19.11.14 Ferrari et al (eds.), Europa 1215

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Jessalynn Bird

The Medieval Review 19.11.14

Ferrari, Michele C., Klaus Herbers, and Christiane Witthoft, eds. Europa 1215: : Politik, Kultur Und Literatur Zur Zeit Des IV. Laterankonzils. Beihefte zum Archiv für Kulturgeschichte. Vienna, Austria: Böhlau Verlag, 2018. pp. 319. ISBN: 978-3-412-50381-9 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Jessalyn Bird
Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN
jessalynn.bird@gmail.com

One of many volumes produced in the wake of the 800th anniversary of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Europa 1215significantly reappraises Lateran IV's objectives and influence. A lucid introduction contests the common image of Lateran IV as both a turning point towards high medieval conciliarism and a reaffirmation of papal monarchy. Focusing on the papal letter which summoned Fourth Lateran (Vineam Domini Sabaoth) and Innocent III's opening sermon to the assembled council, the editors rightly pose several questions: Was Innocent III more a pastorally-minded, Paris-trained theologian than a great jurist pope bent on promoting papal monarchy? Did Lateran IV follow in the tradition of other twelfth-century ecumenical councils summoned to deal with crises such as the Investiture Conflict and papal schism, or were its proceedings intended to have a wider impact, as Innocent himself perhaps indicated by merging the projects of crusade and reform? Were the council's ceremonies, liturgies, sermons, and rulings intended as an expression of papal primacy and authority or did Innocent's decision to allow two years for the preparation of the council, his call for reform proposals from prescient or seasoned men (viros prudentes) and deliberately expansive summons for attendance (including not only bishops and abbots but representatives of the religious and military orders, cathedral chapters and representatives of various lay rulers) result in a dialogic atmosphere which shaped the content of the council's seventy-one decrees, including Ad liberandam? Should the council itself be reimagined as a forum for communication and should the impact of networks of individuals and the college of cardinals be reconsidered? Did Rome become a forum for the concatenation of ideas which were then dispersed as delegates returned home and did the dialogic nature of the council result in new vernacular literary forms and themes which adapted or contested ideas mooted at the council and liberally critiqued papal policy? The editors also rightly highlight the influence of pastoral theology and previous reform efforts emanating from Paris, the fight against heresy, the struggle for the German throne, and the crisis in the Iberian peninsula culminating in Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) on Innocent III's thought and the agendas and canons of the council, including the redefinition of orthodoxy, mandates for reforming synods and regional councils, and a stress on the need for educated clergymen engaged in regular preaching and confession.

The volume opens with a substantial article correcting the notion that contemporaries saw the Fourth Lateran as ushering in a new era of universal ecumenical councils which would culminate in the conciliarism of the fifteenth century. Christoph Meyer traces the conservative incorporation and reordering of Lateran IV's decrees in canon law collections; for canon lawyers, Fourth Lateran was but one of many councils. Meyer also modifies Peter Landau's depiction of Innocent III as a lawyer pope utilizing the council as a stage for the ritual enactment of church legislation; he instead stresses that Innocent sought input from multiple sources and strove to embody the agendas of both pastoral theology and canon law in Lateran IV, viewing the council as an instrument for reform and care of souls. Similarly, while acknowledging both the long-received notion that the Fourth Lateran, in the words of Antonio García y García, constituted "the single most substantial collection of legislation put together by medieval popes for the reform of the Church and the society of the time" and Lateran IV's influence on other later ecumenical councils (51), Meyer nonetheless also points to Innocent III's interest in reshaping the canon law corpus via alternative means, including the curation and approval of decretal collections such as the Compilatio tertia (1209-1210). He rightly emphasizes the need for a systematic study of the dissemination and impact of the decrees of Fourth Lateran in regional councils and synods and in canon law (85).

