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Creating the Monastic Past in Medieval Flanders

Creating the Monastic Past in Medieval Flanders

Karine Ugé
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    Creating the Monastic Past in Medieval Flanders
    Book Description:

    The creation of a past for themselves was of pressing importance to religious communities, enabling them to increase their status and legitimise their existence. This book examines the process in a group of communities from the southern part of Flanders (the monks of Saint-Bertin at Saint-Omer, the community of Saint-Rictrude at Marchiennes and the canons of Saint-Amé at Douai) over a period running from the ninth to the end of the eleventh century. The central contention is that the communities produced their narratives (history, hagiography, charter materials) for a specific time and purpose, frequently as a response to or intended resolution of internal or external crises. The book also discusses how the circumstances which triggered narrative production had an impact not only on the content but also on the form of the texts.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-392-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Genealogies
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book examines the processes through which monastic communities created a usable past for themselves. The central issue is that communities did not produce historical narratives fortuitously, but rather that they did so under specific circumstances and that the writing of a text often served as a catalyst for the resolution of internal or external crises. This ‘utilitarian’ dimension of historiography implies that, in the course of events, communities kept adapting old accounts of their past in a way that fitted their present needs. To illustrate my subject, I have chosen to study historical narratives produced between the ninth and...

  8. Part I. Saint-Bertin

    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 17-18)

      THE FIRST ABBEY studied here is the abbey of Saint-Bertin. It is an ideal case to begin with because of the abundance and variety of texts produced by the community in the tenth and eleventh centuries in order to reinvent its past. This wealth of documentation will allow us from the outset to deal with many of the main issues related to a monastic community’s politics of narrative production: the preservation and alteration of its archives and historical tradition, the different motives behind its historiographic production, the role of forgery, and the subjects of genres and types of texts used...

    • CHAPTER ONE Saint-Bertin from the Foundation to the Eleventh Century
      (pp. 19-36)

      The abbey of Saint-Bertin at Sithiu was founded by St Omer in the 640s. The foundation of the monastic community is closely associated with the establishment of the episcopal see of Thérouanne by St Omer, under the impetus of King Dagobert (623–639) and Acharius, bishop of Noyon (d. 640).¹ The main source for the early history of Saint-Bertin and the bishopric of Thérouanne is theVita Audomari Prima(VA¹), written at Sithiu in the early ninth century.² According to thevita, Omer was born in the region of Coutances (dep. Manche);³ at his mother’s death, Friulfus and Omer...

    • CHAPTER TWO Cultural Life at Saint-Bertin
      (pp. 37-49)

      Saint-Bertin was an extremely wealthy and prestigious monastery which had attracted the attention of successive Carolingian and Flemish rulers. There is no doubt that Carolingian and, to some extent, Flemish patronage, allowed Saint-Bertin to become a cultural center which stood in an honored position among the other Frankish monasteries.¹ Saint-Bertin possessed a wellendowed library and, at different periods of its history, produced its own manuscripts, some of them aesthetically remarkable. The quality of its library and scriptorium offered Saint-Bertin the intellectual tools necessary for the development of a distinguished monastic school. The oblates educated at the school had good literary...

    • CHAPTER THREE Narrative Production at Saint-Bertin
      (pp. 50-94)

      This chapter explores, through a detailed examination of the main narratives produced at Saint-Bertin from the ninth to the eleventh century, how the community transformed its historical tradition, and especially its foundation story, in order to turn it into a tool of propaganda. I will focus on the content and method of redaction of the texts themselves as well as on the local political background which led to their composition. This will highlight the goals pursued by the authors, their biases and the role played by each text within the community. It appears that all these texts are related to...

  9. Part II. The Hagiographic Cycle of St Rictrude

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 95-96)

      WITH THE STUDY of Saint-Bertin we have seen how one monastic community selectively preserved, used and altered its archives and historiographic narratives and created new ones so as to make its past useful for present needs. Moreover, from Folcuin’sGesta to Simon’s Gesta, it is clear that the community almost continuously – save for the sixty-year gap between the twogesta– kept archives and produced new narratives based on local historiographic tradition. In this process, the foundation story of Sithiu stands out as the main period of the community’s past that was most frequently used and transformed. Because of the abundance...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Saint Rictrude, her Family and the Abbey of Marchiennes (c. 640–1130)
      (pp. 97-141)

      The abbey of Marchiennes (dep. Nord, arr. Douai) was founded around 640 by St Amand in the context of his mission to the Scarpe region. It was located on the bank of the river Scarpe, a few miles from Saint-Amand.² The foundation story of the abbey is related in thevitaof its patron saint, Rictrude, who, at the death of her husband Adalbald, entered Marchiennes and became abbess.³ The abbey may have been built on land that belonged to her husband’s patrimony, as was the case for its close neighbor, Hamage. The history of Marchiennes from its foundation to...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Saint Maurontus and Saint Amatus at Douai
      (pp. 142-161)

      From the eleventh century, the canons of the collegiate church of Saint-Amé at Douai were claiming possession of St Amatus’s and St Maurontus’s relics. As we have seen in the previous chapter, these saints originally belonged to St Rictrude’s cycle and were commemorated at the abbey of Marchiennes. In this chapter, I will examine how the canons of Douai legitimized their appropriation of Amatus’s and Maurontus’s relics by selecting the elements from Rictrude’s cycle pertaining to their tutelary saints, by adapting these elements to their own interest, and finally, by integrating them within their own foundation legend. The fate of...

    (pp. 162-172)

    Study of the politics of narrative production at Saint-Bertin, Marchiennes and Saint-Amé lets us examine how each community made its past useful through the preservation and alteration of its historical tradition. Observing this process community by community has allowed us not only to study the life of each of them in some detail, but also to assess their cultural and literary abilities and their material and spiritual values. To broaden the conclusions beyond the specifics of each community, I would like to look back at the main issues raised in the previous chapters. A number of subjects stand out as...

    (pp. 173-192)
  12. Index
    (pp. 193-196)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-199)