Merovingian monasticism: Voices of dissent

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2 Scopus citations


This chapter critically discusses the emergence of Western monasticism by identifying a number of silent turning points and instances of conflict that do not as yet play much of a role in a monastic narrative that is largely centered on individuals, institutions, and the impact of specific texts. I provide six case studies: the foundation of Saint-Maurice d’Agaune and the Jura monasteries; the transfer of the Rule of Caesarius to Queen Radegund’s foundation in Poitiers; the destruction of the column of the Frankish stylite Vulfilaic; the dramatic conflict between Brunhild and Columbanus; and Eligius of Noyon’s refusal to be buried in a monastery following his death. All of these case studies shed light on the silent, crucial, and often contested transformations that shaped medieval monasticism. They demonstrate how barbarian rulers and aristocrats appropriated options for living an ideal Christian life that were deeply rooted in Roman culture. They describe, too, the impact of monastic ideals on lay ethics, the process by which ascetic struggle was transformed into regularized monastic life and how monasteries became sacred spaces. None of these developments happened organically and without conflicts. These conflicts provide unique access to the “Transformation of the Roman World, " far beyond the scope of monastic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780190234188
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Asceticism
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Master narrative
  • Monastic discipline
  • Monastic rules
  • Regular observance
  • Royal monasteries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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