Jochen Johrendt's nuanced essay similarly stresses that Innocent III's ceremonial and rhetorical adoption of the voice of Christ in his opening and concluding addresses at the council meant that these sermons acted as "fictive dialogues" that ultimately disallowed meaningful debate. The council perhaps could be viewed as a stage for Innocent's enactment of his supreme role as "vicar of Christ," as the culmination of a long evolution from an episcopally-led to a papally-dominated western Church, a process that began with the eleventh century Gregorian reforms and culminated with Boniface VIII's Unam sanctam (20, 93). And yet, as Johrendt rightly points out, other sources provide ample testimony of confrontation, argumentation, and deal-brokering at the council itself. This dialogic atmosphere was imitated and reflected in contemporary satires such as the Disputatio inter Romam et papam and the poetry of Walther von der Vogelweide; both works contested Innocent III's claims to exercise plenitudo potestatis (fullness of power) and the vicariate of Christ (105-6). Certainly we know from other contexts that the rhetoric of reform and of papal prerogative was routinely challenged, imitated, or hijacked by secular rulers, local clergymen, and troubadours to critique or obstruct reformers and popes.

Jörg Oberste rightly attributes the interconnectivity of the disciplinary, anti-heretical, and pastoral decrees of the Fourth Lateran to Innocent's Parisian education in the moral-theological school of Peter the Chanter and his prior decretals on (most notably Vergentis in senium) and experience of thenegotium pacis et fidei against heresy, as a systematic fusion of "reform politics" with "heresy politics" (112). Although his conclusions are inarguably accurate, this article in particular would have been enriched by further reference to non-German scholarship on the impact of canon law, Parisian moral theology, and Cistercian influences on Innocent III's anti-heretical policies, including the recent Innocent III et le Midi (Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 50), and influential research by Beverly Kienzle, Nicole Bériou, Damian Smith, Carolyn Muessig, Frederick Russell, Rebecca Rist, Brenda Bolton, and many others. In contrast, Matthias Maser's article on Innocent's fusion of crusade and reform in the Iberian peninsula well prior to the Fourth Lateran fully engages with recent scholarship in multiple languages. Maser contends that, invoking the rhetorical motif of "the binding of impiety" (colligatio impietatis), Innocent III combined pastoral and political agendas by intervening in the internecine wars between Christian kings (some of whom allied with Muslim rulers), as well as in the incestuous marriage between Alfons IX of León and Berenguela of Castile that he believed would impede the "business of the cross" (negotio crucis). Far from peripheral, the IberianReconquista raised multiple issues--reform, liturgical intercession, varied indulgences, efforts to forge peace through joint involvement in crusading and the fusion of moral and spiritual renewal with crusade--that influenced Innocent's crusading policies elsewhere. As David d'Avray has demonstrated elsewhere, dispensation from technically incestuous marriages would become a tool for forging Christian alliances and a flexible instrument for papal political interests. On the other hand, the increasing sacramentalization of marriage and its use as a metaphor for Christ's relationship to the Church meant that prohibited marriages which caused scandal were viewed as potentially threatening the unity of Christendom and the moral reform essential for earning divine favor for the crusade (123-49).

In a most welcome addition, two essays extend the consideration of Fourth Lateran's influence into the realm of artwork. Thomas Noll's essay examines how Innocent III positioned himself as one of a succession of reforming popes and Rome as the new Jerusalem through embarking on a decoration program. This program included an apse mosaic in Saint Peter's that physically embodied Innocent's claim to plenitudo potestatis and the vicariate of Christ by situating Innocent between Jerusalem and Rome, Peter and Paul, Constantine and Silvester, Christ enthroned and the Agnus Dei (figs. 10-12, pp. 197-98). The mosaic was also a statement of the exalted view of the priesthood and its role in the incorporation of the body and blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine. Academic discussions regarding the precise nature of Christ's presence in the species and the specific conditions necessary for that presence (for example, the priestly office, the verbal formulae of the Mass, an individual priest's moral state) had long formed part of the moral theology of the school of Peter the Chanter concerned with reforming the clergy and the promotion of lay devotion to the Eucharist to counter 'heretical' critiques of orthodox ministers and sacraments. Panofksy long ago, and more recently Alex Novikoff, have argued that Gothic architecture's very form mirrored the rational ordering of scholastic argument. Bruno Reudenbach and Jochen Hermann Vennebusch likewise demonstrate that the message of Innocent III's Agnus Dei apse mosaic (and canon 1 of Lateran IV), that salvation lay in incorporation into, and in the sacraments mediated by, the universal church, was reflected also in the triumphal cross grouping in Halberstadt cathedral roughly contemporary to the Fourth Lateran Council (c. 1215-1220). This grouping sought to express in visual terms the as yet ill-defined doctrine of Christ's true presence in the consecrated bread and wine of the Mass. By enclosing passion relics within the wooden sculpture of Christ, the grouping also sought to resolve issues arising from the flood of relics into western Christendom following the Fourth Crusade--including those brought back by Conrad of Krosigk, bishop of Halberstadt--an inundation that led to regulations on the acquisition and display of relics in canon sixty-two of Lateran IV (205-14).

