was the context for the establishment of certain ground norms such as the place of monasteries within the institutional ecclesiastical framework, especially in relation to episcopal authority: With the permission of the abbot, those who were approved by the bishop for the office of priest must be ordained for the use of the Church. The goods that are offered to the monastery are not subject in any way to the diocesan administration of the bishop. And should any layman wish to consecrate a basilica built by himself, he dare not withdraw it from the general regime of the diocese under the pretext of being a monastery if there is no religious community living there under a rule approved by the bishop.10

This canon establishes principles that can be considered essential and universal. On the one hand, it expresses the idea of a doctrinal unity within the diocesan territory, including the bishop’s approval of the regulae or rules to be followed at monasteries. This doctrinal unity was probably, in most cases, utopian and limited to the approval by the bishops of the priests in these monasteries. On the other hand, the canon demands monasteries’ absolute financial autonomy, turning them into property and power units, a crucial fact for their further evolution. These regulations were set at the great dawn of foundations, with widely differing sources of influence. In the Pyrenees, a series of monasteries initiated by Victorianus of Asán (d. c.  558)  around 550 seem to have been influenced by traditions from Gaul. Martin (d. 579; later known as Martin of Braga), a missionary from Panonia, arrived in Gallaecia at around the same time, probably heading a Byzantine mission. In addition to converting the Suebi to Catholicism, he founded a series of monasteries, among them that of Dumio, which was also a diocesan seat clearly marked by Eastern influences.11 There is evidence a few decades later of the arrival of North

For the texts of all of the Spanish councils mentioned here, see Gonzalo Martínez Díez and Felix Rodriguez, eds., La colección canónica hispana. IV. Concilios galos. Concilios hispanos: primera parte (Madrid, 1984). 10 Council of Lérida, canon 3. 11 Alberto Ferreiro, “The Missionary Labors of St. Martin of Braga in 6th century Galicia,” Studia Monastica 23 (1981): 11–​26. 9

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African monks who settled at least in Lusitania and in the east of the peninsula. The settling of a Celtic or Briton community along the western Cantabrian coast further contributes to this assortment of traditions. This sudden increase in the number of monasteries was even more dramatic after 589, when the Visigoths, after the conquest of the entire Iberian Peninsula, finally converted to Catholicism. Around the year 590 the chronicler John of Biclaro (d. 621) writes that King Reccared (r. 586–​601) supported the founding of monasteries,12 and in the Second Council of Seville, held in 619, there is mention of newly created monasteries alongside older ones.13 Among these foundations are new women’s monasteries, whose management also required rules.14 Once monastic communities became part of society, they were integrated into the production–​consumption patterns and into the networks of local and regional power, but they were also included in the political sphere and in the complex web of relations among the kingdom’s elite. This was not only because monasteries had developed into large property structures;15 the foundations themselves were to become instruments for the control of land for their founders. While this phenomenon is already clear in sixth-​century institutions, as can be observed in the properties and social relationships of the monasteries of Asán or Dumio,16 it became more widespread in the early seventh century. The councils held in this period show the bishops’ fear of losing properties to monasteries,17 and some bishops even went so far as to dispossess or even dissolve and  destroy  them.18 These quarrels, conflicts of diverse nature, led to different types of commitment and significantly innovative monastic alternatives. It is doubtful that each monastery followed one specific rule. The rule to be approved by the bishop as mentioned by the Council of Lérida, the rule



John of Biclaro, Chronicle 86 (a. 586). Council of Seville II, canon 10. 14 Ibid., canon 11. 15 Beat Brenk, “Monasteries as Rural Settlements:  Patron-​ Dependence or Self-​ Sufficiency?” in Recent Research on the Late Antique Countryside, ed. William Bowden, Luke Lavan, and Carlos Machado (Leiden and Boston, MA, 2004), 447–​76. For the economic integration of early medieval monasteries, see the articles by Devroey and Kaplan in this volume. 16 Enrique Ariño and Pablo C. Díaz. “Poblamiento y organización del espacio:  la Tarraconense pirenaica en el siglo VI,” Antiquité tardive 11 (2003): 223–​37. 17 Council of Toledo III, canons 3 and 4; Council of Toledo IX, canon 5. 18 Council of Seville II, canon 10; Council of Toledo IV, canon 51; Council of Toledo IX, canon 2. 12

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alluded to by Eutropio (regulam hanc secundum antiquorum normam),19 and John of Biclaro’s alleged rule20 were probably merely references to a book of rules (quaternionem regularum)21 to be consulted in case of doubt. The increase in the number of foundations and the proliferation of the forms of monastic experience, however, made it necessary to provide ever more accurate and specific answers. Isidore of Seville stated this clearly in the introduction to his rule: Many are the rules and norms of the ancestors found here and there written by the Holy Fathers, and which some writers transmitted to posterity in too diffuse and obscure a way. As for us, following their example, we have embarked upon choosing some norms in a colloquial and rustic style so that you may easily understand how can you preserve the consecration of your state. (RI Praefatium)

Isidore drafted this rule around 620, concomitant with the deliberations of the Council of Seville of 619. In a completely different geographical and social context, around 646, Fructuosus of Braga similarly implied in his rule that all he was doing was extracting the parts that could be relevant for monastic life from the traditional rules (RFruc “In nomine Domini”). Likewise, one decade later, the first two chapters of the RCom clearly state what it rejects. The rule, probably written in the diocese of Dumio, seems to have been drafted to solve problems of arbitrariness and abuse that had changed the very concept of monastic life. In the first place, it was necessary to deal with foundations that had been arbitrarily established, without consulting the “General Conference” (communis conlatio) of abbots under the rule and without the bishop’s approval in accordance with the canons and rule: Some are accustomed for fear of Gehenna to found monasteries within their own homes, and to join in common under the terms of an oath with their wives and children and slaves and neighbours, and, as we have said, to consecrate for themselves churches on their own estates, name these after the martyrs, and falsely to call such establishments monasteries. We consider these not monasteries, but the perdition of souls and the subversion of the Church. From such have arisen heresy and schism and great controversy throughout the monasteries. (RCom 1)



Eutropio of Valencia, Epistola de districtione monachorum. Isidore of Seville, De viris illustribus 31. 21 Braulio of Saragossa, Epistola 2.

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Secondly, in order to stress the differences with other types of monasteries established in cities by secular priests the author writes the following: Some priests are accustomed to simulate sanctity and they do so, not for eternal life but to serve the Church like mercenaries, and under the pretext of holiness, to pursue the emoluments of riches …. They have not distributed their goods to the poor. They have not lived a laborious life in monasteries to train [themselves]; … and they preach what they do not themselves practice; and they keep a common rule with secular bishops, princes of the earth and people.22

Such monasteries are further described as standing outside the boundaries of the confederation of abbots (probably in reference to the General Conference mentioned above) and the discipline set by the bishop living according to the rule (qui per regulam uiuit), around which an extraordinarily innovative sort of monastic confederation had been established. The bishop in charge at the time was probably the bishop of Dumio, although there may occasionally have been others.23 The three aforementioned Rules involve details regarding daily life. It is unclear whether or not the RI was originally intended for the specific monastery evoked in the manuscripts that contain it.24 Nevertheless, its influence seems to have been far-​reaching, and it became famous enough to be copied outside its original environment. RI seems to be based on moderation, austerity, and renunciation. Likewise, it establishes certain work requirements, a punishment system, and a hierarchy that Isidore considered accessible to most converts (RI Praef.). Visigothic monasticism should not be studied only in terms of its spiritual dimensions. Its social and material aspects must also be considered. Late antique monasteries had not yet established their own physical plan, but had rather adapted to the already existing morphology.25 Indeed, most monastic foundations took advantage of already structured farmlands. For instance, Fructuosus not only contributed family properties to his first foundations, but also introduced some of their laborers as part of the first group of monks. RI, by contrast, is a valuable guide, conceived both to regulate spiritual life and to rationalize the operation of an economic area—​an idealized space that could perfectly represent a large estate of late imperial tradition. Space layout follows the structure of late Roman villas, thus continuing in practice

RCom 2. Slightly revised translation. Charles Julian Bishko, “The Pactual Tradition in Hispanic Monasticism,” in Spanish and Portuguese Monastic History 600–​1300 (London, 1984), 19–​20. 24 Anscari M. Mundó, “Il monachesimo nella Penisola Iberica fino al sec. VII: questione ideologiche e letterarie,” in Il monachesimo nell’alto Medioevo e la formazione della civiltà occidentale, ed. Giuseppe Ermini (Spoleto, 1957), 106, n. 108. 25 See the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, and Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 22 23

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an already existing spatial and socioeconomic arrangement. Careful reading shows that Isidore not only arranges a physical space where the cloister and orchard, the central structure, correspond to the owner’s dwelling and attached premises, but also reproduces the same structures in regard to social relations and the distribution of productive tasks, thus adding an artificial element: an imaginary space.26 The type of monastery that is behind RI still involves the presence of a nearby urban unit. It assumes a certain level of monetary wealth, with investments and purchases in coin, associated with the economic pattern of an urban market rather than the self-​sufficiency characteristic of rural areas (RI 20). The women’s monasteries founded in Bética (at the southern tip of Spain) and referred to in the Council of Seville held in 619 owned properties in both town and countryside (rustica uel urbana). The setting is therefore one into which classical social and economic traditions had penetrated so deeply that, in spite of inevitable changes, they still remained in force. The presence of this type of monastery is reflected in The Lives of the Meridan Fathers (Vitas sanctorum patrum emeretensium), in reference to Lusitania, and in Eutropius’ (d. c.  610)  The Monks’ Severity (De districtione monachorum), in reference to Carthaginensis. The monasteries of the Tarraconensis province also seem to have followed this model, especially those located in the Ebro Valley, which were under the influence of the RI. Canon 3 of the Third Council of Saragossa (691), in requesting that monasteries not be turned into lay guesthouses, in fact, depicts a monastic structure that perfectly fits the provisions of the RI.27

Social Diversity and Monastic Syncretism In addition to the apparently homogeneous monasticism based on the paradigmatic model established by the RI, other, dissimilar, models could be found in late antique Hispania, all of which developed around the province of Gallaecia. Apart from Valerio’s testimony and the hagiographic text known as Vita Fructuosi, which describes the founding activities of its protagonist, the three rules RFruc, RCom, and RConM can help to reconstruct the complex



Pablo C. Díaz, “Espacio real/​espacio imaginado en los monasterios isidorianos,” in Monasteria et Territoria. Elites, edilicia y territorio en el Mediterráneo medieval (siglos V–​XI), ed. Jorge López Quiroga, A. M. Martínez Tejera, and Jorge Morín de Pablos (Oxford, 2007), 77–​90; Jacques Biarne, “Le monastère: un modèle de societé organisée et structurée d’après les règles des IVe–​VIe siècles,” in Images et représentations du pouvoir et de l’ordre social dans l’antiquité. Actes du colloque, Angers 28–​29 mai 1999), ed. Michel Molin (Paris, 2001), 111–​19. 27 Pablo C. Díaz, Formas económicas y sociales en el monacato visigodo (Salamanca, 1987).

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monastic reality. This selection of testimonies provides evidence of the complexity of the social substratum to which this type of monasticism belonged.28 The Vita Fructuosi is an anonymous text written somewhere around Braga with the purpose of supporting the see, while also clearly backing up Fructuosus’ monastic initiatives. The hagiographer writes about the conversion to monastic life of this Gothic aristocrat and of his engagement in the founding of monasteries, not only in the area of Gallaecia but also as far as Cádiz, at the southern tip of the peninsula, where he established a pattern of double monasteries whose later development is completely unknown. Fructuosus was well known at the time as the author of a rule that reveals his monastic ideals:  extreme austerity, absolute submission to the abbot’s authority, and a harsh punishment system with no leniency toward those who did not keep the monastery’s discipline. In fact, to become part of the monastic community it was necessary to pass a one-​year trial period living in a cell outside the monastery, subjected to the most abject poverty and to all manner of duties (RFruc 20). During this period, candidates were required to perform the lowliest and most difficult tasks. The severity of these tests was aimed at finding out whether the candidate had come to the monastery willingly or out of economic need. Only after the trial period, when the candidate’s intention to convert had been ascertained and it had been proved that he was not bound by personal submission, was it the case that: the abbot shall receive his oath (pactum), which contains the complete foundation of his religious profession, and by which the candidate shall bind himself to fulfill faithfully all the laws and customs of the monastery and never to act against them, and shall promise never to depart from the strict observance of the rule of the monastery which he is seeking to follow.29

The text seems to avoid any hint of wickedness on the part of the newly professed; it might even be an attempt to correct a former problem, since it is known that Fructuosus’ first foundation had included part of the property’s subordinates (ex familia sua) as monks.30 The text also includes an oath, a sort of contractual formula (pactum), by which monks sign their agreement to the conditions for becoming part of the community. This acceptance of discipline, prayer, fasting, and the hardships of everyday life defines Fructuosian

Jocelyn N. Hillgarth, “Popular Religion in Visigothic Spain,” in Visigothic Spain: New Approaches, ed. Edward James (Oxford, 1980), 5–​6 and 37. 29 RFruc 21; 22 in Barlow’s translation, here slightly revised. 30 Vita Fructuosi 3. 28

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monasticism better than any spiritual reference.31 It includes acceptance of the severity of the punishments for transgressors: five of the twenty-​four chapters of the RFruc are specifically devoted to the regulation of misdemeanors; in addition, the chapters discussing everyday activities and behaviors at the monastery usually include the punishments established for transgressors. RFruc is far less systematic than RI in terms of the monastery’s administrative and economic structure. This does not prevent us, however, from perceiving that we are within a poorer geographical area with smaller and more scattered farmlands,32 with less compact common spaces and no orchard. Fructuosus’ monastic communities are surrounded by villages (uici), villas (uillae), and secular properties (saeculares possessiones) in general (RFruc 22). This environment seems far from the reality of cities and a monetary economy. Nevertheless, the regulations evince a similar idea about what a monastery should be, and even share a common basic structure: the duality between cloistered and external spaces. Isidore and Fructuosus share another aspect that sets them apart from the RCom. Both seek a rational spatial arrangement and the establishment of regulations for governance, as well as for both communal and spiritual life, whereas the RCom attempts to arrange family groups following sanctioned norms, and probably whole peasant communities that were established as monasteries without any religious authority.33 RCom is structured to respect certain perfectly recognizable formal monastic elements, but at the same time presents a wealth of completely new ideas. A key can be found in the figure of the abbot himself and the insistence that he should not have an inheritance in the world, his first virtue being his ability to defend the monastery’s possessions (RCom 3). This is the first example of an assumption that is present throughout the whole text: communities governed by the RCom are under constant threat, both from the outside and from a latent internal risk of dissolution. The rule’s last chapter is devoted to how those who leave the monastery should be treated. They are clearly classified into two groups:  those who simply flee—​who are considered fugitives and therefore cannot be admitted to any

Réginald Gregoire, “Valeurs ascétiques et spirituelles de la ‘Regula Monachorum’ et de la ‘Regula communis’ de S. Fructueux de Braga,” Revue d’ascétique et de mystique 43 (1967): 159–​76. 32 Renan Frighetto, “Aspectos da vida económica no NW de Península Ibérica em finais do século VII:  a pequeña propriedade rural no obra de Valerio do Berzo,” Hispania antiqua 21 (1997): 515–​24. 33 Ildefons Herwegen, Das Pactum des hl. Fruktuosus von Braga (Stuttgart, 1907), 55–​60; Bishko, “The Pactual Tradition,” 20. 31

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other monastery and who, once found, must be bound by ropes and returned to their corresponding monasteries34—​and monks who decide to return to the secular world and who, supported by their relatives, rebel against and threaten the monastery (RCom 20). The text is ambiguous as to whether those who support such men are also members of the community. The explanation could be in an earlier chapter that requires converts to renounce all their possessions; the reason is to prevent something that seems to be happening at other monasteries: men have entered and brought their capital with them and later, losing their religious fervour, have made great trouble in demanding their property; and returning to the world which they had left …, with the aid of their relatives have extorted what they had brought with them to the monastery, and have sought the support of secular judges and with the help of magistrates (saionibus) have destroyed the monasteries. (RCom 18)

Notwithstanding the ambiguity of the text, it seems clear that the RCom is an attempt to prevent violence triggered by conflicting economic interests where property, or the way it is conceived, is at the core of the conflict. This is not an isolated event. The geographic and economic environments concerned have little to do with the ones evoked in RI or RFruc. They are based on a subsistence economy in which agricultural work is subordinated to livestock farming, and the text acknowledges that, if they ever had to depend on the bread produced in the area, it would barely last three months (RCom 9).35 The rule does not mention vegetables or oil, and cider appears to have relegated wine to a second place. There is a whole chapter devoted to shepherding, but nothing about traditional Mediterranean agriculture. There is mention of the church (RCom 7) and the domus or enclosure for the sick (RCom 7), although there seems to be no refectory or dormitory for the monks. No specific place for the Sunday assembly is mentioned; the superior communicates where the deans are to meet (RCom 13). The strict division into ecclesiastical areas seems to indicate that life was organized into small groups that shared undiscriminated workspaces. What type of communities followed the RCom? It is clear from the text that the rule encompassed a wide geographical area, and that it governed the actions of an association of monasteries: the abbots within a particular area are to hold monthly meetings to discuss the unity and consistency of their

Council of Toledo IV, canon 52; Council of Toledo XIII, canon 11; Leges Visigothorum 3.5.3. Chris Wickham, “Pastoralism and Underdevelopment in the Early Middle Ages,” in L’uomo di fronte al mondo animale nel’alto Medioevo (Spoleto, 1985), 401–​51.

34 35

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practices (RCom 10).36 Several chapters provide an in-​depth description of how family groups (uiri cum uxoribus ac filiis) could live in the community (RCom 6 and 15–​17). All of this leads to the conclusion that peasant communities were being established as monastic structures, which morphologically paved the way to the creation of double monasteries.37 These communities pooled their properties and submitted them to the productive criteria dictated by the monastery and its head, the abbot. This is at the root of the preoccupation with the proper transfer of properties. It was important to ensure that those who decided to give up the religious life could never recover their contributions, which in certain cases could trigger violence. The reason for this peculiar process of institutionalizing monastic communities remains unknown. Based on the fact that this process predated attempts to regulate it through the rule, as reflected in its first chapter, it is possible that peasant communities were looking for a mechanism of defense against external attacks; the rule granted unity and patrimonial independence to the monasteries. These attacks mainly came from lords whose intention was either to subjugate these communities or to split them up by the individual subjection of their members. Either version was an attack on traditional proprietorial conceptions and therefore on their ancestral hereditary systems.38 To address this threat, monasteries could preserve the collective nature that the property and exploitation system still seemed to hold, as seen in references from the text itself.39 In this respect, the spreading of the monastic confederation implied by the rule and approved by a bishop, as required by canonical legislation, must have been a reaction to a violent social context that is barely mentioned in the sources. In fact, the presence of this bishop living under the rule (RCom 2), whose role was to protect the confederation, should be understood as a means of containing pressure from the aristocracy and secular bishops.40 This context of need explains why, as mentioned above, the main requirement for abbots was a commitment to the monastery’s defense. It also

José Orlandis, Estudios sobre instituciones monásticas medievales (Pamplona, 1971), 69–​82; Bishko “The Pactual Tradition,” 20. 37 Díaz, “Regula communis”; Orlandis, Estudios sobre instituciones monásticas medievales, 34; Alonso Fernández, La cura pastoral en la España romanovisigoda (Roma, 1955), 492. 38 Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages:  Europe and the Mediterranean 400–​800 (Oxford and New York, 2005), 552–​3. 39 Pablo C. Díaz, “Monasteries in a Peripheral Area:  Seventh-​Century Gallaecia,” in Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Mayke de Jong and Francis Theuws, with Carine van Rhijn (Leiden, 2001), 329–​59. 40 Alain Dierkens, Abbayes et chapitres entre Sambre et Meuse (VIIe–​XIe siècles). Contribution à l’histoire religieuse des campagnes du haut Moyen Âge (Sigmaringen, 1985). 36

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explains the implementation of a pact, alongside the rule, to govern the community. Unlike the RFruc, the RCom was transmitted with the pact that was to be signed by those who wished to join the community (RCom 18). By signing it, monks and nuns agreed to comply with the abbot’s authority, although they were entitled to question it if he exerted it arbitrarily. If the abbot were to treat any of the monks or nuns unjustly (“if you should treat any of us with pride or anger, or should love one and show hatred and rancor for another or should dominate one but revere another”), they had the right to complain to their immediate superior (the dean of their group of ten), who seemed to play the role of mediator in these cases. If the abbot refused to acknowledge and correct his mistakes, members of the community could also arrange to meet with and consult “other monasteries, or else a bishop who lives under the Rule, or a Catholic count who is a defender of the Church,” to secure correction and compliance with the rule (Pactum). The sense of democratic community becomes clearer further on, when the Pactum states that an assembly of the whole community is to be held for the trial of offenders so that, after reading the rules, they might agree on an appropriate punishment. The Pactum repeats the offense that seems to concern the community most: that any of its members, supported by his parents, brothers, sons, relatives, or neighbors, or by another monk, might plot against the rule. The terminology used seems to refer to both the kin group and more distant relatives.41 At this point, the text includes the punishment to be imposed by the abbot, which, in cases of contumacy, could even lead to banishment from the monastery. This means that those affected would “wander here and there unsettled and constantly on the move” (RCom 20):  that is, excluded from the community and deprived of its protection. Although the text is sometimes ambiguous, mostly using the masculine gender, when referring to punishment imposed on members of the community by the abbot, it is made clear that “this we declare both for men and for women” (Pactum). In fact, it seems that monks resorted to their relatives in order to avoid expulsion (RCom 14).

Contractual Professions: The Pactum The contents of the pactum mentioned in Fructuosus’ rule are unknown. That this term is also used by Isidore has led to the idea that there was a pact

Donald A. Bullough, “Early Medieval Social Groupings: The Terminology of Kinship,” Past & Present 45 (1969): 11–​12.

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involving Hispanic monasticism in all its forms,42 even though the contractual model is compatible neither with the principle of authority established by both Fructuosus and Isidore, nor with the lifelong character of the profession, which is stated in ecclesiastical and civil laws.43 The origin of the pactum of the RCom probably lies in the neighborhood monasteries mentioned in the first chapter of the rule, in which the abbot is described as a weak character, a mere figurehead manipulated by the pseudo-​monks (RCom 1). The submission of these monasteries to a rule was accomplished by accepting certain of their organizational features, among them their system of hierarchies supervised by the assembly and their own contractual commitment, which was guaranteed by the pactum. Political solidarity—​which had so far dominated the relations of the peasant community where the ultimate depository of authority was the conuentus publico uicinorum44—​was also expressed in the form of the religious commitment. It is even likely that this binding contract was taken from this local tradition and adapted to the requirements of RFruc for implementation in Fructuosus’ monasteries. The text known as RConsM, however, which is probably contemporary with the pactum of the RCom, might be another of the original pacts from which northwestern Hispanic monasteries drew most of their unique character.45 Indeed, the word pactum is used in the text to define its own nature (RConsM 8). It says that the document was drawn up by the interested parties themselves with the aim of adopting a consistent cohabitation criterion and of pooling their possessions (RConsM 1, also 8). The origin of the community is clearly based on a freely accepted permanent agreement of its members, in compliance with the legislation and with monastic commitment itself (RConsM 1). It even seems to comply with a hypothetical rule mentioned in the text under the expression “this book” (RConsM 8). The superior was in charge of ensuring the implementation of common decisions (RConsM 4), and the admission of new members had to have his approval and that of all the members of the community (RConsM 3). In addition, the document refers to leaving the monastery as a destructive action and, like the RCom, introduces the possibility of banishment from the community should the

Johannes Bernaldo, “Pactual Monasticism? About a Much Discussed Feature of Early Spanish Monasticism,” in In Quest of the Kingdom:  Ten Papers on Medieval Monastic Spirituality, ed. Alf Härdelin (Stockholm, 1991), 27–​63. 43 Justo Pérez de Urbel, “El compromiso monástico en la España de la Reconquista,” Studia Silensia 1 (1975): 57–​73. 44 Leges Visigothorum 8.5.6. 45 Charles J. Bishko, “The Date and Nature of the Spanish Consensoria Monachorum,” American Journal of Philology 69 (1948): 382–​3. 42

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circumstances so require (RConsM 4). The text fails to mention the nature of the new professions it discusses and whether they were collective (involving whole family groups). The community that established the RConsM does not seem to have had the support of any monastic confederation in case of need, nor the supervision of any figure of authority (beyond the community) to decide upon the appropriateness of its practices. It seems that those practices were not validated by any bishop; indeed, it advises that, should anyone learn of any different ascetic practice, they are to reject it, since it will fall to the abbot to decide whether it is acceptable or not (RConsM 5). Thus, the RConM is possibly an early step toward establishing the RCom, perhaps the iuramentum or sacramenti conditio referred to in the latter’s first chapter,46 although it might also refer to a community that was part of the confederation it represented.47 In fact, the RConsM evokes a confrontational and violent environment, which could set monasteries or communities with different ascetic modalities against each other, and which could stem from the attempts at recovering what had previously been contributed to the monastery, as described in the RCom (3 and 18).48 This violence would justify the focus of one chapter on how monks should react in case of a sudden attack that forced them to scatter: they should all meet wherever the abbot had taken refuge (RConsM 7). The RCom provided for the use of part of the monastery’s earnings to rescue prisoners, which can no doubt also be related to these episodes of violence.49 The variety of monastic forms that surrounded Valerio could have been what led him to write De genere monachorum, a text that, though unfortunately incomplete, reflects the plurality of Hispanic monasticism in the seventh century. While these forms did not introduce any particularly new features in terms of spirituality,50 they did manage to adapt to the social and economic reality of their time. Monasticism provided an answer to several organizational challenges and probably served as a means of spreading Christianity to areas where its presence was still weak. What became of this rich and varied monastic tradition when the Muslim invasion took place? There is no easy answer. The downfall of the political

Herwegen, Das Pactum,  76–​8. Bishko, “The Pactual Tradition,” 23–​4. 48 Bishko, “Date and Nature,” 382–​3. 49 Pablo C. Díaz, “Redimuntur captiui:  a propósito de Regula communis IX,” Gerion 10 (1992): 287–​93. 50 Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz, “La vie monastique d’après les écrivains wisigothiques (VIIe siècle),” in Théologie de la vie monastique. Études sur la tradition patristique (Paris, 1961), 371–​83. 46

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system should not necessarily have affected all of the particular institutions in the Iberian Peninsula. Owing to lack of information concerning the geographical and material location of Visigothic monasteries, it is not possible to trace archaeologically the length of their existence or the time of their collapse. While Mozarabic, Muslim, and Christian sources from the Reconquista provide barely a hint of the continuation of southern monasticism, and even less in marginal areas such as the mountains of Córdoba, references to pactual and familial monasticism in Galicia and along the Cantabrian coast before the arrival of the Cluny model show that this tradition, especially as expressed in the RCom, did not completely disappear.51 It was, in fact, a lingering phenomenon. Family-​based or even hereditary monastic communities were gradually integrated into monasteries with a more orthodox canonical foundation, and eventually all were subjected to the discipline of the major monastic orders that arrived from elsewhere in Europe. As the information that can be gathered from the sources available indicates, however, the scope of the phenomenon was very localized and linked to a context of specific social problems, making it difficult to draw parallels with other areas of western Europe.

Abbreviations for Primary Sources Pactum: Pactum, edited and translated in Spanish by Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Roca Meliá, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda (Madrid, 1971), 208–11. English translation: Claude W. Barlow, trans., Iberian Fathers. II: Braulio of Saragossa. Fructuosus of Braga (Washington, DC, 1969), 207–9. RCom:  Regula communis, edited and translated in Spanish by Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Roca Meliá, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda (Madrid, 1971), 165–208. English translation:  Claude W.  Barlow, trans., Iberian Fathers. II: Braulio of Saragossa. Fructuosus of Braga (Washington, DC, 1969), 176–206. RconM: Regula Consensoria Monachorum, PL 66, 993–6. English translation: Claude W. Barlow, trans., Iberian Fathers. II: Braulio of Saragossa. Fructuosus of Braga (Washington, DC, 1969), 213–20. RFruc: Fructuosus of Braga, Regula, edited and translated in Spanish by Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Roca Meliá, in San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas

Charles Julian Bishko, “Gallegan Pactual Monasticism in the Repopulation of Castille,” in Estudios dedicados a Menéndez Pidal, vol. 2 (Madrid, 1951), 513–​31, reprinted with an “Additional Note” in Charles Julian Bishko, Spanish and Portuguese Monastic History 600–​ 1300 (London, 1984), 513–​31 and 532A–​536A; Orlandis, Estudios sobre instituciones monásticas medievales, 125–​64; José M. Mínguez Fernández, “Ruptura social e implantación del feudalismo en el Noroeste peninsular (siglos VIII–​X),” Studia Historica. Historia Medieval 3 (1985): 7–​32.

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Social Plurality and Monastic Diversity in Late Antique Hispania de la España visigoda (Madrid, 1971), 129–62. English translation:  Claude W.  Barlow, trans., Iberian Fathers. II: Braulio of Saragossa. Fructuosus of Braga (Washington, DC, 1969), 155–75. RI: Isidore of Seville, Regula, edited and translated in Spanish by Julio Campos Ruiz and Ismael Roca Meliá, San Leandro, San Isidoro, San Fructuoso. Reglas monásticas de la España visigoda (Madrid, 1971), 79–125.

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Female House Ascetics from the Fourth to the Twelfth Century E l ia na M ag na n i ( t r an slate d b y L o chin B rouillard) The ascetic vocation of the women who remained in the world and did not join a monastic community never bore one single name. The categorization of a woman as devota, dicata, sacra, professa, sanctimonialis, puella, virgo, vidua, famula, or ancilla could equally refer to a woman enclosed in a monastery and to a woman devoted to God who continued to live in her home. Indeed, these terms in no way reflect the form and the degree of ascetic life which these women adopted, and which can be reconstructed only through a handful of contextual and prosopographical elements. The absence of precise terminology, in combination with the multiplicity of the terms used, is no doubt linked to the diversity of possible situations and the difficulty of clearly sanctioning—​or even the reluctance to sanction—​the place and function of these women within the Church.1 This difficulty is also echoed in the historiography, which has focused on the study of cenobitic religious life and has thus not yet developed concepts appropriate for such a complex phenomenon. The expression “house ascetics,” coined by Anglo-​American scholars, although imperfect, has the advantage of locating from the start the dwelling place of some of these consecrated women in their home as opposed to a monastery.2 Used as a heuristic device, this notion of house ascetic should also become a starting point for future research, which must seek to transcend

On the much debated question of the ordination and practice of sacerdotal function by women, see Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West (Oxford and New York, 2008), 3–​22. 2 See for instance Christopher Page, The Christian West and Its Singers: The First Thousand Years (New Haven, CT, 2010), 131–​51; and Ewa Wipszycka, “L’ascétisme féminin dans l’Égypte de l’antiquité tardive: topoi littéraires et formes d’ascèse,” in Le rôle et le statut de la femme en Égypte hellénistique, romaine et byzantine, ed. Henri Melaerts and Leon Mooren (Paris, 2002), 355–​96 (for the expression “ascèse domestique” in French). 1

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it and do away with the dichotomy it establishes. Indeed, Latin syntagma like Deo devota (coined by Henri Leclercq in his entry for the Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie), Deo sacrata, or ancilla Dei, recurring in late antique and early medieval sources, all emphasize the relationship binding these women to God3 and conceive of asceticism as the means to achieve this relationship, no matter where the asceticism is being practiced. Further, while house asceticism has generally been considered a primarily female practice, future research must also consider the house ascetic practices of male individuals and groups, or even of mixed-​sex gatherings, and re-​examine the protohistory of a number of monasteries, priories, and chapters in the light of this fresh perspective.4

Roman Ascetic Women of Late Antiquity Toward the end of the fourth century, consecrated life for both women and men was redefined according to the diffusion of “oriental” asceticism. From an ecclesiological point of view, this ascetic ideal introduced distinctions as well as a hierarchy among Christians based on their way of life. We therefore move from a church conceived in collective terms, as it was by Tertullian (d. after 220) and Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258), which only distinguished the righteous from the sinners and Christians from their persecutors, to a hierarchical church organized according to the moral criteria of asceticism, as we can see in the writings of Ambrose of Milan (d. 397), Jerome (d. 420), and Augustine (d. 430).5 It is in this polemical context, which opposed the tenets of the old tradition to the hierarchization of salvation, that Jerome reclaimed the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:8; Mark 4:8; Luke 8:8) in order to distinguish the degree of eternal reward (praemium) now associated with different types of Christians. In Jerome’s interpretation, the rewards of the married, of widows, and of virgins correspond to the seeds that grow in the good soil and produce a crop of thirty, sixty or a hundred times.6 A typology elaborated by Augustine and systematized by Caesarius of Arles (d. 542), based on female

Henri Leclercq, “Deo devota,” Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, vol. 4, pt. 1 (Paris, 1920), 648; and “Ancilla Dei,” in ibid., vol. 1, pt. 2 (Paris, 1907), 1973–​93. 4 On double monasteries, see the article by Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 5 Peter Brown, The Body and Society:  Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988). 6 Jerome, Aduersus Iouinianum 1:3, PL 23, 223. Regarding this development, see Bernhard Jussen, Der Name der Witwe. Erkundungen zur Semantik der mittelalterlichen Bußkultur (Göttingen, 2000); and Bernhard Jussen, “Virgins–​Widows–​Spouses: On the Language of Moral Distinction as Applied to Women and Men in the Middle Ages,” History of the Family 7 (2002): 13–​32. 3

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(though not exclusively) biblical figures including Mary for virgins, Anna for widows (Luke 2:36–​38), and Susanna (Dan. 13) for married women, was then added to the three moralized and hierarchized life statuses and upheld as a global social model, particularly for women.7 In practice, the ethical treatises and the epistolary exchanges of the advocates of asceticism between the fourth century and the beginning of the sixth century, as well as funeral inscriptions,8 demonstrate that the adoption of an ascetic lifestyle (propositum) was open to women (and to men) of all stations (professiones). Moreover, these ascetics continued to live within the familial household or a community (female or mixed), since the boundary between these forms of religious life was very blurred, and crossing from one form to the next was common. In fact, a household could easily be turned into a religious community. This is best attested and most studied in Italy, particularly in Rome and the surrounding area. The Italian evidence suggests a great diversity in the actions and organization of the ascetics, but also makes clear the influence of Christian women who were won over by asceticism in the course of the Christianization of senatorial families.9 The women considered as figureheads of this movement all came from the aristocracy;10 they were matrons (dominae, matronae) who surrounded themselves with servants and handmaidens (ancillae, puellae, sociae) who followed them in the religious life.11 Their commitment was not solitary but involved other members of their family and household, men as well as women.12



Augustine, Retractationum libri II 2:22, ed. Almut Mutzenbecher, CCSL 57. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 6, 7, in Sermons au peuple (1–​20), ed. Germain Morin, trans. Marie-​José Delage, SC 175, 332–​5. 8 For epigraphical inscriptions, see the database “EDCS:  Epigraphik-​ Datenbank Clauss/​Slaby,” http://​db.edcs.eu/​epigr/​epi.php?s_​sprache=en (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 9 Peter Brown, “Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman Aristocracy,” in Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine (London, 1972), 161–​82. 10 For the historical developments which followed, see René Metz, La consécration des vierges dans l’église romaine. Étude d’histoire de la liturgie (Paris, 1954), 77–​93; Georg Jenal, Italia ascetica atque monastica. Das Asketen-​und Mönchtum in Italien von den Anfängen bis zur Zeit der Langobarden (ca. 150/​250–​604), 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1995), 33–​64, 328–​40, 681–​91, and 939–​58; and particularly Georg Jenal, “Frühe Formen der weiblichen vita religiosa im lateinischen Westen (4. und Anfang 5. Jahrhundert),” in Female “vita religiosa” between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages: Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts, ed. Gert Melville and Anne Müller (Zürich and Berlin, 2011), 43–​77; Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (New York, 2013), 191–​212 and 247–​53. 11 Jerome, Epistulae 22.29.3; 39.1.3; 108.11.5, 14.3, 15.4, and 27.2; 127.5.1 and 3.4, ed. Isidor Hilberg, 3 vols., CSEL 54–​6. 12 See the articles by Giorda (for Egypt), Ramseyer (for southern Italy and Sicily), Díaz (for Spain), Bitel (for Ireland), Brooks-​Hedstrom and Dey (for archaeological findings), and Diem and Rousseau (for a reexamination of monastic “rules”). 7

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Marcella (d. 410), a women from the gens Caieonia, was among the important group of women connected to Jerome. After seven months of marriage, she was widowed and refused a second union with a member of the imperial family in order to live the rest of her life in abstinence as a Christian widow and to dedicate herself to charitable work and the study of Scripture (c. 355). She wore a simple tunic, refrained from eating meat, and only drank wine for therapeutic purposes. She remained by the side of her mother, Albina, in her parental house on the Aventine, avoided public appearances, and only went out in the quietest moments of the day to pray at the tombs of martyrs or in basilicas, always chaperoned by her mother or a retinue of pious women. She no longer conversed with men, and her meetings with monks or religious men, including Jerome, were conducted in the presence of witnesses. Marcella was at the center of an aristocratic circle of virgins and widows which Jerome directed during his stay in Rome, between 383 and 385, a role that he continued during his retreat in Bethlehem. The women of this network would meet to pray, sing the psalms, and study Scripture, but some also stayed in Marcella’s home. This was the case for the virgin Eustochium (d. 419/​20), who was raised (nutrita) there before she settled in Bethlehem with her mother, Paula, after which they wrote to Marcella as disciples (discipulae) to their mistress (magistra).13 Like Marcella, Paula the Elder (d. c. 404) was a Roman matron (matrona), a widow converted to asceticism. In Bethlehem, she founded a male monastery and three monasteries for virgins. The latter came from various provinces, with some from noble families and others from more ordinary or quite humble origins.14 As opposed to Paula and Eustochium, who embraced the cenobitic life, the virgin Asella remained in Rome and led a life of solitude within the confines of the familial household. She was enclosed in her bedroom (cubiculum, cellula) most of the time, and only left it in order to visit the tombs of the martyrs. She fasted, prayed, and sang the psalms, worked with her bare hands, never appeared in public, never spoke with men, and finally did not even maintain contact with her own sister, who was also an ascetic virgin.15 In Marcella’s last years, probably after the death of her mother, she made her ascetic practices even harsher, leaving her parental household to settle with Principia outside the city, in the solitude of the countryside, but returning upon Alaric’s conquest of Rome (410–​11). Injured by Goth soldiers,

Jerome, Epistolae 46.1.1; 127.5.2. Jerome, Epistolae 108.20.1; 108.20.3. 15 Jerome, Epistolae 24.3–​4. 13

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she sought shelter along with Principia at the basilica of St. Paul-​Outside-​the-​ Walls, where she died a few months later.16 Marcellina, Ambrose of Milan’s sister, made a vow of virginity in 352/​3 in the church of St. Peter of Rome in the presence of Pope Liberius (353–​66). She continued to live with her family, including her widowed mother, in their house in Rome, and to meet with her friends from the city. Ambrose exhorted his sister to live an exemplary ascetic life marked by sexual continence, fasting, decreasing visits from her social acquaintances, search for solitude, silence, prayer, and the continual recitation of the psalms.17 Married couples might also decide to pursue a common ascetic life. At the beginning of the fifth century, after seven years of childless marriage, Melania the Younger (d. 439) and her husband, Pinianus, withdrew to their lands outside Rome and embraced a rigorous ascetic lifestyle. They dedicated their wealth to charity for the poor and for prisoners, and to hospitality for foreign visitors.18 For this period in monastic history, it makes no sense to divide these women into strict categories, differentiating among nuns, hermits, and purely pious women living at home. Surviving sources do not distinguish between these categories.

