The Sleep of Behemoth

The Sleep of Behemoth: Disputing Peace and Violence in Medieval Europe, 1000–1200

Jehangir Yezdi Malegam
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 328
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    The Sleep of Behemoth
    Book Description:

    In The Sleep of Behemoth, Jehangir Yezdi Malegam explores the emergence of conflicting concepts of peace in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. Ever since the Early Church, Christian thinkers had conceived of their peace separate from the peace of the world, guarded by the sacraments and shared only grudgingly with powers and principalities. To kingdoms and communities they had allowed attenuated versions of this peace, modes of accommodation and domination that had tranquility as the goal. After 1000, reformers in the papal curia and monks and canons in the intellectual circles of northern France began to reimagine the Church as an engine of true peace, whose task it was eventually to absorb all peoples through progressive acts of revolutionary peacemaking. Peace as they envisioned it became a mandate for reform through conflict, coercion, and insurrection. And the pursuit of mere tranquility appeared dangerous, and even diabolical. As Malegam shows, within western Christendom's major centers of intellectual activity and political thought, the clergy competed over the meaning and monopolization of the term "peace." contrasting it with what one canon lawyer called the "sleep of Behemoth," a diabolical "false" peace of lassitude and complacency, one that produced unsuitable forms of community and friendship that must be overturned at all costs. Out of this contest over the meaning and ownership of true peace, Malegam concludes, medieval thinkers developed theologies that shaped secular political theory in the later Middle Ages. The Sleep of Behemoth traces this radical experiment in redefining the meaning of peace from the papal courts of Rome and the schools of Laon, Liege, and Paris to its gradual spread across the continent and its impact on such developments as the rise of papal monarchism; the growth of urban, communal self-government; and the emergence of secular and mystical scholasticism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6789-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In 1324, a physician and scholar named Marsilius of Padua refuted papal sovereignty in the name of peace. In his soon-to-be notorious Defensor pacis (Defender of the Peace), Marsilius asserted the legitimacy of a secular monarch over the clergy, insisting that the only true peace was earthly tranquility, and that tranquility was the exclusive province of the prince. Priests who bandied about their own claims to peacemaking were obstructing genuine peace and must be constrained to a sphere outside politics and statecraft. So convinced was he of the truth of his argument that Marsilius accompanied an imperial invasion of Rome...

  6. Chapter 1 Revising Peace: Reform and the Millennium
    (pp. 21-54)

    In August 1023, on the banks of the Meuse in Alsace-Lorraine, the two preeminent Christian monarchs of the West made a great gesture toward achieving God’s peace on earth. Emperor Henry II and King Robert the Pious of France “concluded a statement of peace and justice and a reconciliation of mutual friendship.”¹ The Deeds of the Bishops of Cambrai lauds this moment of peacemaking and contrasts it to the many counterfeits of peace then prevalent, including the Peace of God movement then popular in central France. Peace, however, had been declared too soon. The chronicler goes on to describe the...

  7. Chapter 2 The Papal Reform: Peace Espoused and Repudiated
    (pp. 55-75)

    An anonymous vita begun during the final years of Pope Leo IX’s life speaks of the young bishop Bruno of Toul’s arrival in Rome in 1049. A kinsman of Emperor Henry III, the new pope had recently been ruling a diocese in Upper Lotharingia and had gained the highest clerical seat in Latin Christendom after a series of disputed and scandalous papal elections.¹ As he entered the city, a “handmaid of God” accosted him with the following instructions: upon crossing the “threshold of the apostles” he must say, “Peace to this house and all who dwell in it.”² Her advice...

  8. Chapter 3 False Sacraments: Violence, Captivity, and Insurrection
    (pp. 76-114)

    During Lent in 1074, the assistants of the bishop of Milan prepared a chrism, as they did every year in preparation for the public baptism of infants and catachumens at Easter. This year, however, on the appointed day, a vavasor named Erlembald pushed himself through the waiting crowds, snatched the chrism, and before everyone’s eyes spilled it and then stamped on it. According to the chronicle of Arnulf of Milan, which is hostile to Erlembald and his followers, the vavasor then produced a replacement, “though made by whom no one knows, nor from where it came.”¹ Erlembald proceeded to perform...

