Post-classical history

Pictures

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1 (a) Fonte Avellana, near Gubbio, where Peter Damiani lived as a hermit.

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(b) The fall of Simon Magus, a popular subject in the early twelfth century depicted here by Gislebertus of Autun, c. 1135.

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2 (a) The nightmare of Henry I: the sleeping king of England is surrounded by angry peasants.

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(b) Pope Innocent II (left), in S. Maria in Trastavere, Rome, which he had rebuilt between 1140–43 to celebrate the end of the schism and the reassertion of papal authority.

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3. The story of Alexis inspired many vocations to the apostolic life, perhaps including that of Valdès of Lyons (see p. 221). The first known version in French is in the St Albans Psalter, prepared c. 1140 for the influential English hermit Christina of Markyate.

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4. An eleventh-century chasuble from St Peter’s, Salzburg. To the hermit-preachers vestments like these typified the pride and worldliness of the twelfth-century church.

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5. The Golden Chamber of St Ursula, Cologne. Construction of the basilica of St Ursula began in 1135 on the site of the Roman cemetery where the bones of St Ursula and the 11,000 virgins had been found. The Golden Chamber was built to house the relics in 1643, its walls decorated with patterns made from the bones.

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6. St Augustine debates with Faustus the Manichee. Until the end of the twelfth century the heretics who appeared in visual images were figures from antiquity, not those reported to be active at the time, and were not caricatured or represented as personally depraved.

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7. The enemies of the church: Jews, tyrants, false brethren and heretics. From the 1220s contemporary heretics are frequently represented and clearly recognisable, associated (as here in the first Bible moralisée, probably prepared for Louis VIII of France) with Jews and other enemies of the faith and with the devil, who regularly appears as a black cat, the recipient of the obscene kiss.

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8. The murder of Peter Martyr in 1252 became a popular subject of religious instruction. In this version, painted around 1400 by Taddeo di Bartolo, a bishop tells two Dominican friars how Peter was attacked and killed, acquiring a martyr’s halo in the process.

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9. Durand of Bredon, abbot of Moissac 1047–72, commemorated c. 1100 in the cloister of his beautiful church. Thanks to him, ‘where the boar once roamed the woods churches now stand’ – but his acquisition of property for his monastery aroused conflict and resentment.

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10. (a) A Christian knight slays a monster – heresy? – on the west front of the cathedral of St Pierre, Angoulême, built c. 1110–28 to the design of Gerard de Blaye, reforming bishop and papal legate, but heavily restored in the nineteenth century.

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(b) A monster – heresy again? – consumes a soul: St Pierre, Chauvigny, mid-twelfth century.

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11. A processional cross from Castile or Leon, c. 1120. Henry of Lausanne pointedly preferred one made of plain iron for his entry to Le Mans.

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12. Lambert le Bègue, remembered (mistakenly) c. 1255–65 as the founder of the Béguines. Uniquely, he was the subject of heresy accusations of which we know only his version.

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13. Pierre Maurand was scourged from west door to altar of the great pilgrimage church of St Sernin, Toulouse, in 1178. The cloister where Bernard de Caux and Jean de St Pierre interrogated more than 5,000 people was demolished at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

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14. (a) The tombs of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine at Fontevraud. Robert of Arbrissel did not intend to found a royal mausoleum – but Henry would rather have been buried among the good men at Grandmont.

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(b) Oldrado da Tresseno, podesta of Milan, who ordered the construction of this palazzo, the Broletto nuovo, between 1229 and 1233 and, according to the inscription, ‘burned the Cathars as he ought to.’

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15. (a), (b), (c) The fantasies licensed by the war on heresy continued to haunt the European imagination and fuel persecution for centuries to come. In these images, from fifteenth-century Germany and seventeenth-century Italy, witches turn into animals as they fly to a coven, Satan is adored in the customary fashion, and protestants and Jews are burned as witches.

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16. The memory of Arnold of Brescia lingered long after his death, and was revived in the nineteenth century, when he became a hero of the risorgimento. The inscription on this statue in his native city reads ‘To Arnold, precursor and martyr of Italian free thought, by order of his liberated city of Brescia, to vindicate the victim of the flames. 1860.’

* A magician encountered by the apostles, described in Acts 8: 9–24. The greatest heresy of this period, that of selling the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was named after him (see below, Chapter 5).

* The indiscriminate use of the term ‘Cathars’ (Cathari) by medieval writers, and even more by modern ones, is a problem addressed throughout this book. It is seldom clear in medieval sources that it refers to an identifiable set either of beliefs or of people (see further pp. 167–170, 332–6 below). I have placed it in quotation marks where it seems particularly necessary to emphasise this uncertainty.

* Charles, king of the Franks 768–814, crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800 and widely regarded, for the territorial extent of his empire and the durability of the institutions and culture associated with it, as the ‘founder of Europe’.

* Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC), Roman lawyer and orator, generally considered the greatest of Latin prose writers; on these matters his letters and his treatise De officiis were particularly influential.

* This was a reminder of the accepted view that sex was necessary only because of original sin: bees often appear in both Classical and Christian literature as models of industrious and self-denying virtue.

* The Cistercians were known as ‘White Monks’ because they did not dye their woollen habits, holding it, on the principle set out by Robert in this passage, to be a superfluous addition to the provisions of the Rule of St Benedict. For the same reason they wore no undergarments. Conversely, those who adhered to the traditional interpretation which Robert criticised were, and are, often called Black Monks.

* The meaning of Peter’s title, Liber gratissimus, is not clear: I take something more than a liberty in attributing to him a pun on gratia, which meant a favour or gift, in every sense from that of divine grace to an outright bribe.

* The reference is to the ‘Donation of Constantine’ to the church of extensive territories in Italy, the foundation of the temporal power of the papacy; it was indeed shown to be a forgery by Lorenzo Valla in 1440.

* Mrs Thatcher explained that she valued the self-made businessman Lord Young of Graffham, who was mistrusted by the traditional grandees of her Conservative party, because ‘the others bring me problems; he brings me solutions’.

* Money deposited as a pledge of good behaviour.

* Pope from 314 to 335.

* The slaughter of some 150 Jews at York in 1190 by murder and mass suicide was hardly less savage, but it was the result of incompetence on the part of royal officers and manipulated mass hysteria rather than deliberate policy.

* An ox-drawn cart or platform carrying the standard (vexillum) of the city; its loss was an intense humiliation.

* In the kiss of peace women touched men only on the elbow.

* Liber supra stella: the curious title refers to a heretical liber de stella which has not survived.

* English-speaking readers should bear in mind that in French inventer means both ‘to invent’ and ‘to discover’.

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