Council Norms and Hagiographic Discourses A situation analogous to the one prevalent in Marcella’s Roman circle was taking shape on the Iberian peninsula during this period. The canons of the First Council of Toledo (c. 400) reveal the presence of young women devoted to God (puella Dei, religiosa puella) living with family. The canons forbade such women contact with men, ascetic or lay (confessor, laicus), unless they were close kin. We also observe the existence of families of religious individuals—​ bishops, priests, or deacons, and their spouses—​ whose daughters were consecrated (filia religiosa, filia devota), and who were condemned if they broke this commitment in order to marry. Alongside these virgins, we find professed women and widows (professa vel vidua), surrounded by fellow ascetics and servants (confessor vel servus suus), who had withdrawn to their household or their lands (in domo sua, in villa), and who were condemned



Jerome, Epistolae 127.8.1; 127.8.13. Ambrose of Milan, De uirginibus 3.1.1, 3.2.5, 3.2.8, 3.3.9–​11, 3.7.37, in Tutte le opera di sant’Ambrogio, ed. Franco Gori, vol. 1 (Milan and Rome, 1989), 100–​240; Paul the Deacon, Vita sancti Ambrosii 1.3, 4.1, and 38.5, in Vita di Cipriani. Vita di Ambrogio. Vita di Agostino, ed. Antoon Bastiaensen (Milan, 1975), 51–​124. 18 Denys Gorce, ed. and trans., Vie de sainte Mélanie, SC 90, 130–​42; English translation, Elizabeth A. Clark, The Life of Melania the Younger (New York, 1984). 16 17

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for celebrating vespers (lucernarium): in other words, for reading the psalms and singing antiphons outside a church or in the absence of a bishop, priest, or deacon.19 These canons thus allow us to discern households in which the religious life of consecrated women was part of the broader ascetic venture of a group of more or less close relatives and servants, both male and female. The late antique phenomenon of ascetic life led in one’s own home with one’s family or a few companions, was an accepted practice which persisted in the longue durée in Latin Christendom. The Fifth Council of Orleans (549) mentions, alongside women who have joined a monastery, young women and widows who, having turned to God and changed their clothing (commutates vestibus convertuntur), remain in their own houses.20 The Council of Paris of 614 refers to the “widows and young women who, in their own houses, have changed their clothing in order to take the religious habit, either on account of their parents’ will, or of their own volition.”21 Clothar II’s capitulary, issued a few days later, uses a similar formula.22 In general, at that time, bishops did not appear to have conceptualized a hierarchy between nuns living in a monastery and the consecrated women remaining in the world. In his Regula ad virgines (534), Caesarius alludes to “religious women” in the city of Arles whose consecrated life was so exemplary that it would honor the monastery if they were to visit and share a meal with the nuns, although these contacts should remain rare (RCaesV 39). Gregory the Great (d. 604)  mentions several consecrated women living in the world in Rome. His three aunts, for example, continued to live in their home. Among them, Tarsilla “elevated herself to the highest holiness by her unceasing prayer, the dignity of her life, and the singularity of her abstinence.” He also cites as an example the women who withdrew to private households close to the church of St. Mary Major: Redempta, who wore the religious habit (sanctimoniali habitu), and her two disciples, also wearing the same habit (in eodem habitu), who lived together in the same dwelling, and Gregoria, “a most holy virgin” (maxime sacra uirgo),





First Council of Toledo, canons 6, 9, 16, and 19, in La colección canónica hispana. IV. Concilios galos. Concilios hispanos, primera parte, ed. Gonzalo Martínez Díez and Félix Rodríguez (Madrid, 1984), 330–​1, 332, 335, 336–​7. See also the article by Díaz in this volume. 20 Concilium Aurelianense a. 549, 19, in Concilia Galliae A. 511–​A. 695, ed. Charles de Clercq, CCSL 148A, 155. See also Gisela Muschiol, Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern (Münster, 1994), 43–​63. 21 Concilium Parisiense a. 614 (10 October), 15, in Concilia Galliae A. 511–​A. 695; French translation in Jean Gaudemet and Brigitte Basdevant, trans., Les canons des conciles mérovingiens (VIe–​VIIe siècles), vol. 2, SC 354, 519. 22 Chlotharii II. Edictum (18 October 614), 18, MGH Capit. 1, 23. 19

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who turned to the church and converted to religious life (sanctimonialis uitae conuersationem quaereret) in order to shun marriage.23 These ascetic lifestyles have also been recorded in a number of hagiographical narratives. The Life of St. Consortia, written between the seventh century and the beginning of the ninth, depicts the religious conversion of an entire sixth-​century Gallo-​Roman family from the Provençal aristocracy. The text reflects the different possibilities for conversion which were considered socially and morally acceptable: intense isolation (adopted by the parents Eucherius and Galla), female virginity (as with Consortia and her young sister Tulle), establishment of a group around a house or a church, or even taking responsibility for a bishopric (as Eucherius did).24 The narrative thread of the vita, however, lies in the miraculous outcome of the struggle of Consortia, bride of Christ (nam sponsus Christus est) and handmaiden of God (famula Dei), to preserve her virginity from those who wished to marry her and claim her property. She built a church and a hospice (xenodochium) on her lands, distributed her surplus wealth to the poor, and acquired the royal authorization she needed to live her calling to virginity in her private domain (in loca Deo sacrata; ad propriam). Consortia is described as surrounded by a group of religious men and women, of dependents, of paupers and servants, of neighbors. Her consecrated life was spent in prayer, fasting, vigils and psalmody, shedding tears, attending mass, being guided by the Gospels, reading pious works, and yet living in the world. In Gregory of Tours’ (d. 594) account of the life of St. Yrieix (Aredius), his widowed mother, Pelagia, managed the household, supervised the servants, and oversaw the cultivation of the land and the care of the vineyards. Thus Yrieix, who was already tonsured, could dedicate himself to prayer, fasting, and building churches (ad ecclesias aedificandas). After he founded a monastery by turning his tonsured companions and servants into monks, the holy woman (beata mulier) Pelagia took up the charge of feeding and clothing each of them, never ceasing to praise and offer her prayers to God. In the expanded version of Yrieix’s Life written in the eighth century, Pelagia’s conversion is characterized by the abandonment of the secular habit in favor of



Gregory the Great, Dialogues, Book 4, 3.14, 16, and 17, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 260 and 265. 24 Vita Sanctae Consortiae, AASS, Junii IV, 250–​4. See Rémi Fixot and Caroline Michel d’Annoville, “Étude de la crypte de l’église Sainte-​Tulle (Sainte-​Tulle, Alpes-​de-​Haute-​ Provence):  histoire du culte et de l’édifice,” in Archéologies de Provence et d’ailleurs. Mélanges offerts à Gaëtan Congès et Gérard Sauzade, Bulletin archéologique de Provence Supplément 5 (2008): 735–​50. 23

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the religious one (sanctimoniali vestimento), and her role in the purveyance of the male monastery is emphasized by showing her laboring the fields.25

Public Profession and Liturgical Consecration In all of these examples, which showcase the practice as well as the establishment of a canonical framework for the life of women devoted to God, little attention is paid to whether they integrated themselves into a monastic community or remained at home. Two other types of distinction, however, do emerge clearly: the social status of the virgin or widow, and the type of commitment made to ascetic life. A clear distinction is made between women who simply stated an intention to remain chaste and those for whom this same intention was sanctioned by a liturgical ceremony centered around the taking of the veil (velamen, flammeum, maforte, mitra, mitella, pallium …), the wearing of a religious habit (vestis, vestimentum, habitus; mutare, induere), or even, in the tenth century, the transmission of a ring and a crown to the virgins. A bishop was required to perform this ceremony for virgins, but a priest was allowed to receive the profession of a widow. Women devoted to God were not necessarily formally consecrated in an ecclesiastical liturgical rite. The distinction between virgins who had received the veil and those who had not was made in the earliest decretals, which prescribed the penances imposed upon virgins who had broken their vow by contracting a union, whether it was consensual or not. The letter Ad Gallos Episcopos (dated to 383/​4 and attributed to Pope Damasus, with the help of Jerome), along with the letter of Pope Innocent I  to Bishop Victricius of Rouen in February 404, distinguishes the “virgin who has already received the veil in Christ (uirgo uelata iam [in] Christo), who publicly swore to preserve her virginity while the bishop was spreading over her the prayer of blessing,” from the “young woman who has not yet received the veil but who has made a commitment to remain thus [in her virginity].” The former have “married Christ spiritually” while the latter are equated with the widows who abandon their calling of widowhood, and are rebuked as such by Paul (1 Tim. 5:12).26



Gregory of Tours, Libri historiarum X:29, MGH SS RM 1.1, 523; Vita Aridii abbatis Lemovicini 8 and 9, MGH SS RM 3, 576–​612, esp. 585. See Emmanuelle Santinelli, Des femmes éplorées? Les veuves dans la société aristocratique du haut Moyen Âge (Villeneuved’Ascq, 2003), 160, 165, 191, and 245. 26 Yves-​Marie Duval, La décrétale Ad Gallos Episcopos. Son texte et son auteur (Leiden, 2005), 28–​31, 61–​69, and 140–​1; Innocentius I, Epistolae 2, 13.15, and 14.16, PL 20, 478–​80. On marriage by abduction, see Sylvie Joye, La femme ravie. Le mariage par rapt au haut Moyen Âge (Turnhout, 2012). 25

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Various conciliar meetings set the age from which women might take the veil.27 Although Paul had prescribed the age of sixty for widows dedicated to the service of the Church (1 Tim. 5:9), forty became the norm, as illustrated by canon 15 of the Council of Chalcedon (451) regarding deaconesses.28 The councils and imperial constitutions variously prescribed the age of forty and twenty-​f ive for virgins,29 but allowed the bishop to bestow the veil upon young girls in case of imminent death or of the threat of virginity lost thorough marriage or rape. The standard of twenty-​f ive years of age recommended by the African Church and taken up in canon 18 of the Council of Carthage (418) was eventually adopted by Rome and the Frankish churches.30 In practice, however, young women could be devoted to God without liturgical consecration between the ages of ten and twelve years. This was at least common toward the end of the fourth century in the Roman circle led by Marcella. Asella’s parents dedicated her to God just after her tenth birthday, and she enclosed herself in a cell when she was twelve. Eustochium was oriented toward ascetic life by her mother from her earliest days.31 In the case of widows, canon 21 of the Second Council of Tours (567), while condemning women who broke or otherwise failed to respect their vows, presented a kind of synthesis of the previous prescriptions. In particular, the canon echoed the challenges raised by the status of widows, as the Council of Epaone of 517 had earlier shown when it prohibited the liturgical consecration of widows “called deaconesses.” The bishops gathered in Tours also determined that the intention of chastity alone formulated by a widow (viduitatis propositum) had to be considered as sufficient, because of the lack of blessing for widows in “canonical books.”32 The Fourth Council of Toledo (633), while distinguishing “two kinds of widows, the lay and the religious” (saeculares et sanctimoniales), describes the framework in which consecrated widowhood was sanctioned. Though remarriage was permitted for widows who had not abandoned their lay habit, it was forbidden to widows who had appeared in front of a priest or at church wearing the religious habit.33 In 656,

Metz, La consécration des vierges, 104–​16. Eduard Schwartz, ed., Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, vol. 2:  Concilium universale Chalcedonense 1/​1 (Berlin, 1939), 161 (357). 29 For instance, canon 8 of the First Council of Saragossa of 380, in Díez and Rodriguez, La colección canónica hispana IV, 296. 30 Charles Munier, ed., Concilia Africana secundum traditionem collectionis Hispanae, CCSL 149, 329 and 369. 31 Jerome, Epistolae 24.2 and 39.6.1. 32 Concilia Galliae A. 511–​A. 695, 29, 163, 187, 346. 33 Gonzalo Martínez Díez and Felix Rodriguez, eds., La colección canónica hispana. V. Concilios hispanos: segunda parte (Madrid, 1992), 234–​5, c. LVI. 27

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the Tenth Council of Toledo went as far as defining the appropriate colors for the veil (purple or black), and decreed that any public appearance in religious habit or in front of witnesses constituted a permanent commitment by a widow to remain in her consecrated state. Nothing is said about where these widows dedicated to God were to live, but the canons hint at the idea that they were permitted some freedom of movement, and that enclosure in a monastery was conceived as a form of penance for those gone astray.34 While acknowledging the intrinsic significance of the resolve of women (both virgins and widows) who had decided to devote themselves to God, the councils also stressed the public character of this commitment and the external signs which made it manifest. Above all, they insisted on proper dress, and particularly on the wearing of the characteristic veil. Two centuries later, in the context of the ongoing reforms of the Carolingian Church,35 the canons of the Council of Paris of 829 concerning consecrated women reveal much about the reservations which the ecclesiastical hierarchy had regarding the bestowing and the taking of the veil. Indeed, the legislation they passed aimed at placing the bishop as the mandatory figure of the velatio, while, in practice, this prerogative does not seem to have been exclusive to him. The prohibitions laid down in the canons reflect the variety of possibilities: we find women of the lower class who, without turning to a priest, veiled themselves in the hope of entering the service of the local church; women who helped priests in the service of the altar; virgins and widows who were consecrated by abbesses or other nuns; priests who consecrated widows without referring to the bishop or who even dared to usurp the bishop’s role by consecrating virgins; noble women (nobiles feminae), especially young ones (adulescentulas), to whom the canons prescribe admission to a cloister, because they took the veil upon their husband’s death, but kept on living in their house since they needed to care for their children and their estate, and hence still enjoyed the benefits of secular life.36 Here, again, entering a monastery was a form of



Ibid., 525–​30, cc. IV and V. See also other councils and royal capitularies: for instance, the Council of Losnes (673–​5) (Concilium Latunense a. 673, 12 and 13, in Concilia Galliae A. 511–​A. 695, 316); the edicts of the Lombard king Luitprand (723) and of the Beneventan prince Arigis II (between 774 and 787)  (Liutprandi leges de anno XI 30, MGH LL 4, 122; Aregis principis capitula, 12, MGH Fontes 2, 174), commentary in Julie M. Anderson, “Historical Memory, Authority, and the Written Word: A study of the documentary and literary culture at the early medieval court of Benevento, 700–​900 c e” (PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2017), 129–​33; or again, the Council of Mainz of 888 (Mansi 18, 71–​2, c. 26). 35 See the article by Kramer in this volume. 36 Concilium Parisiense A. 829, 39–​46, MGH Concilia 2/​2, 637–​9. 34

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punishment for women transgressing moral codes, rather than an injunction in favor of cenobitic life or a proscription against consecrated life led in the world. Set against traditional interpretations of the reform movement of the Carolingian Church, the councils did not seek to prevent women from living their ascetic vocation in the world rather than in a monastery, but tried to ensure that the women who had professed vows were subject to and remained under episcopal authority. The ceremony of consecration in liturgical books like sacramentaries and pontificals generally preserves the distinction between virgins and widows, but prescribes certain prayers for both. Terms used in the rubrics and the orations, such as ancilla, famula, or sanctimonialis, may indeed refer to both statuses.37 Only a large-​scale study of the terminology related to women devoted to God, which has yet to be conducted, will be able to reflect the nuances and the semantic networks in which these terms are embedded. The same observation can be made with regard to the terms used to designate the ceremonies and the actions performed—​velatio/​velare (taking of the veil, to veil), benedictio/​benedicere (blessing/​to bless), and consecratio/​consecrare (consecration/​to consecrate), in particular. The historiography on the subject tends to consider them, at least until the twelfth century, as equivalent to one another but further research is required.38 Significantly, moreover, liturgical books do not mention whether the woman receiving consecration lives in the world or whether she is part of a monastic community. The only known exception is found in the Romano-​Germanic pontifical produced between 950 and 961/​3 at St. Alban’s Abbey in Mainz.39 This manuscript distinguishes in certain ways between the consecration of virgins living in monasteries and those who remain at home.40





On the different terms for cloistered or non-​cloistered religious women in Old English, however, see Sarah Foot, Veiled Women, 2 vols. (Aldershot, 2000), 1:26–​30, 96–​104. 38 René Metz, “Benedictio sive consecratio virginum,” Ephemerides liturgicae 80 (1966):  263–​93, esp. 284–​5; Pierre-​Marie Gy, “Les anciennes prières d’ordination,” La Maison Dieu 138 (1979):  93–​122, esp. 108–​10; Yves Congar, “Note sur une valeur des termes ‘ordinare’, ‘ordinatio’,” Revue des sciences religieuses 58.1–​3 (1984):  7–​14; Gary Macy, “The Ordination of Women in the Early Middle Ages,” in A History of Women and Ordination, 1: The Ordination of Women in Medieval Context, ed. Bernard Cooke and Gary Macy, 1–​30 (Lanham, MD, and London, 2002); Macy, Hidden History of Women’s Ordination,  3–​22. 39 Cyrille Vogel, “Le pontifical romano-​germanique du Xe siècle: nature, date et importance du document,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 6–​21 (1963): 27–​48; Reinhard Elze and Cyrille Vogel, eds., Le Pontifical romano-​germanique du Xe siècle, 3 vols. (Vatican City, 1963–​72). 40 Elze and Vogel, Le Pontifical romano-​germanique, 1:51–​4. 37

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The Velatio Ritual How did the liturgical ceremony of the taking of the veil unfold? According to the early Roman and Romano-​Frankish sacramentaries, and then the pontificals, the ceremony of consecration-​blessing of the virgins, the “brides of Christ,” was inspired through analogy with that of marriage, the velatio nuptialis.41 The euchological material transmitted to the Middle Ages was elaborated from the fifth century with a long Eucharistic prayer (Deus castorum corporum benignus habitator—​“God the generous inhabitant of chaste bodies”), perhaps composed by Pope Leo I  (440–​61). This prayer is found under the rubric Ad virgines sacras (“For consecrated virgins”) in the so-​called Leonine sacramentary (or Verona sacramentary), whose components have been dated to the end of the fourth century to the mid-​sixth century.42 This same prayer was reiterated in later sacramentaries and pontificals. In the old Gelasian sacramentary (end of the sixth century), it appears under a rubric which surveys the days during which the consecration of virgins can be celebrated—​on the day of the Epiphany, on Easter Monday, and on the feasts of the Apostles—​according to the dispositions laid down at the end of the fifth century by Pope Gelasius (492–​96) in his letter to the bishops of southern Italy.43 The old Gelasian sacramentary indicates that, at least from the end of the sixth century, the consecration of virgins required a specific mass, which included the granting of offerings by the newly consecrated virgins during the offertory. The second of the three formularies which the sacramentary contains probably relates to a particular mass for the blessing of widows, since the collect (Deus castitatis amator, “God who loves chastity”) refers to the sixtyfold rewards of the Parable of the Sower. In the eighth century, this formulary was explicitly connected to the mass for the blessing of widows, as the rubric of the “Philips” sacramentary of Autun (c. 800) demonstrates: “Item, prayers for the masses for this same widow.”44 The old Gelasian sacramentary of the end of the sixth century also includes a prayer for the blessing of widows professing their chastity, and two prayers under the rubrics “Blessing for the vestments of the virgins” and



Metz, “Benedictio sive consecratio virginum,” 263–​93. Leo Cunibert Mohlberg, with Leo Eizenhöfer and Petrus Siffrin, eds., Sacramentarium Veronense (Cod. Bibl. Capit. Veron. LXXXV [80]) (Rome, 1956), 138–​9, no. 1104. 43 Leo Cunibert Mohlberg, ed., Liber sacramentorum Romanae aeclesiae ordinis anni circuli (cod. Vat. Reg. lat.) 316/​Paris Bibl. nat. 7193, 41 (56) (Sacramentarium Gelasianum) (Rome, 1960), 124–​8 and 213; Gelasius, Epistola 14, ad universos episcopos per Lucaniam, Brutius et Siciliam constitutos, c. 12, in Epistolae Romanorum pontificum genuinae…, ed. Andreas Thiel, vol. 1 (Braunsberg, 1868, reprint. 1974), 369. 44 Odilo Heiming, ed., Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis, CCSL 159B, no. 1630. 41

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“Item, prayer for the handmaidens of God who, having converted, change their clothing,” which indicate that the ceremonies comprised the blessing of the habits which the women donned in order to affirm their profession. In the Gregorian sacramentary of the end of the seventh century, as well in the Gelasian sacramentaries of the eighth century, the blessing of the clothing of the widows and the virgins appears under a common rubric (Benedictio vestimentorum virginum vel viduarum).45 The bestowing of the veil, however, does not appear to have warranted a separate treatment, except in the Anglo-​ Saxon pontificals from the middle of the tenth century.46 In these ceremonies, the themes of the orations always revolve around the same motifs:  the submission to God (famula tua) and the commitment to the heavenly bridegroom, the virginal and chaste body offered as an oblation during the offertory, and the purification achieved through communion. All of these elements were transmitted through the ninth century in sacramentaries and in the first attempts at compiling pontificals. They were further developed in the mid-​tenth century in the shape of well-​defined ceremonies in the Romano-​Germanic pontifical, and, finally, in the Roman pontificals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as the pontifical of Guillaume Durand (1293–​6).47 The ordo of the consecration of widows in the Romano-​Germanic pontifical (Consecratio viduae que fuerit castitatem professa) begins by specifying the differences between this ceremony and the one for the consecration of virgins: the ceremony for widows takes place after the reading of the Gospel and can be celebrated by a priest, while the rite for virgins must be performed by a bishop and before the Gospel reading. First, the priest celebrating the rite should proceed to the blessing of the clothing of the widow about to make her vow. The widow will then don these new vestments and remain prostrate before the altar during the singing of the litanies. After the litanies, she will rise, and the celebrant will recite the preface Incorruptum aeternitatis



Jean Deshusses, Le sacramentaire grégorien. Ses principales formes d’après les plus anciens manuscrits, vol. 2: Textes complémentaires pour la messe, and vol. 3: Textes complémentaires divers (Saint-​Paul, 1979 and 1982), 2:118–​19 and 3:222–​8; Eric Palazzo, “Les formules de bénédiction et de consécration des veuves au cours du haut Moyen Âge,” in Veuves et veuvage dans le haut Moyen Âge, ed. Michel Parisse (Paris, 1993), 31–​5; and Foot, Veiled Women, 1:127–​34. 46 H. M. J. Banting, ed., Two Anglo-​Saxon Pontificals: The Egbert and Sidney Sussex Pontificals (London, 1989), 122; Niels K. Rasmussen, Les pontificaux du haut Moyen Âge. Genèse du livre de l’évêque (Leuven, 1998), 207–​8, 277–​9. 47 Michel Andrieu, Le Pontifical romain au Moyen Âge, 3 vols. (Vatican City, 1938–​40), vol. 1: Le pontifical romain du XIIe siècle, 154–​9 and 165–​7; vol. 2: Le pontifical de la curie romaine au XIIIe siècle, 414–​18; vol. 3: Le pontifical de Guillaume Durand, 411–​27. 45

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Deum (“God incorruptible for eternity”), continue with the blessing, and then place the veil on the widow’s head. In the prayers which follow, the virtues expected from the consecrated widow are enumerated:  humility, chastity, obedience, charity, and the practice of good works. The prayers also praise the model of “Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-​four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Luke 2:36–​38).48 As noted above, the distinction between consecrated virgins living in a monastic community and those living at home is a significant characteristic of the Romano-​Germanic pontifical, which sets it apart from earlier, similar sources. The two ceremonies of the taking of the veil for these two groups of virgins are elaborated at length in the pontifical and do not differ much. The ordo of the cenobitic virgins is made up of two prayers, as well as the transmission of the veil, as we find in the ancient Roman liturgy, then four orations for the blessing of the vestments and the veil, the singing of the litanies, a formulary for the bestowing of the veil, a series of antiphons and prayers after the taking of the veil, special formularies and antiphons for the blessing of the ring and the crown (a novelty which further reinforced the analogy between the consecration of virgins and the wedding ceremony), the final blessing, and the proclamation of anathemas against those who might not respect the commitment of the virgin. After the mass, the bishop was to entrust the virgin to the person who had authority over her: “And if the one who stood witness for her [the virgin] is there, the bishop delivers her into his hands, saying: ‘See that this young woman consecrated to God present herself immaculate before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ” In the ordo for virgins who remain in their household, in addition to the differences in prayers and the time of the mass during which certain rites were performed, there is no granting of the ring and the crown. At the end of the mass, the virgin goes back home.49

Close to Male Communities The very explicit fashion in which the Romano-​Germanic pontifical considers consecrated virgins living in their home supports the idea that the women

Elze and Vogel, Le Pontifical romano-​germanique, 1:59–​62; Palazzo, “Les formules de bénédiction et de consécration”; and Foot, Veiled Women, 1:131–​4. 49 Metz, La consécration des vierges, 182–​222; Elze and Vogel, Le Pontifical romano-​germanique, 1:38–​46 and 1:51–​4. 48

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devoted to God mentioned in diplomatic sources were not all widows or nuns, but could also have been women committed to ascetic life in their youth who had remained since then in their household. The use of terms like Deo devota, Deo sacrata, Deo dicata, and sanctimonalia, among others, to refer to women dedicated to God is seen in charters between the seventh and tenth centuries. Unfortunately, it is only possible to determine in a few cases whether these women had entered a monastic community. Importantly, the proportion of those who stayed in the world could indeed be higher than scholars have assumed. Such women might have remained in their kin circle, but were especially found around churches, cathedral chapters, or male or female monasteries to which other members of their family were attached.50 Diplomatic evidence captures the moment at which these women received properties or distributed their goods to a church or a monastery, sometimes specifying the relatives affected by these transactions.51 If widows are more easily identifiable on account of the presence of their children, and often through the reference to a dead husband,52 the presence of brothers and nephews can suggest, among other things, a woman who dedicated herself to God in her youth. The case of Teucinde, Deo devota, who lived in Arles in the second half of the tenth century, reflects this kind of arrangement. Teucinde was part of a group of religious men and women of the church of Arles who all contributed to the foundation of the male monastery of Montmajour, in the suburban area of the town. Thanks to her donations and to the exchange of lands she arranged with the bishop, the provost, and the canons of Arles, Teucinde ensured that the monks of Montmajour owned the location upon which they had settled their community. She was the sister of Gontard, provost of the cathedral of Arles, then bishop of Fréjus, and perhaps also abbot of Montmajour. Her nephew, Riculf, an oblate at Montmajour, went on to



Elisabeth Magnou-​Nortier, “Formes féminines de vie consacrée dans les pays du Midi jusqu’au début du XIIe siècle,” La femme dans la vie religieuse du Languedoc, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 23 (1988): 192–​216; Montserrat Cabré i Pairet, “ ‘Deodicatae’ et ‘Deodevotae’: la regulación de la religiosidad femenina en los condados catalanes, siglos IX–​XI,” in Las Mujeres en el cristianismo medieval, ed. Ángela Muñoz Fernández (Madrid, 1989), 169–​82; Foot, Veiled Women, 1:112–​26, 1:134–​41, and 1:172–​88; Santinelli, Des femmes éplorées?, 147–​ 89; Eliana Magnani, “La vie consacrée en Provence autour de l’an mil: moniales, Deo devotae, moines et clercs,” in Le Royaume de Bourgogne autour de l’an mil, ed. Christian Guilleré, Jean-​Michel Poisson, Laurent Ripart, and Cyrille Ducourthial (Chambéry, 2008), 93–​110. 51 On monastic patronage, see the article by Rosé in this volume and the article by Lyon in volume II. 52 See, inter alia, the example of Rottrude, Deo sacrata, femina Deo devota, in 860 in Maximin Deloche, ed., Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Beaulieu (en Limousin) (Paris, 1859), nos. 19 and 180, referred to in Magnou-​Nortier, “Formes féminines de vie consacrée,” 208.

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claim the episcopal seat of Fréjus after his uncle, and was later chosen by some of the monks as abbot of Montmajour. As Teucinde’s heir, he is named in all her acts, and his inheritance was to be bequeathed to the abbey upon his death.53 Two other Deo devotae mentioned in the tenth-​century sources from Arles show that Teucinde’s was not an isolated case. Like Teucinde, these women came into contact with bishops, canons, and local monks in the course of events such as donations or the settlement of patrimonial conflicts. Eldegarda (aliqua femina, Deo devota) reclaimed as usufruct disputed goods left to the Church of Arles, while Domedia, humillima Deo devota (likely a kinswoman of Garnier, “abbot of Arles”) bequeathed her property to Montmajour.54 Alongside these women who acted as benefactors for monasteries, but whose ascetic lifestyle remains hard to define, there were also professed women who appear to have lived within or very close to male monasteries; Sarah Foot categorized these women as “vowesses living beside male communities” in Anglo-​Saxon England.55 Between the tenth and twelfth centuries, we find traces of these women in charters mentioning their oblation or conversion, or in necrologies in expressions such as “our nun” (monacha nostra), “our sister” (soror nostra), “our oblate” (donata nostra), or “converse” (conversa).56 The creation in the eleventh century of female priories, affiliated to great male abbeys, may have been a response to the pressure exerted by these women. This phenomenon can be illustrated by the foundation in 1055 by Abbot Hugh of Semur (1024–​1109) and his brother Geoffroy, for the women of their family, of the priory of Marcigny-​sur-​Loire in Burgundy, as a





Joseph H. Albanès and Ulysse Chevalier, eds., Gallia Christiana Novissima. Histoire des archevêchés, évêchés, et abbayes de France, vol. 3: Arles (Montbéliard and Valence, 1901), nos. 255, 277, and 278 (954, 975); Marseille, Archives Départementales des Bouches-​du-​Rhône [ADBR], B 276 RR1 (17 August 977) (“Charte Artem/​CMJS n° 4085,” www.cn-​telma. fr/​originaux/​charte4085/​ (date of last access:  18 August 2018)); Arles, BM, ms. 881 n° 2 (977) (“Charte Artem/​CMJS n° 4086,” www.cn-​telma.fr/​originaux/​charte4086/​ (date of last access: 18 August 2018)). On these events and figures, see Eliana Magnani, Monastères et aristocratie en Provence (milieu Xe–​début XIIe siècle) (Münster, 1999, reprinted 2009), 101–​6 and 119–​21. 54 Albanès and Chevalier, Gallia Christiana Novissima, vol. 3: Arles, no. 241 ( January 920?); Georges de Manteyer, ed., Les chartes du pays d’Avignon, 439–​1040 (Mâcon, 1914), 73–​4, no. 68 (orig. ADBR 2H15, n° 43) (6 April 979) (“Charte Artem/​CMJS n° 4087,” www. cn-​telma.fr/​originaux/​charte4087/​ (date of last access: 18 August 2018)). See Magnani, Monastères et aristocratie en Provence, 103–​6, 405. 55 Foot, Veiled Women, 1:172–​9. See also Alison I. Beach, The Trauma of Monastic Reform Community and Conflict in Twelfth-​Century Germany (Cambridge, 2017), 73–​5. 56 See for example Magnou-​Nortier, “Formes féminines de vie consacrée,” 209–​10; and Magnani, “La vie consacrée en Provence,” 97–​8. See also the articles by Cochelin, and Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 53

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dependence of the abbey of Cluny. The acts of Cluny from the tenth century and the first half of the eleventh century indeed reveal the presence of many Deo devotae in the vicinity of the abbey.57 We have little evidence about how exactly this interaction between ascetic women and male monasteries unfolded. At the abbey of Bec, in Normandy, several accounts attest to the presence of a group of religious women living and serving God at the monks’ side, in the last third of the eleventh century:  Heloise, who was the mother of Herluin (the monastery’s founder); Eva, the mother of Gilbert Crispin (monk at Bec, then abbot of Westminster); Basilia, the widow of Hugh of Gournay; and her niece, the virgin Amfrida (deo sacrata). The last three joined the community at Bec under Anselm’s abbacy (between 1078 and 1093, before he became archbishop of Canterbury).58 In some of his letters to the monks of Bec, Anselm asks that his greetings be addressed to “our dearest ladies and mothers (dominas et matres),” Eva and Basilia.59 Eva’s devotion is stressed in the miracle story about her husband, written toward the end of the eleventh century or beginning of the twelfth. From the start of her marriage, she began to love the church of Bec as well as its abbot and its monks as her own sons, bestowing upon them precious ornaments and dyes. After her husband’s death, she spent her time fasting, holding vigils, and praying, stopped eating meat, and distributed alms to the poor. After a number of years, she received the veil from the archbishop of Rouen, William (1079–​1110), and remained subject to the monastery of Bec (in subiectione Beccensis coenobii) until her death.60 Here, as with other well-​known cases, attested by donation charters as much as chronicles, the occasional presence of women in male monasteries is often explained by the initiative of a kin group, by the oblation or the admission of a son in the monastery, or even by the conversion of a married couple.61



Eliana Magnani, “Cluny and Religious Women,” in A Companion to the Abbey of Cluny in the Middle Ages, ed. Scott G. Bruce and Steven Vanderputten (Leiden and Boston, MA, forthcoming). 58 Chronicon Beccense, PL 150, 648AB; and Sally N. Vaughn, St Anselm and the Handmaidens of God: A Study of Anselm’s Correspondence with Women (Turnhout, 2002), 68–​70, 97–​9. 59 Anselm of Canterbury, Epistulae 98, 118, and 147, in Opera Omnia, ed. Franz von Sales Schmitt, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1946), 228, 255, and 293. 60 Miraculum quo B. Maria subvenit Guillelmo Crispino, PL 150, 741D–​742A. 61 For instance, at Saint-​Martin of Tournai (Vaughn, St Anselm and the Handmaidens of God, 99) or at la Chaise-​Dieu (Pierre Roger Gaussin, “Les religieuses de la Congrégation de la Chaise-​Dieu,” in Les religieuses en France au XIIIe siècle, ed. Michel Parisse (Nancy, 1985), 107–​19, esp. 107–​8); see also Joachim Wollasch, “Parenté noble et monachisme réformateur:  observations sur les ‘conversions’ à la vie monastique aux XIe et XIIe siècles,” Revue historique 264 (1980): 3–​24. 57

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Epilogue These accounts highlight the difficulty one encounters when trying to characterize too rigidly the kind of ascetic life led by these women, whose stories make clear the plurality of possibilities and the permeability of the boundaries between each of them. Even if the life of women devoted to God seems to have become more and more oriented toward male and female monasteries in the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, this does not imply the end of domestic asceticism, either for men or for women. Studies that have argued for a correlation between the decline of the term Deo devotae in diplomatic documents and the sharp increase of female monasteries from 1080 need to be reassessed on the basis of a systematic treatment of all the occurrences available, which must take into account the links between terminological changes and social practices.62 When we survey the evidence, the broader picture which can be drawn shows that ascetic life for women living in the world was a common practice, which was widely accepted and which stretched over centuries, adapting to social structures and ecclesiastical developments in every period, never ceasing to reinvent itself. This is what we see with the women condemned by the Second Lateran Council (1139) for failing to follow any rule and gathering together in private households (private domicilia), in which they welcomed whomever they wished for the purpose of taking the veil.63 These women provided a model for the practices which would be adopted by lay religious women in the centuries to come.64

Bibliography Brown, Peter. “Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman Aristocracy.” In Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine, 161–82. London, 1972.   The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York, 1988. Cabré i Pairet, Montserrat. “ ‘Deodicatae’ et ‘Deodevotae’: la regulación de la religiosidad femenina en los condados catalanes, siglos IX–XI.” In Las Mujeres en el cristianismo medieval, edited by Ángela Muñoz Fernández, 169–82. Madrid, 1989. Cooper, Kate. Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women. New York, 2013.

Magnou-​Nortier, “Formes féminines de vie consacrée”; Magnani, “La vie consacrée en Provence”; Bruce L. Venarde, Women’s Monasticism and Medieval Society: Nunneries in France and England, 890–​1215 (Ithaca, NY, 1997). 63 Concilium Lateranense II a.  1139, in Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, ed. Josepho Alberigo et al. (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1962), 202. 64 See the article by More and Mulder-​Bakker in volume II.

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Female House Ascetics Foot, Sarah. Veiled Women. 2 vols. Aldershot, 2000. Jenal, Georg. Italia ascetica atque monastica. Das Asketen- und Mönchtum in Italien von den Anfängen bis zur Zeit der Langobarden (ca. 150/250–604). 2 vols. Stuttgart, 1995. Jussen, Bernhard. Der Name der Witwe. Erkundungen zur Semantik der mittelalterlichen Bußkultur. Göttingen, 2000.   “Virgins–Widows–Spouses:  On the Language of Moral Distinction as Applied to Women and Men in the Middle Ages.” History of the Family 7 (2002): 13–32. Macy, Gary. The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West. Oxford and New York, 2008. Magnani, Eliana. “Cluny and Religious Women.” In A Companion to the Abbey of Cluny in the Middle Ages, edited by Scott G. Bruce and Steven Vanderputten. Leiden and Boston, MA, forthcoming.   “La vie consacrée en Provence autour de l’an mil:  moniales, Deo devotae, moines et clercs.” In Le Royaume de Bourgogne autour de l’an mil, edited by Christian Guilleré, Jean-Michel Poisson, Laurent Ripart, and Cyrille Ducourthial, 93–110. Chambéry, 2008. Magnou-Nortier, Elisabeth. “Formes féminines de vie consacrée dans les pays du Midi jusqu’au début du XIIe siècle.” La femme dans la vie religieuse du Languedoc. Cahiers de Fanjeaux 23 (1988): 192–216. Melville, Gert, and Anne Müller, eds. Female “vita religiosa” between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages: Structures, Developments and Spatial Contexts. Zürich and Berlin, 2011. Metz, René. “Benedictio sive consecratio virginum.” Ephemerides liturgicae 80 (1966): 263–93.   La consécration des vierges dans l’église romaine. Étude d’histoire de la liturgie. Paris, 1954. Palazzo, Eric. “Les formules de bénédiction et de consécration des veuves au cours du haut Moyen Âge.” In Veuves et veuvage dans le haut Moyen Âge, edited by Michel Parisse, 31–5. Paris, 1993. Parisse, Michel, ed. Les religieuses en France au XIIIe siècle. Table ronde organisée par l’Institut d’études médiévales de l’Université de Nancy II et le CERCOM (25–26 juin 1983). Nancy, 1985. Santinelli, Emmanuelle. Des femmes éplorées? Les veuves dans la société aristocratique du haut Moyen Âge. Villeneuve-d’Ascq, 2003. Vaughn, Sally N. St Anselm and the Handmaidens of God: A Study of Anselm’s Correspondence with Women. Turnhout, 2002. Venarde, Bruce L. Women’s Monasticism and Medieval Society:  Nunneries in France and England, 890–1215. Ithaca, NY, 1997. Wollasch, Joachim. “Parenté noble et monachisme réformateur:  observations sur les ‘conversions’ à la vie monastique aux XIe et XIIe siècles.” Revue historique 264 (1980): 3–24.

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The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries in Italy and France (Second Half of the Fourth Century to the Eighth Century) S é bastie n B ul ly a n d E l e onor a Destefanis ( tr a n slate d b y E m m et Marron) Late antique and early medieval monasticism emerged in many different forms, both in institutional terms and in terms of the organization of the communities. This plurality had a significant influence on the physical structures of the monasteries, although our knowledge is somewhat limited by the scarcity of archaeological remains.1 In both Italy and France, archaeological research has traditionally focused on the sacred buildings of these sites at the expense of the quotidian structures. Furthermore, aside from a few rare examples, the panorama of sites for which we have evidence for the earliest monasteries remains incomplete. A number of recent overviews, however, have highlighted the important advances made in Italy over the last few decades, with a notable increase in the number of sites excavated.2 The same can be said for France, where the



See the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. Besides the large body of recent research cited in the following pages, see also Georg Jenal, Italia ascetica atque monastica. Das Asketen-​und Mönchtum in Italien von den Anfängen bis zur Zeit der Langobarden (ca. 150/​250–​604), 2  vols. (Stuttgart, 1995); Letizia Ermini Pani, ed., Committenza, scelte insediative e organizzazione patrimoniale nel medioevo. Proceedings of the International Conference (Tergu, September 15th–​17th 2006) (Spoleto, 2007); Maria Carla Somma, ed., Cantieri e maestranze nell’Italia medievale. Proceedings of the International Conference (Chieti-​San Salvo, May 16th–​18th 2008) (Spoleto, 2010); Letizia Ermini Pani, ed., Teoria e practica del lavoro nel monachesimo altomedievale. Proceedings of the International Conference (Roma-​Subiaco, June 7–​9 2013) (Spoleto, 2015); Letizia Ermini Pani, ed., Gli spazi della vita comunitaria. Proceedings of the International Conference (Roma-​Subiaco, June, 8th–​10th 2015) (Spoleto, 2016); and Francesca Romana Stasolla, “Il monachesimo in Italia dalle origini a Gregorio Magno:  modalità insediative, architetture, organizzazione topografica e spaziale,” in Monachesimi d’Oriente e d’Occidente nell’alto Medioevo. LXIV Settimana di Studio (Spoleto, March 31st–​ April 6th 2016) (Spoleto, 2017), 321–​54.

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past twenty years have seen an increase in archaeological research on the earliest and best-​known sites through deeper excavation and a reappraisal of older interventions.3 Drawing on this recent work, this article will argue that, despite the common motif that appears in the majority of hagiographical treatments of a retreat into the “desert,” it is becoming increasingly clear that the choice of location for the earliest monasteries was much more tied into contemporary political and economic machinations. Thus we find the reuse of earlier buildings (villae) and pre-​existing religious sites (sanctuaries, mausoleums, martyria), or sites that are strategic in terms of communication or the exploitation of natural resources (castra, route-​way stations, maritime stop-​off points), not to mention those established in urban settings (episcopal and aristocratic foundations). While the advance in research has allowed for a greater understanding of the contexts in which the earliest foundations were established, we still know very little about the spatial organization of these sites for the period between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. This is, in part, due to the great variety in form. The written sources and the limited archaeological record reveal the lack of a standardized organization; a monastery can be anything from a group of cells—​wooden cabins or caves—​to a variety of elaborate buildings. We see both ex nihilo constructions and the reuse of previous buildings. One common characteristic in Gaul is the frequent presence of more than one oratoria/​ecclesia.4 The various monastic rules and hagiographical treatments, however, make sporadic reference to other buildings linked to monastic life: enclosures, gates/​gatehouses, guesthouses, refectories, kitchens, cellars, dormitories (from the sixth century onwards), workshops, infirmaries, baths, stores, ovens, mills, etc. The enclosure, despite its importance in defining monastic space, is only mentioned in a few texts. (S.B., E.D.)