  9. Chapter 4 Dueling Sacraments: The Communion of Judas Iscariot
    (pp. 115-152)

    Since the days of the Peace of God movement, a number of standard images served to describe those who rescinded peace. One, dogs returning to their vomit, alluded to Gregory the Great’s criticism of apostates, indicating that taking up peace could be considered an act of conversion. A second image, the treachery of Judas Iscariot, shows how closely peace was associated with the sacraments. Repeatedly during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, churchmen discoursing on betrayed peace would refer to Judas. The Deeds of the Bishops of Cambrai compared those who broke their peace oaths to Judas, who had “handed over...

  10. Chapter 5 Inner Peace: Discord, Discretion, and Discipline
    (pp. 153-189)

    The disgust of Jesus’s listeners at being asked to eat his flesh showed the difficulties that a carnal understanding of the sacraments placed in the way of spiritual benefit. No matter how carefully the sacraments were guarded and explained, it was no easy matter to absorb these mysteries of divine redemption. True membership in the church required discernment (discretio). For high medieval thinkers who followed Augustine, the sacraments did not open the gates to a community of peace but rather conferred peace by demanding that the recipient rearrange his or her emotional priorities. This peace meant a transformation of the...

  11. Chapter 6 Exporting Peace: Ecclesiology and Evangelism
    (pp. 190-229)

    In 1143, Evervin, the abbot of Steinfeld, wrote a troubled letter to Bernard of Clairvaux, relating the final testament of a group of men accused of heresy and then slaughtered by a mob in Cologne:

    We maintain this much, that we do not pertain to this world: You lovers of the world have peace with the world, since you are of the world. Pseudoapostles, corrupting the word of Christ, and seeking their own benefit, led you and your fathers astray; [but] we, and our fathers, having been born as apostles, remain in the grace of Christ, and shall continue in...

  12. Chapter 7 Communes: Inversions of Peace
    (pp. 230-263)

    In 1112 the inhabitants of Laon rose up against their rulers, massacred their bishop, Gaudry, and indulged in carnivalesque acts of vandalism and homicide before an opportunistic warlord, Thomas de Marle, subjugated the city. When Guibert, abbot of Nogent-sous-Coucy, searched for lessons from the urban insurrection and its bloody consequences, he pointed to a fatal peace that Gaudry had made and then broken with the populace: an association that “took the new and most terrible (pessimum) name of commune.”¹ For the scriptural exegete and theologian Guibert, the commune’s recourse to bloodshed was only the epiphenomenon of deeper, structural violence: loss...

  13. Chapter 8 Disciplining Behemoth: Provisions for Secular Peace
    (pp. 264-296)

    Late in the twelfth century, a canon lawyer and bishop named Rufinus of Sorrento wrote a two-volume treatise, possibly the first of its kind entirely devoted to peace.¹ In De bono pacis (On the Goodness of Peace), Rufinus argued that human beings experienced peace as species of a universal PAX: the peace of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.² Reflective of a century in which peace could be treated as true or false, these species of peace also inhered within Satan and associated Satan with humanity. Humanity enjoyed three types of peace, which derived from angelic and diabolical models: the wicked...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 297-304)

    So wrote Dante Alighieri in his controversial De monarchia of 1318, deemed heretical by Pope John XXII and preserved only through camouflage.¹ Refuted by proxy, mistitled, bound within unrelated manuscripts, the authorized edition only emerged in Protestant Basel in the middle of the sixteenth century.² Written as the pope debated radical Franciscans over ecclesiastical property and asserted his sovereign right to rule in the absence of an emperor, De monarchia argues for clerical obedience to secular powers. Echoing the late twelfth-century canonist Huguccio of Pisa, Dante claimed that temporal principalities were divinely instituted, that the empire preceded the papacy, and...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-324)
  16. Index
    (pp. 325-336)