Medieval Latin Literature
MEDIEVAL LATIN LITERATURE
The body of medieval Latin literature would be rather small if it were limited to literature in its narrower and more usual meaning of belles-lettres, i.e., writings distinguished by artistic form or emotional appeal. But the general histories of the subject treat of it as the total preserved Latin writings of the Middle Ages. It seems best to take this latter approach here, with due regard, however, for articles on medieval writings in particular fields and on individual authors. The matter thus becomes vast and unwieldy, much of it still being investigated, though the 20th century produced an imposing array of valuable studies on the period.
There is wide divergence of opinion as to the date that should be set for the beginning of the middle ages, and there can be even less agreement as to when Latin writings should first be considered to have become medieval. In literature the patristic period superseded pagan writings as the latter declined. Edward K. Rand found a happy solution for the problem of beginnings by reaching back well into the patristic period for his Founders of the Middle Ages (1929). It is true that one cannot understand medieval thought without reference to earlier Christian writers, not only ambrose, augustine, and jerome, but also prudentius, sulpicius severus, orosius, leo i, and gelasius i. They, however, are treated separately.
Jerome's De viris illustribus, a sort of dictionary of Christian biography, set the pattern for subsequent attempts to list and characterize the writings of succeeding generations: gennadius of marseilles (late 5th century), isidore of seville, and ildefonsus of toledo (7th century), sigebert of gembloux (late 11th century), Honorius Augustodunensis, and Anonymus Mellicensis (12th century), trithemius (late 15th century), and Robert bellarmine (early 17th century). From the Latin Fathers the Middle Ages acquired a taste for scriptural allegory. Ambrose bequeathed the art of hymnody (see hymnology); Jerome gave the Vulgate and his saints' lives; Augustine transmitted neoplatonism, theology, catechetics, the art of autobiography, and a theology of history; John cassian taught a psychological approach to the spiritual life; Sulpicius Severus became a model for hagiography; Orosius, for history; Prudentius, for versification and the allegory of the virtues and vices; Leo the Great left his name on the art of letter writing and rhyming (see cursus); and Gelasius I laid down the fundamental teaching on church and state. In secular learning, macrobius and Servius initiated medieval scholars into the study of Vergil, and Martianus Capella disciplined them with his treatise on the seven liberal arts.
Modern histories of medieval Latin literature, successors of the De viris illustribus, arbitrarily enough set the terminus a quo of this literature in the early 6th century. They conceive a first period extending to the carolingian renaissance, a second, extending to the renaissance of the 12th century; a third, comprising the 12th century; and a fourth, covering the later Middle Ages.
From the 6th Century to the Carolingian Renaissance
The first authors usually treated are the more immediate founders, themselves trained in the educational system of the Ancient World, who, without being of the highest literary genius themselves, handed down the torch of learning in an age that threatened its extinction. With the coming of the lombards late in the 6th century, the secular schools went out of existence in Italy, just as previously, except for the vicinity of carthage, they had collapsed elsewhere.
Italy. Worthy to head the list of medieval Latin authors is boethius (d. 524), scion of a distinguished family, official in the Ostrogothic kingdom of theodoric the great, and prolific writer. It was through his translations of, and commentaries on, parts of the logical writings of aristotle and porphyry that these philosophers were introduced to the Middle Ages. Many of his definitions and technical terms were taken up by medieval philosophy. His treatises on arithmetic and music, among others on the quadrivium, had great subsequent influence. Most famous of his writings is the Consolation of Philosophy, composed as he languished in prison before his execution. It is a highly literary creation of prose and verse in the form of the Menippean satire. The great variety of its verse afforded models to medieval versifiers, and the allegorical nature of the work appealed to medieval taste. It is so purely philosophical that doubts could be raised as to Boethius's Christianity. But he also left theological treatises of proven authenticity and Catholic content.
A contemporary of Boethius was ennodius, Bishop of Pavia (d. 521). A rhetorician at heart, he wrote many works in prose and mediocre verse, most of them secular, some even pagan, in tone. His highly artificial style fails to cover the shallowness of his thought. A biography of epiphanius, his predecessor in the See of Pavia, is Ennodius's best work.