Christian Sapin, “L’archéologie des premiers monastères en France (Ve–​déb. XIe s.): un état des recherches,” in Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–​XI). Topografia e strutture. Proceedings of the International Conference (Castel San Vincenzo, September 23rd–​ 26th 2004), ed. Flavia De Rubeis and Federico Marazzi (Rome, 2008), 83–​102; Cécile Treffort, “Des mots aux choses: traces de la vie quotidienne des moines en Gaule avant l’an mil,” in La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et en Occident (IVe–​VIe siècle), ed. Olivier Delouis and Maria Mossakowska-​Gaubert (Cairo, 2015), 359–​70. 4 Sofia Uggé, “Lieux, espaces et topographie des monastères de l’antiquité tardive et du haut Moyen Âge:  réflexions à propos des règles monastiques,” in Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformations d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident médiéval, ed. Michel Lauwers (Turnhout, 2015), 15–​42. 3

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Figure 12.1  Map of selected monastic sites in Italy and France, fifth to eighth century. Map by Eleanora Destefanis and Sébastien Bully; infographics by David Vuillermoz.

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Italy Late Antiquity It was in episcopal contexts and closely linked to charismatic bishops (such as Eusebius of Vercelli (d. 371) and Ambrose of Milan (d. 397)) that, as early as the middle of the fourth century, the first forms of community organization began to take shape, marked by the pursuit of communal prayer and life.5 Although they are often referenced as some of the earliest expressions of Western cenobitic monasticism, the participants who gathered around the bishop were clerics. While living a common life of prayer in chastity and concordia (a keystone of their existence), these men were also occupied with carrying out their liturgical and priestly duties, as documented in the case of Vercelli. Late antique ascetic practice developed along two other lines. On the one hand, eremitism spread in its various forms throughout central Italy and the islands (from the Tuscan archipelago to the islands of Liguria),6 as well as in northern Italy. Jerome (d. 420) also mentioned the Dalmatian islands in the Adriatic Sea as sites of ascetic life.7 On the other hand, some ascetic practices evolved in an essentially domestic environment, well illustrated in the Roman context by the letters of Jerome, which document the transformation of sumptuous dwellings into places of ascetic life by members of the aristocracy, particularly women.8 No material remains of this phenomenon have been uncovered to date, since it took very little to transform the former dwellings into places of solitary life. In the wake of these experiments, but in a manner more clearly oriented toward organized community life, we find monasteries documented in the city of Rome during the course of the sixth century.9 One of the most interesting aspects is the widespread female presence:  women belonging to the highest social classes frequently appear as members of these religious communities and as foundresses.





Lorenzo Dattrino, “Il cenobio clericale di Eusebio,” in Eusebio di Vercelli e il suo tempo, ed. Enrico dal Covolo, Renato Uglione, and Giovanni Maria Vian (Rome, 1997), 341. 6 Riccardo Belcari, “Monachesimo insulare tirrenico:  fonti documentarie e attestazioni materiali a Montecristo e nelle altre isole dell’arcipelago toscano,” HAM 19 (2013): 79–​97; Daniel Istria and Philippe Pergola, “Moines et monastères dans les îles des mers Ligure et Thyrrénienne (Corse, Sardaigne, archipel toscan et archipel ligure),” HAM 19 (2013): 73–​8. 7 Rossana Martorelli, Antonio Piras, and Pier Giorgio Spanu, eds., Isole e terraferma nel primo cristianesimo. Identità locale ed interscambi culturali, religiosi e produttivi (Cagliari, 2015). 8 See the article by Magnani in this volume. 9 See the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 5

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Early medieval structures that have recently been brought to light in the area of Largo Argentina (within the Campus Martius) have been identified as the monasterium Boethianum, belonging to the family of Boethius. According to the interpretation of the scientific director of the excavation, a complex was built in the abandoned temple area during the first half of the sixth century. Temple A was converted into a consecrated building to serve the religious community, whose members were most likely lodged in cells arranged along its rear, while the area in front was used as a vegetable garden. On the opposite side of the complex, a rectangular building that opened on to the adjacent street served as a refectory or reception room. A smaller building not far from this has been identified as the cellarium (storage area) of the monastery. All of these structures lie within the enclosure that had previously defined the temple area, the entrances to which were now closed off in order to create a clear separation between the internal and external space, reflecting the need for a distinction from the surrounding world.10 One must also include Rome’s so-​called “basilican monasteries,” which sprung up to serve the basilicas of the martyrs in the suburban areas from the fifth century on, with the aim of providing space for the performance of official duties and of offering both material and spiritual assistance to pilgrims. The Roman panorama thus represents quite a mixed context, with complexes made up of buildings that served complementary functions. This impression is further strengthened and confirmed by the monastic rules of sixth-​century central Italy (RM and RB), which make numerous mentions of structural components. Some of these elements have been associated, for instance, with archaeological material found in the complex uncovered near Alatri:  a surrounding wall with a single entrance encloses distinctive areas, including a vegetable garden, a cemetery, and a two-​storied rectangular building which has been identified as the dormitory and refectory, as well as religious structure and service buildings.11 The identification of this complex with a monastery, as well as its chronology, is very problematic, however, particularly considering that written sources about the site are very late.12



Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, “Tra la Porticus Minucia e il Calcarario: l’area sacra di Largo Argentina nell’altomedioevo,” Archeologia Medievale 21 (1994): 57–​98. 11 Elisabeth Fentress, “The Sixth-​Century Abbey,” in Walls and Memory: The Abbey of San Sebastiano at Alatri (Lazio) from Late Roman Monastery to Renaissance Villa and Beyond, ed. Elisabeth Fentress et al. (Turnhout, 2005), 33–​70. 12 Gisella Cantino Wataghin, “Moines et monastères en Italie à l’arrivée de Colomban:  quelques données entre archéologie et histoire,” BUCEMA 20.2 (2016), http://​cem.revues.org/​14521 (date of last access: 9 April 2019).

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A clearer image of monastic organization comes from Vivarium, the monastery founded by Cassiodorus (d. c. 583), close to Squillace, on the Ionian coast of Calabria. Beyond the literary focus and the clearly symbolic register of the well-​known description of the monastery written by Cassiodorus himself—​in which the coenobium is presented as a form of Eden, a paradisiacal prefiguration also reflected in the landscape, full of water and rich gardens13—​a certain amount of detail is paid in the text to the physical surroundings, most notably in relation to the hydraulic infrastructure and to the flow of visitors and the services that they necessitated in the monastery. These references are, moreover, completely compatible with the excellent roadside position of the site, which was easily reached and well incorporated into the main road system of the region. The site of Vivarium is now generally identified with a sixth-​century (and beyond) ecclesiastical site excavated on the ridge near Stalettì (on the eastern coast of Calabria), although some scholars continue to doubt this hypothesis. The most notable feature of this site is the cult building, a single-​nave church, probably built when the coenobium was founded. The church reuses a triconch structure (with a plan in the form of a trefoil) as its choir. According to the most recent interpretations, this structure may have originally been a mausoleum that belonged to the pre-​existing villa before it was repurposed to serve the monastic community. There was a small room adjacent to the southern side of the triconch, which housed a sarcophagus datable to the second half of the sixth century. This space became the focus of religious devotion in the course of the early medieval period, as documented in the inscriptions carved on the cover slab.14

The Lombard Period Into this heterogeneous context came the Lombards in the final decades of the sixth century, a time when some characteristics were becoming more well defined. The negative impact of these invaders has been significantly revised by recent studies.15 Indeed, at the start of the seventh century, just



Cassiodorus, Institutiones, I, c. 29 (de positione monasterii Vivariensis sive Castellensis), ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1937), 73. See also the article by Lauwers in this volume. François Bougard and Ghislaine Noyé, “Chronique: Squillace,” MEFRM 98 (1986): 1195–​ 1212; Adele Coscarella, “Il monastero ‘vivariense sive castellense’ e l’edificio triconco di Stalettì (CZ): da Pierre Courcelle a oggi,” in Martiri, santi, patroni. Per una archeologia della devozione, ed. Adele Coscarella and Paola De Santis (Arcavacata di Rende, 2012), 299–​315, with previous bibliography. 15 Federico Marazzi, Le città dei monaci. Storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio (Milan, 2015),  151–​2. 13

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a few short decades after their migration into the Italian peninsula, the Lombard monarch was to become the lay protagonist of one of the most notable events in the history of Italian monasticism: the foundation of the monastery of Bobbio, which was a joint initiative of King Agilulf (d. 615/​ 16) and St. Columbanus (d. 615), who at that point had reached the end of the long peregrinatio that had taken him all the way across Europe from his native Ireland.16 In the vita of the saint and his disciples, written around 640, Columbanus’ biographer, Jonas of Susa, himself a monk at Bobbio, describes the place chosen upon the community’s arrival as wild and dominated by dense forest, thus conforming to the well-​known hagiographic topos in which the idea of the desert is recreated.17 In reality, however, a number of allusions in the written sources, together with material evidence, would seem to point toward the presence of a well-​ developed settlement that preceded the advent of the monks. Indeed, upon their arrival, they found a pre-​existing church in which miracles took place,18 a sign of the prior Christian character of the valley. The location was made still more attractive not only by the fertility of the soil and the presence of mineral springs, but also by its advantageous positioning on a number of important routes. It was situated at the intersection of the road between Piacenza (and the Po plain) and Genoa (and, by extension, the Mediterranean) and the roads that passed through the Apennine valleys, connecting Pavia and Milan with central Italy.19 This favorable position, moreover, was even more important during the early Lombard period, owing to its proximity to the frontiers with the Byzantine world. While this border should not be seen as a defined line, it represented a significant presence in the geopolitics of the Apennine region, as it extended across the other side of the mountain ridge into Ligurian territory not yet occupied by the Lombards.20 Beyond a number of reliquaries (including one Irish example dating to the seventh century) and various terracotta eulogiae originating from the eastern Mediterranean—​not to mention the notable collection of ampulae from the



Alessandro Zironi, Il monastero longobardo di Bobbio. Crocevia di uomini, manoscritti e culture (Spoleto, 2004), 1–​21. 17 Jonas of Susa, Vitae Columbani discipulorumque eius 1.30, MGH SS RM 4, 107. 18 Ibid. 19 Flavio G. Nuvolone, ed., La fondazione di Bobbio nello sviluppo delle comunicazioni tra Langobardia e Toscana nel Medioevo (Bobbio, 2000); Eleonora Destefanis, Il monastero di Bobbio in età altomedievale (Florence, 2002). See also the article by Devroey in this volume. 20 Roberta Conversi and Eleonora Destefanis, “Bobbio e il territorio piacentino tra VI e VII secolo:  questioni aperte e nuove riflessioni alla luce dei dati archeologici,” Archeologia Medievale 41 (2014): 289–​94. 16

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Holy Land, which demonstrate the key role played by the monastery as a center on the paths of international pilgrimage21—​very little material evidence for the earliest phase of the monastery’s existence has been found to date. We are left mainly with the small pieces of information contained in the Vita Columbani. This refers to an enclosing wall (septa), the stables for the pack animals, and, perhaps, rooms where activities such as book binding and shoe repairing were carried out.22 The Columbanian experience at Bobbio was destined to remain a somewhat isolated case, at least until the late seventh century when, under the leadership of King Perctarit (671–​88) and his successor, Cunipert (688–​700), the Lombard monarchy embraced the Catholic faith. A  process of consolidation of the Church was then initiated throughout the Italian peninsula, including the restoration of the diocesan seats and the foundation of monasteries.23 The sovereigns themselves were the main agents of this restoration. From the late seventh century and into the eighth, along with local dukes and members of the lay and ecclesiastical aristocracy, they actively founded new monasteries, not only in the capital, Pavia, but throughout Italian territory. From a structural point of view, material remains are quite scarce for the period encompassing the end of the seventh century and the first half of the eighth. In general terms, even in the Lombard period, the reuse of pre-​existing structures seems to have been a very common phenomenon, as can be seen, for example, at sites like Brescia (San Salvatore), Farfa, and San Vincenzo al Volturno. The mechanisms of this reuse, however, demonstrate a noticeable diversification. Some sites were in continuous use (albeit in a different form) until the establishment of monasteries, while others had been abandoned.24 Another factor is the nature of the buildings that were reused, with greater or lesser transformation. In Brescia, for example, the monastery founded by Desiderius (first duke and later king of the Lombards) in the 750s sits on a pre-​ existing settlement that dates to the seventh century. It possessed a church as well as production buildings arranged around quadrangular open areas. This configuration (later adopted by Desiderius’ foundation) could be interpreted as either the center of a royal palace or even the early nucleus of an already



Eleonora Destefanis, “Il monastero di Bobbio sulle vie del pellegrinaggio altomedievale:  fonti scritte e dati materiali,” in Pellegrinaggi e monachesimo celtico. Dall’Irlanda alle sponde del Mediterraneo, ed. Francesco Benozzo and Marina Montesano (Alessandria, 2010 [2011]), 59–​108. 22 Jonas, Vitae Columbani 2.5, 117. 23 Claudio Azzara, L’ideologia del potere regio nel Papato altomedievale (Spoleto, 1997), 168–​9. 24 Eleonora Destefanis, “Archeologia dei monasteri altomedievali tra acquisizioni raggiunte e nuove prospettive di ricerca,” Post-​Classical Archaeologies 1 (2011): 351–​9. 21

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extant monastery.25 It is possible that much better information will soon be available from the recent findings on the female monastery of Cairate, once they have undergone an in-​depth review.26 In general, down to the Lombard period, the religious buildings themselves do not present any typology that could be specifically identified as “monastic,” either in terms of the dimensions—​which vary according to the make-​up of the community or, more importantly, in relation to the needs of the individual monastery—​or in terms of their layout. In many cases, particularly in northern Italy, the model of the aisleless church ending with three apses (documented for instance in San Felice and Santa Maria Teodote in Pavia, Santa Maria d’Aurona in Milano, and San Salvatore in Sirmione) should not be considered as particular to monasteries, as they often represent a choice linked to a high ranking official, the expression of a royal or aristocratic foundation.27 In most cases, moreover, local building traditions played a determining role in the architectonic choices, as can be seen, for example, in the case of Novalesa,28 which sits along the route which leads to the pass of Moncenisio in the western Alps. The quadrangular apse of Novalesa’s abbatial church and chapels display a style quite common throughout the whole alpine region. Novalesa represents one of the most significant examples of an early medieval monastic complex in the Italian context. It is especially notable for the presence of a number of religious buildings that are also attested elsewhere, having roles complementary to the abbatial church, from funerary functions—​intended not only for the community but also for lay people who had the privilege of being buried on monastic ground29—​to spiritual assistance to pilgrims and worshipers (also at Brescia and other sites).30 In



Gian Pietro Brogiolo and Francesca Morandini, eds., Dalla corte regia al monastero di San Salvatore-​Santa Giulia di Brescia (Mantua, 2014). 26 Valeria Mariotti, ed., Un monastero nei secoli. Santa Maria Assunta di Cairate. Scavi e ricerche (Mantua, 2014). 27 Saverio Lomartire, “Riflessioni sulla diffusione del tipo ‘Dreiapsidensaalkirche’ nell’architettura lombarda dell’altomedioevo,” HAM 9 (2003): 417–​32. 28 Gisella Cantino Wataghin, “L’établissement et l’histoire de l’abbaye de Novalaise,” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 255–​88. 29 Most recently, Marazzi, Le città dei monaci, 173–​5. On funerary spaces in monasteries, see also Gisella Cantino Wataghin and Eleonora Destefanis, “Les espaces funéraires dans les ensembles monastiques du haut Moyen Âge,” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 503–​54. 30 Eleonora Destefanis, “Le monastère face aux laïques au haut Moyen Âge: lieux de culte secondaires et accueil aux limites de l’espace monastique dans le contexte italien,” in Au seuil du cloître. La présence des laïcs (hôtellerie, bâtiments d’accueil, activités artisanales et de services) entre le Ve et le XIIe s. Actes des 3èmes journées d’études monastiques, Vézelay, 27–​28 juin 2013, ed. Sébastien Bully and Christian Sapin, BUCEMA, Hors série 8 (2015), https://​ journals.openedition.org/​cem/​13599 (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 25

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other cases the monasteries organized space for pastoral care outside the area strictly defined by the enclosing wall, for the community which built up around the monastery, forming what was to become a genuine monastic burgh. A number of these settlements are documented as early as the early medieval period (such as Bobbio and Borgo San Dalmazzo),31 where a plebs (a baptismal church) developed, ensuring that the necessary pastoral care was delivered. This can also be seen at Nonantola, where the excavation of the Church of San Michele has brought to light the medieval footprint of the settlement.32 The situation documented above, particularly in relation to the Lombard period, precedes the changes that came about during the Carolingian period, which saw a continuity without any hiatus. It must be said, however, that, in a number of cases, such as at Bobbio, Farfa, and San Vincenzo al Volturno, thanks to imperial support and the development of a European-​wide network of connections, these sites became exceptionally large and powerful in the Italian world. The most precise archaeological data that we have now for the Italian context undoubtedly come from San Vincenzo al Volturno, where construction between the end of the eighth century and start of the ninth of a monumental abbatial church,33 situated at the heart of the monastery, along with the spaces devoted to living, production, hospitality, and funerary memory,34 represents without a doubt the most tangible evidence of the grandeur reached—​equal to that of the great abbeys on the other side of the Alps. (E.D.)

France Late Antiquity The earliest monasteries begin to appear in Gaul slightly later than in Italy, during the second half of the fourth century and first half of the fifth, in





Eleonora Destefanis, “Monasteri, poli devozionali e abitato:  riflessioni sui borghi monastici di età medievale dell’Italia settentrionale, tra fonti scritte e strutture materiali,” in Le archeologie di Marilli. Miscellanea di studi in ricordo di Maria Maddalena Negro Ponzi, ed. Paolo De Vingo (Alessandria, 2018), 189–​207. 32 Sauro Gelichi, “La pieve di San Michele: storia di una chiesa e storia degli scavi,” in Nonantola 4. L’abbazia e le sue chiese, ed. S. Gelichi and M. Librenti (Florence, 2013), 93–​ 116. For Nonantola, see now Sauro Gelichi, Mauro Librenti, and Alessandra Cianciosi, eds., Nonantola 6.  Monaci e contadini. Abati e re. Il monastero di Nonantola attraverso l’archeologia (2002–​2009) (Florence, 2018). 33 Federico Marazzi, La “basilica maior” di San Vincenzo al Volturno (scavi 2000–​2007) (Cerro al Volturno, 2014). 34 Marazzi, Le città dei monaci, 248–​53. 31

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the regions of the west, Provence, the Rhone valley, and the Jura Mountains. Numbering no more than a dozen in the earliest phase, they grew from 22 at the start of the sixth century to 115 at the start of the eighth century, dispersed across the whole country.35 Founded around 361 by St. Martin, Ligugé is traditionally considered to be the first monastery in France.36 Archaeological investigation has shown that the monastery was founded in the ruins of an antique villa, characteristic of the Late Empire ones found throughout southwest Gaul. The earliest building on the site (possibly a cellar) was constructed in an antique pool, perhaps during the lifetime of St. Martin, and this was followed by the earliest church, which continued in use up to its extension in the tenth and eleventh centuries. This reading of the archaeology, which we also find on other sites, brings us to the thorny subject of the transition from villa to monastery in late antique Gaul, a process that is still not fully understood.37 The foundation in Ligugé was followed in 371 by the establishment of Marmoutier, once again linked to St. Martin and located on the right bank of the River Loire, just two kilometers above the castrum of Tours. Archaeological research has shown that the site on which the gothic abbatial church now stands was continually occupied from the first or second century on, with a network of terraces and the construction of well-​built, ornately decorated structures.38 As has already been noted for a number of Italian sites, particularly Brescia, the nature of this earliest occupation is difficult to define; it may have been linked to a staging post, a suburban villa, or a small settlement. While the structures would be remodeled numerous times down to the eleventh century, archaeological evidence suggests that the antique structures were originally transformed into a place of worship from







Sapin, “L’archéologie des premiers monastères en France,” 84; Michèle Gaillard and Christian Sapin, “Le paysage monastique de la Gaule à l'arrivée de Colomban,” in Colomban et son influence. Moines et monastères en Europe du haut Moyen Âge, ed. Sébastien Bully, Alain Dubreucq, and Aurélia Bully (Rennes, 2018), 51–​65. 36 Brigitte Boissavit-​Camus, “Les édifices cultuels de l’abbaye de Saint-​Martin de Ligugé (Vienne),” in Wisigoths et Francs autour de la bataille de Vouillé (507). Recherches récentes sur le haut Moyen Âge dans le Centre-​Ouest de la France, ed. Luc Bourgeois (Saint-​Germain-​en-​ Laye, 2010), 215–​35. 37 See Roberto Alciati, “And the Villa Became a Monastery: Sulpicius Severus’ Community of Primuliacum,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrick Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 85–​98; Nicolas Reveyron, “Forma monasterii: essai sur l’organisation de l’espace monastique comme mise en forme de l’identité ecclésiologique,” HAM 20.2 (2014): 439–​47. 38 Élisabeth Lorans and Gaël Simon, “Autour de Marmoutier:  les premiers siècles du monachisme en Touraine,” in Bully et al., Colomban et son influence, 87–​106. 35

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the fifth century onwards. Sulpicius Severus claims that St. Martin lived in a wooden cell, even though the monks had carved their grottos into the cliff side in the manner of Egyptian monasteries. The latter are difficult to date owing to their regular refurbishments. The wide range of religious buildings and funerary areas attested in the eleventh century may date as far back as the first centuries of the monastery, but this remains to be proven by archaeological research. In the first quarter of the fifth century, a second sphere of monasticism sprang up, this time in Provence, as exemplified by the foundations of Lérins between 400 and 410, under the direction of Honoratus (d. 429), followed by John Cassian’s (d. 435) foundation at Marseille around 415. Little is known with certainty about the layout of the monastery of Lérins on Île Saint-​Honorat prior to the Romanesque period, including the origin and chronology of the network of its seven places of worship, which not only delimited the space on the island but also contributed to its sacralization.39 The most recent excavations, however, have provided insight into the organization of the monastery in late antiquity.40 In the first phase, dated to the fifth century, the church had a single nave opening onto an apse; this small building, probably a secondary religious building that was reserved for prayer, was bounded on the south by what could be interpreted as one or more attached hermit cells. This disposition is reminiscent of the two small conjoined rooms found at the Abbey of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, interpreted as the cell and the oratory of St. Radegund, dating to the middle of the sixth century.41 The second phase, dated to between the end of the sixth century and beginning of the seventh, saw the cells replaced by an annex to the oratory, which assumed a commemorative and funerary function. Many questions remain, however, about the origins of the other secondary chapels and communal buildings, and about the links between Île Saint-​ Honorat and the nearby island of Sainte-​Marguerite. The latter, also occupied in late antiquity, seems to have been the site of significant construction, with a maritime villa built there, most likely during the Roman Imperial period.42 Another site with a possible monastic function is the building, fortified during

Rosa-​Maria Dessi and Michel Lauwers, “Désert, église, île sainte: Lérins et la sanctification des îles monastiques de l’antiquité à la fin du Moyen Âge,” in Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge, ed. Yann Codou and Michel Lauwers (Turnhout, 2009), 277–​9. 40 Yann Codou, “Aux origines du monachisme: le dossier de Saint-​Honorat de Lérins,” in L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule du IVe au IXe siècle, ed. Michèle Gaillard (Turnhout, 2014), 291–​310. 41 Yvonne Labande-​ Mailfert, “Poitiers:  Abbaye Sainte-​ Croix,” in Premiers monuments chrétiens de la Gaule, ed. Noël Duval, 2 vols. (Paris, 1996), 2:284–​9. 42 Annie Arnaud, “Les îles de Lérins, Sainte-​Marguerite et Saint-​Honorat (Cannes, Alpes-​ Maritimes),” in Des îles côte à côte. Histoire du peuplement des îles de l’antiquité au Moyen 39

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late antiquity, perched on an escarpment of the nearby Île de Porquerolles, which evokes the image of cells and brings to mind the writings of John Cassian on the hermitages of the Îles d’Hyères.43 With respect to Marseille itself, while it is generally accepted that John Cassian was the founder of two urban monasteries there,44 one male and one female, their exact location remains unknown, as well as their relationship with the Abbey of Saint-​ Victor, located on the site of the eponymous saint’s tomb.45 The foundation of a monastery in relation to a venerated tomb, often of earlier date, was not an uncommon practice. The presence of a community assured the protection of the saint’s grave and controlled the access of pilgrims to the site, although it is still difficult to determine whether the community consisted of a group of ordinary clerics or monks from the very beginning. A  well-​ known example of this is the Abbey of Saint-​Germain at Auxerre, where the early Christian oratory of Germanus’ villa was gradually incorporated into the basilica between the sixth and eighth centuries (when the monastic community became established there), before being converted into a crypt in the ninth century.46 The mausoleum of the Carolingian abbey at Saint-​Quentin was erected around the late antique tomb of the martyr.47 The same process also took place at Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune (Switzerland) where the monastic community, attested as early as 515, was organized around a succession of six churches erected in the early Middle Ages on the site of a funerary space and the mausoleum of an important figure from the second quarter of the fourth century.48 Influenced by Cassian, Castor of Apt (d. before 436) founded his monastery in 426. Although its location has not been identified, an attempt has been made to link it to the remains excavated at Saint-​Estève de Ménerbes.49 This



Âge (Provence, Alpes-​Maritimes, Ligurie, Toscane), ed. M. Pasqulini, P. Arnaud, and C. Varaldo, Bulletin archéologique de Provence, supplément 1 (Aix-​en-​Provence, 2003), 175–​90. 43 Jean-​Christophe Tréglia, “L’occupation des îles d’Hyères durant l’antiquité tardive,” in ibid., 127–​32. 44 Jean-​Pierre Weiss, “Jean Cassien et le monachisme provençal,” in Saint-​Victor de Marseille. Études archéologiques et historiques. Actes du colloque Saint-​Victor, Marseille, 18–​20 novembre 2004, ed. Michel Fixot and Jean-​Pierre Pelletier (Turnhout, 2009), 179–​85. 45 Michel Fixot and Jean-​Pierre Pelletier, “Introduction,” in ibid., 6. 46 Christian Sapin, ed., Archéologie et architecture d’un site monastique. 10 ans de recherche à l’abbaye Saint-​Germain d’Auxerre (Xe–​XXe siècles) (Paris, 2000). 47 Michèle Gaillard and Christian Sapin, “Autour de la tombe de saint Quentin: histoire et archéologie d’un culte (milieu IVe–​début VIIIe s.),” in Gaillard, L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule, 271–​88. 48 Alessandra Antonini, “Le site archéologique de l’abbaye,” L’abbaye de Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune, Archéothéma 36 (Sept.–​Oct. 2014), 24–​31. 49 Yann Codou, “Sur les monastères, des éclairages archéologiques nouveaux,” in L’antiquité tardive en Provence (IVe–​VIe siècle). Naissance d’une chrétienté, ed. Jean Guyon and Marc Heijmans (Arles, 2013), 134–​5.

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site, for which few parallels are known, is organized around a central court (perhaps an atrium), which contains a quatrefoil basin. Along the eastern side of the court is what appears to be a funerary basilica, flanked by a portico that links it to funerary areas on the northern and southern sides. The identification of the features as those of a monastery is mainly based on the fact that the anthropological study of the skeletons remains identified only male remains. More than any other site, the complex of Saint-​Estève poses questions relating to the criteria used to distinguish monasteries from generic ecclesiastical sites for which we possess no written records dating to late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.50 Staying in Provence, the archaeological remains at the monastery of Saint-​ Jean, founded by Caesarius in the town of Arles at the beginning of the sixth century, have transformed our understanding of the site. The excavation revealed a vast basilica dating to the first half of the sixth century and in use until the ninth century, necessitating a rereading of the religious topography of both the town and the quarter in which the building stood.51 As a result it would appear that the remains traditionally associated with the monastery of Caesarius52 were more likely linked to the early Christian episcopal complex. The historiography on the subject holds that the “monastic ideal” spread from Provence up the Rhone valley and subsequently on to the Jura Mountains.53 The Abbey of Saint-​André-​le-​Haut in Vienne, founded around 543 in a corner of the reduced late antique walls of the city perched along the Rhone, has been the site of excavations since 2008.54 They revealed a small apsed building (a mausoleum or church perhaps) which maintained—​ or developed—​a memorial function down to the ninth and tenth century. Stratigraphically, this building relates to the earliest monastery. This is also the case for the remains of artisans’ quarters discovered below the gallery of the Romanesque cloister. The monastery of the Île-​Barbe in Lyon, attested

See the article by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. Marc Heijmans, “Le monument chrétien hors norme de l’enclos Saint-​Césaire d’Arles,” in Guyon and Heijmans, L’antiquité tardive en Provence,  173–​9. 52 Among the many sources, see Paul-​Albert Février, “Arles: Monastère Saint-​Césaire,” in Duval, Premiers monuments chrétiens de la Gaule, 1:121–​2. 53 Alain Dubreucq, “Lérins et la Burgondie dans le haut Moyen Âge,” in Codou and Lauwers, Lérins, 195–​227. 54 Anne Baud, Nathanaël Nimmegeers, and Anne Flammin, “L’abbaye de Saint-​André-​ le-​Haut à Vienne: origine et développement d’un monastère de moniales,” in L’origine des sites monastiques. Confrontation entre la terminologie des sources textuelles et les données archéologiques, Actes des 4èmes journées d’études monastiques, Baume-​les-​Messieurs, 4–​5 septembre 2014, ed. Sébastien Bully and Christian Sapin, BUCEMA, Hors série 10 (2016), https://​journals.openedition.org/​cem/​14485 (date of last access: 8 April 2019).

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from the early fifth century, has recently been the subject of reappraisal.55 This research has allowed the excavator to define the monastic topography, which calls to mind the situation at Lérins, with its network of secondary cult sites. During the Romanesque period, three buildings were erected to structure the religious space around the abbatial church of Saint-​Martin, in effect creating a cloistral square. There are strong indications of an early origin for the church of Saint-​Martin. One feature that undoubtedly has an early origin is the church of Saint-​André, at the eastern end of the island, where excavation has revealed the remains of a building with a funerary function (mausoleum/​church) with sarcophagi dating to the sixth century.56 It was most likely at the Île-​Barbe that Romanus, the first of the Jura fathers and founder of Condat (modern Saint-​Claude, founded 430–​5), Lauconne (Saint-​Lupicin), and Balme (Saint-​Romain-​de-​Roche), was educated. At the earliest of these sites, Condat, archaeological test trenches in the former abbey (now the cathedral), as well as in the former abbatial palace, have allowed us to question once again the motif of the retreat into the desert, as ceramic artefacts suggest that the site of the foundation was already occupied during the Roman Imperial period, although the exact nature of this occupation remains unclear (was it a staging post or a rural farm?).57 We know almost nothing about the earliest monastery apart from the remains of two apses found in the choir of the cathedral, one built on top of the other, dating to before the eleventh century. Two post-​build constructions, partially identified in the lower layers of the former abbatial dwellings and stratigraphically earlier than the year 1000, could also be dated to the first decades of the monastery and could correspond to the description of the foundation in the Vita patrum Jurensium.58 At Saint-​Lupicin, a small late antique funerary monument that was found in the Romanesque church has been interpreted as the tomb of the founder, although it contains no bones.59



Charlotte Gaillard, “L’abbaye de l’Île-​Barbe à Lyon (Ve–​XIIIe siècles):  archéologie et topographie d’une fondation monastique insulaire” (PhD diss., Université Lyon Lumière II, 2016). 56 Charlotte Gaillard, “Étude archéologique de l’église Saint-​André (monastère de l’île-​ Barbe, Lyon),” HAM 20/​2 (2013): 311–​22. 57 Sébastien Bully, “Archéologie des premiers monastères dans le Centre-​ Est de la France: conditions d’implantation et de diffusion, topographie historique et organisation,” BUCEMA 13 (2009): 257–​290, http://​cem.revues.org/​index11085.html (date of last access: 9 April 2019); Sébastien Bully, “Famille d’églises et circulations: le cas de l’abbaye de Saint-​Claude ( Jura) du Ve au XVIIIe siècle,” in Espace ecclésial et liturgie au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque de Nantua de novembre 2006, ed. A. Baud (Lyon, 2010), 75–​89. 58 François Martine, ed. and trans., Vie des Pères du Jura, SC 142. 59 Sébastien Bully, Morana Caušević-​ Bully, and Aurélia Bully, “Coffrage de bois et coffrage de pierre du Ve s.:  la tombe présumée de Saint Lupicin ( Jura),” in Le bois dans l’architecture et l’aménagement de la tombe:  quelles approches? Actes de la table-​ronde 55

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The monastery of Romainmôtier (Switzerland) was also one of the foundations of the Jura fathers,60 something that seems to be supported by the archaeology.61 The extensive excavations of the site show that the first monks established themselves in a small late antique foundation, possibly an artisans’ workshop that reused two wooden-​framed buildings. Following this, a single-​aisled church with an apse bordered by two annexes was built and dedicated to St. Peter. This was replaced in the seventh or eighth century by a larger building with the same plan, but with the addition of an eastern annex. At the same time the church doubled in size on the southern side, where a second religious building with a quadrangular choir was built, and the older buildings were replaced by a stone structure. The evolution of the latter is complex and the presence of a sophisticated baths area means that its function is not fully understood; was this an infirmary, the abbot’s quarters, or a lay palace? The early medieval monastery thus presents as an ensemble formed by two parallel churches with conventual buildings placed at an angle to them, forming the basis of a future cloister. The multiplication of religious buildings into a family of two or three churches (in some cases more) would seem to be one of the paradigms of monasteries in late antique and early medieval Gaul.62 But many unanswered questions relating to their origins and respective functions remain.63

The Merovingian Period Research carried out at Aniane since 2011 has shed light on the establishment founded there in the last decades of the eighth century and thought to have been the “spear-​head of the movement to ensure the triumph of the Benedictine Rule and of the cenobitic form of Frankish monasticism.”64 Even though, in the context of this reform, we see the emergence of a new organization around a cloistral square bordered by a single sanctuary (that fulfills



d’Auxerre 15–​17 octobre 2009, tome XXIII des mémoires publiés par l’AFAM, ed. F. Carré and F. Henrion (Saint-​Germain-​en-​Laye, 2012), 117–​22. 60 See Jean Daniel Morerod, ed., Romainmôtier, histoire de l’abbaye (Lausanne, 2001). 61 Peter Eggenberger and Jachen Sarott, “Romainmôtier (Suisse), un monastère au passé millénaire,” in Cluny et ses influences en Europe. Dossiers d’Archéologie HS 19 (2010): 48–​53. 62 Yann Codou, “Églises multiples et identité monastique dans la Provence médiévale,” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 586–​610. 63 Jacques Le Maho, “Le monastère de Jumièges (France) aux temps mérovingiens (VIIe–​ VIIIe siècle): le témoignage des textes et de l’archéologie,” HAM 9 (2003): 315–​22; Bully, “Famille d’églises et circulations,” 79–​85. 64 Laurent Schneider, “Une fondation multiple, un monastère pluriel:  les contextes topographiques de la genèse du monastère d’Aniane d’après l’archéologie et la vie de saint Benoît (fin VIIIe–​IXe s.),” in Bully and Sapin, L’origine des sites monastiques, http://​ cem.revues.org/​14481 (date of last access: 9 April 2019).

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all of the necessary functions), along the lines of the model plan of St. Gall,65 at Aniane itself the pre-​existing multifarious organization persists. The foundation of the first basilica, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was followed in 782 by the addition of the church of Christ the Savior 30 meters further away. A  third structure was erected (perhaps dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene) between these two churches prior to the middle of the twelfth century, while a fourth church, Saint-​Jean, appeared 250 meters from the medieval monastic center. This last figures as one of the gateways to the medieval village walls—​ although we should not assume that it had the same purpose in the early medieval period—​and it is associated with a funerary space from the second third of the ninth century. Looking at the monastery today, one can barely make out the Carolingian organization that would prevail at Benedict’s own monastery at Inde.66 This is also the case at the contemporary monastery of Landévennec, which developed out of a single sanctuary, simply doubling the oratory/​mausoleum of the founder.67 At Môtiers (Switzerland), excavations of a foundation only attested in the textual sources from 1093 have demonstrated the existence of a church of St. Peter as early as the sixth or seventh century, followed by a second, Notre Dame, placed alongside it in the eighth or ninth century.68 On a completely different scale, Agaune also possessed two religious buildings, but here they were laid out in a line owing to the topography of the site. The site also included a baptismal complex and the palace of the lay abbot69 or of the bishop, preserved on the southern side of the churches.70 A  similar linear organization was also prevalent at the Abbey of Saint-​Denis, where, between the seventh century and the beginning of the ninth, four religious buildings connected by a long portico formed the northern limit of the atrium of the Dionysian basilica.71 The funerary function of such a “rosary chain of churches” is extremely significant, perhaps even an essential and determining feature. The excavations

On the origins of the cloister, see Christian Sapin, “De la cour au cloître carolingien,” Cahiers de Saint-​Michel de Cuxa 46 (2015): 21–​34. Ibid.,  32–​3. 67 Annie Bardel, “L’abbaye Saint-​Gwénolé de Landévennec,” Archéologie médiévale 21 (1991): 51–​101. 68 Jacques Bujard, “Aux origines du prieuré Saint-​Pierre de Vautravers:  complications monastiques et vallonnières,” in Complications neuchâteloises. Histoire, tradition, patrimoine, ed. E. Hertz and F. Wobmann (Neuchâtel, 2014), 30–​7. 69 On lay abbots see the articles by Rosé and Devroey in this volume. 70 Antonini, “Le site archéologique de l’abbaye,” 24–​31. 71 Charles Kraemer and Thomas Chenal, “D’amé et Macteflède à Imma:  approche topographique du monastère féminin du Romarici mons, entre le VIIe et le IXe siècle,” in Bully et al., Colomban et son influence, 331–​52. 65

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carried out at the Saint-​Mont have allowed for the identification of at least two early medieval buildings from the seven religious buildings mentioned in the (mostly late) textual sources.72 The first, Saint-​Pierre, a simple, rectangular construction, more than likely housed no more than one sarcophagus. A second building identified a few dozen meters to the south is notable, however, for the presence of around eighty formae-​type tombs (pre-​constructed rectangular niches that were regularly reused).73 While such a high number of these tombs is exceptional, this burial form may have been specific to religious communities and bears similarities to the Merovingian funerary churches at Saint-​Gertrude (phase 2) and at Nivelles (Belgium).74 At the abbey of Manglieu, two religious buildings mentioned in the Life of St. Bonnet (written just after 700) and confirmed through archaeological investigation are present within the area of the cloister: Notre-​Dame was built on the site of an oratory of the domain granted to the community, while Saint-​Sebastien may also have been built on a building of the domain or an earlier central-​ plan structure (perhaps a mausoleum).75 Finally, during the first decades of the female monastery at Hamage, founded in the second quarter of the seventh century,76 the community possessed only a single church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. It was situated outside the main enclosure and the first generations of the community were buried there. The wooden structure was rebuilt numerous times down to the twelfth century, even though a second church, dedicated to Mary, had been erected within the enclosure around 700. This church was used primarily for female burials, although there were also a number of male burials. The two religious buildings were laid out parallel to each other, a few dozen meters apart. Here, it is still difficult to interpret the layout in relation to the enclosure (or enclosures), given the restrictions related to access that were associated with a community of  nuns.







