16.09.37, Heullant-Donat, et al., eds., Enfermements II

Main Article Content

Megan Cassidy-Welch

The Medieval Review 16.09.37

Heullant-Donat, Isabelle, Julie Claustre, Élisabeth Lusset, and Falk Bretschneider, eds. Enfermements II: Règles et dérèglements en milieu clos (IVe-XIXe siècle). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2015. pp. 464. ISBN: 978-2-85944-924-7. (paperback).

Reviewed by:
Megan Cassidy-Welch
Monash University

This is the second collection of essays produced under the direction of Isabelle Heullant-Donat, Julie Claustre, Élisabeth Lusset and Falk Bretschneider as part of the large-scale "Enfermements" project (). This project is an ongoing effort to examine the history of enclosure, understood in a broad sense but mostly focussing on forms of incarceration in medieval and early modern (and some modern) milieux. There have been three large-scale symposia on this theme in the last years; the first in 2009 produced a volume of essays, Enfermements. Le cloître et la prison (VIe-XVIIIe siècle), the second in October 2012 has produced this volume and the third in 2013 will result in another collection of essays (currently in press). The first two of these symposia have taken place at the abbey of Clairvaux, a most fitting location for discussions about the links between monastic space, enclosure and imprisonment, given its well-known medieval history as a place of Cistercian retreat and its modern use as a high-security prison. The volume contains an index, useful abstracts in French and English, biographies of the contributors, an introduction and conclusion.

This volume is a welcome addition to the literature on historical incarceration and enclosure. As its title indicates, the focus here is on rules and regulations in a variety of institutional settings from the fourth to the nineteenth centuries. This historical span is sweeping, but the organization of the volume into four thematic sections creates an effective framework for this longue durée approach. The first section contains six essays dealing in various ways with "defining rules". Valentina Toneatto writes about the creation of fourth to seventh-century monastic rules and their regulation of individual behavior through institutional authority. Hinda Hedhili-Azema's essay considers the nineteenth-century French penitentiary rules and the new droit pénitentiaire. Julie Claustre examines the urban context of the emergence of medieval prison regulations, with particular emphasis on northern France. Isabelle Cochelin's essay also deals with the medieval regulations, in this case around monastic kitchens of Fleury, Fruttaria, Cluny and Hirsau, to explore monastic ideas about withdrawal from the world. The final essay in this section is by Gordon Blennemann, who considers the hagiographical genre as reflecting and reinforcing monastic regulation, especially in narratives about Jutta of Sponheim, Hildegard of Bingen and Elisabeth of Schönau.

The following section explores the development and expression of regulatory writing. Here Martin Scheutz begins with an essay about Austrian hospitals and the regulations attached to them to consider the larger themes of modernization and secularization. Ludovic Maugué also moves to modernity, this time to analyse the post-revolutionary French penitentiary regulations of Embrun. The next essay by Florent Cygler studies the statutes of medieval religious orders as examples of both regulation and custom, while the final essay in the section, by Daniel-Odon Hurel, focuses on the uses of the Regula S. Benedicti during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Overall, this group of essays traverses a range of historical contexts, but together reveal some fascinating parallels between regulation and practice, administration and discipline and order and conformity across a broad sweep of time.

The third section considers discipline and obedience more closely. Albrecht Diem's opening essay deals with early monastic rules to consider how a community of individuals all inevitably tainted by sin could together form a "sacred" community. Diem finds that different rules had different answers for that question. Antoine Roullet moves to the sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Carmelites, arguing that mortification practices such as flogging, were means of negotiating authoritative structures of power in the monastery and rule. Falk Bretschneider's essay also deals with violence, this time in the context of German prisons during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where corporal punishment intensified in the period post-1800. The final essay in this section is by Axelle Neyrinck, whose essay deals with the eleventh-century chronicle of Saint Gall's representation of the disruptive events associated with the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Here, the disorder reported by the chronicler is shown to have been consciously used to communicate an idealized vision of community order, rather than to narrate an episode of chaos.

The final section contains six essays on the theme of dérèglements, or disorder. This is understood in a broad sense, with the opening essay by Harmony Dewez dealing with financial disorder amongst the English Benedictines of the thirteenth century. Ana Rodríguez examines environments of conflict among the female religious houses of Castile-Léon during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, while Guy Geltner considers the propensity of the mendicants of the late Middle Ages to attract scandal and criticism for their uncloistered life. Kristjan Toomaspoeg's essay looks at the Teutonic Knights and the tensions between the religious and military character of their mission as evidenced by the regulations governing their conduct. The penultimate essay by Laurence Guignard moves into the penal world of nineteenth-century France and the rising number of suicides in French jails. The final essay by Aude Fauvel also deals with mental health, analyzing disorder in asylums in France and Britain during the nineteenth century, finding a fascinating case of Scottish exceptionalism in the development and deployment of psychiatry.

Dominique Iogna-Prat offers some concluding thoughts which very usefully draw together some common threads and themes in this diverse volume. Iogna-Prat notes the value of a comparative approach to historical questions of enclosure and regulation, suggesting that the longue durée approach is especially appropriate if we are to understand continuities and changes in the meaning and deployment of regulation. At the same time, the historical debt to Christian thinking about enclosure and rule-making is particularly evident in this group of essays devoted to Western examples. What emerges most clearly, however, is perhaps the ongoing tension between order and disorder, between the self and the institution and between the lived experience and idealized communities. It is to be hoped that the next volume, on Enfermements et genre, will add even further depth to this rich topic of scholarly enquiry.

Article Details