Andrew Jotischky

title.none: Jamroziak and Burton, eds, Religious and Laity (Andrew Jotischky)

identifier.other: baj9928.0711.008 07.11.08

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Andrew Jotischky, Lancaster University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Jamroziak, Emilia and Janet Burton, eds. Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400. Europa Sacra, vol. 2. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xiii, 399. $95.00 ISBN-13: 978-2-503-52067-4. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.11.08

Jamroziak, Emilia and Janet Burton, eds. Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400. Europa Sacra, vol. 2. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xiii, 399. $95.00 ISBN-13: 978-2-503-52067-4. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Andrew Jotischky
Lancaster University

It is surprising that, as the editors of this volume point out, nothing with the geographical and chronological breadth of this volume has been attempted in English before. The relationship between religious communities and the lay society that made them possible and sustained their operations with continued patronage is of such fundamental importance that it must underlie any serious study of medieval religious practice. Yet, as the range of these essays demonstrates, it is a subject susceptible to almost infinite variation and modification. No two religious communities--even those of the supposedly centralized orders such as the Cistercians or the mendicants--had quite the same relationship with local lay society. Consequently, this volume, which arises from a conference held at the University of Leicester in 2003, ends up more as a series of individual case-studies than as a template for new paradigms. These miniatures are individually fine pieces of research, but the result is a rich array of local examples rather than a sense of dynamic change in patterns of relationship.

There are a few exceptions to this rule among the nineteen essays presented here. Karen Stöber's "Bequests and Burials: Changing Attitudes of the Laity as Patrons of English and Welsh Monasteries" uses a broad brush to depict changing patterns of bequests by patrons from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. Likewise, two of the essays on mendicants attempt overviews, though in different ways. Jens Röhrkasten, the acknowledged expert on the friars in London, brings a wealth of detail from calendared documentary records to his survey of mendicant settlement and parochial activities in the capital. In the final essay, Bram van den Hoven van Genderen and Paul Trio provide a retrospective of the historiography of confraternities in the Low Countries, tracing approaches in twentieth-century research alongside contemporary social and religious developments.

This book could have been organized in two ways: either chronologically, in order to draw out an overall sense of development or continuity in relationships between religious communities and wider society, or thematically. The editors have opted for the latter approach, dividing the essays into three groups: "Patrons and Benefactors: Power, Fashion and Mutual Expectations," "Lay and Religious: Negotiation, Influence and Utility," and a "Confraternities and Urban Communities." The last of these marks a clearly different category, but there is inevitably a degree of overlap within individual essays between the first two themes: benefactors, after all, also influenced and negotiated. Perhaps this does not matter, since most readers will probably want to pick and choose among the essays rather than read the book straight through. In what follows, I shall pick out the salient points of each essay. The first part begins with an essay by Marjorie Chibnall on Henry II of England's patronage. The general line of argument is that the second half of the twelfth century saw a shift from the Norman kings' patronage to the traditional foundations such as Caen and Fcamp toward newer houses such as Fontevrault that could be identified with the Angevin dynasty, but also toward the greater independence of English foundations from Norman mother-houses such as Marmoutier. As Belle Stoddard Tuten confirms in her essay on benefaction in western France, Fontevraud also fits the pattern observed in Burgundy, according to which much of its patronage came from lesser landowners in the form of small parcels of land. Henry II's personal piety, however, which, as his initial choice of burial at Grandmont suggests, tended toward the simple and unostentatious, was clearly also a factor in Angevin patronage. Noble patronage, as Janet Burton points out in her essay on Roger de Mowbray as a monastic founder, was also determined by prevalent political circumstances. Roger's patronage shows "a convergence of...religious ambitions and the political realities of the day," and the use of patronage as a means of reinforcing local networks of power in a period of political uncertainty during the 1140s. Roger's willingness to provide a home on his own lands for the monks of the Cumbrian house at Calder, a failed daughter house of Furness Abbey abandoned because of the dangers of Scottish raids, may have had something to do with the opportunity for this Angevin supporter to undermine Stephen's foundation of Furness.