Charles Kraemer and Thomas Chenal, “Pour une archéologie du Romarici mons, ou le Saint-​Mont revisité (commune de Saint-​Amé–​Vosges),” Rencontres Transvogiennes 4 (2014): 57–​80; S. Bully et al., “Autour de Luxeuil: état des recherches sur les monastères d’Annegray, de Fontaine et du Saint-​Mont,” Le pays lorrain (2016): 241–​54. 73 Sébastien Bully, “Un dispositif funéraire spécifique: les formae. État de la question et nouvelles découvertes,” HAM 20.2 (2014): 480–​8. 74 Frédéric Chantinne and Philippe Mignot, “La collégiale Sainte-​ Gertrude de Nivelles: réexamen du dossier archéologique,” HAM 20.2 (2014): 513–​19. 75 Damien Martinez, “Les premiers monastères d’Auvergne à la lumière de la documentation textuelle et archéologique (Ve–​Xe siècle): état de la question,” in Bully and Sapin, L’origine des sites monastiques, http://​cem.revues.org/​14484 (date of last access: 9 April 2019). 76 Etienne Louis, “Une église monastique du haut Moyen Âge dans le nord de la France: le cas d’Hamage.” In Gaillard, L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule, 357–​85. 72

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These enclosures at Hamage have been identified archaeologically as a series of perpendicular ditches reinforced on the interior by a palisade of planks held in place by posts. The main enclosure, which has an irregular rectangular form,77 surrounds the Marian church, the quotidian buildings of the community, and perhaps also areas of craft production (writing tablets, bronze, glass).78 These remains at Hamage are exceptional, especially given the fact that there are very few monastic enclosures known from late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The fortified wall at the abbey of Landévennec, dated to the end of the eighth century, was formed of two courses of very large blocks which encase an internal body; it would seem to have been built on top of an earlier, narrower, drystone structure.79 At Romainmôtier, an enclosure was identified on the southern side of the monastery, where it incorporated a small stream of the Nozon, which was possibly reinforced by a dyke wall.80 The monasteries of Annegray and Luxeuil, founded by the Irish monk Columbanus in the last decade of the sixth century, have been the subject of a new wave of research over the past ten years.81 At Annegray, site of Columbanus’ first foundation, a landscape archaeological study combined with results from excavation and geophysical prospection suggests that the site had previously been occupied by a Gallo-​Roman sanctuary.82 The place chosen for the foundation was also located close to a road, although it has not been possible thus far to identify any structural remains of the early medieval phase of the monastery.83





Etienne Louis, “Espaces monastiques sacrés et profanes à Hamage (Nord), VIIe–​IXe siècles,” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 435–​72. Etienne Louis, “Les indices d’artisanat dans et autour du monastère de Hamage (Nord),” in Au seuil du cloître. La présence des laïcs (hôtelleries, bâtiments d’accueil, activités artisanales et de services) entre le Ve et le XIIe siècle, ed. Sébastien Bully and Christian Sapin, BUCEMA, Hors série 8 (2015), https://​journals.openedition.org/​cem/​13684. 79 Bardel, “L’abbaye Saint-​Gwénolé de Landévennec,” 51–​101. 80 Eggenberger and Sarott, “Romainmôtier (Suisse),” 48–​53. 81 Sébastien Bully et Christian Sapin, “Les monastères en Europe occidentale (Ve–​Xe siècle): topographie et structures des premiers établissements en Franche-​Comté et en Bourgogne. Projet collectif de recherche [PCR],” BUCEMA 15 (2011), https://​journals. openedition.org/​cem/​11948 (date of last access:  8 April 2019); for a synthesis of the research see Sébastien Bully and Emmet Marron, “L’instant Colomban:  conditions de fondation et premiers éléments de topographie des monastères d’Annegray et de Luxeuil,” in Bully et al., Colomban et son influence, 139–​63. 82 Emmet Marron, In His Silvis Silere:  The Monastic Site of Annegray—​Studies in a Columbanian Landscape (Galway, 2012). 83 Emmet Marron and Sébastien Bully, “Recent Archaeological Work on the Site of the Columbanian Monastery of Annegray (Haute-​Saône),” in Vivre dans la montagne vosgienne au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque de Gérardmer-​Munster (30 août–​1er septembre 2012), ed. C. Kraemer et J. Koch (Nancy, 2017), 187–​206. 77

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It is, however, becoming clear that the foundation of the monastery of Luxeuil shortly thereafter formed part of a political strategy of constructing a monastic domain at the limits of both dioceses and kingdoms, as evidenced by the choice of an antique settlement founded at the confluence of a number of routes. Luxovium boasted a therapeutic baths sanctuary that was still visible in the seventh century and may have also had other natural resources such as salt. The image evoked by the hagiographical account of Jonas of Bobbio (d. after 659)  of a retreat into the desert, thus loses some of its credibility. The Gallo-​Roman town, located within a castrum, was home to a Christian community from late antiquity.84 Recent excavations carried out on the extramural church of St. Martin have shown that the sector of the town in which it was situated was abandoned in the Roman period, before being reoccupied by a late antique necropolis. Around the year 500, on the site of this necropolis, a mausoleum or a funerary enclosure was augmented to form the huge funerary basilica of St. Martin, laid out in three aisles that opened onto a quadrangular apse and two funerary annexes. This basilica, completely filled with sarcophagi, became part of the monastery upon its foundation in the late sixth century. Subsequently, around 600 c e, an apsidal crypt was added, which became the location of the tomb of Abbot Valbert in 670. Throughout the seventh century and at the beginning of the eighth, an ad sanctos monastic necropolis developed around the apse of the church of Saint-​Martin. At the same time, monastic inhumations were made in a second church, possibly dedicated to St. Mary, immediately to the north of the abbatial church of St. Peter. Dating to the fifth century, the church of St. Mary also predates the monastery and may have later formed part of a double church organization along with the abbatial church of St. Peter. The result of these investigations is that the monastic topography of Luxeuil is inherited from an early Christian ecclesiastical conglomeration, the exact nature of which is still unknown. There is evidence for what would appear to be a Merovingian monastic building constructed in the remains of a vast Gallo-​Roman structure (found in the courtyard of the gothic cloister). The presence of a monumental, most likely public, antique building may have influenced the choice of location of the monastery within the town.85 At both Annegray and Luxeuil there have been no indications to date of any structures that are explicitly indicative of an Irish influence in terms of

Sébastien Bully, Aurélia Bully, and Morana Čaušević-​Bully (with the collaboration of Laurent Fiocchi), “Les origines du monastère de Luxeuil (Haute-​Saône) d’après les récentes recherches archéologiques,” in Gaillard, L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule, 311–​55. 85 Ibid., 316–​17 and 355.

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the topography of the sites. This is not the case at Hamage, mentioned above, where the excavation revealed a number of subcircular huts, dating to the second half of the seventh century and tentatively compared to contemporary dwellings found in Britain and Ireland.86 This brings us to the question of the evolution from cells to communal buildings. Toward the end of the seventh century, alongside these cells and perpendicular to the church of St. Mary in Hamage, a large wooden building was constructed. The numerous hearths within this structure, combined with a clear series of subdivisions, would seem to indicate personal spaces, although goods were stored centrally. A large room on the southern end of the building had a communal function. This building was replaced by a new wooden structure in the eighth century, this time parallel to the church. The new three-​aisled building contained a dozen small rooms (cells?) surrounding three central, communal rooms. In addition, the building boasted numerous hearths, latrines, and an external oven. This site thus provides an excellent synthesis of the evolution of monasteries, with a gradual communalization of space which reached its climax with the construction of a cloistral square in the ninth century. The excavations carried out at the Abbey of Saint-​Cybard at Angoulême also revealed a communal building dating to the end of the sixth century, consisting of a long hall along which at a later date, in the ninth or tenth century, small rooms, interpreted as cells, were placed.87 Another example of an early medieval communal building built on the remains of a late antique structure was revealed within the cloister of the Abbaye-​aux-​Dames de Saintes.88 The building consists of a large central space with a big hearth, to which at least four other rooms were connected, suggesting that there was a system of heating similar to a hypocaust. Such a subdivision and hierarchy of space, as well as indications of provisions for domestic comfort, have led to comparisons with certain buildings represented on the model plan of St. Gall, dating to the first quarter of the ninth century. The paucity of archaeological data, however, does not yet allow for the definition of a typical plan



Etienne Louis, “Sorores ac fratres in Hamatico degentes: naissance, évolution et disparition d’une abbaye au haut Moyen Âge: Hamage (France, Nord),” De la Meuse à l’Ardenne 29 (1999): 23. 87 Brigitte Boissavit-​Camus, “Saint-​Cybard:  l’invention d’un lieu (VIe–​XIe siècles),” in Saint-​Cybard. De l’abbaye au CNBDI. Histoire d’un site, réédition numérique (2004), www. alienor.org/​publications/​bibliotheque-​saint-​cybard/​PDF/​Saint-​Cybard.pdf (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 88 Christian Vernou, “Vestiges archéologiques du haut Moyen Âge à l’Abbaye-​aux-​Dames de Saintes (fouilles de 1986  à 1988),” in Monastères entre Loire et Charente, ed. Cécile Treffort and P. Brudy (Rennes, 2014), 219–​34. 86

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of monastic construction in Gaul, even if there was a communalization of living spaces. (S.B.)

Conclusion Late antique monastic communities in Italy and France do not seem to have been very structured, which may explain their frequent disappearance in Italy when faced with the significant changes of the sixth century, from the Gothic wars through the arrival of the Lombards. Following the establishment of Bobbio at the beginning of the seventh century, monastic foundations began to increase in number once again, especially during the last quarter of the seventh century thanks to favorable conditions such as the conversion of the Lombard monarchy to orthodox Catholicism. In France, on the other hand, an earlier institutionalization of monasteries ensured their survival and longevity. By engaging in a dialogue with the written sources, archaeology allows for a reconsideration of the conditions and mechanisms of the foundation of many sites, sometimes nuancing and sometimes challenging the motif of the foundation in the desert portrayed by hagiography. Monasteries were frequently founded in areas that were already inhabited, and on residential sites. It can be difficult, however, to determine whether there was a continuity of occupation on many sites, and to interpret the role and function of the antique elements within the early monastic architecture and topography. A more detailed understanding would give insight into the motivations that led to the choice of certain sites (such as the villa of Nero at Subiaco, or even the sanctuary of Jupiter and Apollo at Montecassino).89 The reuse of pre-​existing buildings also presents new questions concerning the legal status of the sites that monks occupied: who gave the authorizations—​in the case of public land—​and who made the donations, transfers, and spoliations?90 Although the role of the bishops is important, numerous foundations originated from the private initiatives of the traditional Roman aristocracy, as well as the Burgundian, Frankish, and Lombard aristocracies and the royal families. Monastic foundations were often very closely connected to the territory in which they were established, from an economic as well as a social and

Maria Grazia Fiore Cavaliere, “Monachesimo prebenedettino e benedettino: note di topografia monastica,” in Sublaqueum-​Subiaco. Tra Nerone e San Benedetto, ed. Maria Grazia Fiore Cavaliere (Roma, 1995), 13–​24. 90 Luchina Branciani, “Origine e sviluppo dell’eremitismo nella valle sublacense,” in Le valli dei monaci, ed. Letizia Ermini Pani (Spoleto, 2012), 585–​635. 89

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institutional perspective. We can point for instance to the similarities between the far-​removed monasteries of Luxeuil and Bobbio, particularly in terms of the political conditions and the choice of  sites. It is difficult to identify a model for the living quarters of the earliest monasteries in France and Italy, because of the great variety present in the excavated evidence—​in clear contrast to the common and clear language used in the written sources. The notion of “imported models”—​whether oriental (Kellia, grottoes, etc.) or Irish (roundhouses/​huts)—​must be dealt with very carefully, particularly considering the scarcity of the evidence. The archaeological evidence must also be interpreted in the light of the didactic textual sources (especially vitae). A communalization of space seems to have developed between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, with the emergence of structures that appear to have replaced individual cells. In order to construct a clearer picture, however, more work must be carried out on the living spaces in these communities.91 A  new approach would eventually emerge allowing us to understand the normalization of this communal lifestyle with the adoption of the cloister model, which enjoyed particular success in the West from the Carolingian period onwards.92 For the earlier period, however, the case of the monastery of Brescia, organized around a number of ‘courtyards’, is an exception to the rule. Although there was certainly a higher degree of organization in the early medieval period than in late antiquity, numerous charters, particularly in the Lombard kingdom, still make reference to monasteries that were in effect nothing more than small groups, in some cases of individuals from the same family, often female, who lived a life of seclusion in a simple house where they cared for the poor.93 Unfortunately, given the fact that such buildings bear no clearly visible signs of organization or codified structure, these monasteries remain invisible from an archaeological perspective. On another scale, but still difficult to detect archaeologically, are the dual-​sex monasteries that emerge in France during the Merovingian period.94 Finally, a major difference between France and Italy is undoubtedly the use of “families” of churches within a monastery, a form of organization that does not emerge in Italy until the eighth century, and even then in a much

On this see Bully and Sapin, Au seuil du cloître. Sapin, “De la cour au cloître carolingien.” 93 On house ascetics and consecrated women, see the article by Magnani in this volume. 94 See Anne-​ Marie Helvétius, “L’organisation des monastères féminins à l’époque mérovingienne,” in Female vita religiosa between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages, ed. Gert Melville and Anne Müller (Münster, 2011), 151–​69. and the article by Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 91

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less structured manner than in Gaul. In addition, more research is required to understand the presence of baptisteries within monasteries linked to pilgrimage sites (such as Tours and Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune, or on the plan of St. Gall), and perhaps also the role played by monasteries in the cura animarum.95 (S.B., E.D.)

Bibliography Bully, Sébastien. “Archéologie des premiers monastères dans le Centre-Est de la France: conditions d’implantation et de diffusion, topographie historique et organisation.” BUCEMA 13 (2009): 257–290 (http://cem.revues.org/index11085.html).   “Famille d’églises et circulations:  le cas de l’abbaye de Saint-Claude ( Jura) du Ve au XVIIIe siècle.” In Espace ecclésial et liturgie au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque de Nantua de novembre 2006, edited by Anne Baud, 75–89. Lyon, 2010. Bully, Sébastien, and Christian Sapin, eds. Au seuil du cloître. La présence des laïcs (hôtellerie, bâtiments d’accueil, activités artisanales et de services) entre le Ve et le XIIe s. Actes des 3èmes journées d’études monastiques, Vézelay, 27–28 juin 2013. BUCEMA, Hors série 8 (2015) (http://journals.openedition.org/cem/13574).  eds. L’origine des sites monastiques. Confrontation entre la terminologie des sources textuelles et les données archéologiques, Actes des 4èmes journées d’études monastiques, Baumeles-Messieurs, 4–5 septembre 2014. BUCEMA, Hors série 10 (2016) (http://journals. openedition.org/cem/14463). Bully, Sébastien, Aurélia Bully, and Morana Čaušević-Bully (with the collaboration of Laurent Fiocchi). “Les origines du monastère de Luxeuil (Haute-Saône) d’après les récentes recherches archéologiques.” In Gaillard, L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule, 311–55. Cantino Wataghin, Gisella. “Moines et monastères en Italie à l’arrivée de Colomban:  quelques données entre archéologie et histoire.” BUCEMA 20.2 (2016) (http://cem.revues.org/14521). Cantino Wataghin, Gisella, and Eleonora Destefanis. “Les espaces funéraires dans les ensembles monastiques du haut Moyen Âge.” In Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 503–54. Codou, Yann. “Aux origines du monachisme: le dossier de Saint-Honorat de Lérins.” In Gaillard, L’empreinte chrétienne en Gaule, 291–310.   “Églises multiples et identité monastique dans la Provence médiévale.” In Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 586–610. Codou, Yann, and Michel Lauwers, eds. Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge. Turnhout, 2009. De Rubeis, Flavia, and Federico Marazzi, eds. Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–XI). Topografia e strutture. Proceedings of the International Conference (Castel San Vincenzo, September 23rd–26th 2004). Rome, 2008.

Sofia Uggé, “I battisteri in ambito monastico nella tarda antichità e nell’alto medievo,” in L’edificio battesimale in Italia, ed. Daniela Gandolfi (Bordighera, 2001), 385–​403.

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Nuns and Monks at Work: Equality or Distinction between the Sexes? A Study of Frankish Monasteries from the Sixth to the Tenth Century Isa b e l l e   Ré al ( tr a n slate d b y L o chin Brouillard) Was there equality between the sexes in Frankish monasticism? Historians today agree that monastic life was conceived of at its inception as non-​ gendered. The men and women who chose such a life all aspired toward the same ideal:  living as perfect Christians. The paths that they followed in order to reach that ideal—​the desert, peregrination, private life, or life within a community—​varied, but the criterion of gender was not determinative in their decision-​ making. All shared a number of principles (asceticism, chastity, prayers, charity) drawing on an accepted canon of foundational texts (the Gospels, treatises, sermons, rules), which, though they might have been written with one sex or the other in mind, were used in an interchangeable manner.1 The charismatic role and the functions that these religious men and women performed for the lay community were as important, perhaps even more important in the case of consecrated virgins, whose angelic purity was believed to make their prayers more potent.2 The holiness of these monks and nuns, now “equal in Jesus Christ,” brought them closer to becoming “angels.” They were neither feminine nor masculine, and comprised a non-​gendered group distinct from that of the carnal, earthly lay people, leading Gisela Muschiol, Jo Ann McNamara, and other

Albrecht Diem, “The Gender of the Religious:  Wo/​ men and the Invention of Monasticism,” in Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, ed. Judith M. Bennet and Ruth Mazo Karras (Oxford, 2013), 439–​42; Albrecht Diem, “On Opening and Closing the Body:  Techniques of Discipline in Early Monasticism,” in Körper er-​fassen. Körpererfahrungen, Körpervorstellungen, Körperkonzepte, ed. Kordula Schnegg and Elisabeth Grabner-​Niel (Innsbruck, 2010), 91. 2 Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Le sexe des anges,” in De la différence des sexes. Le genre en Histoire, ed. Michelle Riot-​Sarcey (Paris, 2010), 101–​30 and 246–​51. 1

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scholars who have followed in their wake to suggest the idea of a monastic “third gender.”3 We might wonder at the fact that Roman society, built upon the difference between the sexes (among other stark divisions), should have produced a way of life that ignores this same difference. The Christian faith itself conveyed contradictory messages about the equality between men and women, and the discourse that prevailed in the end promoted masculine superiority.4 Is it possible that monastic men and women stood out as exceptions to the rule, escaping the established norms? I was steered toward these questions while studying the daily tasks of nuns in the early Middle Ages,5 and by comparing them to their male counterparts, not only within the framework of their spiritual functions, but also in that of the manual labor integral to monastic life, which included community services, work in the fields or the workshops, and medical and hospitable functions. Monastic labor, it seems, offers an interesting window onto the ways in which gendered differences played out in the environment of the cloister. For the sixth to the tenth century, the two types of sources that provide the most information on daily life in monasteries are monastic rules and hagiographies. Monasticism, the fertile soil for a rich diversity of forms of religious life until the ninth century, produced a great number of normative texts (about thirty of them identified to date), among which are an exceptional collection of rules specifically addressed to nuns.6 These rules,





Gisela Muschiol, Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern (Münster, 1994); Gisela Muschiol, “Men, Women, and Liturgical Practice in the Early Medieval West,” in Gender in the Early Medieval World:  East and West, 300–​900, ed. L. Brubaker and Julia M.  H. Smith (Cambridge, 2004), 198–​217; Nira Pancer, “Au-​delà du sexe et du genre:  l’indifférenciation des sexes en milieu monastique (VIe–​VIIe siècles),” Revue de l’histoire des religions 219.3 (2002): 299–​323; Jo Ann McNamara, “An Unresolved Syllogism: The Search for a Christian Gender System,” in Conflicted Identities and Multiple Masculinities: Men in the Medieval West, ed. Jacqueline Murray (New York, 1999), 1–​24; Jo Ann McNamara, “Chastity as a Third Gender in the History and Hagiography of Gregory of Tours,” in The World of Gregory of Tours, ed. Kathleen Mitchell and Ian Wood (Leiden, 2002), 199–​209; Jacqueline Murray, “One Flesh, Two Sexes, Three Genders?” in Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives, ed. Lisa M. Bitel and Felice Lifshitz (Philadelphia, PA, 2008), 34–​51; Helvétius, “Le sexe des anges,” 110–​13. 4 McNamara, “Unresolved Syllogism,” 1–​24; Michel Lauwers, “L’institution et le genre: à propos de l’accès des femmes au sacré dans l’Occident médiéval,” Clio. Femmes, genre, histoire 2 (1995): 279–​313; Christiane Klapisch-​Zuber, “Masculin/​féminin,” in Dictionnaire raisonné de l’Occident Médiéval, ed. Jacques Le Goff and Jean-​Claude Schmitt (Paris, 1999), 655–​60. 5 Isabelle Réal, “Tâches et gestes quotidiens des moniales en Gaule franque (VIe–​Xe siècle):  fragments de vie domestique,” in La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et Occident (IVe–​Xe s.), ed. Maria Mossakowska and Olivier Delouis (Cairo, 2018), 203–​36. 6 See the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. See also Albrecht Diem, Das monastische Experiment. Die Rolle des Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens (Münster, 2005); Albrecht Diem, “Inventing the Holy Rule:  Some 3

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intended to organize communal life, and in particular to evenly divide the activities of the day between the opus Dei, the lectio divina, manual labor, and time for rest and meals, are well suited to inform us about the everyday tasks of nuns. From the ninth century, monastic life was progressively standardized according to the model of the RB.7 Through the example of holy founders, abbots, or abbesses, hagiographical narratives, for their part, presented an ideal monastic lifestyle meant either to reinforce or add to the teachings of the existing rule, or to make up for the absence of a rule by granting to its audience a vivid and concrete model to follow.8 If we keep in mind the pedagogical role of these vitae, aimed above all at educating newcomers,9 we can begin to gather from them enlightening evidence for the monastic model promoted at the time they were written. In order to analyze the differences in the discourses and models endorsed by the sources, it is necessary to include a significant sample of such narratives written between the sixth century and the beginning of the eleventh, and to include the Lives of both male and female saints.10 None of these sources was meant to describe reality. They reflect, rather, an ideal model that allows us to grasp a system of representations. On the one hand, this system is rich with information about the gendered distribution of manual labor in the monastic milieu. On the other hand, we can identify some areas possibly exempt from these gendered categories, which potentially created a “third gender” common to both religious men and women.

Were Monks and Nuns Assigned to the Same Tasks? Work was one of the essential elements of cenobitic life, punctuating a monk or nun’s daily routine along with reading and the divine office.11 In his De opere



Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrik Dey and Elisabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 53–​84; Gérard Moyse, “Monachisme et réglementation monastique en Gaule avant Benoît d’Aniane,” in Sous la règle de saint Benoît. Structures monastiques et société en France du Moyen Âge à l’époque moderne (Geneva and Paris, 1982), 3–​19. 7 Joseph Semmler, “Le monachisme occidental du VIIIe au Xe siècle:  formation et réformation,” Revue bénédictine 103 (1993): 68–​89. See also the articles by Kramer, and by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 8 Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Hagiographie et réformes monastiques dans le monde franc du VIIe siècle,” Médiévales 62 (2012): 34. 9 See for instance the conclusion to Vita Hathumodae 28. 10 About forty saints’ Lives were chosen on the basis of their narrative taking place in a monastic environment, twenty-​f ive of them concerning female saints. 11 Jacques Dubois, “Le travail des moines au Moyen Âge,” in Le travail au Moyen Âge. Une approche interdisciplinaire, ed. Jacqueline Hamesse and Colette Muraille-​Samaran

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monachorum, Augustine (d. 430) laid down the theoretical principles that justified the necessity of manual labor for monks: taking up Paul’s saying that “if any man will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess. 3:10), he applied it to the monks as being required to earn their living through toil and sweat.12 This idea would often be reiterated in rules,13 and was accompanied from the fifth century by another foundational principle that Benedict, without being the first or the last to do so,14 brought to the fore: work is the remedy to idleness (otium), abhorred in Christian thought (RB 48.4).15 Other arguments were also used as a rationale: for instance, labor enabled the monastery to care for the poor by sharing with them a portion of its production (RcuiV 12.1). Some rules presented it as an exercise in obedience (RB 5.7–​9), a form of humility (RB 6.49–​50), and an abnegation of individual will, especially when the chores were imposed rather than being picked (RCaeV 29.1–​2). Work was even interpreted as penance for the monks who had shown neglect or been found at fault.16 In fact, whether it stemmed from a need or an obligation, work always entailed spiritual advancement. From this theoretical vantage point, no distinction was drawn between nuns and monks. As for the internal organization of labor, there must have been as many different systems as there were different communities, but some structural features can be highlighted: a hierarchical distribution of chores that involved many degrees of responsibility, teamwork, and a schedule based on weekly rotations. Regarding the first, in the most important communities we find three highest officers (prior, cellarer, porter) who share key functions (general administration, management of goods, and contact with the outside world). Below them are certain “team leaders” (in some sources called deans (decani/​ decana),17 seniores,18 or praepositae19) who oversee a small group of monks or nuns performing a specific task. Finally, we have those who carry out these tasks, often chosen from among the most recent arrivals. In certain rules, the teams act in relay with each other to cover different jobs (cooking, cleaning,



(Louvain-​la-​Neuve, 1990), 61–​100; Pierre Bonnerue, “Concordance sur les activités manuelles dans les règles monastiques anciennes,” Studia Monastica 35.1 (1993): 69–​96. André Mandouze, “‘Au travail, les moines’: un mot d’ordre de saint Augustin,” in Avec et pour Augustin, ed. Christine Mandouze and Luce Pietri (Paris, 2013), 485–​500. 13 RM 86.18–​99; RFer 28.1–​2; RcuiV 12.3. 14 RMac 8.2; RM 13.44, 16.46, 50.1–​2, 50.7, 85.7; RCaeV 15.1. 15 See also RCaeV 15.1 and IsA X; Jacques Biarne, “La vie quotidienne des moines en Occident du IVe au VIe siècle,” Collectanea Cisterciensia 1 (1987): 3–​19. 16 RFer 21.4–​5; RB 48.23; RColC 9.2; RcuiV 12.18–​35. 17 RB 21; Vita Leobae 4; Vita Hathumodae 20. 18 RCaeV 4, 8, and 31; RcuiV 24; RDon 6.2; Gertrude, De virtutibus quae facta… (c. 700); Vita Aldegundae prima 22; Vita Bertillae 2. 19 RCaeV 35; IsA 24. 12

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baking, table waiting in the refectory, brewing), according to weekly shifts from one Sunday to the next.20 Again, both religious men and women seem to have followed the same organizational model. The question remains whether this non-​gendered understanding of work extended to the manual chores specifically assigned to either monks or nuns. As will soon become clear, the prescriptions expressed by rules, just as much as the anecdotes in the vitae, paint a stark picture of the manual work of monks and nuns, which seems to have been mostly determined by their sex.

Nuns at Work The first work prescribed to the nuns by the rules was household work, which Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) defined as “any physical service, may it be in the kitchen or in any task required for daily needs” (RCaeV 14). The Regula cuiusdam ad virgines (RcuiV), written a century later, provides more detail:  cooking, bread-​making, brewing, serving in the refectory, laundry, taking care of the fire, and preparing the baths21 were all tasks requiring a daily rotation. Hagiographical texts, and particularly those from the seventh century, emphasize these various activities, setting up, as a model to follow, the humbling toil of the female saints, especially when they were queens.22 The vitae therefore show these noblewomen cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes, cleaning shoes, washing clothes, baking bread, melting wax, or making candles.23 The hagiographers underscored these degrading tasks with such insistence because they were tailoring their discourse to an aristocratic audience, who found it harder to be subjected to ascetic discipline. Besides these domestic chores, the only manual activity clearly prescribed by the rules addressed to nuns revolved around textile work. Caesarius goes into particular detail when he covers the different tasks involved:  lanificii cura (which probably refers to spinning and weaving), tailoring of clothes, dyeing, and needlework-​like embroidery (RCaeV 4, 16, 27–​8, 44–​5). Donatus (d. after 658)  repeats these prescriptions almost word for word in his rule (RDon 62–​3), specifying that these activities are exclusively intended for the

RM 18.2–​3 and 31.2; RCaeV 14.2; RFer 38.9; RcuiV 12; RDon 67.2. RcuiV 11 and 12. See also RDon 26.1 and 67.1; RColV. 22 For more details see Réal, “Tâches et gestes quotidiens.” 23 Vita Radegundae I.23–​4; Vita Bathildis 11; Vita Sigolenae II.16; Vita Sadalbergae 21, 23, and 25; Vita Odiliae 11; Vita Austrebertae 10; Vita Aureae 6.5; Vita Aldegundae prima 27; Vita Aldetrudis 2; Vita Liutbirgae 30.

20 21

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nuns and not for people from outside the monastery, whether they be clerics or relatives.24 Likewise, the only type of work suggested by Benedict of Aniane in his Institutio sanctimonialium is the weaving of wool and linen, and the making of clothes (IsA 13). Such a restriction is also echoed in the hagiographical sources, especially from the Carolingian era, which ascribe to St. Herlinda and St. Relinda, for instance, the making of “palliola ornate with pearls and gold,” or mention the talents of Liutberga, who was trained from her childhood in the “rudiments of textile work (artem texturae)” and who later taught to young girls these muliebrium operum artifex (“many arts of women”).25 Some of these precious fabrics have, moreover, come down to us, often as relics, confirming that this occupation truly was practiced in women’s monasteries; the most impressive is the tunic embroidered by Queen Bathilda.26 One last type of activity appearing in the sources relates to the care of the sick, the poor, and guests.27 These caregiving, caritative, or hospitality functions were directed toward different social groups that need to be dealt with separately in order to show their nuances. The sick who are most often referred to in the rules and the vitae were, in fact, the nuns themselves. The obligation to provide care to one’s sisters was held up as an indispensable virtue on the ladder of perfection leading to sainthood, and also as crucial to the model of the good abbess, which explains the recurrence of such episodes in both the rules28 and the vitae.29 In contrast, mentions of hospitable and caritative functions performed toward people from outside the cloister are found inconsistently from one rule to the other, and vary depending on the degree of the monastery’s openness to the secular world. Thus, in RCaeV, which is the basis for RDon, the great care taken to respect enclosure appears to limit, as much as possible, hospitality and charity: the parlor is the only space of contact with guests, who are forbidden to enter the monastery and share a meal there, while the task of distributing leftovers



RCaeV 46 and 51; RDon 67.4. Vita Harlindis et Relindis 5; Vita Liutbergae 28 and 22. Valérie L. Garver, “Learned Women? Liutberga and the Instruction of Carolingian Women,” in Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World, ed. Janet Nelson and Patrick Wormald (Cambridge, 2007), 121–​38. 26 Jean-​ Pierre Laporte and Naomi Moore, “Tissus médiévaux de Chelles et de Faremoutiers,” in Tissu et vêtement. 5000 ans de savoir-​faire, ed. Monique Depraetere-​ Dargery (Guiry-​en-​Vexin, 1986), 153–​72; Mildred Budny and Dominic Tweddle, “The Maaseik Embroideries,” Anglo-​Saxon England 13 (1984): 65–​96. 27 See the article by Brenner in volume II. 28 RCaeV 32 and 42; RcuiV 4.12, and c. 15.9; RDon 12.1–​11. 29 Vita Radegundis I.23–​4, 29, and 37; Vita Radegundis II.8; Vita Rusticulae 19; Vita Bathildis 11; Vita Bertillae 2; Vita Sadalbergae 27; Vita Leobae 15; Vita Hathumodae 10 and 15; Vita secunda Austrebertae 16; Vita Austrudis 16. 24

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to the poor is handed over to the provisor.30 The RcuiV, influenced by the RB, however, emphasizes that the role of hostess is reserved for the abbess, and anticipates that the nuns will receive “all who arrive outside in the guesthouse, just as their dignity requires,” which implies the existence of a real guesthouse supervised by a porter or doorkeeper.31 In the same way, from the ninth century, IsA recommends the building not only of a hospitale pauperum—​located “outside, close to the church where the priests and their servants carry out the divine office,” and for which the priests would be responsible—​but also “inside of the monastery, an asylum where only the widows and poor women may be hosted and fed,” and which, in this case, would be in the nuns’ care (IsA 28). It is not uncommon to find the female saints in hagiographical sources healing the sick, having traveled to see them, or performing caritative work by feeding, washing, and clothing the poor.32 Yet it remains difficult to apprehend, beyond these hagiographical topoi, the actual practices and structures that had been set up. We learn through a detail in a miracle story that there were medici in Nivelles at the start of the seventh century, and only the late vita of St. Odilia, written in the tenth to eleventh century, mentions that a hospice (hospitale) was built below the monastery of Hohenburg, to make it more accessible to the “disabled and the sick.”33 Apart from domestic chores, textile work, and the care given to ill nuns, and eventually to guests and the poor, the rules written for nuns do not prescribe any other kind of work. The Lives of the female saints are not much more revealing. Only one of them describes a nun working in the garden, at Eboriac.34 Another hints at the copying of manuscripts by the blessed Harlind and Relind, but does so in order to justify the existence of a number of evangeliaries, preserved a century after their death, at the monastery of Aldeneick.35





RCaeV 38, 39, 42, 53, and 65; RDon 56.3, 57.1, and 58. RcuiV 1.8, 3.10, and 3.21–​3. Albrecht Diem, “Rewriting Benedict: The ‘Regula cuiusdam ad virgines’ and Intertextuality as a Tool to Construct a Monastic Identity,” Journal of Medieval Latin 17 (2007): 313–​28; Louise de Seilhac, “La Règle de saint Benoît dans la tradition au féminin,” Regulae Benedicti Studia 16 (1987): 57–​68. 32 Vita Radegundis I.4, 17–​19, 27, 30, and 33; Vita Sigolenae II.16 and III.17; Vita Aldegundae prima 17; Vita Opportunae III.16; Vita Bathildis 12; Vita Bertillae 6; Vita Geretrudis 3; Vita Aldegundae prima 19 and 23; Vita Waldetrudis 58; Vita Hathumodae 5; Vita Odiliae 11; Vita Eustadiolae 6; Vita Leobae 12. 33 Gertrude, De virtutibus … 5; Vita Odiliae 14. 34 Vitae Columbani abbatis discipulorumque eius, Life of Columbanus 17.12. 35 Vita Harlindis et Relindis 12. Alain Dierkens, “Les origines de l’abbaye d’Aldeneick (première moitié du VIIIe siècle): examen critique,” Le Moyen Âge 85 (1979): 389–​432.

30

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Monks at Work For their part, male saints’ Lives and the rules written for monks offer a much wider and more diverse spectrum of manual tasks than was the case with sources for religious women. According to many rules from the sixth century, monks did not shirk domestic chores such as cooking, bread-​making, waiting tables, cleaning, and clothes washing.36 In addition, however, they could practice different skilled trades such as weaving fishnets or making shoes.37 RM and RFer advise monks to copy books and “decorate the pages with their fingers.”38 Added to these activities are agricultural work, animal husbandry, gardening, wood chopping, and fishing.39 Certain rules even mention the selling of monastic produce, referring to a part of the crops or artisanal products.40 These different activities can also be found in various instances in the hagiographies. Most occur outside the monastery; the monks reclaim the land,41 chop wood,42 plough, sow,43 reap,44 strengthen the hedges,45 plant, prune, and protect the vines from predators,46 tend to the mill,47 herd their flocks,48 and fish in the rivers or the sea.49 Within the walls of the cloister, they build and renovate buildings50 or make books.51 In comparison, domestic chores are seldom prescribed. Nearly absent from hagiographical narratives before the ninth century (except for mending in two vitae52), their appearance comes about at the time of the diffusion of the RB, and it is therefore not a coincidence when they are found in particular in the vitae of founders or

RM 18, 19, 21.3, 23, 30.1, 95.17–​18; RB 35, 46.1; RFer 38; RColC II.4; RTar 10.1 and 19.6. RM 50, 75.4, 86.6, and 86.27; RB 46.1 and 48.24; RMac 30; RFer 28.13. 38 RM 54.1; RFer 28.10–​12. 39 RO 43; RM 19.22, 86.27, and 95.11; RB 41.2–​4, 46.1, 48.7, and 66.6; RTar 9.9–​11 and 12.1; RFer 26.5–​7 and 28.9–​13. 40 RM 17.16 and 85; RB 57.4; RTar 11.2 and 12.2. 41 Vita Bertuini 8; Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 59 and Life of Bertulf 23; Vita Iohannis 7; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 24. 42 Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 24; Vita Ermelandi 12; Vita Germani abbatis Grandivallensis 5; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 13. 43 Vitae Patrum Iurensium 10; Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 28 and Life of Attala 4. 44 Vita Agili 32; Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 20–​1 and 23; Vita Filiberti 15; Vita Iohannis 16. 45 Vitae Columbani, Life of Bertulf, 23. 46 Vita Ansberti 9; Vitae Columbani, Life of Bertulf 21 and 22. 47 Vitae Columbani, Life of Attala 3 and Life of Bertulf 18; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 52 and 57. 48 Vitae Columbani, Life of Attala 6. 49 Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 18–​19; Vita Filiberti 9. 50 Vita Bertuini 9; Vitae Columbani, Life of Attala 6; Vita Ermelandi 4; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 13 and 170. 51 Vita Ansberti 7; Vitae Columbani, Life of Attala 6. 52 Vitae Columbani, Life of Attala 6; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 173. 36 37

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reformers such as Benedict of Aniane, John of Gorze, or Stephen of Obazine, which serve as mirrors for the monks.53 In addition, rules and hagiographies insist on a hospitality-​providing role for the monks. Not only are they often portrayed welcoming visitors in the appropriate guesthouse,54 but some sources also show them receiving the poor and the sick in the xenodochia.55 It is clear that, with a few exceptions,56 male monasteries were open to the world. Moreover, monks enjoyed a relative freedom that allowed some to leave the enclosure of the monastery with the permission of their superior, sometimes traveling great distance.57

Did Nuns and Monks Bypass Gender Norms? This comparative study of the daily chores of nuns and monks demonstrates how the system of representations reflected by our sources clearly identifies specific spaces and functions for each sex. This gendered determination of the nuns’ and monks’ roles was doubtlessly ingrained in contemporary medieval minds. Caesarius’ preamble to his rule for nuns attests to this fact:  “And, because many things in monasteries of women seem to differ from the customs of monks, we have chosen a few things from among many, according to which the elder religious can live under rule with the younger, and strive to carry out spiritually what they see to be especially adapted for their sex” (RCaeV 2). Donatus, building from the same premise—​“since the rules of the aforesaid fathers [Benedict and Columbanus] were written for men and not for women”—​therefore instructs the nuns of Jussa-​Moutier to only draw from these two rules “all that is proper for the special observance of the female sex.”58 Is then the monastery only a replica of society, founded on the same gendered categories?