Somewhat younger than Boethius and longer-lived, cassiodorus (d. c. 583), son of a pretorian prefect, likewise served as an Ostrogothic official. He composed an extensive collection of letters and documents (Variae ) that reflect the workings of Theodoric's government and that of his successors, though, with the names removed, the documents do not offer a direct aid to history. The style is involved and obscure. Parts of the Variae fore-shadow the medieval formularies. Cassiodorus made a modest contribution to historiography. A consular list represents the only useful part of a chronicle that he prepared. His history of the Goths is not extant, but extracts of it were reproduced by Jordanis in 551. Only fragments remain of a genealogical work, Ordo generis Cassiodorum. He himself was not proud of the Historia ecclesiastica tripartita, made up of excerpts from three Byzantine historians, theodoret, sozomen, and socrates, which he selected and caused to be translated into Latin. His De anima reveals that he was not a profound philosopher. In 540 he withdrew to his family estate at Squillace in Calabria, where he founded the monastery of Vivarium. For the monks he wrote his two-part pedagogical Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum, which was to have a profound effect on the history of monasticism. The first part offers a list of readings in Scripture, theology, and church history without, however, neglecting to make provision for those who would devote themselves to labor. On the highest manual level he placed the copying of manuscripts, thus ensuring the growth of monastic libraries. The second part of the Institutiones was a simple treatment of the liberal arts as a necessary preparation for the study of theology. His treatise on orthography, composed shortly before his death, consists of excerpts from various authors. It was Cassiodorus who gave the scholarly turn to Benedictinism.
The milieu for which Cassiodorus produced his program of study was set by the benedictine rule. Written down about the 3d decade of the 6th century for the monks of monte cassino by Benedict of Nursia, this rule was to form the monastic life of Europe for centuries. Next to the Scriptures it was the most read book of the Middle Ages and became the object of many commentaries, even to the present day. Its text was written in Latin of the people so that it would be intelligible to simple men. But it was filled with solid spirituality, and a wise moderation gave it universal appeal.
Another official at the Ostrogothic court, later a sub-deacon in Rome, the rhetorician arator, left a poem of 2,326 hexameter lines based on the Acts of the Apostles. He read it to an audience in the church of St. Peter in Chains during four days in April and May 544. Though of lesser worth than the earlier poem of Sedulius on the Gospel narrative, it was highly prized in the Middle Ages.
At the end of the century appears the figure of Pope gregory i the great, who after a distinguished civil career became a Benedictine and promoted the cause of the order. As pope (590–604) he left a precious collection of 854 letters, which reveal his great activity. He had them arranged according to the years of his pontificate, and so they became the model for papal registers. His letters have a personal and human character that makes them completely different from the rhetorical effusions of Cassiodorus's Variae, although Gregory too was educated in the schools and trained in civil administration. His commentary on the Book of Job, which he called Libri morales, was a learned work in the nature of a moral theology. His moral homilies on Ezechiel and 40 homilies on texts of the Gospels were on a dignified popular level. The Regula pastoralis was destined to be of the utmost importance in the direction of future bishops. The Dialogues on saints and their miracles, in which Gregory reproduced much of the credulity of his sources, became one of the beloved books of the Middle Ages. Gregory and Augustine were the authors most used by medieval writers. Boniface VIII numbered Gregory among the four great Doctors of the Western Church.
There is some basis for connecting Gregory with liturgical development and gregorian chant. The authorship of the so-called Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian sacramentaries bristles with problems, but they belong in the period under consideration. Their collects and prefaces are masterpieces of majestic thought and expression, their cadenced metrical clausulae gradually yielding to the accentual cursus. The concise dignity of the Roman liturgical formulae contrasts with the more exuberant Milanese, gallican, and mozarabic rites, and there were reciprocal influences. In connection with the liturgy came the further development of the hymn. The te deum laudamus, of uncertain authorship, dates from early in this period, and the Praeconium paschale gradually assumed the set form of the exsultet (iam angelica).
The history of the individual popes from the time of Liberius (352–366) was recounted in the liber pontificalis by a succession of authors who gave a fuller and more exact account as time went on. It had considerable influence on the writing of religious history. The liber diurnus romanorum pontificum was a formula book for papal documents. It was begun in the 7th century and, with subsequent additions, was much used for drafting documents in the papal chancery until the middle of the 9th century. After the 11th century it ceased to be used. In the middle of the 6th century, dionysius exiguus, a Scythian, came to Rome and gave the Western Church a compilation of canons of Greek councils and a collection of papal letters. His work was fundamental for the development of Canon Law (see dionysiana collectio). He likewise introduced the use of the Christian era into the calendar.