"Memory," writes Emilia Jamroziak, "is the key to understanding the development and survival of the ties between religious institutions and their benefactors in the High Middle Ages." It was vital for religious communities to develop memorial forms that would enable the relationship articulated at the moment of benefaction to be repeated in subsequent generations. One such strategy was the wording of the arenga clause in a charter. Easy to dismiss as conventional rhetorical piety, the arenga, Jamroziak argues, in fact enabled the community to preserve a public version of the reason for the grant in the first place, to remind later generations of the same family to maintain the gift-giving relationship. The same theme is addressed from a Danish perspective by Kim Esmark, who reminds us that the efforts expended in supporting a community not only reflected existing ties but produced family consciousness and history for the patron's family itself. Relationships between families and local monasteries were, of course, often rocky. Stephen White's essay on Sainte Foy explores what he calls "vengeance scripts"--the uses made by monastic communities of their literacy in order to present their version of events in a quarrel over ownership. The lesson of the case study he presents is not to regard monks as helpless and peaceable communities at the mercy of violent lay families, but as actors in a constant process of negotiation and contestation over land ownership.

Relationships between individual rulers and either monks or friars provide a theme for two essays in the collection. Marsha Dutton extends her considerable work on Aelred of Rievaulx with an essay exploring his Genealogy of the Kings of the English, written for Henry II, in which the Cistercian abbot mobilises the historical relationship between the tenth-century Dunstan and King Edgar to remind Henry of the importance of his English heritage. Aelred's dislike of "foreign occupation" is particularly poignant given his own membership of a new monastic order that could itself have been regarded as a foreign coloniser of the north English landscape. The relationship between the dukes of Luxembourg, who in the early fourteenth century became Roman Emperors, and the Dominicans, treated in the essay by Hans-Joachim Schmidt, is a reminder of how useful to rulers was the fundamental distinction between the mobile and sometimes individualistic friars and members of fixed communities.

In a valuable contribution, Anne Lester examines the "spontaneous monastic generation" of Cistercian nunneries. Challenging a recent historiography that has concentrated largely on royal and noble patronage, she finds evidence of an internal impetus on the part of women religious. Such houses needed to find effective ways of attracting patronage in the absence of notable patrons, but were of course unable to offer masses to benefactors. Adopting the care of lepers was one way of securing "extra" value in the eyes of the laity. The essay by William C. Jordan reminds us, inter alia, of the longevity of Cistercian popularity. The phenomenal growth of the mendicants in the thirteenth century can mask the continuity of Cistercian ideals of poverty. Indeed, as Louis IX's founding of Royaumont in the 1240s demonstrates, the Cistercians still had a thing or two to teach about poverty. In December 1244, when Louis stopped by to see the progress on the construction site, he found the choir monks helping to carry stones and mortar for the building of a wall. Naturally, the king, seeing what would today be the perfect photo opportunity, grabbed a barrow and joined in. What happened, however, when a religious community's practice of poverty clashed with a benefactor's desire to endow? The fascinating episode of Jeanne, countess of Flanders and the Franciscans of Valenciennes deserves to be better known as an episode in the very early development of the application of Franciscan principles in practice. The refusal of the Valenciennes Minors to jeopardise their ideal by accepting endowment in 1226 laid bare the revolutionary nature of Francis' insistence on absolute poverty. Not only did it pose practical problems for the development of the order as an institution, it also threatened to overturn the currency of exchange on which relationships between lay patrons and religious communities depended.

Constance Berman's challenge to previous orthodoxies about early Cistercian history continues with an essay exploring the meaning of conversus as a concept in reform communities. Using comparative evidence from Silvanès and La Sauve Majeure, she argues that, in southern France at least, the conversus of the Usus conversorum and the Customary of Clairvaux is a development of the later twelfth century, and that initially conversi were free peasants attracted by the conditions of labour. According to this thesis, the practical needs of the pastoral peasantry and the monastic ideals of reformers formed a community of mutual interest that is a world away from the extensive grange farming associated with Cistercians. The theme of common interest continues in the final part of the volume, which deals with confraternity and urban communities. Employing linguistic searches through databases, Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld traces the development of fraternitas from simple prayer associations to the fully-fledged confraternity of the later Middle Ages. Although the evidence in this essay is restricted to the Low Countries, the model proposed here will provide a test-case for other examinations of the theme. Another example of this kind of work is provided in James Clark's study of the Liber benefactorum of St Albans, which, containing names from 1077 to 1500, is better organized and richer than the well-known Durham Liber vitae. About one third of the names are of confrères, the rest being benefactors. These confrères were effectively members of the monastic community, recognised as such in complex ceremonies that entailed the mingling of laypeople and monks at various points in the year.

Some of the essays in this volume presuppose a familiarity with quite specific literature and with ongoing debates. Nevertheless, they are all lucid and provide enough context to be useful to advanced undergraduate as well as more professional readers. The variety and richness of the examples in this volume will make it a valuable addition to anyone concerned with the history of medieval religious communities.