Vita Benedicti abbatis Anianensis 7–​8, 12, 14, 42, 52; Vita Iohannis abbatis Gorziensis 62–​ 3, 76–​7; Vita prima sancti Vulmari 3; Vita Prima Eusitii, *373. See Giulia Barone, “La vie quotidienne dans une grande abbaye réformée: Gorze au Xe siècle” and Michel Aubrun, “Le travail manuel dans les monastères et les communautés religieuses au XIIe siècle: l’exemple du Limousin,” in La vie quotidienne des moines et chanoines réguliers au Moyen Âge et temps modernes, ed. Marek Derwich (Wroclaw, 1995), 131–​40 and 173–​77. 54 Vitae Columbani, Life of Columbanus 33; Vita Filiberti 8 and 10. 55 Vita Agili 29; Vita Ansberti 13; Vitae Patrum Iurensium 29. 56  RAV. 57 Vita Filiberti 23 and 42. 58 RDon Prologue. 53

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The Monastery as Mirror of the Secular World The monastic space does indeed appear as a reflection of the world insofar as this specialization of the chores between monks and nuns directly imitates the social order that allocates to each sex its own sphere: women are assigned to domestic tasks and textile work (the opus feminile par excellence), inherent to the “home” and therefore to the private sphere, whereas men are associated with manual labor and interaction with the outside world.59 Similarly, the necessity of claustrum or enclosure, an essential feature of monasticism as a whole, seems to have matched the medieval perception of female nature, seen as dominated by a frail constitution and requiring special care.60 Such a perception explains why the legislators decided, very early on, to impose a stricter enclosure on nuns, meaning to protect them from external aggressions and temptations and, in so doing, preserving their chastity and the efficacy of their prayers.61 Caesarius of Arles, whose rule for virgins is the first to emphasize strict enclosure, demanded that nuns be “hidden” (retrusae) until their death (RCaeV 2 and 50), while this same demand was relaxed in his rule for monks into an encouragement to persevere in monastic life until death (RCaeM 1.1). Aurelianus of Arles (d. 551) is the only one to impose the same kind of enclosure on both monks and nuns in his two rules (RAV 2 and RAM 2). A mostly female phenomenon at the start, such confinement becomes even more severe in the Carolingian period, again more so in the case of nuns than monks.62 Enclosure, however, was justified based not only on an assumption of feminine weakness, but also on masculine superiority,63 placing women in a position





Ludolf Kuchenbuch, “Opus feminile:  das Geschlechtverhältnis im Spiegel von Frauenarbeit im früheren Mittelalter,” in Weibliche Lebensgestaltung im frühen Mittelalter, ed. Hans W. Goetz (Cologne, Weimar, and Vienna, 1991), 139–​75; David Herlihy, Opera muliebria: Women at Work in Medieval Europe (Philadelphia, PA, 1990), 75–​81; Jean-​Pierre Devroey, “Men and Women in Early Medieval Serfdom:  The Ninth-​Century North Frankish Evidence,” Past & Present 166 (2000):  3–​30; Valerie L. Garver, Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World (Ithaca, NY, and London, 2009), 224–​68. 60 Klapisch-​ Zuber, “Masculin/​ féminin,” 655–​ 60; Jacqueline Murray, “Femininity and Masculinity,” in Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, ed. Margaret C. Schaus, S. Mosher Stuard, and Thomas M. Izbicki (New York, 2006), 284–​7. 61 Jacques Biarne, “Cloître, clôture, peregrinatio: la frontière spirituelle du moine dans le monde antique d’Occident,” in Frontières terrestres, frontières célestes dans l’antiquité, ed. Aline Rousselle (Paris, 1995), 401; Muschiol, Famula Dei, 178–​91. 62 Jane T. Schulenburg, “Strict Active Enclosure and Its Effects on the Female Monastic Experience, 500–​1100,” in Distant Echoes: Medieval Religious Women, vol. 1, ed. John A. Nichols and Lillian Thomas Shank (Kalamazoo, MI, 1984), 51–​86. See also the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume. 63 Christiane Klapisch-​Zuber and Florence Rochefort, “Clôtures,” Clio. femmes, genre, histoire 26 (2007): 6, http://​journals.openedition.org/​clio/​5273 (date of last access: 18 August 2018); Lauwers, “L’institution et le genre,” 279–​81. 59

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of inadequacy and establishing a necessary relationship of dependency upon men regarding matters such as liturgy, political protection, temporal management, manual labor, obligations in the secular world, and sometimes even in hospitality functions.64 This assumption of inadequacy made the nuns’ cloistering that much more effective, since men replaced them in a number of roles, especially those requiring one to leave the monastery. A comparative study reveals that the rules written for nuns, included those inspired by RB, tend to eliminate travel and work outside the monastery completely.65 It is thus possible to understand the interest in, as well as the success of, so-​called double monasteries from the seventh century, whose structure relied on the complementarity of the functions of the two sexes, with a community of monks attached to the service of nuns.66 The double monastery of Nivelles, for example, became a model of harmony as St. Gertrude (d. 659) “entrusted the management of the community, for the outside, to good and faithful administrators among the brothers and, for within the enclosure of the monastery, to spiritual sisters.”67 The Carolingian reforms increased the subordination of these female monasteries under a masculine authority by submitting them directly to the power of bishops and by reinforcing the rules of claustration, thus diminishing the abbess’s autonomy in one fell swoop.68

The Monastery as Transfiguration of the World If monastic daily life reflected binary gender categories, was there then a third category—​a “third gender”—​shared by both religious men and women, not discernible among the laity? Chastity has been considered by some as key to achieving this third gender category, since, by turning their back on sexuality, monks and nuns would have freed themselves from gender norms prevalent among the laity.69 Renouncing one’s body, however, was not an equal process



Kaspar Elm, “Le personnel masculin au service des religieuses au Moyen Âge,” in Les religieuses dans le cloître et dans le monde des origines à nos jours, ed. Nicole Bouter (Saint-​Etienne, 1995), 331–​4; Hedwig Röckelein, “Hiérarchie, ordre et mobilité dans le monachisme féminin,” in Hiérarchie et stratification sociale dans l’Occident médiéval (400–​1100), ed. François Bougard, Dominique Iogna-​Prat, and Régine Le Jan (Turnhout, 2008), 206–​7. See also the article by Griffiths in volume II. 65 Louise de Seilhac, “L’utilisation de la Règle de saint Benoît dans les monastères féminins,” in Atti des 7° congresso internazionale di studi sull’alto medioevo, Norcia/​ Subiaco/​Cassino/​Montecassino, 29 settembre–​5 octobre 1980, vol. 2 (Spoleto, 1982), 527–​49. 66 Helvétius, “Hagiographie et réformes monastiques,” 40–​1. See the articles by Helvétius, and Beach and Juganaru in this volume. 67 Vita Geretrudis 3. 68 Schulenburg, “Strict Active Enclosure,” 51–​86. 69 McNamara, “Chastity as a Third Gender,” 199–​209. 64

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for religious men and women.70 It is no coincidence that most of the treatises on virginity are addressed to women; the most well known are Tertullian’s (d. after 220) Ad uxorem, Cyprian’s (d. 258) De habitu virginum, Ambrose’s De virginibus, John Chrysostom’s (d. 407)  and Gregory of Nyssa’s (d. 394)  De virginitate, and Augustine’s De sancta virginitate. As was the case for enclosure, only RAM demands from both monks and nuns a vow of virginity.71 Likewise, in hagiographical sources, chastity turns out to be much more significant for female asceticism, as if, because of their intrinsic weakness, women have to make extra efforts to tame their libido.72 If they are able to achieve this prowess, then they are described by their hagiographers as acting viriliter—​that is, as acting as courageously as a men.73 Their gender thus fades so that it can be subordinated to, or even merged with, masculinity.74 On the other hand, monks always operate within the framework of masculinity since, while wrestling with lust, they display a quality associated with martial prowess: courage.75 In both cases, the higher standard is set according to masculinity and not a third, neutral gender. On the path leading to holiness, the criteria are at first glance the same for men and women. Upon a second glance, however, the demands and means advocated to achieve sanctity sharply diverge. Women must indeed transcend their natural weakness in order to perform feats that can measure up to

70



71







Peter Brown, The Body and Society:  Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1987). Albrecht Diem, “…ut si professus fuerit se omnia impleturum, tunc excipiatur. Observations on the Rules for Monks and Nuns of Caesarius and Aurelianus of Arles,” in Edition und Erforschung lateinischer patristischer Texte, ed. Vistoria Zimmerl-​Panagl, Lukas J. Dorf bauer, and Clemens Weidmann (Berlin and Boston, 2014), 221–​2. 72 Jane T. Schulenburg, Forgetful of Their Sex:  Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500–​1100 (Chicago, IL, and London, 1998), 127–​75; Paulette L’Hermite-​Leclercq, “L’image des moniales dans les exempla,” in Derwich, La vie quotidienne, 477–​97; Felice Lifshitz, “Priestly Women, Virginal Men: Litanies and Their Discontents,” in Bitel and Lifshitz, Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe, 87–​102; Murray, “Femininity and Masculinity,” 285; Lynda Coon, “Gender and the Body,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 3: Early Medieval Christianities c.600–​c.1100, ed. Thomas F. X. Noble and Julia M. H. Smith (Cambridge, 2014), 433–​52. 73 Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Virgo et virago:  réflexions sur le pouvoir du voile consacré d’après les sources hagiographiques de la Gaule du Nord,” in Femmes et pouvoirs des femmes à Byzance et en Occident (VIe–​XIe siècle), ed. Stéphane Lebecq, Alain Dierkens, Régine Le Jan, and Jean-​Marie Sansterre (Lille, 1999), 189–​203; Julia M. H. Smith, “The Problem of Female Sanctity in Carolingian Europe,” Past & Present 146 (1995): 18–​20. 74 Katrien Heene, The Legacy of Paradise: Marriage, Motherhood and Woman in Carolingian Edifying Literature (Frankfurt, 1997), 248–​54. 75 McNamara, “Unresolved Syllogism,” 9; Jacqueline Murray, “Masculinizing Religious Life: Sexual Prowess, the Battle for Chastity and the Monastic Identity,” in Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages, ed. Patricia H. Cullum and Katherine J. Lewis (Cardiff, 2004),  24–​42.

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those of their male counterparts.76 If we consider, for example, the monastic ideals that should theoretically apply to both religious men and women, we can observe that, among the models suggested to nuns in the sixth and seventh centuries, humility is attained through domestic chores. This is the only kind of work deemed degrading enough for these high-​bred nuns.77 As stated above, male saints’ Lives from the same period associate obedience and humility not with community services but with agricultural work. It is only beginning in the ninth century that certain vitae depict male saints lowering themselves to carry out domestic chores, often within the walls of the monastery, in a period in which agricultural work becomes less prevalent.78 Conversely, the portrayal of Carolingian nuns performing hospitality functions becomes common at this same time.79 It is therefore the widespread diffusion of RB that brings about a certain symmetry, though never perfect, in the system of representations. The monastery, however, provided a sphere of action that was shared by both monks and nuns in the context of their spiritual mission: reading, teaching, and transmitting the sacred texts.80 Although the task of copying manuscripts is neither very frequent nor stressed in the rules and the Lives of female saints, historians know through other sources that such an activity was widespread among nuns. According to Caesarius’ hagiographer, the nuns of Saint-​Jean at Arles “did not cease to transcribe beautifully the holy books, with their own mother as their teacher,” even though RCaeV never mentions such activity (Vita Caesarii, 230–​1). The Vita’s sponsor was probably the abbess of Saint-​Jean and it is therefore likely that she herself wanted to highlight this activity of her nuns. Other evidence similarly points to the fact that certain female monasteries ( Jouarre, Chelles, Faremoutiers, Rebais, Andelys-​sur-​ Seine, and Saint-​Jean de Laon) were the site of active book production.81 In the





Smith, “Problem of Female Sanctity,” 3–​37; John Kitchen, Saint’s Lives and the Rhetoric of Gender: Male and Female in Merovingian Hagiography (New York and Oxford, 1998). It seems to me, contra Diem, “Gender of the Religious,” 444, that virtues, vices, and sins have a gender. 77 See Réal, “Tâches et gestes quotidiens.” 78 Dubois, “Le travail des moines au Moyen Âge,” 75–​80. 79 See Vitae of Leoba, Liutberga, Opportuna, Hathumoda, and Odilia. Also Jane T.  Schulenburg, “Women’s Monasteries and Sacred Space:  The Promotion of Saints’ Cults and Miracles,” in Bitel and Lifshitz, Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe,  68–​86. 80 Alison Beach, “Claustration and Collaboration between the Sexes in the Twelfth-​ Century Scriptorium,” in Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts:  Religion in Medieval Society, ed. Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein (Ithaca, NY, 2000), 57–​75. 81 Rosamond McKitterick, “Nuns’ Scriptoria in England and Francia in the Eighth Century,” Francia 19.1 (1992): 4–​5. See also Rosamond McKitterick, “The Diffusion of Insular Culture in Neustria between 650 and 850: The Implications of the Manuscript 76

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area of Paris in the seventh and eighth centuries, several manuscripts from this period have been attributed to Jouarre and Saint-​Jean de Laon.82 Similarly, at Chelles, Abbess Berthild sent voluminibus multis librorum (“numerous volumes of books”), made on site, to help set up new communities in England (Vita Bertillae 6). At Nivelles, in the same period, Gertrude imported manuscripts from Rome, and, a generation later, the monastery was able to grant a certain sister, Begge, “the relics and books of the Holy Gospels” necessary to establish Andenne.83 We also find scriptoria on the other side of the Channel. Around 735, Abbess Eadberg of Minster sent books to Boniface (d. 754), including one embellished with golden letters.84 Trained in this renowned monastic school, Leoba (d. 782) in turn recreated a great intellectual center in her monastery, Tauberbischofsheim (Vita Leobae 7 and 11). At the end of the eighth century and in the ninth century, a few female monasteries were still famed for the activity of their scriptoria: Chelles, very dynamic under the abbacy of Gisela between 785 and 810, and Notre-​Dame of Soissons under Abbess Theodrade, the sister of Adalard of Corbie, produced beautiful manuscripts.85 Made at the monastery itself or acquired at great cost, books were therefore present in every community, female as well as male, because they were the very foundation of meditation and knowledge of  God.86 The rules thus insist that the nuns be able to read and know the Psalter by heart, exactly like the monks.87 Abbess Caesaria the Younger (d. c. 561) vigorously repeated this principle to Radegund (d. 587) when she founded Poitiers, specifying that all who entered should learn to read and learn the Psalter by heart.88 Both the young and new members of the monastery were taught





Evidence,” in La Neustrie. Les pays au Nord de la Loire de 650 à 850, ed. Hartmut Atsma (Sigmaringen, 1989), 395–​432; Rosamond McKitterick, “Women and Literacy in the Early Middle Ages,” in Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th–​9th Centuries (Aldershot, 1994), 22–​36. 82 Suzanne Martinet, “Les manuscrits de Sainte-​Marie-​Saint-​Jean de Laon au VIIIe siècle,” in L’art du haut Moyen Âge dans le nord-​ouest de la France, ed. Dominique Poulain and Michel Perrin (Greifswald, 1993), 263–​76. See also Jan Gerchow, Katrinette Bodarwé, Susan Marti, and Hedwig Röckelein, “Early Monasteries and Foundations (500–​ 1200):  An Introduction,” in Crown and Veil:  Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries, ed. Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Susan Marti (New York, 2008), 29–​32. 83 Gertrude, De virtutibus 10. 84 Boniface, S. Bonifatii et Lulli epistolae 30 and 35, MGH Epistolae 1, 281 and 286. 85 McKitterick, “Nuns’ Scriptoria,”  2–​17. 86 Rosamond McKitterick, “Le rôle culturel des monastères dans les royaumes carolingiens du VIIIe au Xe siècle,” Revue bénédictine 103 (1993): 117–​30. 87 RCaeV 7 and 18; RcuiV  24–​6. 88 Caesaria, “Letter to Richild and Radegund” (c. 552–​557), in Caesaria, Œuvres monastiques I, ed. and trans. Adalbert de Vogüé and J. Courreau, SC 345, 476–​95.

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by the primiceria89 or by seniores.90 St. Rusticula (d. 632), the future abbess of Arles, learned the psalms “lying in the lap of one of the sisters” (Vita Rusticulae 6). Scholars have demonstrated that these schools were at times open to girls and even boys from the lay elite.91 There are even references to school furnishings, such as the stylus and wax tablets at Jussa-​Moutiers in the mid-​seventh century.92 The abbess, able to expound upon any reading, embodied the magistra par excellence for the whole community;93 Caesarius thus sent his sister Caesaria to another monastery “so that she learns what she will teach and that she be first a disciple before becoming a magistra.”94 At the beginning of the eighth century, Leoba successively studied under Abbess Tetta of Wimborne and Eadburga of Minster, who taught her poetry.95 In turn, she became the magistra of a number of nuns who would later go on to become abbesses and pass down her knowledge.96 Nothing, therefore, distinguishes the education of nuns from monks: their letters and other writings attest to a similar level of instruction.97 As for the Lives of female saints, the perfect knowledge of sacred letters is almost always presented as an essential virtue, thereby conveying a model of erudite sanctity that again signals the importance placed on reading and studying in many female monasteries, in particular in the vitae produced at Arles, Poitiers, Jouarre, Chelles, and Nivelles in the seventh century, and at Bischofsheim, Aldeneick, Ganderscheim, and Hohenbourg in the eighth to the tenth centuries.

Conclusion The ideal of a non-​gendered, unisex model inherent in the beginning of monasticism seems to have given way early on to the demands of daily life. Unsurprisingly permeable to the social frameworks from which they sprang, monastic ideals came to assimilate, at least from the sixth century on, the

RCaeV 35; Caesaria, “Letter to Richild and Radegund”; RDo 4.7 and 12.1. RcuiV 24; IsA 22. 91 Jean Verdon, “Recherches sur les monastères féminins dans la France du Nord au IXe–​XIe siècles,” Revue Mabillon 59 (1976): 49–​96; Pierre Riché, Éducation et culture dans l’Occident barbare, VIe–​VIIIe siècle (Paris, 1962), 500–​3. 92 RDon 8.2, based on RB 55.19. 93 Vita Caesarii 194–​7; Vita Geretrudis 3; Vita Leobae 7 and 11; Boniface, Epistolae 29, 280–​1. 94 Vita Caesarii  194–​7. 95 Vita Leobae 7; Boniface, Epistolae 29, 280–​1. 96 Vita Leobae 11; Riché, Éducation et culture,  426–​7. 97 Riché, Éducation et culture, 509. McKitterick, “Women and Literacy,” 22–​36; Garver, “Learned Women?” 121–​38; Gerchow et al., “Early Monasteries and Foundations,” 29. 89 90

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distinction between the sexes and its corollary: the rule of male authority.98 One of the arguments relied on a specific conception of female asceticism, based on the erasure of the sexual body of the woman. Enclosure appears to have been one of the prevalent measures deployed to better control this dangerous corporeality. Nuns therefore had to depend upon the services provided by monks, which were meant to complement their own inabilities. Their sphere of action consequently became restricted to what lay within the walls of the cloister: no trips or work outside the monastery, and hospitality functions lessened. The Carolingian reforms reinforced these gendered norms by furthering the power imbalance between the nuns and the rest of the clergy. While the assignment of most daily tasks was made according to binary gender categories, and while ascetic practices, especially regarding chastity, demanded greater effort on the part of women, equality seemed within reach in the field of culture and erudition. This equality regarding knowledge is certainly the most significant innovation introduced by monasticism. Did the “third gender,” common to both nuns and monks, in fact comprise the learned—​the masters of Latin grammar and the sacred letters—​of both sexes?

Primary Sources Rules 3RP: Regula patrum tertia, in Adalbert de Vogüé, ed., Les règles des saints Pères, vol. 2, SC 298, 499–​543. IaS: Institutio sanctimonialium Aquisgranensis (816–​17), ed. A. Werminghoff, MGH Concilia 2, 421–​56. RAM: Aurelianus of Arles, Regula ad monachos, in Albert Schmidt, “Zur Komposition der Mönchsregel des Heiligen Aurelian von Arles I,” Studia Monastica 17 (1975) 237–​56; more complete in PL 68, 385–​96. RAV: Aurelianus of Arles, Regula ad virgines, PL 68, 399–​408. RB: Regula Benedicti, ed. and trans. Jean Neufville and Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 181–​2; also ed. Rudolf Hanslik, CSEL 75, 2nd ed. RCaeV: Caesarius of Arles, Regula ad virgines, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, SC 354, 35–​272; translated as Maria Caritas McCarthy, ed. and trans., The Rule for Nuns of St. Caesarius of Arles: A Translation with a Critical Introduction (Washington, DC, 1960). RColC: Columbanus, Regula coenobialis, in Columbani Opera, ed. and trans. G. S. M. Walker (Dublin, 1970), 142–​69. RColV: Regula Columbani ad virgines, in O. S eebaas, “Fragment einer Nonnenregel des 7 Jahrhunderts,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 16 (1896): 465–​470.

Contra Pancer, “Au-​delà du sexe et du genre,” 299–​323.

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Isabelle  Réal RcuiV:  Regula cuiusdam ad virgines, PL 88, 1051–​1070 (new edition by Albrecht Diem in preparation). RDon: Regula Donati, in Adalbert de Vogüé, “La Règle de Donat pour l’abbesse Gauthstrude, texte critique et synopse des sources,” Benedictina 25 (1978): 219–​313. Regula “Psallendo pro sancta devotione,” in F. Masai, “Fragment en onciale d’une règle monastique inconnue démarquant celle de saint Benoît,” Scriptorium 2 (1948): 215–​20. RFer:  Regula Ferreoli, ed. Vincent Desprez, “La Regula Ferrioli:  texte critique,” Revue Mabillon 60 (1982): 117–​48. RMac: Regula Macharii, in Les règles des saints Pères, vol. 1, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 297, 287–​389. RM: Regula magistri, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé, SC  105–​7. RTar: Regula Tarnatensis, in Fernando Villegas, “La ‘regula monasterii Tarnatensis’: texte, sources et datation,” Revue bénédictine 84 (1974): 7–​65.

Vitae Vitae Abbatum Habendensium (BHL 73, 358, 7322), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 4, 208–​28. Vita Agili abbatis Resbacensis (BHL 148), AASS, Aug. 6 (1743), 569–​87. Vita Aldegundae prima (BHL 244), AASS, OSB 2 (1669), 807–​15; trans. in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages, ed. Jo Ann McNamara and John E. Halborg with E. Gordon Whatley (Durham, NC, and London, 1992), 237–​54. Vita Aldetrudis abbatissae Melbodiensis (BHL 253), AASS, Feb. 3 (1865), 514–​16. Vita Ansberti (BHL 519), Analecta Bollandiana 1 (1882): 179–​91. Vita Aureae (BHL 814), in F. Dolbeau, ed., “Vie et miracles de sainte Aure, jadis vénérée à Paris.” Analecta Bollandiana 125.1 (2007): 17–​73. Vita posteriora Austrebertae (BHL 832), AASS, Feb. 2 (1658), 419–​23; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 304–​25. Vita Austrudis (BHL 556), ed. W. Levison, MGH SS RM 6, 66–​78; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 289–​303. Vita Bathildis reginae (BHL 909), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 475–​508; French translation in G. Duchet-​Suchaux, “Vie de sainte Bathilde.” Bulletin du Groupement archéologique de Seine et Marne 25 (1982): 30–​6. Vita Benedicti abbatis Anianensis et Indensis auctore Ardone (BHL 1096), ed. G. Waitz, MGH SS 15/​1, 198–​220; French translation in Vie de Benoît d’Aniane, ed. F. Baumes and Adalbert de Vogüé (Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 2001). Vita Bertilae Kalensis (BHL 1287), ed. W. Levison, MGH SS RM 6, 95–​109; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 279–​88. Vita Bertuini (BHL 1306), ed. B. Krusch and W. Levison, MGH SS RM 7, 175–​82. Vita Caesarii (BHL 1508–​1509), in Vie de Césaire d’Arles, ed. and trans. G. Morin, M.-​J. Delage, and M. Heijmans, SC 536. Vitae Columbani (Lives of Columbanus, Attala, and Bertulf; BHL 1898): Jonas of Bobbio, Vitae Columbani abbatis discipulorumque eius, ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 4, 1–​152. Vita Eligii (BHL 2478), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 4, 634–​761. Vita Ermelandi (BHL 3851), ed. W. Levison, MGH SS RM 5, 674–​710. Vita Erminonis episcopus et abbatis Lobiensis (BHL 2614), ed. W. Levison, MGH SS RM 6, 461–​470.

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Nuns and Monks at Work from the Sixth to the Tenth Century Vita Prima Eusitii Cellensis (BHL 2754), in P. Labbe, Novae bibliothecae manuscriptorum librorum 2 (Paris, 1657), 372–​6. Vita Eustadiolae (BHL 2772), AASS, Jun. 2 (1698), 131–​3; translated in McNamara et  al., Sainted Women, 106–​11. Vita Filiberti (BHL 6805), ed W. Levison, MGH SS RM 5, 568–​604. Vita Geretrudis (BHL 3490), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 447–​64; De virtutibus quae facta sunt post discessum beatae Geretrudis abbatisse (BHL 3495), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 464–​71; Virtutum sanctae Geretrudis continuatio (BHL 3495), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 471–​4; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 220–​33. Vita Germani abbatis Grandivallensis (BHL 3467), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 5, 4–​40. Vita sanctae Glodesindis abbatissae Mettensis (BHL 3562), AASS, Jul. 6 (1729), 203–​10; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 137–​54. Vita Gregorii abbatis Traiectensis auctore Liudgero (BHL 3680), ed. O. Older-​Egger, MGH SS, Supplementa tomorum 15.1, 63–​79. Vita Harlindis et Relindis (BHL 3755–​6), AASS Mar. 3 (1668), 386–​92. Vita Hathumodae (BHL 3763), ed. G. H. Pertz, MGH SS 4, 165–​175; translated in Anchoress and Abbess in Ninth-​Century Saxony: The Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen and Hathumoda of Gandersheim, ed. Frederick S. Paxton (Washington, DC, 2009). Vita Iohannis abbatis Gorziensis (BHL 4396), in La Vie de Jean, abbé de Gorze, ed. and trans. Michel Parisse (Paris, 1999). Vita Iohannis Reomaensis (BHL 4424): Jonas of Bobbio, Vita Iohannis abbatis Reomaensis, ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 3, 502–​17. Vita Juniani (BHL 4562), AASS, Aug. 3 (1867), 38–​46. Vita Leobae abbatissae Biscofesheimensis auctore Rudolfo Fuldensi (BHL 4845), ed. G. Waitz, MGH SS Supplementa tomorum 15.1, 118–​31; translated in C. H. Talbot, The Anglo-​ Saxon Missionaries in Germany (London, 1954), 204–​26. Vita Liutbirgae (BHL Novum Suppl. 4936), ed. G. H. Pertz, MGH SS 4, 158–​64; translated in Paxton, Anchoress and Abbess. Vita Madelbertae abbatissae Melbodiensis (BHL 5129), edited and translated in Paul Bertrand, “La vie de sainte Madelberte de Maubeuge: edition du texte (BHL 5129) et traduction,” Analecta Bollandiana 115.1–​2 (1997): 39–​76. Vita Odiliae abbatissae Hohenburgensis (BHL 6271), ed. W. Levison, MGH SS RM 6, 24–​50. Vita Opportunae auctore Adalhelmo Sagiensi (BHL 6339), AASS, Apr. 3 (1866), 62–​73. Vitae Patrum Iurensium (BHL 2665/​5073/​7039), in Vie des Pères du Jura, ed. and trans. F. Martine, SC 142. Vita Radegundis I (BHL 7048): Venantius Fortunatus, Vita Radegundis I, ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 364–​77; La Vie de sainte Radegonde, ed. and trans. Y. Chauvin, R. Favreau, Y. Labande-​Mailfert, and G. Pon (Paris, 1995). Vita Radegundis II (BHL 7049): Baudovinia, Vita Radegundis II, ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 2, 377–​95. Vita Rictrudis (BHL 7247):  Hucbald de Saint-​ Amand, Vita sanctae Rictrudis abbatissae Marcianensis, ed. Jean Mabillon, AASS, OSB 2, 939–​950; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 197–​219. Vita Rusticulae or Marciae (BHL 7405), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 4, 337–​351; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 119–​36.

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Isabelle  Réal Vita Sadalbergae (BHL 7463), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 5, 40–​66; translated in McNamara et al., Sainted Women, 176–​94. Vita Sigolenae (BHL 7570), AASS, Jul. 5 (1727), 628–​37. Vita prima sancti Vulmari abbatis Silviacensis (BHL 8748), AASS, OSB 3.1, 229–​39. Vita Waldetrudis (BHL 8776), ed. J. Daris, Analectes pour servir à l’histoire ecclésiastique de la Belgique 4 (1867): 218–​35; French translation by A. Noirfalise, in Sainte Waudru devant l’histoire et devant la foi. Recueil d’études publié à l’occasion du treizième centenaire de sa mort, ed. J. M. Cauchies (Mons, 1989), 47–​72. Vita Wandregisili (BHL 8804), ed. Bruno Krusch, MGH SS RM 5, 1–​24.

Secondary Sources Diem, Albrecht. “The Gender of the Religious:  Wo/men and the Invention of Monasticism.” In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, edited by Judith M. Bennet and Ruth Mazo Karras, 432–46. Oxford, 2013.   “Inventing the Holy Rule: Some Observations on the History of Monastic Normative Observance in the Early Medieval West.” In Western Monasticism ante litteram:  The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, edited by Hendrik Dey and Elisabeth Fentress, 53–84. Turnhout, 2011. Dubois, Jacques. “Le travail des moines au Moyen Âge.” In Le travail au Moyen Âge. Une approche interdisciplinaire, edited by Jacqueline Hamesse and Colette MurailleSamaran, 61–100. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1990. Garver, Valérie L. “Learned Women? Liutberga and the Instruction of Carolingian Women.” In Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World, edited by Janet Nelson and Patrick Wormald, 121–38. Cambridge, 2007. Helvétius, Anne-Marie. “Hagiographie et réformes monastiques dans le monde franc du VIIe siècle.” Médiévales 62 (2012): 33–48.   “Le sexe des anges.” In De la différence des sexes. Le genre en Histoire, edited by Michelle Riot-Sarcey, 101–30 and 246–51. Paris, 2010.   “Virgo et virago:  réflexions sur le pouvoir du voile consacré d’après les sources hagiographiques de la Gaule du Nord.” In Femmes et pouvoirs des femmes à Byzance et en Occident (VIe–XIe siècle), edited by Stéphane Lebecq, Alain Dierkens, Régine Le Jan, and Jean-Marie Sansterre, 189–203. Lille, 1999. Lauwers, Michel. “L’institution et le genre: à propos de l’accès des femmes au sacré dans l’Occident médiéval.” Clio. Femmes, genre, histoire 2 (1995): 279–317. McKitterick, Rosamond. “Nuns’ Scriptoria in England and Francia in the Eighth Century.” Francia 19.1 (1992): 1–35.   “Women and Literacy in the Early Middle Ages.” In Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th–9th Centuries, 22–36. Aldershot, 1994. McNamara, Jo Ann. “Chastity as a Third Gender in the History and Hagiography of Gregory of Tours.” In The World of Gregory of Tours, edited by Kathleen Mitchell and Ian Wood, 199–209. Leiden, 2002.   “An Unresolved Syllogism:  The Search for a Christian Gender System.” In Conflicted Identities and Multiple Masculinities:  Men in the Medieval West, edited by Jacqueline Murray, 1–24. New York, 1999.

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Nuns and Monks at Work from the Sixth to the Tenth Century Murray, Jacqueline. “Femininity and Masculinity.” In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, edited by Margaret C. Schaus, S. Mosher Stuard, and Thomas M. Izbicki, 284–7. New York, 2006.   “Masculinizing Religious Life: Sexual Prowess, the Battle for Chastity and the Monastic Identity.” In Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages, edited by Patricia H. Cullum and Katherine J. Lewis, 24–42. Cardiff, 2004.   “One Flesh, Two Sexes, Three Genders?” In Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives, edited by Lisa M. Bitel and Felice Lifshitz, 34–51. Philadelphia, PA, 2008. Muschiol, Gisela. Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern. Münster, 1994. Réal, Isabelle. “Tâches et gestes quotidiens des moniales en Gaule franque (VIe–Xe siècle):  fragments de vie domestique.” In La vie quotidienne des moines en Orient et Occident (IVe–Xe s.), edited by Maria Mossakowska and Olivier Delouis, 203–36. Cairo, 2018. Schulenburg, Jane T. Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500–1100. Chicago, IL, and London, 1998.   “Strict Active Enclosure and Its Effects on the Female Monastic Experience, 500–1100.” In Distant Echoes:  Medieval Religious Women, vol. 1, edited by John A. Nichols and Lillian Thomas Shank, 51–86. Kalamazoo, MI, 1984. Smith, Julia M.  H. “The Problem of Female Sanctity in Carolingian Europe.” Past & Present 146 (1995): 3–37.

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Ascetic Prayer for the Dead in the Early Medieval West G o rdon B l e n n emann

Introduction: Definitions and Social Dimensions of Intercessional Prayer Despite the common association of monasteries with intercession in the early Middle Ages, the religious, cultural, and social practice of prayer extended beyond the narrow ascetic–​monastic sphere.1 In keeping with both Old Testament and early Christian traditions, prayer was understood as an expression of brotherly love that was the duty of all Christians, and not as the exclusive obligation of a few ascetic specialists. Even when prayer served the primary function of worship, the idea of intercession was at least implied—​a functional complementarity reflected in the so-​ called double command of love: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ” (Mark 12:30–​ 31). By late antiquity, the charitable dimension of prayer was integral both to ecclesiology and to the development of Christian social concepts.2 Prayer ensured the connection of the people to God and guaranteed the functional unity of the ecclesia, defined in particular as a communitas sanctorum, a community forged between the living and the dead, with a special emphasis on the saints.

On this and the following, with further literature, see Patrick Henriet, La parole et la prière au Moyen Âge. Le verbe efficace dans l’hagiographie des XIe et XIIe siècles (Brussels, 2000),  19–​54. 2 For Christian definitions of society between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages see Martin Heinzelmann, “‘Adel’ und ‘Societas sanctorum’:  soziale Ordnungen und christliches Weltbild von Augustinus bis zu Gregor von Tours,” in Nobilitas. Funktion und Repräsentation des Adels, ed. Otto Gerhard Oexle and Werner Paravicini (Göttingen, 1997), 216–​56. 1

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The special power of prayer was not only rooted in ritual but also linked to the inner disposition of the individual at prayer. Jesus himself enjoined his followers “always to pray” (Luke 18:1). Paul further developed the concept of perpetual prayer, arguing that it was, above all, a symbol of the inner disposition of the Christian and thus the foundation of an exemplary life. This principle could be best put into practice in the particular social space of the monastery, in which the liturgy might generate a perpetual connection between heaven and earth. The eschatological utopia of a heavenly ecclesia thus became a partial reality within the monastery. While religious men and women carried out spiritual tasks with a desire for perfection, separated from the rest of society in imitation of the original Apostles, monastic forms of prayer could, in turn, function as models for the prayer of the laity, as seen, for example, in the influential Anglo-​Saxon prayer manuals from the eighth and ninth centuries.3 Together, the prayers of ascetics and the laity generated a collectively imagined community of prayer. The function of religious communities as special places for intercession was by no means limited to the commemoration of the dead. To judge by the so-​called Antiphonary of Bangor, a collection of liturgical chants assembled between 680 and 691, the monks of Bangor Abbey in Ireland asked forgiveness for blasphemers and the wicked, protection for travelers, blessing for their benefactors, and aid for the sick and imprisoned. They prayed for the newly baptized, for priests, for their abbot, for the brothers in the community, and, importantly, for peace for the people and the king.4 Such a range of petitions shows that, as oratores (“the ones who pray”), the monks of Bangor felt obliged to pray for the common good.

The Multiple Functions and Meanings of Memoria: A Historiographical Outline Despite the apparent breadth reflected in this example, the ascetic—​and more specifically monastic—​intercession for the dead and its rich repertoire of ritual forms stand, justifiably, at the center.5 The early medieval culture of memoria



Jean-​Paul Bouhot, “Des livres pour prier,” in Prier au Moyen Âge. Pratiques et expériences (Ve–​XVe siècles), ed. Nicole Bériou, Jacques Berlioz, and Jean Longère (Turnhout, 1991),  23–​9. 4 F. E. Warren, ed., The Antiphonary of Bangor: An Early Irish Manuscript in the Ambrosian Library at Milan 2 vols. (London, 1893–​5), 1:fols. 20v–​21v, 2:22–​3 and 64–​6. For the history of the collection, see Michael Curren, The Antiphonary of Bangor and the Early Monastic Liturgy (Dublin, 1984). 5 For a survey of the research, see Arnold Angenendt, Offertorium. Das mittelalterliche Meßopfer, 3rd ed. (Münster, 2014), 265–​8. For the ritual aspects, see Arnold Angenendt, 3

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and the associated forms of material gifts given pro anima6—​for the salvation of benefactors and their living and dead relatives—​to religious communities has rightly attracted particular interest from scholars. But the spiritual principles and motivations of memory, its liturgical practice, and its economic benefits have not always been understood as interconnected. Research that stresses the religious and liturgical aspects of community-​building within the context of memory7 has long stood opposite studies grounded in social, economic, and legal history that emphasize the creation of community ties through practices of memoria.8 The anthropological model of the gift economy, especially as developed by Marcel Mauss, has also had a clear impact on scholarship.9 More recent studies have connected these lines of inquiry, not least to give more weight to the religious motivations of the gift givers, and thus to the spiritual patterns of memory and religious foundations. This has also led to the refinement of the anthropological model itself. Two aspects in particular have emerged: the special connection to the dead, and the fact that medieval contemporaries generally did not seem to expect clearly defined counter-​g ifts in exchange for donations. For the laity, membership in the ritual and spiritual community of the monastery was more significant, with its prospects of prestige and above all participation in the spiritualia, the spiritual gifts. A donation from the secular to the monastic sphere was directed primarily to the saints, and particularly to the patron saints of the monastery, who served as mediators with God and Christ. In this way, the idea of the transformation from gift to sacrificial offering moves into the foreground, and can be seen as a parallel to the Eucharistic sacrifice.10 The question of the comparative







“Theologie und Liturgie der mitterlalterlichen Totenmemoria,” in “Memoria.” Der geschichtliche Zeugniswert des liturgischen Gedenkens im Mittelalter, ed. Karl Schmid and Joachim Wollasch (Munich, 1984), 79–​199. 6 Philippe Jobert, La notion de donation. Convergences, 630–​750 (Paris, 1977); Michael Borgolte, “Stiftungen: eine Geschichte von Zeit und Raum,” Rottenburger Jahrbuch für Kirchengeschichte 20 (2010): 39–​56. For the different forms of foundations, see Angenendt, Offertorium,  268–​9. 7 Schmid and Wollasch, “Memoria”; Dieter Geuenich and Otto Gerhard Oexle, eds., Memoria in der Gesellschaft des Mittelalters (Göttingen, 1994), esp. Joachim Wollasch, “Das Projekt ‘Societas et Fraternitas,’ ” 11–​31; Otto Gerhard Oexle, “Die Gegenwart der Toten,” in Die Wirklichkeit und das Wissen. Mittelalterforschung, historische Kulturwissenschaft, Geschichte und Theorie der historischen Erkenntnis, ed. Otto Gerhard Oexle, Bernhard Jussen, Andrea von Hülsen-​Esch, and Frank Rexroth (Göttingen, 2011), 99–​155. 8 See, for example, Barbara H. Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of Saint Peter: The Social Meaning of Cluny’s Property, 909–​1049 (Ithaca, NY, 1989). 9 Marcel Mauss, “Essai sur le don:  forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques,” Année sociologique n.s. 1 (1923–​4): 30–​186. 10 Megan McLaughlin, Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France (Ithaca, NY, 1994); Michel Lauwers, La mémoire des ancêtres, le souci des morts. Morts, rites

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weighting of the earthly and eschatological dimensions of the gift, however, remains open.11 Generally speaking, purely anthropological approaches that focus on gift-​ giving risk ascribing a materialistic character to the contemporary understanding of the connection between the living and the dead. This fails to take into account the various practices associated with concern for the salvation of the dead and the very complex theological debates that have until now received little scholarly attention. There were, indeed, sometimes heated disputes regarding the efficacy of intercession, as well as about its form and the status of those who performed it. The most promising studies of the theological foundations of intercession stress the importance of the Christian ideal of caritas, especially in the context of memoria and its associated economic, social, and religious practices.12 The meaning of caritas was also rooted in the liturgy, and especially in the emerging interpretation of the Eucharist as the central act of remembrance of Christ’s atonement on the cross and figure of the highest love.13 Connecting the gifts of believers to the Eucharistic sacrifice had a particularly strong impact on the meaning of the mass as an important form of memory. We should not, however, overlook the fact that the mass did not become a preponderant form of liturgical commemoration until the late and post-​Carolingian period. More research is needed to determine to what degree other liturgical forms of intercession did (or did not) move into the background. Further, we need to consider more carefully whether doubts expressed about the efficacy of prayers for the dead ebbed away or continued to influence the thought and practice of subsequent periods.

Defining Intercession for the Dead: Liturgical Forms and Ideas from Late Antiquity to Carolingian Times Liturgical forms of commemoration of the dead proliferated from the Carolingian and post-​Carolingian period onwards, finding their greatest manifestation in Cluny’s memorial system, as well as in the reformed monastic



et société au Moyen Âge (diocèse de Liège, XIe–​XIIIe siècle) (Paris, 1997); Eliana Magnani, “Transforming Things,” in Negotiating the Gift: Pre-​Modern Figurations of Exchange, ed. Gadi Algazi, Valentin Groebner, and Bernhard Jussen (Göttingen, 2003), 269–​84. 11 François Bougard, “Conclusion,” in Sauver son âme et se perpétuer. Transmission du patrimoine et mémoire au haut Moyen Âge, ed. François Bougard, Cristina La Rocca, and Régine Le Jan (Rome, 2005), 488. 12 Michel Lauwers, “La prière comme fonction sociale dans l’Occident médiéval (Ve–​XIIIe siècles),” in La prière en latin de l’antiquité au XVIe siècle. Formes, évolutions, significations, ed. Jean-​François Cottier (Turnhout, 2006), 209–​28. 13 Angenendt, Offertorium, 114–​21.

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communities of the tenth and eleventh centuries.14 It might seem surprising in this context that the Christianity of late antiquity initially had no particular investment in the memory of and liturgy for the dead. Christian burial was oriented around pagan burial practices until the end of the second century, and it was only at the beginning of the third century that the first efforts were made to remove Christian tombs from pagan burial sites and to place them closer to the saints, particularly the graves of martyrs. Ecclesiastical funeral rites were first introduced in the middle of the fourth century, a delay consistent with the fact that tombs initially belonged to the family of the deceased and were therefore private. The private rituals there could include offerings for the dead. The funerary banquet—​an agape—​would later be remodeled in ritualistic form as part of the celebration of the mass. While congregational worship was at first limited to a general remembrance of the dead—​as was the case, for instance, in Rome—​the more elaborate private forms of commemoration eventually moved into the liturgical context in connection with material gifts for the bereaved and for religious communities.15 It was first and foremost Augustine (d. 430)  who, building on the work of earlier Christian apologists like Tertullian (d. after 220)  and Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258), assigned prayers, gifts, altar offerings, and alms from the living family as forms of caritas with the power to help the sinful deceased to be credited with an acceptable life.16 For the valde boni (those who died without sin) such forms of caritas assumed a function of thanksgiving. For the valde mali (the truly wicked) any help came too late. It was those with an uncertain salvation status—​the non valde mali and non valde boni, the intermediate categories of the dead—​who required particular care from the living. These distinctions reflect a crucial shift from older concepts of the afterlife that did not involve such moral categories. But Augustine rooted his views on this matter in Second Maccabees (2 Macc. 12:42–​43), where Judas Maccabeus takes a collection of money from his soldiers to send to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to accompany prayer for the dead. For Augustine, this story mirrored the connection between sin offering and intercession, and at the



Dominique Iogna-​Prat, Order and Exclusion: Cluny and Christendom Face Heresy, Judaism, and Islam (1000–​1500) (Ithaca, NY, 2002), 219–​52; Susan Boynton, “La liturgie de Cluny avant l’abbatiat d’Hugues:  problématique de la recherche,” in Cluny. Les moines et la société au premier âge féodal, ed. Dominique Iogna-​Prat et al. (Rennes, 2013), 137–​44. 15 Éric Rebillard, Religion et sépulture. L’église, les vivants et les morts dans l’antiquité tardive (Paris, 2003); Ulrich Volp, Tod und Ritual in den christlichen Gemeinden der Antike (Leiden, 2002). 16 Augustine, Enchiridion ad Laurentium de fide, spe et caritate 29, in Aurelii Augustini Opera XIII/​2, ed. Ernest Evans, CCSL 46, 110; Peter Brown, The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Western Christianity (Cambridge, MA, 2015), 54–​6. 14

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same time strengthened his claims for the superior power of Eucharistic atonement.17 Since the living thus rendered atoning offerings through prayers and material gifts, the path to connect the remembrance of the dead with the celebration of the mass stood open. A number of liturgical and theological traditions played a role here. The Gallic mass tradition included the so-​called post nomina or diptych prayer after the offering by believers, in which the name of the person making the offering was also mentioned.18 Following Augustine, who was among the first to mention a form of ritual intercession that includes the naming of the names of the living and the dead as part of the Eucharistic prayer, this practice emphasized the efficacy of the offering for the living as much as the dead.19 In an eschatological context, the entry of a name into a diptych (a list that was used liturgically) was related to the hope of meriting the desired place in the heavenly Book of  Life. Mass traditions from the Irish/​Anglo-​Saxon context reflect not only the idea of the naming of the living and the dead, and especially of benefactors, but also characteristic insular habits in connection with the global practice of penance.20 Indeed, penance there underscored the idea of liturgical reparation by the living on behalf of the dead. Arnold Angenendt has identified this liturgical form as a contractual mass (Vertragsmesse), for which an agreement would be established for substitutional penance for the living as well as for the deceased benefactor by means of prayer and offerings. This idea first appears in a prayer from the so-​called Bobbio Missal, dating to the end of the seventh century.21 Another significant milestone is reflected in Pope Gregory the Great’s (d. 604) Dialogues, where he connects intercession and the sacrificial offering of the mass with his conception of the afterlife.22 The capacity of such an offering to save the souls of the dead was rooted in the New Testament



Joseph Ntedika, L’évolution de la doctrine du purgatoire chez saint Augustin (Paris, 1966),  64–​6. 18 Angenendt, Offertorium, 250–​2; Els Rose, “The Ritual of the Names:  A Practice of Intercession in Early Medieval Gaul,” Frühmittelalterliche Studien 51 (2017): 2–​18. 19 Martin Klöckner, “Das eucharistische Hochgebet bei Augustinus:  zu Stand und Aufgaben der Forschung,” in Signum pietatis. Festgabe für Cornelius Petrus Mayer zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Adolar Zumkeller (Würzburg, 1989), 461–​95. 20 Angenendt, Offertorium, 252–​6. On continental and insular traditions of penance, see Rob Meens, Penance in Medieval Europe: 600–​1200 (Cambridge, 2014). 21 E. A. Lowe, ed., The Bobbio Missal: A Gallican Mass-​Book (ms. Paris Lat. 13246), with notes and studies by André Wilmart, E. A. Lowe, and H. A. Wilson (London, 1991), 130 and 438; see also Yitzhak Hen and Rob Meens, eds., The Bobbio Missal: Liturgy and Religious Culture in Merovingian Gaul (Cambridge, 2004). 22 Angenendt, Offertorium,  256–​7. 17

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idea of the power of the Church to bind and to loose, a power particularly claimed by the papacy. Gregory illustrated the efficacy of the Eucharistic offering through the actions of his central protagonist, Benedict of Nursia, who succeeded in saving two dead nuns who had been excommunicated, and thereby reclaimed them for the community.23 What was crucial was that the gifts that the laity brought forward to the altar as part of the Eucharistic offering passed through the hands of ascetic or monastic men and women. Prayer and offering, the liturgical essence of the communion of the living and the dead, thus depended upon the ritual agency of the religious. It is not difficult to draw a direct logical line from Gregory the Great’s connection of the efficacy of intercession through prayer with Eucharistic offering by monks and nuns to the sanctity or purity of the latter and the desire for many mass offerings from the “pure hands” of the monk-​priests of the Carolingian period.24 While from the eighth century onwards, the monastic liturgy seems to have focused more and more on the celebration of the mass, it is difficult to follow this shift beyond the large communities closely connected to royal power.25 This development must be considered within the broader context of the transformation of liturgy. As a consequence of the Carolingian adaptation of the Gregorian Sacramentary through the so-​called Hadrianum, the memorial service was now a distinct component of the canon of the mass.26 Over the course of the eighth century, it also became common to remember the dead at each hour of the divine office.27 Although Benedict of Aniane developed a monastic Office of the Dead in the hope of establishing uniformity, the memorial liturgy was still, to a large extent, established according to local traditions, as in St. Gall.28





Gregory the Great, Dialogues II 23.5, 208. Arnold Angenendt, “Mit reinen Händen:  das Motiv der kultischen Reinheit in der abendländischen Askese,” in Arnold Angenendt, Liturgie im Mittelalter. Ausgewählte Aufsätze zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. Thomas Flammer and Daniel Meyer (Münster, 2004), 246–​68. On Carolingian developments, see Renie S. Choy, Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms (Oxford, 2016). 25 Mayke de Jong, “Carolingian Monasticism: The Power of Prayer,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume II:  c. 700–​c. 900, ed. Rosamond McKitterick (Cambridge, 1995), 647–​51; Julian Hendrix, “La liturgie monastique avant Cluny:  la contribution carolingienne,” in Iogna-​Prat et al., Cluny, 129–​36. 26 Cécile Treffort, L’Église carolingienne et la mort. Christianisme, rites funéraires et pratiques commémoratives (Lyon, 1996), 90–​3. 27 Ibid., 101–​4; Frederick S. Paxton, Christianizing Death: The Creation of a Ritual Process in Early Medieval Europe (Ithaca, NY, 1996), 134–​6. 28 Julian Hendrix, “The Confraternity Books of St. Gall and Their Early Liturgical Context,” Revue bénédictine 120 (2010): 295–​320. 23

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Another important phenomenon in the Carolingian context are the so-​ called confraternities of prayer or prayer associations.29 The prayer association of Attigny (762) is considered to be the oldest recorded example.30 Monasteries played a major role in the written documentation of such confraternities and the networks of prayer that they established. Primary examples of this are the so-​called libri vitae or libri memoriales.31 While these texts became more numerous by the ninth century, there are strong indications that the earliest may have been produced in the seventh century.32 Alongside confraternities that focused on a single monastic community, such as those documented in Weißenburg in 776/​733 and Fulda in 863,34 are the large confraternity books, such as the Liber memorialis of Reichenau (started in the ninth century), which encompassed virtually the entire Carolingian Empire.35 At first, monks and clerics remained among themselves, but, conscious of their obligation to pray for the realm, they came to incorporate the king and his family more prominently into their associations of prayer. From the second half of the ninth century on, the names of lay people are also to be found more often among the thousands of entries, making libri memoriales, especially of the late Carolingian period, a valuable source for large social networks and political alliances.36 Erasures in these manuscripts also make it clear that prayer networks could be annulled and individuals erased from the collective memory.37



Angenendt, Offertorium,  280–​5. MGH Concilia II/​1, 72–​3; Karl Schmid and Otto Gerhard Oexle, “Voraussetzungen und Wirkung des Gebetsbundes von Attigny,” Francia 2 (1974): 71–​122. 31 Eva-​ Maria Butz and Alfons Zettler, “The Making of the Carolingian libri memoriales:  Exploring or Constructing the Past?” in Memory and Commemoration in Brown Medieval Culture, ed. Elma Brenner, Meredith Cohen, and Mary Franklin-​ (Aldershot, 2013), 79–​92. 32 See the testament of Bishop Bertram of Le Mans (27 March 616), in Das Testament des Bischofs Berthramn von Le Mans. März 616. Untersuchungen zu Besitz und Geschichte einer fränkischen Familie im 6. und 7. Jahrhundert, ed. Margarete Weidemann (Mainz, 1986). 33 Michael Borgolte, “Eine Weißenburger Übereinkunft von 776/​77 zum Gedenken der verstorbenen Brüder,” Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins 123 (=N.F. 84) (1975), 1–​16 (with an edition of the association). 34 Janneke E. Raaijmakers, The Making of the Monastic Community of Fulda, c. 744–​c. 900 (Cambridge, 2012), 271–​6. 35 Johanne Autenrieth, Dieter Geuenich, and Karl Schmid eds., Das Verbrüderungsbuch der Abtei Reichenau (Hanover, 1979). 36 Eva-​Maria Butz, “Eternal amicitia? Social and Political Relationships in the Early Medieval libri memorales,” in De amicitia: Friendship and Social Networks in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. Katariina Mustakallio and Jussi Hanska (Rome, 2015), 155–​72. 37 Rainer Hugener, “Gestrichen aus dem Buch des Lebens:  Tilgungen in der mittelalterlichen Gedenkenüberlieferung,” in Damnatio in memoria. Deformation und Gegenkonstruktionen in der Geschichte, ed. Sebastian Scholz, Gerald Schwedler, and Kai-​ Michael Sprenger (Cologne, 2014), 203–​24.

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The consolidation of memorial practice in connection with the growing importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice contributed to the emergence of a variety of masses for special occasions—​the so-​called missae speciales.38 The previously mentioned Bobbio Missal reflects the full spectrum, extending from the simple votive mass (a mass celebrated for a special purpose or occasion) right up to a missa pro principe (mass for the prince).39 The sacramentaries from the eighth and ninth centuries—​often produced in monastic scriptoria—​show that this multiplication and diversification of special masses intensified further during the Carolingian period.40 Masses could be celebrated for nearly every occasion and need. What is crucial in this context is the previously noted emergence of the understanding of the Eucharist as a form of substitutional atonement and individual penance for the dedicatee of the votive, and particularly memorial, mass. But the function of the mass was not limited to individual forgiveness of sins and the associated hope of salvation. The Eucharistic offering was also part of a system of collective penance for the assurance of stability for the Carolingian kingdom.41 Large monasteries that faced this task, like St. Gall or Fulda, built more altars in their churches and had the majority of their monks ordained into the priesthood.42 The concept of Eucharistic penance and the clericalization of monasticism were thus interwoven. This represents a clear change from the earlier model of the monastery as a lay community in which mass was performed more or less frequently by a priest from outside. Given the ancient roots of the earlier tradition, it is not surprising that the clericalization of monasticism in the ninth century sometimes met with disapproval. Regino of Prüm’s critique of mass celebrations without a congregation, for example, was clearly aimed at the celebration of votive masses by monks.43



Arnold Angenendt, “Missa specialis:  zugleich ein Betrag zur Entstehung der Privatmessen,” in Angenendt, Liturgie im Mittelalter, 111–​90. 39 Lowe, Bobbio Missal, 419–​35 (votive masses) and 492–​96 (missa pro principe); Rob Meens, “Reforming the Clergy:  A Context for the Use of the Bobbio Missal,” in Hen and Meens, Bobbio Missal, 154–​67; Mary Garrison, “The missa pro principe in the Bobbio missal,” in ibid., 187–​205. 40 Cyrille Vogel, Medieval Liturgy:  An Introduction to the Sources, rev. and trans. William G. Storey and Niels K. Rasmussen (Washington, DC, 1986), 61–​134. 41 Mayke de Jong, The Penitential State: Authority and Atonement in the Age of Louis the Pious, 814–​840 (Cambridge, 2010). 42 Angelus A. Häußling, Mönchskonvent und Eucharistiefeier. Eine Studie über die Messe in der abendländischen Klosterliturgie des frühen Mittelalters und zur Geschichte der Meßhäufigkeit (Münster, 1973). 43 Regino of Prüm, Libri duo de synodalibus causis et disciplinis ecclesiaticis, ed. Hermann Wasserschleben (Leipzig, 1840), 1:193; see also Arnold Angenendt, “Stiftung und Fürbitte,” in Frömmigkeit—​Theologie—​Frömmigkeitstheologie. Contributions to European 38

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The clericalization of monasticism was not crucial for all innovations in the ritual practice of remembrance of the dead. From the ninth century on, for example, it was common to read from the community’s rule and to recite the names of the saints from the martyrology in the chapter house at Prime.44 By the eighth century, there were also commemorative registers that listed the days of death and names of relatives and patrons so that the community might honor them on their anniversaries.45 The Annales necrologici of Fulda, for instance, were created in 779 and continued until 1065.46 These registers and the martyrology were both organized in calendrical form so that the names of the ordinary dead and the saints of the day could be read out together. This practice became firmly established in the long term in the so-​called Chapter Office, from which arose a specific type of liturgical manuscript, the Chapter Office book. Later, so-​called contracts or pacts of confraternity were also concluded in chapter, giving the inclusion of the laity in the prayer community of the monastery a strong juridical base.47 As the entire monastic community came together for the office of Prime, the daily reading of the names of the dead there was more effective than a memorial mass for making the dead present within the community.

Challenging the Traditional Narrative: Theological and Gendered Perspectives The belief that the offering made during the mass celebration functioned as a form of substitutional penance for the dead was built upon the theological foundation of Gregory the Great’s aforementioned view of the afterlife and the associated concept of intercession articulated in his Dialogues. Recent research suggests that Gregory’s understanding of intercession and surrogate sin offerings for the dead was part of the larger debate concerning the question of the soul’s status after death.48 It seems that Gregory argued



Church History. Festschrift Berndt Hamm, ed. Gudrun Litz, Heidrun Munzert, and Roland Liebenberg (Leiden, 2005), 10. Jean-​Loup Lemaître, “Liber capituli: le livre du chapitre, des origines au XVIe siècle. L’exemple français,” in Schmid and Wollasch, “Memoria”, 625–​48; on the chapter house, see the article by Cochelin in this volume. 45 Jan Gerchow, Die Gedenküberlieferung der Angelsachsen (Berlin, 1988). 46 Janneke E. Raaijmakers, “Memory and Identity: The Annales necrologici of Fulda,” in Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Richard Corradini, Rob Meens, Christina U. Pössel, and P. Shaw (Vienna, 2006), 303–​22. 47 Arnold Angenendt, “Cartam offere super altare: zur Liturgisierung von Rechtsvorgängen,” Frümittelalterliche Studien 36 (2002): 1–​26. 48 Matthew Dal Santo, Debating the Saints’ Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great (Cambridge, 2012), 85–​148. 44

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against extreme materialistic and rationalistic positions that cast doubt upon the activity of the soul after death, and in consequence questioned the efficacy of prayer and offering of the living for the dead. This theological discussion was not only conducted in Roman and Byzantine contexts, as shown by the death accounts of individual nuns from the Neustrian monastery of Faremoutiers, recorded in the second half of Jonas of Bobbio’s (d. after 659) Vita Columbani.49 Jonas’s primary aim was to assert that only a lifetime of good works and a concern for individual purity and the moral integrity of the community could open the path to salvation. In other words, intercession could have a great impact on the protection of the living from moral temptation and could strengthen the solidarity of the community. Even the most fervent intercession for the dead, however, had no influence on the soul’s salvation status. It is thus not surprising that stories of dying nuns sometimes recount how the women were brought back to life for a short time so that they could rectify unsettled disputes with their fellow sisters.50 We should not underestimate the meaning of such assertions, as they clearly demonstrate the complexity of early medieval concepts of intercession and the afterlife. Such narratives point to another as yet unsolved problem: the particular meaning of intercession and memory within female religious communities.51 This issue revolves around the question of how the slow aligning of liturgical theory and practice regarding the celebration of the mass changed the perception of the religious function of female communities.52 The privileging of the mass in the context of memoria brought a disadvantage:  religious women could not celebrate mass, and this could diminish the attractiveness of female religious communities for patrons as a location of death remembrance.53 We can see, however, that religious women contributed in various







For the following aspects, see the forthcoming study of the Faremoutiers episodes in Albrecht Diem, Quidam pater—​quaedam mater; Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Hagiographie et réformes monastiques dans le monde franc du VIIe siècle,” Médiévales 62 (2012), 33–​47; Jamie Kreiner, “Autopsies and Philosophies of a Merovingian Life:  Death, Responsibility, Salvation,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 22 (2014): 113–​52. 50 Jonas of Bobbio, Vita Columbani 2.12, 259–​62. 51 For gendered aspects of early medieval liturgy, see Gisela Muschiol, “Men, Women and Liturgical Practice in the Early Medieval West,” in Gender in the Early Medieval World:  East and West, 300–​900, ed. Leslie Brubaker and Julia Mary Howard Smith (Cambridge, 2004), 198–​216. 52 For a survey of the history of religious women in the Early Middle Ages, see Anne-​ Marie Helvétius, “Le monachisme féminin en Occident de l’antiquité tardive au haut Moyen Âge,” in Monachesimi d’oriente e d’occidente nell’alto medioevo. LXIV Settimana di Studio (Spoleto, March 31st–​April 6th 2016), 2 vols. (Spoleto, 2017), 1:193–​230. 53 See the article by Griffiths in volume II.

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ways to the celebration of the mass: by singing the antiphons and hymns, by sharing the greeting of peace, and by receiving both the bread and the wine of the Eucharist.54 The liturgical functions of women, such as the sacrificial offering or the organization of the Eucharist celebration without priests,55 whose traces go back perhaps as far as the ninth century, could also have counterbalanced the gender disadvantage, even when such celebration was not necessarily legitimized through official consecration. The exercise of an ecclesiastical office in the broadest sense was sufficient, although it remains unclear if this could also include the involvement of women in the actual consecration.56 The connection between the celebration of mass and memory in female communities is also apparent in a number of other contexts. Hagiographic and normative sources from the seventh century, for example, refer to the celebration of mass as a form of memory for the deceased sisters or abbesses, although it is not always easy to determine whether the mass was thought of as an act of intercession or merely as a memorial celebration. In the prologue to his Regula ad virgines, Donatus of Besançon (d. after 658), in contrast to other witnesses, gives a rather straightforward view: he asks the nuns to pray for him as a friend of the community, and, later, to make Eucharistic offerings on his behalf after his death. He thus distinguishes clearly here between the prayers of the nuns as a form of intercession and an expression of the bond of caritas among the living, and the Eucharistic offering as a form of penance and memoria for the dead. But the Eucharistic celebration is exclusively linked to the nuns; no specific mention is made of a celebrating priest.57 The Life of the Abbess Bertilla of Chelles makes it clear that Eucharistic offerings would be made daily there for the salvation of believers.58 Bertilla also saw to it that, after the death of the Merovingian Queen Balthild, a number of places of worship would contribute to her memory through the celebration of the Eucharist. The Vita Balthildis (post 680) thus provides en passant evidence (and about fifty years before the prayer association of Attigny) of a kind of prayer network organized around Balthild.59

For the following, see Gisela Muschiol, Famula Dei. Zur Liturgie in merowingischen Frauenklöstern (Münster, 1994), 186–​9 and 221. 55 Jean Leclercq, “Eucharistic Celebrations without Priests,” Worship 55 (1981): 160–​5. 56 For two differing positions, see Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West (Oxford 2007); and Angenendt, Offertorium, 199–​201. 57 Donatus of Besançon, Regula ad virgines, ed. Victoria Zimmerl-​Pannagl (Berlin, 2015), 239–​40. 58 Vita Bertillae 6, MGH SS RM 6, 106. 59 Vita Balthildis A 15, MGH SS RM 2, 502. 54

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The Liber memorialis compiled at the double monastery of Remiremont in the ninth century, but with portions probably dating back to its foundation around 620, is another early testament to the formation of prayer networks linked to or even initiated by religious women.60 The deep involvement of female religious in the developments of the Carolingian period is visible in the mass formula recorded in the same Liber memorialis borrowed from the contractual mass discussed above in connection with the Bobbio Missal. This formula expressed the idea of intercession as a reward for donating to the monastery.61 The Liber memorialis of the female community of San Salvatore–​ Santa Giulia in Brescia, perhaps created in 856, contains a similar mass formula, but it ensured intercession across the network of all the benefactors, including those who lacked the means to make donations but instead rendered services in kind to the monastery.62 It is not surprising that these examples of joining memory and the mass offering in female communities originate in the context of monasteries that were under royal and episcopal influence. The emphasis on mass as a part of the liturgical practice of female communities reveals the possibilities for control and normative framing by ecclesiastical authorities, since these communities were bound to the clerics who celebrated their masses. On the other hand, the Frankish kings, in their role as protectors, safeguarded the independence of the royal female monasteries through privileges of immunity and special freedom from episcopal power.63 From late antiquity, continued interest in the prayer of religious women for the dead and their intercession in general was based above all on appreciation for their particular purity, which in the public mind was linked to their chastity.64 According to Matthew 22:30, the lives of virgins were angelic, such that their liturgical singing was also understood as an earthly equivalent of the heavenly choir of angels.65 The so-​called laus perennis, the perpetual psalmody that was practiced in a number of Burgundian and Frankish male, female,

See Michèle Gaillard, D’une réforme à l’autre (816–​934). Les communautés religieuses en Lorraine à l’époque carolingienne (Paris, 2006), 274–​304. 61 Eduard Hlawitschka, Karl Schmid, and Gerd Tellenbach eds., Liber memorialis von Remiremont, 2 vols. (Hanover, 1970), I/​1, 1–​3; see also Angenendt, Offertorium, 254. 62 Dieter Geuenich and Uwe Ludwig eds., Der Memorial-​und Liturgiecodex von San Salvatore/​ Santa Giulia in Brescia (Hanover, 2000), 178; see also Angenendt, Offertorium, 255. 63 Helvétius, “L’organisation des monastères féminins à l’époque mérovingienne,” in Female “vita religiosa” between Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages, ed. Gert Melville and Anne Müller (Vienna, 2011), 161 and 167–​8, with further literature. 64 See the article by Muschiol in volume II. 65 Anne-​Marie Helvétius, “Le sexe des anges au Moyen Âge,” in De la différence des sexes. Le genre en histoire, ed. Michèle Riot-​Sarcy (Paris, 2010), 103–​30.

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and double monasteries from the beginning of the sixth century onwards brought a more formal sophistication to these ideas.66 Referring to Matthew 18:3 (“Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”), childlike innocence was taken as a complementary model.67 Because of its popularity, the angelic life could be seen in secular and ecclesiastical circles as a threat to their authority.68 Just like the previously mentioned monks of Bangor, female religious prayed for the salvation of the living and dead, but also for the social and political order. The female monasteries and particularly the abbesses therefore assumed public functions concurrent to those of the clergy.69 Bishops, in particular, sought to minimize the importance of the virgins by downplaying the importance of chastity. At the same time, they aimed to advance the charisma of purity for clergy by imposing upon clerics some of the monastic ideals, such as the vita communis or even celibacy.70 As we saw in the case of Chelles, the prayer of female religious could be linked in a complementary pairing with the mass, which normally could only be performed by the clergy. Accordingly, Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) had already placed monks, clerics, and virgins side by side in order to attribute equal value to their prayer.71 The efforts of the Carolingian reformers of the eighth and ninth centuries to categorize and standardize suggest at first glance that such tendencies of assimilation between monastics and clerics with regard to purity and charisma of angelic living were reversed. The reform Synods of Aachen from 816 to 819, to take one important example, drew a clear line between clerics and monks, although this meant little in the context of the female vita religiosa.72





Philippe Bernard, “La laus perennis dans la Gaule de l’antiquité tardive:  état des questions et éléments d’un bilan,” in Sine musica nulla disciplina. Studi in onore di Giulio Cattin, ed. Franco Bernabei and Antonio Lovato (Padua, 2006), 39–​69. See also the article by Jeffrey in this volume. 67 Hubertus Lutterbach, “Die Mönche—​ besondere Gotteskinder? Die Bedeutung der geistlichen Kindschaft für das christliche Klosterleben,” in Generations in the Cloister:  Youth and Age in Medieval Religious Life, ed. Annette Kehnel and Sabine von Heusinger (Münster, 2008), 34–​64. 68 Helvétius, “Sexe des anges,” 121–​9. 69 Helvétius, “Le monachisme féminin.” 70 Josef Semmler, “Le monachisme occidental du VIIIe au Xe siècle: formation et reformation,” Revue bénédictine 103 (1993), 69–​70. 71 Caesarius of Arles, Œuvres monastiques, vol. 1, ed. Adalbert de Vogüé and Joël Courreau, SC 345, 354–​7; see also Helvétius, “Sexes des anges,” 115–​16. 72 For the general context, see the article by Kramer in this volume; Gaillard, D’une réforme à l’autre. For the consequences for the female vita religiosa, see Thomas Schilp, Norm und Wirklichkeit religiöser Frauengemeinschaften im frühen Mittelalter (Göttingen, 1998); Franz J. Felten, “Auf dem Weg zu Kanonissen und Kanonissenstift: Ordnungskonzepte der weiblichen vita religiosa bis ins 9. Jahrhundert,” in Vita religiosa sanctimonialium. Norm 66

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The demand for the ritual purity of priests (celibacy) enabled the clerics to absorb to a certain extent the angelic purity of monks and nuns.73 The parallel phenomenon of the esteem of the mass had increased to such a degree that the prayer of ordinary monks and nuns was now subordinated. Monks could compensate for the loss of angelic purity through the priesthood and its associated ritual purity. Child oblates, once adult monks, were especially esteemed as priests, since they had access to sound academic training and could claim purity for themselves, as competitors to the religious women.74 The angelic purity of the latter was in fact increasingly challenged in reference to their human sinfulness.75

Liturgical Communities of Prayer beyond the Cloister: The Implications of the Laity The devaluation of the prayers and intercession of female religious and monks outside the priesthood seems primarily to have been the result of theological and ecclesio-​political disputes. What has been little studied, however, is the question of the degree to which such ideas took hold in the general consciousness.76 The close connection between the Eucharist and individual penance certainly created the preconditions for the popularization of monastic votive and memorial masses. But this relegated the laity to the position of the circumstantes, as mere observers, and reduced the possibilities for their active participation in commemoration. It seems, moreover, that the majority of the laity rarely had the opportunity to attend and participate in mass, which suggests that this was not a central liturgical performance for most believers.77 One particularly touching episode in Gregory of Tours’ (d. 594)  Liber in gloria martyrum sheds light on this particular aspect. A  mother mourns for her young son, whom she had previously handed over to the monks of the Burgundian monastery Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune. The grief-​stricken woman visits his grave every day and directs her lamentations to heaven until the monastery’s patron, the martyr Maurice, finally appears to her in a dream. He



und Praxis des weiblichen religiösen Lebens vom 6.  bis zum 13. Jahrhundert, ed. Christine Kleinjung (Korb, 2011), 71–​92. 73 Muschiol, “Men, Women and Liturgical Practice,” 206–​10. 74 Mayke de Jong, In Samuel’s Image: Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Leiden 1996). 75 Helvétius, “Sexe des anges,” 123. 76 For the liturgical implications of the laity, see McLaughlin, Consorting with Saints, 102–​25. 77 Peter Browe, Die Pflichtkommunion im Mittelalter (Münster, 1940).

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bids her to cease her mourning, as her son is finally enjoying “the abode of the eternal life in the company of the saints.” He then instructs her to go to the monastery the following day, where she will be able to “hear his voice among the choir of monks,” as proof of his eternal life in heaven. The next morning, during the singing of the antiphons at Matins, the mother does indeed hear her child’s voice among the monks.78 Gregory of Tours here underscores the vital importance of the prayers of monks for the entire community of believers, as exemplified by the bereaved mother. This example also makes apparent the emotional bond between the community of the living and that of the dead, which was not merely ritually manufactured in the singing of the monks. The voice of the son testified to eternal life in the hereafter, and also reminded the mother of the perfect community in heaven. The basis for this story was ultimately the medieval belief in the special power that the angelic singing of the nuns and monks created in the earthly context in unison with the singing of the heavenly hosts. The son’s grave in the above episode clearly functions as a place of memory for his mother. While Gregory provides no indication as to the grave’s location, we do know that the monastery’s church at Agaune served as a burial site and was surrounded by cemeteries.79 This anecdote thus offers a glimpse into the connection between the monastic liturgy and the monastic church as a burial site. Despite continued criticism, a completely rigorous restriction on lay graves in monasteries could not be enforced, especially since the nobility had the financial means and the necessary social influence to arrange for a tomb in the church. Occasionally vestibules and porticos were used as a compromise.80 The church tomb attracted continual interest among the laity, since burial ad sanctos or, perhaps even more importantly, close to the altar and other places of ritual action would ensure perpetual proximity to the monastic liturgy. The increasing importance of the mass and prayer for the atonement and memory of the dead intensified this tendency.81 The as yet understudied similarities between the formulas of grave inscriptions and the entries in memorial books and necrologies indicate that the tomb also took



Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria martyrum, MGH SS RM 1.2, 88. Antonella Antonini, “Archéologie du site abbatial (des origines au Xe siècle),” in L’abbaye de Saint-​Maurice d’Agaune, 515–​2015, I. Histoire et archéologie, ed. Bernard Andenmatten and Laurent Ripart (Saint-​Maurice, 2015), 59–​109. 80 Sebastian Scholz, “Das Grab in der Kirche: zu seinen theologischen und rechtlichen Hintergründen in Spätantike und Frühmittelalter,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-​ Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Kanonistische Abteilung 84 (1998):  270–​ 306; Arnold Angenendt, “In porticu ecclesiae sepultus: ein Beispiel von himmlisch-​irdischer Spiegelung,” in Angenendt, Liturgie im Mittelalter, 295–​310. 81 See Scholz, “Das Grab in der Kirche,” 283–​5. 78

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on complementary functions, like the memorial mass or even the reading out of names of the dead from the necrologies during the office of Prime.82 In addition to the altar, the liturgical choir, and the chapter house, the grave became a space of memory in which a wide circle of believers could participate in the special memorial function of the monastery. Thus the grave inscription for the first abbot of Remiremont, Amatus (d. after 628), called on all believers to pray for the forgiveness of his sins.83 His wish was quite reasonable, given that his grave was located at the entrance to the church. Augustine had already underscored the ability of the grave to trigger prayer and at the same time emphasized the function of names in the grave inscriptions as a medium of visualizing the deceased.84 Such requests for intercession in the formulas of grave inscriptions became more common from the late eighth century onwards.85 This speaks to a persistent and even intensified “democratization” of ritualized memory that stands beside forms of liturgical remembrance of the dead such as the monastic memorial mass. The relationship between all of these forms of memoria requires further exploration.

Conclusion: Prayer and the Early Medieval Public Sphere In conclusion, let us return to the broad social meaning of intercession stressed at the beginning, as it developed on the basis of biblical models over the course of late antiquity and the early medieval period. The cultural practice of remembrance of the dead turns out to be, as Otto Gerhard Oexle stressed, a “globalizing social phenomenon” (ein totales soziales Phänomen).86 On that basis, memorial practice in the ascetic and monastic context should be interpreted primarily as a form of “social action.”87 Rituals served to negotiate forms of social organization within the early medieval world. Prayers for the dead constituted only one, albeit a central, form of intercession. Much research remains to be done on the connection of different forms of intercession, as well as the relationship between liturgical memory and historical

Sebastian Scholz, “‘Durch eure Fürbitten ist er Gefährte der Heiligen’: Grabinschriften als Ausdruck des Totengedenkens im Mittelalter,” in Bücher des Lebens—​lebendige Bücher. Katalog, ed. Peter Erhart and Jakob Kuratli (St. Gall, 2010), 153–​61. 83 Vita Amati Habedensis 11 and 13, MGH SS RM 4, 219–​20. 84 Augustine, De cura pro mortuis gerenda 6, ed. Joseph Zycha, CSEL 41, 630–​1. 85 Scholz, “ ‘Durch eure Fürbitten’,” 153–​4. 86 Otto Gerhard Oexle, “Memoria als Kultur,” in Memoria als Kultur, ed. Otto Gerhard Oexle (Göttingen, 1995), 39. 87 Otto Gerhard Oexle, “Memoria und Memorialbild,” in Schmid and Wollasch, “Memoria”, 394. 82

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remembrance.88 This relationship can be found, again, in the Antiphonary of Bangor, with its list of abbots in the form of a liturgical hymn, whose function extended beyond the liturgical memorial for the deceased abbots.89 The monks of Bangor brought to life the real story of their community in the antiphony. But we can only understand the social importance of liturgical memory when we equally consider the local contexts of specific religious communities and the overarching meaning of intercession. It is useful to start with local contexts of discourse and interaction, rather than defined groups of actors. For example, how would a figure like Caesarius of Arles be classified? As a bishop, he participated intensely in the theological and normative framing of monastic intercession, but he also entrusted himself to the very same monastic intercession as a believer. To the extent that the salvific impact of intercession was tied to the prayer of religious men and women, bishops had a strong interest in controlling their liturgical agency. It is thus tempting to attribute greater force of control to the theological discourses of spiritual ministers than to the actual religious practices of local societies in the context of religious communities.90 But it is clear in the methodical interactions of such different levels of discourse and action that early medieval ideas of socialization and the public sphere crystallized around the cultural practice of intercession through religious communities as special social locations.

Bibliography Angenendt, Arnold. Liturgie im Mittelalter. Ausgewählte Aufsätze zum 70. Geburtstag, edited by Thomas Flammer and Daniel Meyer. Münster, 2004.   Offertorium. Das mittelalterliche Meßopfer. 3rd ed., Münster, 2014. Brown, Peter. The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Western Christianity. Cambridge, MA, 2015. Choy, Renie S. Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms. Oxford, 2016. Dal Santo, Matthew. Debating the Saints’ Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great. Cambridge, 2012. Geuenich, Dieter, and Otto Gerhard Oexle, eds. Memoria in der Gesellschaft des Mittelalters. Göttingen, 1994.



Rosamond McKitterick, “Geschichte und Memoria im Frühmittelalter,” in Bücher des Lebens—​lebendige Bücher. Katalog, ed. Peter Erhart and Jakob Kuratli, 153–​61 (St. Gall, 2010),  13–​30. 89 Warren, Antiphonary of Bangor, 1:fol. 36v, 2:33 and 81–​2. 90 Steffen Patzold, Kleine Welten. Ländliche Gesellschaften im Karolingerreich (Constance, 2015). 88

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Monastic Identity in Early Medieval Ireland L isa M .   B ite l

For more than a century, one question pestered historians of medieval Irish monasticism:  not “was it different?” but “how different was it” from Continental monasticism? Nationalist scholars of the early twentieth century tended to emphasize the distinctive features of Irish Christianity, such as seventh-​century squabbles with the Anglo-​Saxons over the date of Easter, singular tonsures, and the Irish fondness for pilgrimage.1 Above all, scholars pointed to the absence of the Rule of St. Benedict (RB) in Ireland before the introduction of Continental monastic orders in the twelfth century.2 No single monastic model, rule, or set of customs prevailed during the early Middle Ages. According to John Ryan, author of the foundational Irish Monasticism (1931), Benedict was too easy, too legalistic, and too Roman for Ireland. Ryan noted proudly, if not accurately, that Continental monastic reforms “connected with the names of St. Benedict of Aniane and the monks of Cluny” were “largely a return to the Irish system,” which he regarded as sterner and simpler.3 As essays in this volume show, the practice of what we now call Christian monasticism took discrete form wherever men and women created it. Despite the normalizing principles behind monastic communities, local circumstances and environments shaped ascetic practices and monastic identities. Even when communities shared rules and liturgies, they were never completely alike. Their internal demographics, the relative literacy of their members, their wealth, architecture, communal spirituality, and numerous



Robin Flower, “‘The Two Eyes of Ireland’:  Religion and Literature in Ireland in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries,” in The Church of Ireland, A.D. 432–​1932, ed. William Bell and N. O. Emerson (Dublin, 1932), 66–​75. 2 James F. Kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical. An Introduction and Guide (Dublin, 1979), 211–​17; Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: Ireland. With an Appendix to Early Sites (Harlow, 1970), 102–​11, 745–​9. 3 John Ryan, Irish Monasticism: Origins and Early Development (Ithaca, NY, 1972), 411–​13. 1

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other details of religious habitus made each monastic community different, whether it included hundreds of Christians or just a few. Still, in one important sense, Irish communities will remain forever unique in the history of Christian monasticism simply because early Irish monastics wrote more about themselves than any other literati in early medieval Europe. Beginning in the sixth century, Irish scribes loosed a torrent of texts in multiple genres and two languages, Latin and the vernacular, that offer evidence for the history of monasticism. The vernacular legal material alone probably includes more manuscript pages relevant to monasticism than the entire corpus of Anglo-​Saxon writing from the same period. Ecclesiastical canons, penitentials, annals, dynastic histories, genealogies, hundreds of saints’ Lives, poetry, hymns, and “secular” tales of kings and pre-​Christian heroes, among other Irish texts, yield insights into Christian life, spirituality, and monastic ideals of the early medieval period. Most, if not all, authors of this vast literature lived in religious communities.4 Together with material evidence—​and there are large quantities of that, as well5—​the documentary record makes clear that monasticism in Ireland was never a static or uniform institution. The bounty of Irish evidence has revealed a few obvious themes. First, although scholars used to call all Irish religious settlements “monasteries” or “churches,” many religious settlements were not monasteries—​at least, not in the sense of a community composed entirely of monks or nuns. Instead, major religious settlements were (in the words of one historian) “multi-​ functional ecclesiastical establishments” that included vowed monastics among their residents, similar to English minsters. The Irish, like Christians elsewhere, used local idioms for their religious places and communities, calling them variously ecclesia/​eclais, cella, civitas, domnach, and monasterium.6 Some settlements may have specialized in parochial, monastic, or commemorative occupations, but most probably pursued a mix of religious purposes.

James Carney, “Language and Literature to 1169,” in A New History of Ireland, Vol. 1: Prehistoric and Early Ireland, ed. Dáibhí, Ó Cróinín (Oxford, 2008), 451–​510; Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, An Introduction to Early Irish Literature (Dublin, 2009); Kathleen Hughes, Early Christian Ireland: Introduction to the Sources (Ithaca, NY, 1972). 5 Aidan O’Sullivan, Finbar McCormick, Thomas R. Kerr, and Lorcan Harney, Early Medieval Ireland, AD 400–​1100: The Evidence from Archaeological Excavations (Dublin, 2013), 139–​78; Tomás Ó Carragáin, Churches in Early Medieval Ireland: Architecture, Ritual, and Memory (New Haven, CT, 2010). 6 Colmán Etchingham, “The Organization and Function of an Early Irish Church Settlement: What Was Glendalough?” in Glendalough: City of God, ed. Charles Doherty, Linda Doran, and Mary Kelly (Dublin, 2011), 53. See also T. M. Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000), esp. ­chapter 6: “The Organisation of the Early Irish Church,” 241–​81. 4

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Second, Irish monastic identity depended more on the ritual observance of spatial boundaries within religious settlements than upon social withdrawal and isolation. Vowed men and women who dwelt on the small, intimate, and intensely rural landscapes of Ireland had no towns to flee or riches to give away. They regarded a modest concentration of population with a church as the equivalent of a Continental city (civitas)—​yet these were the places they fled to, rather than from, when joining the monastic project. The Irish counted their wealth and prestige in cattle and clients; kings lived much like farmers, except that they probably fed better. Monastics lived among—​and like—​farmers and kings. The permeability of Irish religious communities, more than any other condition, has misled modern scholars into construing Irish monasticism as disorganized or lax. Third, no single rule bound the behavior of Irish monastics. Each religious settlement lived by its own saintly patron’s rule. Yet ascetic ideals and habits changed over time, as vowed men and women integrated their settlements into local political and economic structures. The blending of vowed and lay people, male and female, in Irish religious settlements permitted a kind of social mixing that contradicted Continental monastic rules, particularly in relation to gender. It was not always easy to maintain a distinctive ascetic lifestyle amid the normal traffic of rural life. Periodically, reformers and revivalists of the Middle Ages, such as the Célí Dé of Ireland, redrew and strengthened the boundaries of monastic life and space. One typical aim of reformers was the reinforcement of gender segregation. Religious communities could survive accusations of rich living or politicking, but not charges of sexual misbehavior. In Christian moral theology, women caused this kind of trouble. Women symbolized the dominance of human bodies over human will. In monastic literature, women offered the temptations of social and sexual intercourse that lured ascetics from their vows. Hence gender was one of the dominant vocabularies of recurring monastic reforms, and one of the reformers’ most reliable strategies was the reordering and segregation of monastic spaces.