North Africa. Near the end of the 5th century, Dracontius, a gifted lay poet, wrote his verse in North Africa. In prison for offending his Vandal king, he composed his Laudes Dei in 2,327 hexameter lines. The work was reproduced in abbreviated and altered form in the 7th century by eugene ii of toledo and was long known only in this text until the original was edited in 1791. Toward the end of the Vandal kingdom (534) an Anthologia Latina, or Libri epigrammaton, was compiled from a number of African poets. It proves the existence of a considerable group of classically trained teachers and poets. In 533 a law of Emperor justinian i provided for teachers of grammar and rhetoric in Carthage, and classical education lasted there until the city fell at the end of the 7th century. Out of North Africa came Priscian, author of the Institutio de arte grammatica (before 526–527), the most comprehensive grammar handed down from the Roman world. He lived in Constantinople and Rome. Next to donatus, his grammar was the most used in the Middle Ages. Corippus, the author of a long and rather tedious epic on the Byzantine conquest of the Moors and of panegyrics on the emperors Justinian and Justin II, wrote between 549 and 567. He was a teacher by profession and a Christian. If the subject matter of his poetry was scarcely of epic quality, his exactness in regard to details of Berber life insures him a place as a worthwhile historical source.
The region around Carthage continued to produce theologians. fulgentius of ruspe (467–532), writing in the spirit of Augustine, attacked arianism and semipelagianism. Several others wrote in connection with the controversy of the three chapters. Among these was the biographer of Fulgentius, the deacon ferrandus (d. 546 or 547), who with Cresconius put together the Breviatio canonum, a collection of Greek and African conciliar canons. victor, Bishop of Tunnuna (d. after 566), while in exile for defending the Three Chapters, wrote a general chronicle with emphasis on Africa. Much used in the Middle Ages was an introduction to Sacred Scripture by junilius africanus, a Byzantine lay official, who wrote in distinguished Latin. For content, Junilius had access to a manuscript by the Syrian Paul of Basra, who became metropolitan of Nisibis. Primasius, Bishop of Hadrumentum, wrote a commentary on Apocalypse, which was often to be found in medieval libraries.
Spain. After the invasions of the 5th century, letters in spain revived very slowly in the 6th. Two bishops, Apringius of Pace and justus of urgel, wrote allegorical scriptural commentaries. The first writer of importance, St. martin, Bishop of Braga (d. 580), a Pannonian by birth, put together an interesting account of existing superstitions and pagan practices in his De correctione rusticorum. Among his other works are moral writings, in which he relied heavily on seneca, a collection of canons, a treatise on Baptism, and a translation from Greek of sayings of Egyptian Fathers. St. leander, Archbishop of Seville (d. c. 600), older brother of St. Isidore, composed a rule for women religious and gave the opening address at the Third Council of toledo (589), at which the Goths renounced their Arianism. St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636) deserves to be looked upon as one of the founders of the Middle Ages and has been called the last of the Western Fathers of the Church. A prolific writer, he for the most part reproduced the antiquorum monumenta, bequeathing a vast encyclopedia to posterity. Chief among his works is the Etymologiae, or Origines, which embraces all fields of knowledge. His other writings are largely theological. The Fourth Council of Toledo (633), with its creed and 75 canons, seems to be to a great extent the work of Isidore. It should be noted that the series of national councils of Toledo forms an important element of the literature of Visigothic Spain. Isidore's chronicles, like the others of Visigothic Spain, are jejune, that of john of biclaro being the best. Upon braulio, Bishop of Saragossa (d. 651), disciple and friend of Isidore, devolved the task of arranging and editing the Etymologiae. Braulio left a collection of letters, written in stilted Latin, which throw much light on Spain in the middle of the 7th century. He also wrote a life of the saintly hermit aemilian (S. Millán de la Cogolla).
