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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2000

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2000

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Subject:

Canonesses

From:

Christopher Crockett <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 28 Dec 2000 20:33:23 MST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (153 lines)

"Br. Alexis Bugnolo" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Even married laymen held the office of Abbots in some monasteries. You can
see this at Monte[ ]Cassi[in??]o[n] in the monumental fun[er?]ary
scult[p?]ures of the main church. In effect the office which was proper to the
clerical or monastic sense, came to be conceived as having its own
independence and its civil duties which became preeminate[?] in the management
of large estates, to its original spiritual duties, were often bestowed upon
laymen. 

no "came to be" about it.

the "evolutionary fallacy" is alive and well in Franciscan circles, i see.

"lay" "abbots" were a common occurance in the chaos which followed the
collapse of the Carolingian imperium, late 9th-early 11th cc., as
ecclesiastical --esp. monastic-- property was expropriated by lay powers
("fell into lay hands").

e.g., the Robertians (>Capetians) took over *vast* estates belonging to [the
destroyed] abbeys of --among others-- Fleury and St. Germian-des-Pres, and
doled them out --along with the tithes due from the fruits of the land-- to
their major _fedejessuori_.

during the course of this process quite a few "monasteries" (which may have
survived in name only) had lay "abbots" --Hugh Capet was abbot of St.
Germain's at the least, if i recall correctly.

during the course of the 11th and 12th centuries this property/tithes was
"restored" to the church --though rarely (apparently) to the church which
originally held it/them.

also during the course of the early 11th c. you had curious phenomena which
are hard for us to shoehorn into our orderly modern catagories 
--e.g., the situation at St. Martin's of Tours, which came under the complete
control of the enterprising layman, Gannelon of Montigny, who styled himself
(for reasons which i've never completely understood)
"Treasurer" [rather than Abbot] of St. Martin's.

>I'd expect this to be more common in the late Medieval and Tridentine
periods. 

don't know much about it, but i'd say that the institution of lay 
abbots in the late m.a. and e. modern periods was *not*, as you seem to again
suggest/think, some kind of *evolutionary* development, but rather one totally
seperate from the earlier circumstance, though it may be seen to have been
similar in cause: in France, the devastation of the Hundred Years' War in the
15h c. (and then of the Wars of Religion during the 16th c.) created a
situation *somewhat* analogous to that of the 9th c. invasions and chaos, and
one found once again the curious anomoly of ancient monasteries which were
themselves physically devastated and dirt poor (with few, if any, monks, due
to other developments which were happening on their own schedule), but Land
Rich, being *huge* proprietors, and therefore capable of supporting the lay
favorites/supporters of, say, the King in the manner to which they would like
to have become accustomed. 

in France this situation culminated in the institution of the 
"commendiare", wherein "commendatory" abbots --who could be either Laymen or
Prelates of the Church collecting benefices-- were installed at the pleasure
of the King (it ain't called "Absolute" Monarchy for nothing) and invested
with the power and wealth of monastic institutions which were mere spirtual
shadows of their former selves (if that).

>Certainly bishops for example held the office of counts, 

a *totally* different Kettle of Salmon.

>and increasingly bishops were thus considered secular nobles; 

"increasingly"???

again, *NOT* an evolutionary situation --AT ALL.

bishops were --always-- "secular" nobles, in the sense that they held, _ex
officio_ *vast* quantities of property/rights, for much of which they might
have owed various "duties" to other secular Powers.

>hence the investiture controversy; 

*hence*???  

what happened to "increasingly"??

>but this is another level.

undoubtedly.

>So I see no necessary, exclusive reason for a canon to be a cleric in 
the hie[r??]archical sense; but rather in the sense of a clerk to day; that is
an official. 

hard to make that last bit out, in English (a "clerk to day" = "an
official"?), but i believe that i agree with you --at least for the period
which i've termed previously --in my own charmingly ideosyncratic fashion--
"regularisation," i.e. c. 1200-1250 for N. central France.

in one sense a "canon" was a fellow who held --by whatever means-- a prebend,
or part of a prebend; and the holding of such might or might not have entailed
any duties whatsoever beyond taking the oath appropriate to being a
canon/prebendary of that particular institution, according to its own customs.
 

and, the practice of holding multiple benefices/canonries was --despite
frequent and definitive condemnations by, esp., a multiplicity of Popes--
widespread both in time and space throughout the medieval period.  and
beyond.

simply a matter of the distribution of Royal (or Comtal/Ducal) Largess to
_fideles_ being an inescapable and immutable source of Power.

>You'd have to know about the local situation to discern more aptly whether a
given cann[]onry 

[chapter??]

>was peopled by layment or clergy; though the presumption is clergy.

certainly.

whatever the heck "clergy/clerk" means.

though i know of no chapter of anywhere/anytime which might be said to be
significantly peopled by "laymen" --but, as i mentioned previously, the state
of the documents is such that, when we come down to it, we really know
virtually nothing about the overwhelming majority of canons, even at very
significant and unusually well documented places like Chartres.

all the more reason for us to try and exercise some kind of discipline over
the necessary assumptions which we project upon the earlier periods.

some things certainly remained the same --and we may safely project these
backwards in time (once we recognize them --catch 22); 

but one of the things which remain the same is that things change, so it get's
kinda tricky, fast.

can't step in the same river twice --unless you step and jump, step and jump,
step and...

best to all from here,

christopher








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