The Idioms of Irish Monastic Life Monasticism was unheard of when Christians first came to the eastern coast of Ireland in the fourth century (if not earlier) as slaves, refugees, and traders from Britain and Gaul. Christians brought the idioms and rituals of Roman Christianity, along with exotic liturgical objects, spoken Latin, written Scriptures, and new ideas about sacral architecture. They built small, squarish 299

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churches of wood and turf based on practical Gaulish and Romano-​British models, and set about preaching and baptizing.7 The earliest Christian document from Ireland—​a defensive letter from Bishop Patricius to colleagues in Britain toward the end of the fifth century—​ claimed that men, women, and children rushed to convert. In reality, it probably took a long time for many Irish to identify as Christians and to begin passing the religion from one generation to the next. News of experiments in religious asceticism reached Patricius, now called St. Patrick, who reported that the children of pagan chieftains were turning themselves into monachi et virgines Christi (monks and vowed virgins.) Patrick also mentioned viduas et continentes (widows and celibates) who dedicated themselves to Christianity, despite the opposition of parents or, in the case of slaves, their masters.8 The so-​called Apostle of Ireland did not, however, mention anchorites in the Irish wilderness or cenobitic communities. Monasticism was well under way in the seventh century when the earliest Irish hagiographers wrote. The Irish landscape had been transformed since Patrick’s day by ubiquitous settlements with specifically Christian purposes. Tírechán, bishop, scholar, and author of a late seventh-​century collection of Patrician anecdotes, asserted that the saint had sponsored and staffed numerous church-​based communities around Ireland during the second half of the fifth century. Some were for women, some for men, and some for both. The author recalled, as just one example, “a blest maiden” named Mathona, sister of Benignus, who “had left the secular life”: [Mathona] took the veil (pallium) before Patrick and Rodanus. She was a nun (monacha) to them, and she went out across the mountain of the Uí Ailella and set up a free church at Tamnach; she was honored by God and by men, and she swore an alliance with his successors upon Rodanus’ relics, and they used to feast together. Afterward they put bishops at the holy church in Tamnach …9

Mathona’s establishment represents the prevalent features of religious communities in Tírechán’s time. The writer understood Mathona to be

Ó Carragáin, Churches in Early Medieval Ireland, 36–​47; Lisa Bitel, Landscape with Two Saints:  How Genovefa of Paris and Brigit of Kildare Built Christianity in Barbarian Europe (Oxford, 2009). 8 Patrick, Confessio 41–​2. Text and translation available online at Anthony Harvey et al., Confessio: St. Patrick’s Confession (Hypertext Stack) (Dublin, 2011), www.confessio.ie (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 9 Ludwig Bieler, ed. and trans., Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh (Dublin, 1979), 140–​3 (modified translation). See also ibid., 158–​9; Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland,  252–​4. 7

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the well-​born sister of Bishop Benignus (Benén), who famously succeeded Patrick as bishop of Armagh (Ard Macha) in Ulster. Tírechán also believed that Mathona had renounced her home in the midlands to build a church—​or occupy an existing property—​far away at Tamnach (modern Tawnagh, in Co. Sligo.) In the fifth century, a noblewoman would never have traveled across the island to Sligo unless her kin had married her off to a Connacht lord. Nonetheless, according to Tírechán, Mathona was veiled by the founder of another church at Dumach (also Co. Sligo). The oath she swore later upon Rodanus’ relics and the resulting commensality between the Tamnach and Dumach groups established a historical partnership. Tírechán also noted Patrick’s part in Mathona’s project—​“she was a nun to them”—​emphasizing that both Tamnach and Dumach remained under the oversight of Armagh, Patrick’s primary foundation in Ulster.10 The writer further assumed a hierarchy of religious establishments built on partnerships between female monastics and ordained or vowed men who were not necessarily bound also by kinship.11 From Tírechán’s time on, Irish hagiographers routinely conferred both sanctity and monastic status on the fifth-​and sixth-​century founders of religious settlements. They depicted saints building and staffing church-​based communities, much as Tírechán did for Patrick and Mathona. Hagiographers sometimes blurred the extent of their protagonists’ authority, however. Two prominent founders of historically important religious settlements, St. Brigit (d. c. 525) of Kildare (Cill Dara, Co. Kildare) and St. Áed mac Bricc (d. c. 589) of Rahugh (Ráith Áeda, Co. Westmeath) were portrayed in seventh-​ and eighth-​century texts as both monastic and parochial leaders, probably on the model of St. Martin of Tours (d. 397) and Pope Gregory I (although Brigit was no bishop, despite a notorious passage in her ninth-​century vita that claimed so).12 According to Áed’s eighth-​century hagiographer, the saint was already a young man when he left his royal family to become a youthful hermit at Enach Midbren; although he lacked early monastic training, he went on to found several religious settlements for men and women. The hagiographer referred to him as both Abbot and Bishop Áed.13 Brigit’s first



David N. Dumville, “Auxilius, Iserninus, Secundinus, and Benignus,” in Saint Patrick A.D. 493–​1993, ed. David N. Dumville et al. (Woodbridge, 1993), 89–​105; Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Ireland, 400–​1200 (London and New York, 1995), 154–​68; Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland,  252–​5. 11 Bieler, Patrician Texts, 132–​3, 146–​7, 154–​5, and 160–​1; Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland,  43–​7. 12 Donncha Ó hAodha, Bethu Brigte (Dublin, 1978), 6, 24. 13 William Watts Heist, ed., Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae. Ex codice olim Salmanticensi nunc Bruxellensi (Brussels, 1965), 165–​81, sec. 7, 14.

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hagiographer (Cogitosus, fl. 650, who wrote before Tírechán) claimed that she achieved trans-​regional authority over all Christian communities in the province of Leinster, as well as over women’s communities everywhere in Ireland.14 Cogitosus, like other hagiographers, asserted his saint’s leadership of a network (paruchia or parochia) of church-​based settlements, shrines, and hermits’ abodes in proximity to her primary community, which was conveniently located near one of the political hubs of Leinster.15 Irish monastics translated the most basic concepts of Christian asceticism and monastic life into Irish terms with generous parameters.16 During the long conversion period from roughly the fifth century to the seventh, Irish church leaders organized ordained clergy, monastics, their dependents, and other Christians into paruchiae. Some paruchiae seem to have been territorially defined, like parishes and dioceses on the Continent, and presided over by bishops. The leaders of other paruchiae were abbots or abbesses. A handful of wealthy, prominent religious communities, backed by the patronage of powerful kings, tried to maintain trans-​regional paruchiae like Kildare. The heirs to Patrick’s Armagh claimed loyalty and dues not only from Tamnach and Dumach but also from many other settlements across Ireland. Complex religious communities like these often had an abbot or abbess and a bishop or two in residence. In structure, these major paruchiae resembled typical dioceses; in geographic claims, they looked more like confederations of priories obedient to a monastery. In operation, paruchiae paralleled the hierarchical clientage that bound kings to warrior-​lords, and lords to farmers and other legal inferiors.17 As political dynasties rose and fell so did paruchiae, and vice versa. Benedict never used familia to designate the monastic community in his rule, although he used kinship terms to explain the relationships between the members. Familia translated into Irish muinter, which meant an extended kin group headed by a patriarch. Sometimes hagiographers used familia to mean





Cogitosus, Vita S.  Brigidae, AASS, Feb. 1 (1658), 135–​ 41; Lisa Bitel, “Ekphrasis at Kildare: The Imaginative Architecture of a Seventh-​Century Hagiographer,” Speculum (2004): 605–​27. 15 Bitel, Landscape with Two Saints, 113–​18. On Irish dioceses/​paruchiae, see John Blair and Richard Sharpe, Pastoral Care Before the Parish (Leicester, 1992); and Colmàn Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland, A.D. 650 to 1000 (Maynooth, 1999), as well as his many articles on the subject. 16 Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland, 12–​46; Ailbhe MacShamhráin, Nora White, and Marie Fingleton, eds., Early Christian Ecclesiastical Settlement in Ireland 5th to 12th Centuries (Dublin, 2009–​14), http://​monasticon.celt.dias.ie/​bibliography.php (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 17 Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland, 240–​64. 14

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the followers or retinue of a saint who lived together in an enclosed community. St. Brigit and her nuns comprised the familia or muinter of Kildare. Her successors as abbess of Kildare and their followers were part of the familia too. Yet if an author referred to familia Brigidae rather than familia Cille Dara then familia usually meant paruchia: that is, all the saint’s followers in all her associated communities, including Kildare.18 The Old Irish translation of monachus was manach (pl. manaig); the Irish manaig, however, did not always or even typically resemble the monachi of Merovingian Francia or Augustine’s Canterbury. The use of the term was much more fluid. Some eighth-​and ninth-​century Irish texts, especially hagiography, use monachus/​manach for a vowed ascetic, but other texts from the same period use manach to mean a tenant or laborer on ecclesiastical lands. Ríagail Phátraic (the Rule of Patrick), an eighth-​century set of customs attributed to Patrick, interprets manaig as farmers and herders who paid rents or dues to ecclesiastical lords. Vernacular legal tracts of the same period lay out a schedule of ritual services owed by ordained clerics to manaig and their families.19 Manaig held semi-​ecclesiastical status. If married, they were expected to be monogamous. The Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán, abbot of Iona, d. 697), a proclamation exempting non-​combatants from wartime violence, includes manaig and their wives among the protected classes, so long as they live under the guidance of “an appropriate, learned, pious confessor.”20 Irish canons dating to about 725, which were based on the decrees of both indigenous synods and late antique ecclesiastical councils, further required manaig to limit conjugal sexual relations to certain days of the week.21 The most common Irish term for a nun was caillech. Caille was the Old Irish word for “veil” (Latin pallium); a caillech was therefore a veiled woman. In religious texts, the term did not denote age or sexual status (that is, whether virgin, widow, or other kind of vowess, cloistered or not). Whereas Latin offered a slew of words for vowed women—​virgines, sanctimoniales, monachae, sorores, vellatae, ancillae Dei, or simply puellae and mulieres—​all these nuances



Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland, 126–​30. J. G. O’Keefe, “The Rule of Patrick,” Ériu 1 (1904):  216–​24; Catherine Swift, “Early Irish Priests Within Their Own Locality,” in Tome: Studies in Medieval Celtic History and Law in Honour of Thomas Charles-​Edwards, ed. Thomas M. Charles-​Edwards and Fiona Louise Edmonds (Woodbridge, 2011), 29–​40. The classic legal source is Corus Béscnai (“The Regulation of Proper Behavior”), in Corpus iuris Hibernici:  Ad fidem codicum manuscriptorum, ed. D. A. Binchy, 6 vols. (Dublin, 1978), 520–​36, 903–​5, 1312–​21. 20 Kuno Meyer, ed. and trans., Cáin Adamnáin: An Old-​Irish Treatise on the Law of Adamnan (Oxford, 1905), sec. 34. 21 James A. Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago, IL, 1990), 154–​64. 18 19

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were caught in the single Irish word caillech.22 As Mairín Ní Dhonnchadha has shown, the range of meaning for caillech was clearly extensive in early medieval Ireland.23 Caillech aithrige, for instance, was a penitent woman who retired to a monastic community, presumably in her mature years. The wives of some manaig—​“from porter to priest”—​also held the title of caillech aithrige and were required to wear veils signifying their religious status.24 Yet in poetry and historical king-​tales of the period, a caillech might simply be an old woman, a married woman, or a hag with mysterious powers. The clues to the monastic identity of a community or an individual were few in early Ireland. Irish writers translated monastic terms flexibly because religious communities did not maintain Continental-​style barriers between monks and nuns, or between vowed monastics and lay people. Instead, monastics sought others ways to identify themselves and advertise their religious vocations.

The Boundaries of Monasticism In the early Middle Ages, male and female Irish monastics typically lived under the authority of an abbas or abbatissa, epscop (episcopus), princeps, or airchinnech (a hereditary manager of ecclesiastical community and property), or some combination of these, depending on the size and location of the community. Whereas female religious leaders were always vowed women, not all airchinnig were either ordained or vowed men. Some seem to have been patriarchs of donor families or hereditary managers of religious settlements. Nonetheless, Irish legal texts treated the position of airchinnech as a semi-​religious office and thus qualitatively different from the manager of other kinds of property.25 It was probably difficult to distinguish small monastic communities from ordinary farmsteads.26 The saints’ Lives suggest that religious men and



See the article by Magnani in this volume and Sarah Foot, Veiled Women, 2  vols. (Aldershot, 2000), 1:26–​30. 23 Mairín Ní Dhonnchadha, “Caillech and Other Terms for Veiled Women in Medieval Irish Texts,” Éigse 28 (1994): 71–​96. 24 Meyer, Cáin Adamnain, sec. 24; Ludwig Bieler and Daniel A. Binchy, ed. and trans., The Irish Penitentials (Dublin, 1963), 54–​5. 25 Fergus Kelly, A Guide to Early Irish Law (Dublin, 2009), 42, n. 26; Richard Sharpe, “Some Problems Concerning the Organization of the Church in Early Medieval Ireland,” Peritia 3 (1984):  259; Liam Breatnach, “The First Third of Bretha Nemed Toísech,” Ériu 40 (1989): 1–​40; John Barry, “The Distinction between Coarb and Erenagh,” Irish Ecclesiastical Record 94 (1960): 90–​5; Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland,  74–​83. 26 See the article by Díaz in this volume for similarities to Visigothic Spain. 22

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women—​including monastics, priests, heirs to church lands, contractual clients of church communities, and retired lay people—​occupied all sorts of settlements, ranging from ordinary family farms and isolated hermitages to proto-​cities. It was easy, however, to spot a rich monastic complex. Armagh, Clonmacnois, Glendalough, and Kildare, along with a few others, featured a founder’s shrine, multiple churches, sculpted monuments, graveyards, and subcommunities of women, students, and/​or visitors. Well-​to-​do settlements were surrounded by enclosing walls, sometimes multiple and concentric, with a ditch.27 Yet observant monastics do not seem to have been associated with any one type of settlement. The layout of settlements, revealed by continuing archaeological investigation, sometimes hints at the religious identity and uses of particular sites. Of many women’s communities, though, nothing is left but place-​names: cell, for example, a word too succinctly translated as “monastery” or “church”; or a female personal name that signals a place where vowed women once lived.28 Ties of kinship contributed to the flexibility and variety of religious communities. Local families got involved in the founding, funding, and maintenance of communities that housed their sons and daughters. Both vernacular laws and ecclesiastical canons of the seventh to ninth centuries governed the distribution of church properties and offices at the death of an abbot or abbess. The kin of principle donors, the kin of the founding saint, or the kin of resident manaig might be heirs to the whole enterprise, depending on local tradition and specific political circumstances.29 Moreover, it is difficult to distinguish which customs prevailed, given that the term to designate the head of a religious community, comarb (feminine comarbae), could be used to indicate either the “heir” of the founding saint or the heir of the founding family. In the latter case, family succession to churches, along with their tenants and estates, sometimes passed from a comarb to his kinsman—​possibly his own son—​over three or four generations.30 Irish breithemoin (singular breithem;



Ó Carragáin, Churches in Early Medieval Ireland, esp. 8–​9, 57–​9; O’Sullivan et al., Early Medieval Ireland, 74–​87, 139–​53. 28 Gregory Toner, Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (eDIL) (Dublin, 2010), www. dil.ie/​ (date of last access: 18 August 2018); Lisa Bitel, “Convent Ruins and Christian Profession: Toward a Methodology for the History of Religion and Gender,” in Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe:  New Perspectives, ed. Lisa Bitel and Felice Lifshitz (Philadelphia, PA, 2008), 1–​15. For a similar difficulty on the Continent, see the articles by Brooks Hedstrom and Dey, Giorda, and Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 29 Liam Breatnach, “The First Third,” secs. 11–​13. 30 Ó Corráin, “Early Irish Churches,” 328; Kathleen Hughes, The Church in Early Irish Society (Ithaca, NY, 1966), 157–​72; Máire Herbert, Iona, Kells, and Derry: The History and Hagiography of the Monastic Familia of Columba (Oxford, 1988). 27

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law-​keepers and arbiters) assumed that certain families produced generations of clerics, monks, and (let us call them) nuns, just as others produced lawyers or poets or farmers. Despite laws prohibiting women’s inheritance of family lands, the abbess of Kildare, for example, was still comarbae Brigte long after St. Brigit’s kinswomen had ceased to rule the monastic and episcopal complex dedicated to her.31 Likewise, the “heirs” to Armagh, comarbai Patraic, were never Patrick’s British relatives. Kinship, real or fictive, was the principle by which management of religious settlements passed from one generation to another. Although it is difficult to map the interrelations of political boundaries, royal dynastic strategies, and religious leadership, religious settlements large and small were part of the wider clientage system that was at the root of Irish society. The historian Donnchadh Ó Corráin has argued, based on evidence from monastic annals, that prominent and prosperous religious communities were often managed by a “cadet” branch of the local tribal rulers. Whatever the size and functions of a religious settlement, its successful governance required regular personal contact with non-​monastic personnel. The gates of a church community opened to all sorts of short-​and long-​ term visitors, including retired lay people, pilgrims, political leaders, and passing travelers. If the hagiographers can be trusted, ordinary sinners sought guidance from men and women who had renounced ordinary life for one of ritualized prayer and self-​sustaining labor. Wealthier religious communities hosted markets, judicial courts, festivals, and other periodic public gatherings. They were “proto-​urban centers,” in the words of one historian, where goods and news arrived, by river or track, from ships anchored at the coast.32 Hagiography and legal texts also refer frequently to the workers and artists who labored at religious settlements. Every prosperous estate had an iron-​worker and wood-​carver. Recent archaeological finds at Clonfad (Cluain Fáda, Co. Westmeath) show that it was an economically vibrant settlement where comb-​makers and bone-​workers labored for their ecclesiastical lords. The community also had smiths, workers of fine metals, and weavers.33





Ó Corráin, “Early Irish Churches,” 328; F. J. Byrne, “Church and Politics, c. 750–​c. 1100,” in Ó Cróinín, New History of Ireland,  671–​2. 32 Charles Doherty, “The Monastic Town in Early Medieval Ireland,” in The Comparative History of Urban Origins in Non-​Roman Europe: Ireland, Wales, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Century, ed. Howard B. Clarke and Anngret Simms (Oxford, 1985), 45–​75; O’Sullivan et al., Early Medieval Ireland,  175–​8. 33 Paul Stevens, “A Monastic Enclosure Site at Clonfad, Co. Westmeath,” Archaeology Ireland 20.2 (2006): 8–​11. 31

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Religious communities of ordained, vowed, and secular Christians also produced three other resources fundamental to medieval Irish society. First, they offered a purportedly neutral, protected space for the performance of treaties and legal judgments. Second, larger religious settlements housed scribes who could record political events in monastic annals. Some settlements were wealthy enough to subsidize schools with scriptoria and libraries, where learned men (and possibly women) created the rich and varied canon of early Irish literature. Given that a single manuscript typically required a flock of sheep or herd of cows for its vellum, communities that supported scholars must have been quite rich. Third, complex settlements such as Armagh, Kildare, and Clonmacnois, among others, offered a critical mass of nobles, scholars, workers, and slaves who formed the audience for both political and ecclesiastical rituals.

How to Spot Monasticism Irish monastics of the seventh to ninth centuries composed behavioral protocols, although not in formal rules like the RB. Instead, Irish writers used canonical rulings and penitentials, along with hagiographic episodes, to set the parameters of monastic life and space. Together with laws of status, contracts, and property, these texts suggest how religious personnel were to conduct their lives both inside their communities and when they ventured out. The behavior of vowed men and women, more than dress or location, marked genuine monastics. The earliest set of Irish penitentials, written in the seventh or eighth century, was probably composed much earlier. A certain St. Finnian addressed his list of penances to both men and women living under ecclesiastical governance. There are two possible candidates for authorship. St. Finnian (d. 589), who supposedly founded Ireland’s first monastery (Mag Bile or Movilla, Co. Down) is the most likely author, but some scholars favor Finnian (d. 549) of Cluain Iraird (Clonard, Co Meath).34 The penitential’s author—​let us call him Finnian—​claims to rely on Scripture and “the opinions of a few very learned men” for his material, but Cassian’s (d. 435)  influence lurks in his lines. Certainly, Irish writers of the seventh century were well aware of other forms of monastic life. The plasticity of monastic identity in Ireland is clear in Finnian’s decision that monks (monachi) were not to baptize converts or receive alms; simultaneously, however, he decreed that any priest who took

Charles-​Edwards, Early Christian Ireland,  291–​3.

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alms was expected to baptize new Christians. Apparently in communities besides that of Finnian, monks were baptizing while priests were absconding with the alms.35 It is unclear whether Finnian’s audience included only monastics or also targeted “secular” priests, deacons, and manaig with their families. Penances were clearly weightier for Christians who took religious vows, yet the ambiguity of the penitential vocabulary poses problems for modern interpreters. For instance, a mulier (woman) who became pregnant and bore a child earned six years of fasting on bread and water; after that, she could once again “put on a white robe and be declared a virgin.”36 Obviously, mulier referred here to a vowess. If the father of the nun’s child was a cleric, he too earned six years of fasting, after which he could return to his religious duties. If the father was a lay man, he earned only three years’ fasting for impregnating the nun (puella Dei) in question and causing her to “lose her crown.” The guilty lay man was prohibited from sleeping with his wife while carrying out his penitential fast.37 Especially stiff penances fell upon “any cleric or woman” (clericus, mulier) who practiced magic of any kind; the woman in question should probably here be understood as a vowess. Above all, the author was determined to categorize sinners by distinguishing genuine monastics from other Christians. The far more rigorous penitential attributed to Columbanus (d. 615), the famous Irish exile who founded monasteries in France and Italy, used Finnian’s text as its model.38 Irish canonists drew, in turn, on Continental models in order to classify and organize ecclesiastical personnel in tidy conceptual hierarchies. Monks and nuns, they declared, should be celibates living in communities set apart from other Christians, governed by abbots or abbesses respectful of episcopal authority.39 Yet, in Irish landscapes, it was nearly impossible for monastics to achieve genuine isolation. Even settlements hopefully named díserta (“deserts” or hermitages) were never far from farms and kings’ halls. Irish homesteads, including church settlements, were typically dispersed but located close enough for intervisibility, economic cooperation, social exchange, and protection from the constant raiding that constituted Irish medieval politics.

Bieler and Binchy, Irish Penitentials,  92–​3. Ibid.,  78–​81. 37 Ibid.,  88–​9. 38 Columbanus, Sancti Columbani Opera, ed. and trans. G. S.  M. Walker (Dublin, 1997), 132–​3,  172–​3. 39 Friedrich Wilhelm Wasserschleben, Die irische Kanonensammlung (Aalen, 1966), 147–​52. 35

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Hagiographers insisted that determined ascetics could escape familiar society. A  seventh-​century homily noted that “White martyrdom is when someone parts for the sake of God from everything that they love, so that they may suffer fasting and hard work.”40 The need to escape Ireland propelled Columcille to Scotland, Columbanus to Thuringia, and St. Brendan over the seas. Others sought wilderness closer to home. The inhabitants of remote hermitages, such as Church Island and Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl), managed to survive from year to year, despite periodic raiding by Vikings: “Étgal of Scelec was carried off by the heathens, and died shortly afterwards of hunger and thirst,” noted an annalist in 824.41 Although hagiographers and canonists admired hermits, they opposed monastic isolation and pilgrimage without abbatial permission. The saints’ Lives tell tales of traveling monks and nuns assaulted or killed by bandits, beasts, and demons.42 Penitentialists prohibited vowed women from traveling long distances or moving about from place to place, whether alone or in the tempting company of vowed men.43 Without the buffer of physical distance, communities of observant Irish monastics invented other means of religious segregation. Eighth-​century canonical decrees postulated a hierarchy of mundane and profane spaces with varying levels of access. The holiest space of a religious settlement, inside the founder’s church or shrine, was open only to monastics and priests. Lay people “not much given to sin”—​presumably manaig and their families—​ could enter the open green outside the monastic walls.44 Cogitosus described how a low wall separated vowed men and women, who occupied two discrete areas near the altar of the main church at Kildare in the seventh century, while lay people stood at the back of the church.45 Still, neither walls nor rules actually prevented intruders who ignored the markers of sacred space.





Péadraig Ó Néill, “The Background to the Cambrai Homily,” Ériu 32 (1981):  137–​47; Westley Follett, Céli Dé in Ireland: Monastic Writing and Identity in the Early Middle Ages (Woodbridge, 2006), 54–​6; Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, “Hiberno-​Latin Literature to 1169,” in Ó Cróinín, New History of Ireland, 379; Carney, “Language and Literature,” 492; O. Davis and T. O’Loughlin, eds., Celtic Spirituality (New York, 1999), 370. 41 Annals of Ulster, in CELT Corpus of Electronic Texts: The Online Resource for Irish History, Literature and Politics (Cork, 1997), www.ucc.ie/​celt/​index.html, U824.9 (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 42 Lisa M. Bitel, Isle of the Saints:  Monastic Settlement and Christian Community in Early Ireland (Ithaca, NY, 1990), 228–​34. 43 Bieler and Binchy, Irish Penitentials,  54–​5. 44 Wasserschleben, Die irische Kanonensammlung, 175; A. D. S. MacDonald, “Aspects of the Monastery and Monastic Life in Adomnán’s Life of Columba,” Peritia 3 (2010): 295–​6. 45 Cogitosus, Vita S. Brigidae, col. 789A.

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The monastic annals tell sad tales of churches looted and burned by feuding Irishmen long before the Vikings arrived.46 Monastics also tried to identify themselves by behaving differently from ordained men and lay people. Most importantly, they spent a lot of time praying and processing in their churches and at the tombs of saints on behalf of their kinfolk, neighbors, dependents, and rulers. As the eighth-​century legal tract Bretha Nemed Toísech established, the ideal Christian community was supposed to support several cadres of religious personnel, each with a different ritual purpose: a sinless superior (airchinnech), devout monks (manaig craibdech); the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, the seven grades of the church with their divisions and with their proper functions being in it; people praying for those who serve it, serving people obedient with regard to seeking permission and to bell and psalm and prior and the sacrament, penitents attending the sacrifice under the direction of a confessor with pious sayings.47

The legal author was describing an exemplary mix of secular and regular clerics with semi-​clerical personnel, all tidily sorted into their appointed spaces. Few settlements, however, could have afforded seven grades of ordained ecclesiastics as well as a confessor for penitents.

The Language of Monastic Reform Sometime in the late 700s, the Irish bishops Dublitir and Caenchomrac left the monastery of Finglas (now a suburb of Dublin). Awaiting them on the green outside the walled settlement was a vowed woman who requested permission to enter the women’s area (lis caillech) within the monastic wall. Bishop Dublitir snapped at her, “Go back the way you came, and curse your face!”48 His companion, Caenchomrac, immediately dropped to the ground and lay prone in the mud. “What is this?” Dublitir demanded. Caenchomrac responded, “You have committed a grave sin by rejecting the unfortunate old woman.” Thus admonished, penitent Dublitir also prostrated himself.

Donnchadh Ó Corráin, “Viking Afterthoughts,” in Ireland and Scandinavia in the Early Viking Age, ed. H. B. Clarke, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, and Raghnall Ó Floin (Dublin, 1998), 421–​52. 47 Breatnach, “The First Third,” 8–​9. 48 E. J. Gwynn and W. J. Purton, ed. and trans., “The Monastery of Tallaght,” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 29C (1911–​12): 115–​80; also available at www.ucd.ie/​tlh/​trans/​ gp.pria.29.001.t.text.html (date of last access: 18 August 2018) (henceforth abbreviated as Tamlachta). 46

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Meanwhile, Caenchomrac ordered that the caillech be admitted to Finglas and offered a cow and a cloak in compensation (Tamlachta 130).49 The anonymous author who recounted this story around 820 ce was, like Dublitir, a céile, literally a “client” or “servant,” of God. Céli Dé were strict ascetics active in southeast Ireland between about 750 and 900, although individual Céli also lived in religious communities elsewhere. Written works by and about Céli Dé spread beyond their few settlements. The need for gender segregation in monastic communities was a recurring theme in their moralizing texts. As Dublitir’s mistake shows, however, segregation was difficult to practice correctly. Dublitir’s offense was not keeping the caillech out of the monastery but refusing to hear her petition. The caillech had observed strict gender protocols. She had not knocked boldly on the gate but had quietly bided time in public space. She had humbly requested a bed in the segregated women’s area of Finglas. In this and other texts, the Céli Dé wrote positively about ascetic and penitent women such as the old caillech, but they nonetheless promoted far stricter guidelines for the definition of monastic spaces and uses of them than did authors of hagiography or laws. They shunned any physical contact with the unconverted: that is, with anyone outside their communities, even donors. They purposely located new monasteries at a distance from other churches and other settlements. They disapproved of lazy priests and ill-​defined pastoral duties, and the involvement of local nobilities in the affairs of ecclesiastical establishments—​although they obligingly composed behavioral rules for lay people under their direction (like manaig), including rules for the sexual conduct of married Christian couples. The monastic ideals of the Céli reveal, in reverse, life in a typical religious settlement; the reformers objected first and foremost to contact with non-​ascetics and to porous gender barriers. The Céli first appeared in the eighth century to promote a neo-​Cassian style of monastic life. They turned up at Lis Mór, Daire na Fland, and Dair Inis in Munster, then at a pair of new monasteries founded exclusively for them. The first settlement was Tamlachta (Tallaght), founded in 774 when the king of Leinster granted a parcel in the flatlands south of the Shannon estuary to the monk Máelruain. Máelruain had left Tipperary with a bag of relics and an ascetic program, hoping to settle far from interference by local chieftains or ecclesiastical powerhouses such as Armagh to the north and Kildare to the south. He had trained under his kinsman Fer Dá Crích at

Elsewhere in the text, Céli Dé reproved anyone who cursed: Tamlachta 36.

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Dair Inis, a venerable monastery on the Blackwater whose scholars had compiled the important canonical collections of the eighth century.50 In the 760s, Máelruain founded Finglas, future site of Dublitir’s mistake, at a spot four or five miles north of Tamlachta. Later generations called these new communities the “two eyes of Ireland,” either for their monks’ vigilant observance or for their position on the coast near sea routes to the rest of Christendom.51 Máelruain attracted eager disciples, most notably Máeldithruib, another important reformer who later became abbot of Tír Da Glas in modern Co. Tipperary. Around 819, an anonymous follower of Máeldithruib at Tamlachta recorded the deeds and ideals of Céli Dé founders in a series of anecdotes, including the tale of Dublitir and the caillech. Other literate Clients of God also documented their practices in martyrologies with informative marginalia, penitentials, assorted devotional and liturgical texts, and lists of oentaid or confraternities of Céli Dé communities.52 In addition, annalists at older religious settlements dutifully kept track of the obits of important Céli Dé.53 The anonymous Tamlachta narrative describes like-​minded men who conscientiously practiced seclusion, yet were sometimes forced into contact with unreformed Christians. The Céli Dé worried about all the ways that outsiders might infiltrate the boundaries of a monastery. Several anecdotes in the Tamlachta text advised against taking contributions or hearing confessions from anyone but other vowed ascetics (Tamlachta 4, 23, 35, 54). One story describes an innocent old hermit who dozed off on a donated blanket and awoke in a panic after having the first sexual dream of his life. After he washed the blanket, he slept peacefully (Tamlachta 67). Another anecdote warned against receiving any tidings of life outside the enclosure; it was “not [Máelruain’s] custom,” the author wrote primly, “to ask visitors for news, but only to make sure that [visitors] got whatever they came for. For it might harass and disturb [a monk] to hear news of the outside.” Máelruain would then “send [the visitor] away gently and kindly.”54 The Céli Dé did not recruit other monastics; they claimed to disdain the operations of senchella (literally “old churches,” meaning mainstream and unreformed).



Ó Cróinín, “Hiberno-​Latin Literature,” 391–​2. Kuno Meyer, ed. and trans., The Triads of Ireland (Dublin and London, 1906), sec. 8. 52 Osborne Bergin, Richard Irvine Best, and Michael A. O’Brien, eds., The Book of Leinster: Formerly Lebar Na Núachongbála. 6 (Dublin, 1983), 1683 (370c). 53 Whitley Stokes, ed. and trans., Félire Óengusso Céli Dé (London, 1905), 167; Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill, eds., The Annals of Ulster (to A.D. 1131) (Dublin, 1983), for 791. The most recent discussion of Céli Dé works is Follett, Céli Dé in Ireland, esp. 1–​23. 54 Tamlachta 2, and see also 24.

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Nonetheless, visitors seeking spiritual guidance apparently flocked to Tamlachta and other observant communities. They badgered Máelruain with questions about everything from how much beer a monk might drink on ordinary days, to how many nights per week married couples were allowed to have sex, and how much butter monks ought to give to beggars. Even though Máelruain and other Céli Dé seem to have endorsed some of the typical responsibilities of manaig, they dealt only with lay people in formal relations of ainmchairde (literally “soul-​friendship”). Such a relationship was based on the lay person’s vow to accept strict spiritual direction from the Céli Dé, not unlike the relationship of modern Catholic tertiaries or lay orders to their priests (Tamlachta 14). For example, in one story, a man who had rigorously abstained from sex with his wife for three years sought out an ascetic for additional guidance, yet received nothing but scorn because he had not vowed permanent chastity (Tamlachta 21). Characters in the Tamlachta text constantly sought to reconcile necessary social interactions with the principles of religious abstinence. Still, even communities of Céli differed in monastic practices, which occasionally caused arguments among them, as depicted in the episode of Dublitir, Caenchomraic, and the caillech. The Tamlachta stories emphasize the prevention of sin through a program of bodily control.55 In one story, the vowess Copar sought advice from her brother and monastic superior, St. Molaise of Daim Inis. She confessed to trouble with repressing her carnal desires. Molaise sympathized but reminded her that concupiscence was “a third part as strong again in women as in men,” coming of a completely natural “excess of blood in the body” that afflicted women. After a year of fasting, Copar still displayed “strong currents” of immorality caused by overeating. Molaise finally approved of her when, after he poked her with a pin, not a single drop of blood oozed from her body. Copar was cured of the human condition. “In the future,” Molaise advised her, “stick to this regime until you die” (Tamlachta 60–​1). Self-​flagellation, cross vigils, genuflections, and unceasing prayer were additional tools for fighting concupiscence. Observant monks may have differed over gruel rations and genuflections, but they held a single opinion about the main source of sin: the touch of a male body with a female body, or even the mere possibility of contact. In Máelruain’s community, monks could converse with pious vowed women

Westley Follett, “Women, Blood, and Soul-​Friendship:  A Contextual Study of Two Anecdotes from the Tallaght Memoir,” in Gablánach in Scélaigecht:  Celtic Studies in Honour of Ann Dooley, ed. Sarah Sheehan, Joanne Findon, and Westley Follett (Dublin, 2013),  53–​68.

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only if the meeting took place “on the slab by the cross at the [main] gate, or in the enclosure where the nuns live,” overseen by male and female chaperones (Tamlachta 62). Such elaborate protocols of gendered interaction were not typical of Irish religious communities. The Céli Dé were not anti-​women, but convinced that women were more susceptible to calls of the flesh. Around the same time that the Céli flourished, men’s monasteries elsewhere in Christendom also began to exclude women from churches and shrines.56 Given the increasingly limited access of lay people to church sanctuaries and crypts, pious women of the early Middle Ages soon found themselves shut out of the most important sites of Christian practice. Still, despite the trope of women-​as-​humanity in Céli Dé stories, the same texts demonstrated that vowed women, too, could practice strict observance if they observed the ritual boundaries that defined monastic bodies and spaces. The nameless visiting caillech taught Dublitir a lesson in manners, while her anecdote reaffirmed the practice of gender segregation as integral to monastic self-​definition. Likewise, Copar, who threatened her brother and other monks simply by bleeding when pricked, was quite capable of de-​sexing and destroying her own body. The women in these texts symbolized both sin and its suppression by successful monks. The equation was familiar to other European monastics. The Céli Dé defined themselves in relation to existing religious communities in early medieval Ireland. They did not suffer inexact terms for monasticism, and knew exactly what the words manach and caillech should mean. Twentieth-​century historians, notably Kathleen Hughes, interpreted the Céli Dé as a reform movement aimed at divesting pastoral and episcopal functions from monastic communities.57 Yet the Céli never sought to change or undermine senchella. Historians responding to Hughes’s teleology have pointed to signs that the early episcopal organization of Irish churches continued to arrange pastoral care for lay people throughout the Middle Ages. Bishops and priests sometimes resided in settlements with monastics, who tended to their own liturgical duties, and lay people who interacted with both groups of religious personnel.58 As in other Christian societies of the period, the Irish built and rebuilt the kinds of monasticism that worked best for them.

Jane Tibbets Schulenburg, “Gender, Celibacy, and Proscriptions of Sacred Space:  Symbol and Practice,” in Medieval Purity and Piety:  Essays on Medieval Clerical Celibacy and Religious Reform, ed. Michael Frassetto (New York, 1998), 353–​76. 57 Craig Haggart, “The Céli Dé and the Early Medieval Irish Church: A Reassessment,” Studia Hibernica 34 (2006–​7): 17–​62. 58 Richard Sharpe, “Some Problems Concerning the Organization of the Church in Early Medieval Ireland,” Peritia 3 (1984): 230–​70; Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland; Etchingham, “ Organization and Function”; Follett, Céli Dé in Ireland. 56

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The Céli Dé began to fade from history at the same moment that Scandinavian raiders intensified assaults on Irish coasts. Vikings hit both senchella and Céli Dé communities:  monastic rigor apparently did not prepare Christians to repel pagan invasion. Many smaller religious settlements in Ireland, Britain, and Francia disappeared forever. Women’s foundations, in particular, seem to have declined after the raids, although it may be that writers of annals and saints’ Lives simply neglected to mention vowed women and their religious operations after 800.59 In Ireland, Scandinavian newcomers eventually settled down, married into Irish families, and became Christians. They did not, however, fund many monasteries. They were more interested in urban religious institutions for the port towns they built in Ireland. The story of Christian monasticism in early medieval Ireland has been rewritten many times since Patrick boasted about converting monks and nuns. Máelruain, who aimed to create authentic asceticism at Tamlachta, may not even have recognized Patrick’s recruits as genuine monastics. The Cistercian pioneers who came to Ireland in the twelfth century could not fathom the religious efficacy of Irish monasteries. When they built proper square stone cloisters, Irish monks insisted on sleeping in huts outside the walls. Monastics of one generation could not always recognize the idioms and principles of earlier ascetics. The monastics of early medieval Europe never produced a stable, universally shared definition of Christian monasticism. Instead, they constantly adapted their identities, establishments, and practices to local politics, environments, gender systems, and other contexts. Vowed monastics existed in relation to other classes of Christians who lived with, near, or at a safe distance from them. The most important historical question to ask about early medieval Irish monasticism is not how different it was from monasticism elsewhere, but whether the Irish example of flexible monastic identities, so prevalent in the bountiful Irish documentary record, suggests the diversity of monasticisms elsewhere in Europe during the first Christian millennium.

Bibliography Bitel, Lisa M. Isle of the Saints: Monastic Settlement and Christian Community in Early Ireland. Ithaca, NY, 1990. Bitel, Lisa. Landscape with Two Saints:  How Genovefa of Paris and Brigit of Kildare Built Christianity in Barbarian Europe. Oxford, 2009.

For female monasteries in medieval Ireland, see Dianne Hall, Women and the Church in Medieval Ireland, c.1140–​1540 (Dublin, 2008).

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Lisa M. Bitel Carey, John. King of Mysteries: Early Irish Religious Writing. Dublin, 2000. Charles-​Edwards, T. M. Early Christian Ireland. Cambridge, 2000. De Paor, Liam. Saint Patrick’s World: The Christian Culture of Ireland’s Apostolic Age. Dublin, 2007. Doherty, Charles. “The Monastic Town in Early Medieval Ireland.” In The Comparative History of Urban Origins in Non-​Roman Europe:  Ireland, Wales, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Century, edited by Howard B. Clarke and Anngret Simms, 45–​75. Oxford, 1985. Doherty, Charles, Linda Doran, and Mary Kelly, eds. Glendalough: City of God. Dublin, 2011. Etchingham, Colmàn. Church Organisation in Ireland, A.D. 650 to 1000. Maynooth, 1999. Follett, Westley. Céli Dé in Ireland:  Monastic Writing and Identity in the Early Middle Ages. Woodbridge, 2006. Gwynn, Aubrey, and R. Neville Hadcock. Medieval Religious Houses:  Ireland. With an Appendix to Early Sites. Harlow, 1970. Hughes, Kathleen. The Church in Early Irish Society. Ithaca, NY, 1966. Kenney, James F. The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical. An Introduction and Guide. Dublin, 1979. McCone, Kim. Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature. Maynooth, 2000. Ó Carragáin, Tomás. Churches in Early Medieval Ireland:  Architecture, Ritual, and Memory. New Haven, CT, 2010. Ó Carragáin, Tomás, and Sam Turner. Making Christian Landscapes in Atlantic Europe: Conversion and Consolidation in the Early Middle Ages. Cork, 2016. Ó Corráin, Donnchadh. Clavis litterarum Hibernensium:  Medieval Irish Books & Texts (c. 400–c. 1600). Turnhout, 2017. Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, ed. A New History of Ireland, Vol. 1:  Prehistoric and Early Ireland. Oxford, 2008. O’Sullivan, Aidan, Finbar McCormick, Thomas R. Kerr, and Lorcan Harney. Early Medieval Ireland, AD 400–​1100: The Evidence from Archaeological Excavations. Dublin, 2013. Ryan, John. Irish Monasticism: Origins and Early Development. Ithaca, NY, 1972. Sharpe, Richard. “Some Problems Concerning the Organization of the Church in Early Medieval Ireland.” Peritia 3 (1984): 230–​70.

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Constructing Monastic Space in the Early and Central Medieval West (Fifth to Twelfth Century) M iche l L auwe rs ( t r an slate d b y M atthe w M att ingly) The practice of asceticism may represent a rupture with the world, but in the early medieval West it notably encouraged the establishment of “small worlds,” to use the expression of Wendy Davies to describe the numerous, largely cloistered groups that came to replace the social and political institutions of the ancient world.1 The structure of these small monastic worlds was defined, in the first place, by a way of life regulated according to written norms and by the establishment of well-​defined, hierarchically organized complexes of space. Several contributions to this volume demonstrate that this twofold process, characteristic of the history of Western monasticism, emerged only gradually. It took centuries for religious experience to become equated with a disciplined way of life, let  alone a single monastic rule,2 and for the conception and establishment of a topography specific to the requirements of monastic living to develop.

Cosmos and Paradise: The Monastery as a Microcosm of the Universe Even before their material organization was fully defined, monks had developed certain lines of discourse for praising the unique nature of their living space. In particular, the monastery was held to represent the center of the world. In his Dialogues, Gregory the Great (d. 604) relates a vision that

Many thanks to Alison Beach, Isabelle Cochelin, and Albrecht Diem for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this text. 1 Wendy Davies, Small Worlds: The Village Community in Early Medieval Brittany (London, 1988). 2 See notably the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume.