For the most part the authors of Spain in this early period were bishops, who as theological writers surpassed their contemporaries in other parts of Europe. Tajo, who succeeded Braulio in the See of Saragossa (651–683), wrote Libri sententiarum based on Augustine and Gregory the Great. St. eugene, Metropolitan of Toledo (646–657), was a poet of considerable ability. St. ildefonsus, his successor (657–667), famous in legend as well as history, wrote works on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on Baptism. The former treatise is written more synonymo, in the bad taste and style in vogue in Spain and previously used by Isidore in one of his works. St. julian of toledo, the keenest theologian to occupy that see (680–690), wrote on eschatology and in refutation of monothelitism. Besides, he was the author of a grammar and of a history of a war of King Wamba. In the western part of the peninsula, St. fructuosus, Archbishop of Braga (656–665), previously active as abbot and bishop of Dumio, founded a number of religious houses for which he composed religious rules. These rules were followed in monasteries of Galicia and northern Portugal until the 11th century. His vita, an important hagiographical account, was written by an unidentified author. Later in the 7th century the cross-grained hermit valerio of bierzo left autobiographical works in a style full of devices that demonstrate his education in rhetoric. In the same century an unknown deacon, presumably of Mérida, wrote the Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, which, concerned with the preceding century, gives much information on social customs, religion, liturgy, and general history. It has the usual rhetorical conceits employed in early Spanish Latin, along with many departures from classical syntax.
It is of special interest to note that one of the Visigothic kings, Sisebut (612–620), left writings of his own: five letters, a poem of 61 hexameter verses on eclipses, and a life of St. desiderius of vienne. Along with the canons of the councils, the texts of the Leges Visigothorum deserve consideration for their style and legal merit. The diffuse, poetic Mozarabic rite took form in the 7th century and thereafter suffered little change until its suppression in favor of the Roman rite in the late 11th century.
Gaul. By the 6th century the Roman schools of Gaul, once so flourishing, had ceased to exist. But St. avitus, Bishop of Vienne (490–518), continued to write under the influence of the schools, much as Sidonius had done, in a correct, artificial Latin style. He left letters, sermons, tracts against heresy, a poem in praise of virginity, and a very lengthy poem based on parts of Genesis and Exodus. Quite different from him, St. caesarius, Bishop of Arles (503–543), preached moral sermons in lively popular language and wrote practical religious rules, one for monks, another for nuns.
Coming out of Italy, where he was born c. 530, fortunatus brought with him into Francia a facility for Latin prose and poetry. Living by his wits, he wrote much trivial occasional verse, but his religious poetry is of profoundly Catholic inspiration. Two of his hymns, vexilla regis prodeunt and pange lingua gloriosi, have been immortalized in the liturgy of Passiontide. He wrote a number of saints' lives in prose, the best being that of his patroness, St. radegunda. A long vita of St. martin of tours in hexameter verse adds no new historical data. Fortunatus, who is given the cult of a saint, died as bishop of Poitiers toward the end of the century. F. J. E. Raby would regard him "not as the last of the Romans, but as the first of the medieval poets."
gregory of tours (538–594), bishop and saint, most faithfully reflects the spirit of Merovingian Gaul in his writings. Gallo-Roman though he was, Gregory wrote in a Latin that, as he well realized, departed far from the classical norms. His diffuse History of the Franks, a chronicle, episodic and dramatic in treatment, is no masterpiece of historical writing, but it is incomparably richer than the other chronicles of his time. It reconstructs for posterity the beginnings of Francia. The narrative of Merovingian history was continued in the Chronicle of fredegarius, so called, a work by several authors who wrote in corrupt Latin. Only its last book offers independent material. After the middle of the 7th century the Liber historiae Francorum became a mediocre source for the end of the period. A short scientific treatise by Gregory of Tours, De cursibus ecclesiasticis, indicated the position of the constellations throughout the year with a view to establishing the time for the liturgical offices.
Gregory's numerous hagiographical writings reveal excessive credulity on his part, but he was conscientious about his sources and critical of quackery. His works set a pattern in hagiography, though the life of St. Martin by sulpicius severus had the greatest influence on early medieval biography. With their slight attention to personal characteristics, the vitae of this period belong to the heroic type. Some authors, such as Gregory of Tours and Gregory the Great, treat of holy persons in groups, as had been done earlier by Cassian and Rufinus. But scores of individual lives were written—more than 190 for the period between 613 and 751—most of them anonymously. The emphasis was on edification rather than history, and it was common practice to transfer episodes and miracles from one saint to another. Among the lives of greater historical value may be mentioned those of SS. geneviÈve, amandus, ouen, arnulf of metz, Vaast, and later of St. boniface by Willibald of Mainz. The authenticity of some of these lives has been challenged, but criticism has vindicated it in a number of instances. Outside of the Frankish domain the vitae of St. columban by jonas of bobbio; of St. severin of Noricum by Eugippius, Abbot of Lucullanum, near Naples; of St. patrick by Tirechan and Muirchu; of St. columba of iona by adamnan; of St. brigid of kildare by Cogitosus; and of St. cuthbert are outstanding.
Many legal texts have come down from the early medieval period. There were codes for the Roman subjects in the new Germanic kingdoms: the Lex Romana Visigothorum, the Lex Romana Burgundionum, the Edictum Theodorici. They represented largely an adaptation and simplification of the 5th-century Theodosian Code of Roman law. The 6th-century legal corpus of Justinian exerted little influence in the West until later in the Middle Ages. Collections of laws were likewise prepared for various Germanic peoples settled in Europe. Together these codifications are now called the Leges barbarorum. Much influenced by Roman law were the Leges Visigothorum. More Germanic in nature were, e.g., the Lex Salica, Lex Ripuaria, and the Lombard laws. Their Latinity was barbaric and mixed with Germanic words. The diplomata of the kings and especially private documents, of which there are many examples in the collections of formulae, were written in uncouth Latin strikingly paralleled by the crude form of Merovingian handwriting.
A shadowy, enigmatic figure probably of southern Gaul in the 7th century is the grammarian Virgilius Maro, whose Epitomae and eight letters are extant. His bizarre texts may have been intended as a parody on grammars. The whole setting of his writings seems to be a fabrication. Akin to this writing with similar grotesque vocabulary are the Hisperica famina and the rhythmical and rhymed exorcism, the Lorica, emanating, it seems, from southwestern Britain in the 7th century, as well as the iambic hymn Altus Prosator, of Irish origin, attributed to St. Columba.
Ireland. St. Patrick's Confessio and his letter addressed to the soldiers of Coroticus were written in vulgar Latin. But since Celtic, and not vulgar Latin, was the vernacular, it became necessary for Irish monks to study book Latin and so their language escaped the vulgar influence. Similarly, the missionaries appear to have brought the handwriting, traditionally known in paleog raphy as half-uncial, into Ireland, and from it developed the legible insular hand. There are few traces of the beginnings of Latin literature in Ireland. For the 6th century only a penitential and a few hymns are extant. Further penitentials, tariffs of penances to be administered according to the gravity of sins, were subsequently brought by insular missionaries to the Continent. There the genre was taken up by Carolingian moralists. Though these texts show little originality or literary merit, they naturally had great moral and social effect.
St. Columban (d. 615), who toward the end of the 6th century crossed over to the Continent to spread monasticism, left several writings, notably his two rigorous religious rules and a number of letters. There has been controversy about the authenticity of a number of poems attributed to him. Some of the verses are in hexameter, and there is a long poem in adonics. Classical authors are cited, as well as Christian. A tradition of interest in the Latin classics is revealed in a 10th-century catalogue of the library of bobbio, where Columban finally settled down. Further evidence of the writing of poetry in Ireland is to be found in the collections of the Liber hymnorum and the Antiphonary of Bangor. The hymns are characterized by the use of alliteration, assonance, and rhyme and cannot be called either quantitative or rhythmical. The unique manuscript of the Antiphonary is of the late 7th century. In the 7th and 8th centuries, Irish scholars produced commentaries on the Bible, stressing the literal interpretation. Apparently these writings were not widely circulated. The anonymous treatise, De duodecim abusivis saeculi, commonly attributed to St. cyprian but composed in Ireland in the middle of the 7th century, was much quoted in the Carolingian period. Among the types criticized in the treatise are the scholar without works, the contentious Christian, the unjust king, and the negligent bishop. Adamnan, Abbot of Iona (679–704), a native of Ireland, besides his vivid life of St. Columba, left an interesting account of a journey by Bishop Arculf to the Holy Land, De locis sanctis, which he secured from the lips of the pilgrim himself. Both his enlightened approach to history and his literary style mark Adamnan as an outstanding author of his period and attest the high level of Irish education.
Anglo-Saxon England. The history of the 5th-century German conquest of Britain and its results are narrated in the gloomy De excidio et conquestu Britanniae. At least part of it has been attributed to Gildas, a monk who crossed over from England to live in Brittany. The first part of the work, which treats of the Roman occupation of England, was not written until the 8th century; the part dealing with the conditions after the coming of the Anglo-Saxons may have been written in the late 6th century. The Historia Brittonum, a compilation attributed to Nennius (9th century), presents even greater critical difficulties.
An important figure in the field of letters appeared in the middle of the 7th century in the person of aldhelm (d. 709). A native of Wessex, he became the pupil of Mailduib, Irish founder and abbot of malmesbury. He also studied in Kent under Archbishop theodore of canterbury and Abbot hadrian. Thus there was in his education a double influence, Irish and Roman. Both of these came to bear on the monasteries in England and passed with the missionaries and scholars, Anglo-Saxons and Scoti, to schools on the Continent. Aldhelm's writings show that he possessed a wide acquaintance with pagan and Christian authors. His prose strains toward the unusual in vocabulary and construction, so that it is difficult to understand. He wrote a letter glorying in the fact that this artificial style could be produced in Britain as well as in Ireland. On the other hand, his poems, even his versified riddles, while not of great inspiration, are metrically correct and quite intelligible. He became abbot of Malmesbury and, at the end of his life, bishop of Sherborne.
Far superior to Aldhelm in graces of character and literary skill was bede (673–735), saint and scholar, known affectionately in history as the Venerable Bede. Northumbrian by birth, Bede became a monk of wear-mouth and then of jarrow, where he taught and wrote for more than 40 years. He composed for his pupils works on spelling, figures of speech, metrics, the divisions of time, and, more learnedly, on chronology (see chronology, medieval, 2). Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments form the greatest part of his writing. In them he draws heavily on his Latin predecessors and delights in allegorical interpretation, but he copies with discrimination and is not lacking in originality. He was able to use Greek in his research, but his Hebrew references are taken from Jerome. A number of Bede's homilies are used in the Roman Breviary. He wrote saints' lives in prose and in verse. Far the best known of his works is his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, on which knowledge of English history up to 731 largely depends. Less dramatic than Gregory of Tours, Bede attains a unity of presentation in his work that makes it deserve to be called a history.
Out of English Benedictinism too came Wynfrith (c. 675–754), renamed Boniface by Pope Gregory II as he sent him on the German mission. Boniface left many letters rich in information concerning his missionary lands. Early in life he wrote a grammar and a work on metrics, and he left some poems and versified riddles.
The Carolingian Renaissance
The Saracen conquest of Spain and the Danish invasions of Ireland and England stopped literary progress in those parts of Christendom. The next development was to take place in Francia and produce the Carolingian renaissance. In preparation for it came the replacement of the difficult, unlovely Merovingian handwriting by the pleasing, readable Caroline minuscule, which gradually was to become the handwriting of Europe. The renaissance got under way with charlemagne's efforts, inspired by churchmen, to educate the clergy, not yet in philosophy and theology, but in the rudiments of the liberal arts. Teachers and writers came from England, Ireland, Spain, and Italy to start the movement. A literary flourishing of their labors followed in the reign of Charles II the Bald. This second phase of the renaissance brought out more Frankish scholars as compared with the numbers that came from other lands. The scholars played seriously at forming an academy about Charlemagne in which they assumed the names of ancient writers. A palace school was created to educate promising youths.
This renaissance deserves to be called so because it consisted to a great extent in a rebirth of ancient learning. There was much copying of classical and patristic texts in the monastic scriptoria and garnering of them into libraries. Latin grammar was thoroughly studied, especially Priscian, and a number of the prominent scholars taught grammar at some time in their lives and wrote on it. One of them, for example, was the deacon alcuin of york (d. 804), who has been called Charlemagne's minister of education and, more broadly, minister of intellectual affairs. Martianus Capella, the favored guide concerning the seven liberal arts, became the object of many commentaries. Before and during the Carolingian period numerous Latin glossaries were prepared. These glossaries usually reveal acquaintance with ancient writers on the part of those who composed them, and they helped to enrich, often pedantically, the vocabulary of those who made use of them. Ancient authors were admired and avidly read. This enthusiastic study resulted in a fine mastery of Latin on the part of those who pursued it. Both in their poetry and prose, Carolingian writers tended to imitate the ancients. In many instances the imitation was slavish, but it served no few writers to present their own ideas with richness and elegance.
