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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2007

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2007

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Subject:

saints of the day 20. August

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 20 Aug 2007 19:09:51 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (81 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Today (20. August) is the feast day of:

Herbert of Conza (Herbert of Middlesex; d. 1181, probably).  Today's
less well known saint from the Regno is thought, on the basis of a
confused notice in the _Ymagines historiarum_ of Ralph of Diceto (a.k.a.
Ralph of Diss), to have been an Englishman who moved to the kingdom of
Sicily and who was appointed archbishop of Conza in today's Campania by
William II.  What Ralph actually says is that H. was made archbishop of
Cosenza in Calabria and that he perished in a great earthquake there
(presumably, the one of 1184).  But H. is documented in the see of
Conza from 1169 through 1179, when he took part in Lateran III, and his
death date was entered, presumably from local records, as 20. August
1118 (thought to have been a roman-numeral error for 1181) on a
pilaster in the cathedral of Conza that was destroyed by the earthquakes
of 1694 and 1732 (as opposed to its eighteenth-century replacement that
collapsed in the great Irpine earthquake of 1980).  A sarcophagus said to
be H.'s was housed until recently in the Museo Provinciale Irpino at Avellino
but is now back at Conza.  H. has no surviving Life and no medieval Office. 
Get a Life, Herb!

Conza (today's Conza della Campania [AV]) is a good example of a now
obscure place that medievally was rather more significant.  A hill town
in southern Irpinia, it overlooks the upper valley of the Ofanto not far
below the Conza Saddle.  The latter is a rare low point (700 meters
above sea level) in the southern Appennines permitting relatively easy
travel across the peninsula from the Sele valley in the west to the
Ofanto valley in the east.  Already militarily significant in Roman
times, Conza was the seat of an important gastaldate (later, county) in
the duchy/principality of Benevento and in the latter's successors in
this region, the principality of Salerno and the kingdom of Sicily.  It
is first recorded as a diocese early in Lombard times (743).  Always
centrally isolated, it has a population today of ca. 1500 and now forms
part of the archdiocese of S. Angelo dei Lombardi, Conza, Nusco, and
Bisaccia (the others all having been, as far as one can tell, dioceses
newly created in the eleventh century).  Perhaps as early as 970, when
an earthquake is reported to have destroyed Conza, and certainly by
1161 its bishops had relocated their residence to today's Sant'Andrea
di Conza, some fifteen kilometers away.  Herbert will have lived there
rather than in Conza proper.

Seismic events of the sort indicated in the preceding paragraphs have
pretty well eliminated any monumental remains of Conza's medieval past
(though the Episcopio at Sant'Andrea di Conza is a former baronial
fortress of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries).  After the
1980 earthquake, in which 184 people perished in Conza alone, the old
town was abandoned except for an archaeological area.  Views of the
destruction of 1980 and of the new town on flatland with the old site in
the background are here:
http://tinyurl.com/29nnja
Here, from Paris, BN, ms. Franšais 33, fol. 142v, is a late medieval
illustration of Conza/Compsa in Roman times but looking very
fifteenth-century (the context is the Second Punic War and the text
illustrated is Pierre Bersuire's Middle French translation of Livy):
http://tinyurl.com/37ox2z
Some idea of what Roman-period Conza may actually have looked like
can be gleaned from a visit to its archeological park (Parco Archeologico
dell'antica Compsa), with pre-Roman and Roman antiquities on display:
http://www.archemail.it/1sconza.htm

Here's a Lombard charter of 1054 granting privileges to a monastery in
the diocese of Conza:
http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1054.htm

Best,
John Dillon
(last year's post revised)

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