medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
At 03:52 PM 10/16/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>At 08:39 AM 10/16/2001 -0700, you wrote:
>>Richard Landes <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >in this context, allow me to reiterate my question: what evidence is
>>there for any real enthusiasm for christianity among the commoner lay classes
>>before the 11th century?
>>I think it probably depends on how strict you are about your definition of
i'm reasonably capacious, and certainly not limited to the ecclesiastical
notions. but i'm looking for evidence that people take the contents of xn
texts (esp biblical) seriously. so relic cults that overlap heavily with
pagan sites and practices, are of less interest than the kind of "textual
communities" and apostolic movements that are prominent from the 11th cn
onward (brian stock).
>>Is it necessarily what the hierarchy at any given moment
>>said that it was?
>> From the time of Caesarius of Arles, the clergy were
>>constantly complaining about unseemly goings-on during the vigils of
>>saints's feasts and within the precincts of the church.
these cd or cd not be evidence of xn enthusiasm. augustine complains about
such goings on, and it's clear that some of it is "pagan" in origin, some
of it a great veneration and enthusiasm for martyrs whose courage far
exceeded that of the current bishops (eg Donatist). as i remember
Caesarius, and most early medieval writers, the complaints are that the
pagans/paysans/peasants are not xn enuf. in the 11th cn, we hear of some
who "seem more pious than monks."
>>account of his troubles with the two "eccentrics" Aldebert and Clement
>>(c. 743) suggests that people of all classes were sufficiently
>>christianised to be responsive to heresies.
Aldebert is a classic example of what Russell called "eccentrics" and Cohn
called millenarians. False Christ of Bourges, Thiota, etc. they popular
charismatics who use specifically xn discourses, and as such are good cases
for popular interest and enthusiasm, altho obviously some might feel that
their behavior was unbecoming a xn.
>>One of Charlemagne's early
>>decrees deals with bands of vagrants who wandered around naked, loaded
>>down with chains, saying that this was a penance of some sort. They were
>>obviously peasants, because the edict advises them to settle down and work
obviously commoners, it was the carolingian elites who felt they shd be
peasants. do you have a reference? i know about the carolingian decrees
against the "letters from heaven"
>>The use of holy chrism as medicine and, apparently, as a means
>>to foil the ordeal is found in several capitularies.
that's "popular use" but not quite what i'd call popular enthusiasm. they
may have been used in conjunction with other things that the audience for
these rituals took more seriously.
>>Around Vercelli in
>>the 10th century, peasants were baptising branches and pieces of turf in
>>order to establish a relation of godparenthood. At the very beginning of
>>the 11 th c., Burchard of Worms describes the burial of dead infants who
>>had been baptized with wax replicas of consecrated bread and wine; infants
>>who had died without baptism were impaled with a stake driven into the
>>ground, to prevent them from doing harm.
this is what i wd call ritual syncretism. interesting, but not the kind of
evidence i'm looking for, and which is so abundant after the 11th cn.
> It seems to me that such practices imply that at least some
>peasants, or peasants in some areas, had internalised Chrisitianity as they
>understood it, and showed their devotion to the saints and the sacramentals
>of the Church in their own fashion - however much the ecclesiastical and
>civil authorities may have disapproved.
or approved. i think some of this fit into the rubric of the kind of
"compromises" with local practices that gregory suggested. in any case, it
is not so much evidence of an embrace of a specific xn message as a use of
xn symbols and rituals to accomplish standard quotidien goals (health,
fertility, protection). few signs of apostolicity or the demotic
religiosity of the capuciati, for example.
part of my question is this: there's plenty of evidence of deep hostility
to xnty on the part of the locals (eg Bede's story in the life of Cuthbert
about the monks driven out to sea and the rustici cheering "because they
took away the old ways and now no one knows what to do...") and little for
any real enthusiasm, so it seems like a "nominal" conversion for quite a
while. the earliest evidence i find for widespread interest in and
acceptance of xnty among peasant populations is the late 10 early 11th cn.
anything earlier? or can we speak of an 11th cn "conversion" of
To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: