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Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400.

doi: 10.1017/S0009640708001212

Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400. Edited by Emilia Jamroziak and Janet Burton. Europa Sacra 2. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. xiv + 401 pp. [euro] 75.00 cloth.

The idea for this volume came from a conference at the University of Leicester in 2003, and the editors have collected here nineteen essays from scholars in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The overarching questions raised by these studies center on the nature, strategy, or motivation of lay patronage of religious houses. The sources range from standard monastic sources, cartularies, foundation charters, and the like to royal chronicles, Cathedral registers, wills, sermons, miracle stories and canonization records, and diplomatic texts. Geographically, these studies include Britain, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, and the Low Countries. The book succeeds in offering English readers a comprehensive view of the complex and evolving ways in which the laity interacted with their religious contemporaries.

Organized into three sections, the first and largest section, "Patrons and Benefactors: Power, Fashion and Mutual Expectations," looks at the relationships that existed between the laity and their religious foundations. The editors rightly point out that this is a much-studied field, and as a result the articles presented here do not break a lot of new ground. Many articles in this section focus on the royal or aristocratic relationships with religious institutions. Marjorie Chibnall's lead article discusses how Henry II's patronage of religious houses helped stabilize his own territory. Janet Burton, on Roger de Mowbray, and Belle Tuten, on the castellan families near Fontevraud, both explore the various reasons or motives for religious patronage. For Burton, the chief reason was politics and the changing political landscape for Roger de Mowbray. Tuten suggests that what motivated patronage was the emulation of social superiors, the geographical proximity and ties that were created between benefactor and religious house, and what she calls "long-term reciprocity" as families continued their support. Emilia Jamroziak studies the Rievaulx cartulary and suggests that it was used as a means of memorializing the abbey's benefactors. She also looks at the ritual of burial and admission into Cistercian confraternities as additional ways to remember benefactors. Sheila Sweetinburgh looks at the political and economic motives in both the royal and community patronage of two English hospitals, Dover and Ospringe, both associated with the cult of Becket. Hans-Joachim Schmidt looks at the eroding patronage relationship, both political and religious, between the Luxembourg dynasty and the Dominicans.

Other articles in this section broaden the scope of lay-religious relationships. Linda Rasmussen argues persuasively that in addition to donations by wealthy landowning families of the nobility or clergy, there were also "unknown" benefactors from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, including peasants. Kim Esmark looks at the Danish abbey of Soro and how monastic patronage helped produce a family identity. Karen Stober studies both the decline of lay patronage and the new opportunities that opened up for lay patrons of English and Welsh monasteries--namely opportunities to be buried at more prestigious locations.

The second section of the book is "Lay and Religious: Negotiation, Influence and Utility." Of particular interest here is the lead article by Stephen White in which he discusses a land dispute between a lay matron and the monks of Sainte Foy. In studying the litigation of this case, White looks at "vengeance scripts" found in this story, rhetorical devices designed to threaten the laity with God's vengeance should anyone do anything to threaten the land acquired by the monastery. Marsha Dutton looks at Aelred of Rievaulx's Genealogy of the Kings of England in order to discuss the active relationships that existed between earlier English kings and their religious contemporaries (for example, St. Dunstan) and the way in which Aelred expected this tradition to continue under King Henry II. Anne Lester's article studies the relationship between communities of lepers, their caregivers, and the foundation of new Cistercian convents. She argues that nuns began to be associated with caregiving and a penitential spirituality that made them models of the imitatio Christi. William Jordan describes the relationship between monks and lay elites and shows that in the case of Louis IX, the king's saintly behavior (for example, his hauling stones to build a monastery or touching a leper) provided a model for his fellow aristocrats. Erin Jordan's article looks at the relationship between the religious ideals of mendicants and the patronage of wealthy elites. She shows that while the early Franciscan ideal of poverty conflicted with extravagant gifts of land and buildings, the Dominicans were more receptive to such patronage. She believes that this conflict changed the practice of patronage from large gifts to smaller donations more in keeping with newer monastic ideals. Constance Berman studies the meaning of conversi in the eleventh century and suggests that the term changed from the notion of an adult convert to the monastic life--most notably a knight--to the more familiar, but later, notion of conversi as lay peasant brothers. This study highlights the breadth of lay interest in Cistercian spirituality.

The final section looks at "Confraternities and Urban Communities." Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld examines the chronological evolution of confraternities in the Low Countries from older and sometimes neighboring Benedictine monastic fraternities. James Clark follows a similar path and looks at the St. Albans confraternity. He suggests, in this case, that monastic confraternity was more than a "petty indulgence" for laypeople; rather, it was active and popular even into the early sixteenth century. Jens Rohrkasten looks at the mendicants in London and the complex relationships between them and their lay benefactors. Finally, Bram van den Hoven van Genderen and Paul Trio offer an excellent survey of the historiography of confraternities in the Low Countries. This article is especially valuable to English readers because it traces important Dutch and Flemish research from its earliest provincial work to the more "academic" research of the mid- to late-twentieth century.

Other than a few minor typos (64, 114, 202) and extended lower margins (176-181; 321-330), the book is presented well and includes a useful index of names and primary sources. Scholars working in this field will benefit greatly from this valuable and diverse collection of essays.

Ronald J. Stansbury

Roberts Wesleyan College
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Author:Stansbury, J. Ronald
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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