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appeared to St. Benedict one night in his monastery of Montecassino, as he kept prayerful vigil in his chamber before the night office: The venerable Benedict stood in the upper chamber of his tower … before which stood a large building where his disciples slept. As the brothers took their rest, Benedict, the man of God, having anticipated the time of prayer, was already keeping vigil. While he stood at the window, peering out into the night and praying to almighty God, suddenly he beheld a brilliant light from above, penetrating the darkness and driving it aside, its splendor surpassing even the light of day. An amazing thing then happened. As he later described it, before his eyes the entire world (omnis mundus) was gathered together as if in a single ray of sunlight.3

The monastery, whose buildings the abbot observed, was a reflection of the cosmos. Contemplation transformed the establishment into a supernatural space in relation to the entire universe. Gregory makes no reference to the topography of the site, but he does mention two places: a tower that served as both observatory and abbot’s residence, and a common building where the brothers of the community slept. The latter, illuminated by divine light, stood for the totality of the monastic complex, which itself was a symbol of the cosmos. This type of discourse, of which many examples could be cited, proved to have a long history. Five centuries later, a text composed at the monastery of Fleury places the monastery at the center of the universe while identifying it as a prime place for observing the stars and constellations.4 Henceforth, contemplation of the heavens would have a locus designatus within the cloister; stars were identified according to their position relative to the common buildings that comprised the claustral quadrangle, in particular the dormitory and the refectory, whose windows constituted further points of reference. It was likewise within the cloister that the religious of Saint-​Victor of Paris, in the first half of the twelfth century, contemplated the cosmological diagram, either painted on the wall or traced on the floor, to support the teaching of their master, Hugh, author of the Descriptio mappe mundi and a treatise on Noah’s Ark (accompanied by images), held to be a prefiguration of the Church.5



Gregory the Great, Dialogues 2.35, 10–​26. Horologium stellare monasticum (saec. XI), in Consuetudines Benedictinae variae, saec. XI–​saec. XIV, ed. Giles Constable, CCM 6, 17–​18. See Joël Minois, “L’Horologium stellare monasticum a-​t-​il été écrit pour Fleury? Une approche géométrique et astronomique,” in Abbon, un abbé de l’an mil, ed. Annie Dufour and Gillette Labory (Turnhout, 2008), 47–​68. 5 Patrick Gautier Dalché, La “descriptio mappe mundi” de Hugues de Saint-​Victor (Paris, 1988); Patrice Sicard, Diagrammes médiévaux et exégèse visuelle. Le “libellus de formatione arche” de Hugues de Saint-​Victor (Paris and Turnhout, 1993). 3

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Thus inscribed in the cosmic order, monasteries were specially marked by divine grace and assumed the qualities of Paradise, as clerical and monastic scribes employed the rhetoric of the locus amoenus. If many of these establishments appear to have been founded in hostile “deserts,” places of trial and diabolic temptation, the holy life of the religious was capable of transforming these penitential outposts into veritable “camps of God” (Gen. 32:1–​3) or delightful gardens. In Praise of the Desert, written by Eucherius of Lyon in 428, was one of the first Latin texts to employ this rhetoric in order to draw attention to a monastic locus. While the island of Lérins, just off the coast of Provence, is here likened to a desert, it is also called “fertile,” a “holy land,” a “paradise” possessing “flowing waters,” “lush green grass,” and “brilliant flowers.”6 A century later, Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) described the monastery as a new Noah’s Ark, “a harbor of peace and devotion” where God has desired to welcome the monks “as if into the refuge of Paradise.”7 Cassiodorus (d. c. 583) touted the monastery he had founded on his estate at Vivarium for its irrigated gardens, the channeling of a nearby river, mastery of the ocean tides, and the development of a fishpond.8 In several manuscripts, the earliest dating from the eighth century, this description is accompanied by an illustration depicting the site with its two churches, both surrounded and traversed by flowing waters that converge to form the fishponds. In one of these images, surging water and a dove appear to descend from heaven, suggesting a kind of baptism of the monastery and its places of cult (see Figure 16.1). Similarly, the abbey of Jumièges was established, according to the author of the Life of its founder, Philibert, on “fertile ground” atop a “marvelous hill,” “surrounded on all sides by water,” and distinguished by the “greenness of its grass,” “fragrant flower gardens,” and “abundant vineyards.”9 The development of monastic habitations gave occasion for the authors of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages to reflect for the first time on God’s

Eucherius, De laude eremi, ed. S. Pricoco (Catane, 1965). On this text, see Conrad Leyser, “This Sainted Isle: Panegyric, Nostalgia, and the Invention of Lerinian Monasticism,” in The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Late Antique Thought and Culture in honor of R.A. Markus, ed. William E. Klingshirn and Mark Vessey (Ann Arbor, MI, 1999), 188–​206; Rosa Maria Dessì, and Michel Lauwers, “Désert, église, île sainte: Lérins et la sanctification des îles monastiques de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge,” in Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge, ed. Yann Codou and Michel Lauwers (Turnhout, 2009), 234–​7. 7 Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 234 in Césaire d’Arles. Œuvres monastiques, vol. 2, ed. Joël Courreau and Adalbert de Vogüé, SC 398, 82. 8 Cassiodore, Institutiones 1.29 (de positione monasterii Vivariensis sive Castellensis), ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1937), 73. 9 Vita Filiberti, MGH SS RM 5, 588. 6

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Figure 16.1  Drawing of the monastery of Vivarium in a copy of Cassiodorus’ Institutiones, following Kassel, Hess. Landesbibl., MS Theol. 2° 29, fol. 27v.

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special presence in these specific places. In this way, as Robert Markus has suggested, the monastic experience played an important role in the process of giving spatial expression to the sacred and developing a doctrine of cultic places.10

Community and Cloister: The Monastery as a Spatialized Complex In the early Middle Ages, however, the spatial organization of monasteries does not seem to have been the object of precise norms. The RB, which made stabilitas one of the foundations of the monastic experience, makes provision for an enclosure (described as the claustra monasterii in ­chapters 66 and 67), but without specifying its exact form. Cut off from the surrounding society, the monastery should “be arranged in such a way that everything necessary may be found within its interior (intra monasterium): water, mill, garden, as well as workshops where the different trades can be practiced”; “the monks therefore should have no need to wander outside (foris)” (RB 66). While the RB identifies the functions needed to sustain the autonomy of these small worlds separated from the ordinary world, it does not define a binding topographic model.11 The material structure of subsequent foundations, in fact, reveals a great deal of diversity, with forms and features remaining highly fluid.12 At the same time, while everywhere assuming different forms and progressing according to different rhythms, some general developments can be perceived. The practice of prayer and asceticism, born in the solitude of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, developed in western Europe within a progressively communal framework.13 At Condat (f. 435) in the Jura Mountains,







See Robert A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990), part 3. On the process of sacred spatialization, see Michel Lauwers, Naissance du cimetière. Lieux sacrés et terre des morts dans l’Occident medieval (Paris, 2005); and Dominique Iogna-​Prat, La Maison-​Dieu. Une histoire monumentale du christianisme au Moyen Âge (Paris, 2006). 11 Beat Brenk, “Benedetto e il problema dell’architettura monastica prima dell’anno mille,” in L’Europa e l’arte italiana. Per i cento anni della fondazione del Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, 22–​27 settembre 1997, ed. Max Seidel, 16–​39 (Florence, 2000); reprinted in Beat Brenk, Architettura e immagini del sacro nella tarda antichità (Spoleto, 2005), 151–​61. 12 Kimberly Bowes, “Inventing Ascetic Space: Houses, Monasteries and the ‘Archaeology of Monasticism’,” in Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Hendrick Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (Turnhout, 2011), 315–​51. See also the article by Brooks-​Hedstrom and Dey in this volume. 13 On communal prayers, see the articles by Jeffery, Billett, and Blennemann in this volume.

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Abbot Oyend transformed the hermits’ individual cells into a single structure in which the monks could take their rest in common. A disciple writing between 512 and 515 relates how Oyend “wanted to bring together under a single roof (una mansio)”—​described as a xenodochium—​“those who already came together in a single building (una aedicula) for their meal.” According to this report, the restructuring of the buildings took place after a fire, but we know nothing else about the circumstances of this transformation, clearly presented as a break with the practices of the East.14 In 567, the Council of Tours prescribed that a common building (schola), where the brothers were to take their rest, be built at all monasteries in place of individual cells.15 In a few exceptional cases, archaeologists have identified these arrangements on the ground. For example, at fifth-​century Lérins, perhaps a period during which a common rule of life was being adopted, the ascetics who had arrived decades earlier appear to have abandoned buildings interpreted by archaeologists as individual cells in order to bring those activities regarded as more communal within a single structure.16 At the site of Hamage, a foundation of nuns in northern Gaul, a large communal building replaced the huts that had served as individual cells since the time of the foundation, although this does not seem to have taken place before the eighth century.17 These developments help us to understand better the attention with which St. Benedict contemplated the building in which the brothers slept, a place emblematic of the religious community that he intended to strengthen. It was only in the seventh century that the building of common rest became designated as the dormitory (dormitorium), while the term refectory (refectorium) came to be applied to the hall where the religious shared their meals.18 The emergence of such vocabulary suggests an institutionalization of communal life, together with the appearance of buildings with clearly defined functions, replacing, albeit gradually, rooms with more polyvalent uses.



François Martine, ed. and trans., Vie des Pères du Jura, SC 142, 422–​3. Charles De Clercq, ed., Les canons des conciles mérovingiens (VIe–​VIIe siècles), vol. 2, trans. Jean Gaudemet and Brigitte Basdevant (Paris, 1989), 360. 16 Yann Codou, “Aux origines du monachisme en Gaule (Ve–​XIe siècle):  les fouilles de l’église du Saint-​Sauveur, Lérins, île Saint-​Honorat, Alpes-​Maritimes,” HAM 19 (2013): 63–​71. On the problematic question of a rule intended for the monks of Lérins, see the article by Diem and Rousseau in this volume and Jean-​Pierre Weiss, “Lérins et la ‘Règle des Quatre Pères’,” in Codou and Lauwers, Lérins, 121–​40. 17 Étienne Louis, “Espaces monastiques sacrés et profanes à Hamage (Nord), VIIe–​IXe siècle,” in Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident medieval, ed. Michel Lauwers (Turnhout, 2014), 435–​72. 18 Pierre Bonnerue, “Éléments de topographie historique dans les règles monastiques occidentales,” in Studia Monastica 37.1 (1995): 57–​77. 14

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New kinds of communities, whose members were expected to remain until death, also permanently altered monastic space. According to the Rule of Isidore of Seville (d. 636), “a separate place (uno loco) should be set aside for the burial of the brothers, so that a single place (unus locus) might embrace those in death whom the unity of charity brought together during life.”19 A monk of Fulda, writing in the middle of the ninth century, identified the funerary space designated for the religious of the monastery as the cimiterium, specifying that this term derived from a Greek word whose Latin equivalent is none other than dormitorium.20 The decisions of the Carolingian authorities, particularly those made during the councils held at Aachen in 816–​17, intended to standardize monastic life in the Frankish Empire by imposing the RB on all religious establishments. While their application is uncertain (and in some cases provoked resistance), these rulings must have accelerated the process of communalization.21 It is likely that certain guidelines related to the reorganization of religious houses were distributed at that time. A letter of 818 or 819 from Archbishop Hetti of Trier (d. 847) to Bishop Frotharius of Toul (d. 849/​50) inquires about the execution of imperial orders concerning the construction or reconstruction of certain common buildings (although it is true that in this precise case it was destined, not for monks, but for canons on whom the common life was being imposed).22 Notably, a council of 813 prescribed that canons should reside within enclosed quarters (in claustris) and “sleep together in a dormitory and take their meals together in a refectory.”23 However, precise norms relative to the spatial organization of monasteries are no more to be found in the legislation of this age than they were in the writings of the preceding centuries. The monastic capitulary of Benedict of Aniane contains only two remarks in this regard. The first (already attested to at the beginning of the seventh century in the Rule of Isidore of Seville) concerns the adjacency of certain buildings frequented by the brothers throughout the day (and night), specifically the dormitory and the church (ut dormitorium iuxta oratorium constituatur), to allow the recently awakened monks to arrive in the choir for the offices without difficulty.24 The second remark,

Isidore of Seville, Regula monachorum 24, PL 83, 894. See also the article by Díaz in this volume. Candidi Vita Eigilis, MGH SS 15/​1, 230. 21 On the Carolingians and the RB, see the article by Kramer in this volume. 22 Michel Parisse, La correspondance d’un évêque carolingien. Frothaire de Toul (ca. 813–​847) (Paris, 1998), 142–​5, no. 29. 23 Council of Tours (813), c. 24, in MGH Concilia 1/​1, 289. 24 Legislatio Aquisgranensis. Synodi secundae Aquisgranensis decreta authentica, 10 July 817, c. 21, in CCM 1, 478. See also the Regula S. Benedicti Anianensis 55, in CCM 1, 530; 19

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which strongly echoes ancient monastic rules, reinforces the commitment to the cloistered life. Despite the monks’ possession of numerous external properties, often at a great distance from the monastery, the religious are “not to travel (ut non circumeant) from one domain to another unless necessity so requires,” nor should “these domains be entrusted to the care of monks.”25 In this way, the Carolingian regulations distinguished between good and bad traffic both in and around the monastery. They were intended to promote pious movement, or, in any case, movement that took place within the monastery, while proscribing that which would cause the monks to wander outside their house. In his commentary on the RB, the monk Hildemar (fl. c. 845), writing in the middle of the ninth century, makes recommendations for the proper dimensions of the monastic enclosure, which he calls the claustra. This space should be neither too small nor too vast so that the monks can find what they need and properly carry out all of their activities without leaving the enclosure. Here they were safe from unwelcome encounters with the laity or strangers to the community (as could occur if the enclosed space were too lax), and without being forced to transgress its limits (if the space proved too constrained). According to Hildemar, it was up to the abbot to organize a claustral space favorable to the stabilitas of the community. Hildemar even relates that, according to many accounts (dicunt multi), the claustral space ought to measure 100 feet on all sides.26 The integration of monasteries within royal, and later imperial, structures also promoted the reorganization of monastic buildings. In the eighth and ninth centuries, religious establishments became important pillars of support within the structure of power; they offered intercessory prayer on behalf of the leaders (a form of sacred legitimization), provided them with a source of wealth and manpower, and served as places of hospitality.27 In order better to perform the multiple societal functions they now assumed, the Frankish monks undertook numerous building (or rebuilding) projects.28 Because of





Capitulare Monasticum 58, in MGH Capit. 1, 347; Collectio capitularis Benedicti Levitae 58, in CCM 1, 551. 25 Legislatio Aquisgranensis. Synodi primae Aquisgranensis decreta authentica, 23 August 816, c. 24, in CCM 1, 464. See also the Regula S. Benedicti Anianensis 20, in CCM 1, 521; Capitulare Monasticum 26, in MGH Capit. 1, 345; Collectio capitularis Benedicti Levitae 26, in CCM 1, 548. 26 Hildemar, Expositio regulae 4 and 67, ed. Ruppert Mittermüller (Regensburg, 1880), 183 and 615, edition reviewed and corrected by the Hildemar Project, www.hildemar.org (date of late access: 10 April 2019). 27 See the articles by Devroey and Blennemann in this volume. 28 See the article by Cohen in this volume.

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their size and the forces they mobilized, these grand projects sometimes raised tensions within the religious communities themselves. This was the case at Fulda where, in 812, exhausted by the prestigious transformations desired by Abbot Ratgar, the religious brought their complaint before Charlemagne: “We ask of you most merciful emperor, that we abandon the immense and superfluous building projects and other useless works that have greatly fatigued the brothers while those dependent on us outside languish. Rather, let us do all things according to measure and with discretion.”29 Monastic complexes that date from this era witnessed several possible large-​ scale arrangements. In some important centers, multiple places of worship existed within the enclosure—​ not always easy to identify materially—​ connected to the other buildings by a system of galleries and courtyards facilitating movements between the different parts of the monastery.30 Federico Marazzi has demonstrated just such an arrangement, spread out and with multiple points of focus, at the site of San Vincenzo al Volturno, which was the object of important excavations over several decades (see Figure 16.2).31 An eleventh-​century illustration representing the Carolingian monastery of Centula/​Saint-​Riquier appears to bear witness to a similar layout (see Figure 16.3).32 The enclosure, with its courtyards and galleries, was very similar to the palace complexes of Paderborn, Ingelheim, and Aachen, which were themselves inspired by late antique models.33 Another arrangement, which could be described as more streamlined, distributing the monastic buildings around a single central space, was also implemented during the Carolingian era. The Gesta of the abbots of Fontenelle, reporting on the construction work undertaken during the





Supplex libellus monachorum Fuldensium 12, in CCM 1, 324. See Josef Semmler, “Studien zum Supplex Libellus und zur anianischen Reform in Fulda,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 69 (1958): 268–​98. On the abbacy of Ratgar, see Janneke E. Raaijmakers, The Making of the Monastic Community of Fulda, c. 744–​c. 900 (Cambridge, 2012), 99–​131. 30 See the article by Bully and Destefanis in this volume. 31 Federico Marazzi, “San Vincenzo al Volturno: l’impianto architettonico fra VIII e XI secolo, alla luce dei nuovi scavi della basilica maior,” in Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–​XI). Topografia e strutture. Proceedings of the International Conference (Castel San Vincenzo, September 23rd–​26th 2004), ed. Flavia De Rubeis and Federico Marazzi (Rome, 2008), 323–​90; Federico Marazzi, “La règle et le projet:  réflexions sur la topographie du monastère de Saint-​Vincent au Volturne à l’époque carolingienne,” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 227–​54. 32 See Carol Heitz, Recherches sur les rapports entre architecture et liturgie à l’époque carolingienne (Paris, 1963); and Carol Heitz, L’architecture religieuse carolingienne. Les formes et leurs fonctions (Paris, 1980). 33 On the complex of Paderborn, see Sveva Gai, “Il complesso palaziale di Paderborn e il formarsi di una vita communis nella sede episcopale di nuova fondazione,” in De Rubeis and Marazzi, Monasteri in Europa occidentale, 181–​210.

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Figure  16.2  Reconstitution of the monastic complex of San Vincenzo al Volturno in central Italy in the ninth century, according to Federico Marazzi. Drawing by Simona Carracillo.

abbacy of Ansegisus (807–​33), provide the first description of just such an arrangement. The monastery was laid out around a quadrangular court bounded by the church, dormitory, refectory, and another edifice called simply a domus—​a plan that corresponds to what is now known as a cloister.34 Although material examples of this arrangement for the eighth and ninth centuries are still few, archaeological evidence does exist for the monasteries of Lorsch, Reichenau, Landévennec, and Hamage, as well as for communities of canons, as at Reims, Rouen, and Autun.35 This type of arrangement is further depicted in the famous Plan of St. Gall, which lays out the spaces and functions regarded as necessary for a grand imperial abbey. Some were places indispensable to the devotional and common life of the monks; others were intended for novices or the infirm, as well as the various guests (often prestigious) that the monastery would

MGH SS 2, 296–​7; Pascal Pradié, ed. and trans., Chronique des abbés de Fontenelle (Saint-​ Wandrille) (Paris, 1999), 166–​9 (Gesta Ansigisi). 35 Beat Brenk, “Il problema della struttura a quattro corpi (claustrum) nei conventi paleocristiani e altomedievali,” in Brenk, Architettura e immagini, 163–​72; P. K. Klein, ed. Der mittelalterlicher Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm (Regensburg, 2004); Christian Sapin, “De la cour au cloître carolingien,” Cahiers de Saint-​Michel de Cuxa 46 (2015): 21–​34.

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Figure 16.3  Engraving of the monastic complex of Centula/​Saint-​Riquier, from a drawing by Paul Petau (1612), reproducing a miniature from the eleventh century.

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be expected to welcome; still others were designated for activities related to industry, crafts, or storage. The plan constitutes not only the first representation of a monastery, but also the first witness to a multiplicity of workshops (officina) providing for the various functions that comprised a great monastic complex, ranging from the recitation of the Divine Office to the raising of livestock. There is, in fact, no other text, normative or narrative, that provides such precise details, and, even supposing that there were material remains, archaeology on its own would be unable to identify with certitude most of the specialized buildings sketched on the Plan of St. Gall. At the center of the plan is a large church adjacent to a cloister linking the main communal buildings (dormitory, refectory, kitchen, and cellar). Crossed by four paths (quattuor semitae pertransversum claustri), the cloister appears to have encouraged and even given structural form to movement within the monastic space. As Alfons Zettler has remarked, the plan also provides limits and lines of demarcation, not to be crossed, between different parts of the compound:  for example, between the common monastic space and the external school or the guest buildings, or between the monastic kitchen opening onto the cloister and the buildings for pilgrims.36 Defining both function and space, the Plan of St. Gall was intended to regulate movement, much in the same way that monastic customaries would some decades later. Between the various buildings that made up the monastic complex, there were at once points of exchange and areas of seclusion, both of which the monks were expected to have internalized.37 Around the year 840, the monk Bruno Candidus recalled that, at the end of the abbacy of Eigil (d. 822), there had been some discussion concerning the construction and location of a new monastery at Fulda: The venerable man [Eigil] had in mind to reconstruct the cloister of the monastery (claustrum monasterii). He therefore summoned the council of the brothers and asked them where it was preferable to be built. Some advised



Alfons Zettler, “Public, Collective and Communal Spaces in Early Medieval Monasteries:  San Vincenzo and the Plan of Saint Gall,” in De Rubeis and Marazzi, Monasteri in Europa occidentale, 267 and 271, fig. 5; Alfons Zettler, “Spaces for Servants and provendarii in Early Medieval Monasteries: The example of the Virtual Monastery on the Plan of Saint Gall,” in Au seuil du cloître. La présence des laïcs (hôtelleries, bâtiments d’accueil, activités artisanales et de services) entre le Ve et le XIIe siècle, ed. Sébastien Bully and Christian Sapin, BUCEMA, Hors série 8 (2015), https://​journals.openedition.org/​ cem/​13624 (date of last access: 10 April 2019). 37 On this last point, see Isabelle Cochelin, “Deux cuisines pour les moines: coquinae dans les coutumiers du XIe siècle,” in Enfermements II. Règles et dérèglements en milieu clos (VIe–​XIXe siècle), ed. Falk Bretschneider, Julie Claustre, Isabelle Heullant-​Donat, and Elisabeth Lusset (Paris, 2015), 89–​113.

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Figure 16.4  Plan of St. Gall, St. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 1092.

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it should be constructed to the south of the church in the same manner as the previous cloister. Others thought it would be better to place it on the western side according to the Roman custom because of its proximity to the martyr [St Boniface] who rested in this part of the church. The brothers voiced their agreement with this proposition, and even those who were of the other opinion gave their consent. With all of them thus united, the work was carried out as required.38

The organization of monasteries therefore became the object of sustained reflection during the Carolingian era. While there were certainly diverse realizations, all of them demonstrated a distinct “monastic rationale,” in the sense intended by Max Weber, which enabled the religious to give order and significance to the places they frequented. Conceived in this context, the central cloister emerged over the course of the following centuries as the preferred system in the West. The monastery of Cluny, as described in the customary produced during the abbacy of Odilo and as reconstituted today by archaeologists, thus presented in the eleventh century a layout similar to that depicted on the Plan of St. Gall. The cloister surrounded by the principal church and the communal buildings constituted both the heart of the monastery and the most enclosed space of the whole complex, while the other buildings formed a ring around its periphery.39 Numerous monasteries would adopt this system in which all the buildings were centered around an inner cloister. By the twelfth century, the cloister (which earlier had mostly served to link various communal buildings together) had become a full-​fledged space in its own right, as highly regarded as the diverse places of cult found in monastic complexes in former times. The development of exegetical reflections on the cloister, best exemplified by Hugh of Fouilloy’s twelfth-​century treatise De claustro animae—​an exploration of the multiple senses of the “material cloister,” “the spiritual cloister,” and “the cloister of the soul,” known under several different titles, including De claustro materialis and De claustro spiritualis—​ epitomizes the evolution whereby the claustrum was transformed, as noted



Candidi Vita Eigilis, MGH SS 15/​1, 231. Anne Baud and Gilles Rollier. “Liturgie et espace monastique à Cluny à la lecture du Liber tramitis, ‘de descriptione monasterii’ et données archéologiques,” in Espace ecclésial et liturgie au Moyen Âge, ed. Anne Baud (Lyon, 2010), 27–​42. On the Cluniac customaries, see Isabelle Cochelin, “Discipline and the Problem of Cluny’s Customaries,” in A Companion to the Abbey of Cluny in the Middle Ages, ed. Scott Bruce and Steven Vanderputten (Leiden, forthcoming).

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above, into the center of the universe. This work or parts of it appear in more than five hundred manuscripts.40

Sacralized Territory: The Monastery and Its Environment As the topography of monasteries was beginning to crystalize, religious were also organizing their collections of dependencies, often numerous and widely dispersed, through the use of new land management tools based on the use of writing and the preparation of lists. Legal instruments, inventories, and polyptychs were all developments of the eighth and ninth centuries.41 Historians have shown that the Carolingian polyptychs, which record the lands and legal rights held by monasteries, organized these properties in a kind of concentric structure. Starting from the center and progressing to the periphery, monastic scribes and administrators could take a virtual stroll from one possession to the next.42 The ideal relationship between an enclosed monastic center and the surrounding lands under its jurisdiction was the result of an equilibrium between the interiora and the exteriora, two concepts that recur frequently in the writings of the monks.43 External affairs were only entrusted to experienced religious, as was the case with John of Gorze, whose biographer, clearly familiar with the legislation of Benedict of Aniane, explained how John, reluctant to visit possessions far from his establishment, administered them from the monastery by summoning and commissioning agents (ministri), who were most likely lay men. “Whenever an important reason forced him to travel to a site to resolve a situation, after bringing it as swiftly as he could to its conclusion, he would hurry back to the monastery without even taking the opportunity to eat.”44 The same author also points out that



For an inventory of the manuscripts as well as a bibliography, see the “Archives de littérature du Moyen Âge.” www.arlima.net/​eh/​hugues_​de_​fouilloy.html (date of last access: 18 August 2018). 41 See the article by Devroey in this volume. 42 On the spatial logic at work in the management of monastic lands from a Weberian perspective, see Jean-​Pierre Devroey, Puissants et misérables. Système social et monde paysan dans l’Europe des Francs (VIe–​IXe siècles) (Brussels, 2006), esp. 591–​600. 43 Michel Lauwers, “Interiora et exteriora, ou la construction monastique d’un espace social en Occident entre le Ve et le XIIe siècle,” in La società monastica nei secoli VI–​XII. Sentieri di ricerca. Actes du Colloque organisé à Rome par le Centro Europeo Ricerche Medievali de l’Université de Trieste et l’École française de Rome, 12–​13 juin 2016, ed. Marialuisa Bottazzi, Paolo Buffo, Caterina Ciccopiedi, Luciana Furbetta, and Thomas Granier (Trieste and Rome, 2016), 59–​88. 44 John of Saint-​Arnulf, La Vie de Jean, abbé de Gorze, ed. and trans. Michel Parisse (Paris, 1999), 114–​15.

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Abbot Ansteus of Saint-​Arnould in Metz, although “constantly occupied with external affairs (res extra), never lost sight of what concerned the purity of his life, his conduct, or the vigilance necessary for his abbatial office.” All the care taken by this abbot “to construct the inner life” (interioribus extruendis) was ordered to this purpose.45 Within the community, certain religious were specially tasked with managing external affairs. According to the customs of Fleury (d. 1000), as reported by Thierry of Amorbach (d. c. 1018), the prior was responsible both for “outside necessities” and for managing the servants and other agents of the monastery; the text also mentions outposts of the abbot and the dean in the vicinity of the monastery.46 In reality, the boundary between interiora and exteriora is difficult to trace. It was the result of a process:  a gradual progression of complex material arrangements and symbolic practices, such as a succession of nested cloisters (rather than a simple enclosure), a system of gates and doors (some of which the documents label “internal,” while others are designated “middle,” “last,” or “external”), or a series of courtyards and atria progressively isolating monastic living spaces from the surrounding world.47 The progressive integration of monasticism in the West into social structures and power relations during the early and central Middle Ages promoted contacts and exchanges between the religious and the outside world, and even led to the presence within certain monastic spaces of non-​consecrated individuals, such as serfs and other dependents, tradesmen, pilgrims, and distinguished guests. The monks responded by marking out places for themselves that were (more) sealed off or even secret, sometimes described as the septa monasterii or secreta septa. In his commentary on the RB, Hildemar remarks that guests are becoming more and more numerous in the monasteries of his day, and that the dormitory of the monks, for example, should be clearly “separated from the rooms of the laity,” “for they are permitted to stay up until the middle of the night, and can talk during the day,” while the monks are supposed “to keep silence and pray.”48 The institution of the cloister, which formed a



Ibid.,  96–​9. Anselme Davril and Lin Donnat, eds., with the collaboration of Gillette Labory, Consuetudines Floriacenses antiquiores, in L’abbaye de Fleury en l’an mil (Paris, 2004), 179, and  176–​8. 47 Eleonora Destefanis, “Ad portam monasterii:  accessi e spazi liminari nei monasteri dell’Occidente altomedievale (secoli VI–​IX),” in “Per diversa temporum spatial.” Scritti in onore di Gisella Cantino Wataghin, ed. Eleonora Destefanis and Chiara Lambert (Vercelli, 2011), 51–​84. Regarding the Irish world, where this system of multiple cloisters was more formalized than elsewhere, see the article by Bitel in this volume. 48 Hildemar, Expositio regulae 67, 611. 45

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dedicated and exclusive space at the heart of the monastery, participated in this evolution.49 In the context of this distinction between interiora and exteriora, inside objects, associated with the space that was most enclosed, came to be considered sacred, while external objects referred to the profane world. The sacredness of the inside objects is affirmed by the monastic rules. According to the RB, all goods located within the monastic enclosure ought to be considered in the same manner as “the sacred vessels of the altar” (RB 31).50 The Regula cuiusdam ad virgines, a text connected with the Columbanian movement, perhaps arranged by Jonas of Bobbio (d. after 659)  for the women’s community of Faremoutier, prescribes that the utensils set aside for the service of guests should be “handled and stored as if they were consecrated by God” (ac si sacrata Deo) (RcuiV 3.22). According to this rule, every object brought into the interior of the cloister had to be subject to some kind of sanctifying ritual: before being stored in the cellar, it was to be placed before the oratory of the monastery (RcuiV 3.12).51 The manner in which the Plan of St. Gall depicts the interiora (understood broadly here to include buildings frequented by the laity) confers on its buildings a particular nature that formerly had been reserved for places of cult.52 In the same period in which the Plan was conceived, a ritual of benediction was likewise developed, intended to mark off the buildings that constituted the enclosed space. Carolingian sacramentaries, in fact, made provision for the recitation of prayers of benediction during organized processions through the “regular” spaces, including the church, dormitory, refectory, cellar and storehouses, kitchen, scriptorium, infirmary, etc.53 Monastic customaries of the eleventh century, for example those describing Cluny, depict similar processions in which the entire community moved through the cloister and its connected buildings, stopping at each station for prayer.54 By



See the article by Cochelin in this volume. On the sacred goods of the monastery, see Valentina Toneatto, Les banquiers du Seigneur. Évêques et moines face à la richesse (IVe–​début IXe siècle) (Rennes, 2012), 247–​53. 51 Albrecht Diem, “The Stolen Glove:  On the Hierarchy and Power of Objects in Columbanian Monasteries,” in Shaping Stability:  The Normation and Formation of Religious Life in the Middle Ages, ed. Krijn Pansters and Abraham Plunkett-​Latimer (Turnhout, 2016), 51–​67. 52 Michel Lauwers, “Circuitus et figura: exégèse, images et structuration des complexes monastiques dans l’Occident médiéval (IXe–​XIIe siècle),” in Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 43–​110. 53 See Jean Deshusses, Le sacramentaire grégorien. Ses principales formes d’après les plus anciens manuscrits, vol. 3, 2nd ed. reviewed and corrected (Fribourg, 1992), 239–​45, no. 496, as well as 245–​7, nos. 497–​500. 54 Baud and Rollier, “Liturgie et espace monastique à Cluny.”

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treating the buildings within the enclosed space as an ensemble, the liturgy thus promoted a kind of diffusion of the sacred. The process of sacralization eventually came to involve the monastic possessions situated beyond the cloister.55 Privileges of immunity and exemption, which protected the places where monks held rights over land and persons, served to confirm the special nature of the areas surrounding the monastery.56 Charters that conferred or confirmed their status of exemption were the first medieval documents to institute precise territorial limits. Boundaries of inviolable lands belonging to the monastery were often clearly demarcated with signposts, crosses, or elements of the landscape. The transformation of ecclesiastical institutions that took place in the second half of the eleventh century, in which monks (or former monks) played a key role, further accelerated this movement.57 One consequence of the reformers’ activity was the sharp distinction drawn between the clerical orders and the laity, the sacred and the profane. The RB was one of the authorities invoked to affirm the sacred character of a church’s collected possessions, which included places of cult, liturgical vessels, vestments, lands, and other dependencies, by virtue of the claim that “everything the Church possesses is sacred.”58 The “things of the Church,” including its external possessions, were understood to have been “consecrated to God,”59 and therefore ought not to be subject to any infringement, for “not only is the interior holy, but the exterior as well.”60 The sanctification of the monastic lands surrounding an abbatial center was a process ritually constructed and solemnly staged. In 1095, for example, while he was at Cluny to consecrate the great abbey church then being rebuilt,





Maximilian Diesenberger, “Wahrnehmung und Aneignung der Natur in der Gesta abbatum Fontanellensium,” in Text—​ Schrift—​ Codex. Quellenkundliche Arbeiten aus dem Institut für österreichische Geschichtsforschung, ed. Christoph Egger and Herwig Weigl (Vienna, 1999), 9–​33; Nicolas Schroeder, “In locis vaste solitudinis: représenter l’environnement au haut Moyen Âge. L’exemple de la Haute Ardenne (Belgique) au VIIe siècle,” Le Moyen Âge 116 (2010): 9–​35; Nicolas Schroeder, “Organiser et représenter l’espace d’un site monastique. L’exemple de Saint-​Hubert du IXe au XIIe siècle,” Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire 89 (2011): 711–​45. 56 Barbara H. Rosenwein, Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (Ithaca, NY, 1999). 57 Patrick Henriet, “Corporalia et spiritualia, ou l’église et le corps en contexte ‘grégorien’: à propos d’une formule de Placide de Nonantola (Liber de honore Ecclesiae, 1111–​1112),” in Matérialité et immatérialité dans l’Église au Moyen Âge. Actes du Colloque de Bucarest, 22–​23 octobre 2010, ed. Stéphanie Daussy, Catalina Gîrbea, and Brindusa-​Elena Grigoru (Bucharest, 2012), 143–​54. 58 Placidus of Nonantola, Liber de honore ecclesiae 149, MGH Libelli 2, 633–​4. 59 Ibid. 52, 589. 60 Massimo Fornasari, ed., Collectio canonum in V libris (Turnout, 1970), 3:148. 55

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Pope Urban II (r. 1088–​99) set aside an area around the monastery to be placed under a “sacred ban” (see Figure 16.5).61 No doubt this represented an exceptional case, but, between the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, several monastic complexes witnessed a similar connection between the consecration of the abbey church and a delimitation of the territory surrounding the monastery.62 This new conception of monastic space, which now included the monks’ landed possessions, occasioned the project of compiling all of the written acts documenting a monastery’s possessions into a single book called a cartulary, which in turn contributed to securing and territorializing the rights of the religious.63 It also engendered new forms of representation. The plan prepared for the abbey of Marmoutier in Alsace during the middle of the twelfth century (known only through copies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) represents the monastery’s property within three nested spaces using a combination of geometric elements, illustrations, and text (see Figure 16.6).64 A rectangle at the center of the page contains four figures illustrating different places of worship (the abbey church with its two-​towered westwork and an oversized door that appears to belong at the same time to both the church and the monastic enclosure; a parish church; and two chapels), in addition to elements of vegetation (a reference to its fecundity) and a circle (a spiritual symbol) representing the enclosed monastic space. This central rectangle is, in turn, inscribed within a diamond containing sixteen buildings, each of which is identified by a caption listing the domains that comprised the “march” of Marmoutier, a privileged region close to the monastery where the monks held a majority of the rights over lands and persons. This diamond, in its turn, is inscribed within a large rectangle, divided at the corners into triangles where the possessions furthest from the monastery are listed. The plan thus distinguishes between three zones:  the monastic site (to which the Plan of St. Gall had limited itself ), the march (corresponding to

Didier Méhu, Paix et communautés autour de l’abbaye de Cluny, Xe–​XVe siècle (Lyon, 2001), 133–​93. Florian Mazel, “Lieu sacré, aire de paix et seigneurie autour de l’abbaye de Saint-​Gilles (fin IXe–​début XIIIe siècle),” Cahiers de Fanjeaux 46 (2011): 229–​76. 63 See the article by Bruce in this volume and Pierre Chastang, Lire, écrire, transcrire. Le travail des rédacteurs de cartulaires du Bas Languedoc (XIe–​XIIIe siècle) (Paris, 2001). 64 Charles-​Edmond Perrin, Essai sur la fortune immobilière de l’abbaye alsacienne de Marmoutier aux Xe et XIe siècles (Strasbourg, 1935); Uta Kleine, “Die Ordnung des Landes und die Organisation der Seite:  Konstruktion und Repräsentation ländlicher Herrschaftsraüme im vorkartographischen Zeitalter (Elsass, 12. Jahrhundert),” in Aufsicht—​Ansicht—​Einsicht. Neue Perspektiven auf die Kartographie an der Schwelle zur Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Tanja Michalsky, Felicitas Schmieder, and Gisela Engel (Berlin, 2009), 229–​61. 61

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Figure  16.5  The “sacred ban” around the abbey of Cluny defined by Pope Urban II in 1095, according to D. Méhu, Paix et communautés autour de l’abbaye de Cluny, Xe–​XVe siècle (Lyon, 2001), 164.

that which the Cluniacs called the sacred ban), and the possessions on the periphery. The plan of Marmoutier remains abstract, portraying as homogenous areas that were not so in reality, especially as the inventory of lands it precedes contains a mix of possessions that the monks had owned in the ninth century (but later lost), as well as those acquired in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. While clearly a highly idealized picture of the abbey and its property, the plan’s inclusion of lands (even those far removed from the abbey 336

Figure  16.6 Inventory-​plan of the abbey of Marmoutier (Alsace) in the mid-​twelfth century, according to an eighteenth-​century copy, following C.-​E. Perrin, Essai sur la fortune immobilière de l’abbaye alsacienne de Marmoutier aux Xe et XIe siècles (Strasbourg, 1935), 8.

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center) is innovative, serving to integrate the monastery more closely into its surrounding environment. A spatialized complex, an organized territory, and even a microcosm of the universe: the Western medieval monastery was a kind of laboratory of representations and practical applications of  space.

Bibliography Baud, Anne, and Gilles Rollier. “Liturgie et espace monastique à Cluny à la lecture du Liber tramitis, ‘de descriptione monasterii’ et données archéologiques.” In Espace ecclésial et liturgie au Moyen Âge, edited by Anne Baud, 27–​42. Lyon, 2010. Bonnerue, Pierre. “Éléments de topographie historique dans les règles monastiques occidentales.” Studia Monastica 37.1 (1995): 57–​77. Bottazzi, Marialuisa, Paolo Buffo, Caterina Ciccopiedi, Luciana Furbetta, and Thomas Granier, eds. La società monastica nei secoli VI–​XII. Sentieri di ricerca. Actes du Colloque organisé à Rome par le Centro Europeo Ricerche Medievali de l’Université de Trieste et l’École française de Rome, 12–​13 juin 2016. Trieste and Rome, 2016. Brenk, Beat, Architettura e immagini del sacro nella tarda antichità. Spoleto, 2005. Bully, Sébastien, and Christian Sapin, eds. Au seuil du cloître. La présence des laïcs (hôtelleries, bâtiments d’accueil, activités artisanales et de services) entre le Ve et le XIIe siècle. BUCEMA, Hors série 8 (2015) (http://​journals.openedition.org/​cem/​13574). De Rubeis, Flavia, and Federico Marazzi, eds. Monasteri in Europa occidentale (secoli VIII–​XI). Topografia e strutture. Rome, 2008. Dessì, Rosa Maria, and Michel Lauwers. “Désert, église, île sainte:  Lérins et la sanctification des îles monastiques de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge.” In Lérins. Une île sainte de l’antiquité au Moyen Âge, edited by Yann Codou and Michel Lauwers, 231–​279. Turnhout, 2009. Destefanis, Eleonora. “Ad portam monasterii:  accessi e spazi liminari nei monasteri dell’Occidente altomedievale (secoli VI–​ IX).” In “Per diversa temporum spatial.” Scritti in onore di Gisella Cantino Wataghin, edited by Eleonora Destefanis and Chiara Lambert, 51–​84. Vercelli, 2011. Devroey, Jean-​Pierre. Puissants et misérables. Système social et monde paysan dans l’Europe des Francs (VIe–​IXe siècles). Brussels, 2006. Dey, Hendrick, and Elizabeth Fentress, eds. Western Monasticism ante litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, 2011. Iogna-​Prat, Dominique. La Maison-​Dieu. Une histoire monumentale du christianisme au Moyen Âge. Paris, 2006. Lauwers, Michel. “Circuitus et figura:  exégèse, images et structuration des complexes monastiques dans l’Occident médiéval (IXe–​XIIe siècle).” In Lauwers, Monastères et espace social, 43–​110. Lauwers, Michel, ed. Monastères et espace social. Genèse et transformation d’un système de lieux dans l’Occident medieval. Turnhout, 2014. Lauwers, Michel. Naissance du cimetière. Lieux sacrés et terre des morts dans l’Occident medieval. Paris, 2005.

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