Historical Writing. The most familiar example of wholesome classical imitation is einhard's Life of Charlemagne. Frankish Einhard was a product of the palace school. For the vita he turned to suetonius as a model of biography, taking over format, words, and ideas and appropriating them to Charlemagne. The form of his work profited greatly, while the facts doubtless suffered somewhat. His vita is better than other biographies of the time—the two histories of Louis I, the Pious, and Nithard's account of the sons of Louis. In hagiography efforts were made to put the crude Latinity of earlier lives into good style with no benefit to historical content. martyrologies were written and rewritten. Wandalbert of prÜm composed one in verse. In Carolingian times there were fewer saints than in the preceding period, but in many cases their lives were written down by contemporaries, and there were accounts of miracles and of the translation of relics. annals and chronicles, though they multiplied, showed little development. Outstanding among them are the Royal Annals. The History of the Lombards by paul the deacon is not comparable to Bede's history. It does not include an account of the author's own times. But the period did produce a number of capable writers on government and on the relations of Church and State who in some cases wrote to offer solutions for current problems in the realm: adalard, Alcuin, rabanus maurus, Kathvulf, smaragdus of saint-mihiel, jonas of orlÉans, agobard of lyons, Sedulius Scotus, and hincmar of reims.
Verse. Carolingian verse has been preserved in great quantity, as the stout volumes of the Poetae Latini aevi Carolini (still in progress) in the Monumenta Germaniae historica bear witness. The Carolingian poets went to school to their great ancient predecessors. Scholars in every field tried their hand at verse, so that the result was frequently little more than an exercise in Latin. But among the great mass of verse written in the period, there are poems of considerable inspiration. One important innovation was the greatly increased use of rhythmic verse. Many rhythmical poems of the time, generally in trochaic verse, with or without rhyme, have come down anonymously in a collection made at the monastery of St. Gall (see sankt gallen). Among them there are alphabetical poems, an uninspired vogue of the period. Some of this abecedarian verse appears in connection with the plaintive instructions in prose composed (841–843) by Dhuoda (Dodana) for her son William, who with his younger brother had been taken from her by her husband, Bernard of Septimania, and who was at the court of Charles the Bald. Probably the best known of the accentual poems is the beautiful "Hymn of Charity," coming, it seems, out of Italy and still used in the liturgy of Maundy Thursday. It must be noted, however, that metrical verse was more commonly employed until the 10th or 11th century.
Some of Alcuin's verses savor too much of the Latin class. Even his celebrated poem on the church of York is noted principally for its subject matter. But he could and did at times write graceful poetry. Paul the Deacon left behind only a little poetry, some of it of high quality. Spanish theodulf, Bishop of Orléans, an outstanding poet, did not let the language of the past destroy his originality as he wrote his hexameters and elegiacs. The Church still uses part of his lovely pentameter hymn, gloria laus, on Palm Sunday. He had a gift for vivid description of nature and of people, as appears, for example, in his poem to Charlemagne describing the court and the courtiers. walafrid strabo was another true poet, best remembered for his poem on the monastery garden of reichenau and his eschatological Visio Wettini with the themes eventually used by dante. The torch had been handed down to him by Rabanus Maurus, who in turn had Alcuin as his teacher. Rabanus too had written much verse, though not of high inspiration, unless the 9th-century veni creator spiritus, sometimes attributed to him, is really his. Also of Rabanus's school was gotts-chalk of orbais, who put rhyme into his poems in classical meters and also wrote rhythmical verse. His verse, the first medieval lyrical poetry, bears the poignant touch of his own unhappy life. florus, master of the cathedral school of Lyons, a deacon, wrote much religious poetry, but it can hardly be called great, and it is surpassed by his prose. Besides other verse, Milo, a monk of saint-amand, left an interesting didactic poem, De sobrietate.
Among a number of immigrant Irishmen who wrote verse, Sedulius Scotus about the middle of the 9th century was outstanding, comparing favorably with the best poets of the period. He wrote metrical verse with a light touch as he sought the patronage of bishops and princes. Other Irishmen who flocked to the Continent in the 9th century tried their hand at poetry: Donatus, Bishop of Fiesole; Colman, with his nostalgic verses on Ireland; and john scotus erigena. Erigena, proficient in Greek, could not resist introducing Greek verses into his poems. This conceit was followed by a number of other versifiers who came under Irish influence in their training, e.g., heiric of auxerre, Emmerich of Elwangen, and Fredigard of saint-riquier. Micon, deacon and monk of Saint-Riquier, was a better poet. A pupil of Heiric, hucbald of saint-amand, wrote a humorous poem on baldness in which every word of 146 lines begins with the letter c. Bishop radbod of utrecht left several poems, among them a charming one written about a swallow that nested beneath his eaves.