As another recent volume stemming from the anniversary of Lateran IV (mentioned below) has convincingly and systematically depicted, the Fourth Lateran Council and Latin learned culture also significantly influenced vernacular literature. Here, Susanne Friede appropriately argues for the extension to the realm of homiletic literature of the long-acknowledged mutual influence of Latin crusade propaganda and chronicles, vernacular crusade chronicles, prose and verse romances and chansons de geste and de croisade. By their very hybrid nature, sermons embodied the intersection of oral and written, vernacular and Latin culture, and directly enabled the rise of the Old French prose texts of the early thirteenth century, including the Grail romances. Her stress on the multifunctionality of texts and the cross-fertilization between clerical and vernacular culture fruitfully breaks down boundaries artificially constructed between "Latin clerical learned culture" and the "profane vernacular tradition"; after all, many clerics and clergymen penned or consumed fabliaux, bawdy verse, and satires and came from and communicated with noble or knightly families. Some troubadours turned preachers (famously Fulk, bishop of Toulouse), while as Friede demonstrates, prose romances emulated the discourse of Latin religious-didactic texts and appear to have been treated as such by inclusion into compilations of religious texts. Tobias Bulang traces the impact of Fourth Lateran's condemnation of clerical involvement in ordeals and learned and heretical critiques of ordeals in vernacular literature, particularly Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan und Isolde. Echoing Friede in stressing the interconnectivity of the realms of vernacular and Latin literature, Andreas Hammer discovers traces of the Fourth Lateran and the Latin Legenda Aurea in the middle high German Passional's incorporation of Marian and host miracles demonstrating the presence of Christ in the consecrated host and hagiographical visions meant to confirm Innocent III's and Honorius III's support of and confirmation of the Franciscan and Dominican orders even after Fourth Lateran's ban of novel religious rules. Christiane Witthöft fittingly concludes the volume with a consideration of the impact of Lateran IV's stress on annual confession (c. 21) on vernacular literature's depiction of priestly power manifested in ritual speech, whether that of the priest as preacher and the consecratory power of speech in his role as dispenser of the sacraments, or the power to elicit speech from the parishioner as confessing subject. Traditionally canon 21 has been viewed as a landmark in the creation of interior selfhood and the scrutiny of motives and interior reflection. This process was supported not only by confessor's manuals and exempla demonstrating the power of contrition and confession but a boom in didactic literature in the vernacular which increasingly emphasized characters' self-awareness and self-scrutiny.

Marred only by a sparse index and the inconsistent utilization of scholarship in languages other than German (some articles resolutely ignore cutting-edge non-German scholarship, while other authors engage in ecumenical dialogue with research published in multiple languages), this volume should be of great interest to graduate students and researchers interested in the impact of Fourth Lateran on thirteenth-century Latin Christendom. Its extension of this consideration to the fields of artwork and vernacular literature parallels or continues the work of recent volumes dedicated to breaking down disciplinary divides in a fruitful way, a task also undertaken by the nicely complementaryLiterary Echoes of the Fourth Lateran Council for England and France, 1215-1405, edited by Maureen B. M. Boulton (Toronto, 2019).

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