There were also attempts at epic poetry by Carolingian writers. Ermoldus Nigellus, who it seems was a secular cleric, wrote four books (c. 826) in honor of Louis the Pious and two panegyrics in honor of Louis's son Pepin. Though not great poetry, Ermoldus's works are a precious historical source. Later in the century the anonymous poeta saxo wrote a dull epic on Charlemagne based entirely on chronicles and Einhard. At the end of the century, Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés composed in three books a vigorous epic on the siege of Paris by the Norsemen. It is an eyewitness account. The third book is marred by a display of recondite words derived from glossaries after the manner of Aldhelm and many Celtic writers. Of somewhat the same genre as the epic were the versified lives of saints, which merely reproduced the facts of earlier prose lives. Some of them were of great length. Heiric, for example, wrote 3,400 lines on St. germain of auxerre (not of Paris, as is sometimes stated).
Carolingian Humanists. Greatest humanist of all in the period was lupus, monk and eventually abbot of Ferriéres, who left a precious collection of 127 letters dealing mostly with literary and monastic affairs. Many letters of the period have come down to us, written by monks, bishops, kings, and popes, full of human interest. Those of Lupus show his passionate interest in securing manuscripts and improving texts of ancient authors for the library of his monastery. He was an expert scribe himself, and not a few of the manuscripts that he actually copied or annotated are extant. His Latin shows much influence of Cicero, though he suited the style of his letters to the addressees. Lupus also wrote on theological problems of the day, making skillful use of dialectics. Among his many pupils, Heiric in turn trained Hucbald and remigius of auxerre. Heiric, who also studied under Irish masters at Laon, carried on the tradition of Lupus by putting together excerpts of ancient authors and commentaries on authors treated by him in his classes. With Remigius the humanist tradition passed into the 10th century. Teaching successively in Auxerre, Reims, and Paris, he wrote much: numerous commentaries on secular and Christian authors, on books of the Bible, and on treatises dealing with the seven liberal arts.
Theology and Scripture. Writings on theology and Biblical exegesis, of which there were many in the period, depended very much on patristic writers, Augustine and Gregory the Great especially, but also Hilary, Leo I, Jerome, Boethius, Cassiodorus, Isidore, and some Greek authors available in Latin translation. Even in the controversial literature that arose over heterodoxy, patristic texts were, in the main, used as arguments. A rather uninspired pedagogical form of dialogue with catechetical questions and answers was introduced, probably first by Alcuin, into some theological writings. At times it was enlivened by riddles.
Alcuin participated in the Adoptionist controversy (see adoptionism), writing to refute Felix of Urgel (d.818) and elipandus of toledo, as did also paulinus of aquileia and Agobard of Lyons. But it appears now that Alcuin did not compose or edit the capitulary of Charlemagne on images, commonly called the libri carolini, which protested against the teaching of the Council of nicaea ii (787) on the worship of images. The acts of the council were known to the Latin world only in a very faulty translation. The council had been a reaction against iconoclasm, and the Libri Carolini repudiated certain exaggerations in its teachings, especially in the Latin translation of its proceedings. There has been much academic controversy about the authorship of the Libri Carolini, but it seems, in the light of recent study, that it must be attributed to Archbishop Theodulf of Orléans instead of to Alcuin.
claudius, Bishop of Turin, a Spaniard by birth, after writing many Biblical commentaries, went far beyond the Libri Carolini in his Liber apologeticus and attacked all cult of the saints, worship of the Cross, pilgrimages to Rome, and the veneration of St. Peter. His work stirred up a storm of indignation. He was answered by the Irishman, dungal, who cited against him praises of the saints from Christian poets, and by jonas of orlÉ ans, who quoted passages of Claudius's own Apologeticus against him. On the other hand, Agobard of Lyons wrote in the same vein as Claudius. Neither showed an influence of the classics on his style, but the writings of both reflect the strength of their own polemical personality. Agobard wrote against the use of ordeals, against superstitions, and against the Jews.
The Libri Carolini took up the controversy about the filioque, insisting that it be introduced into the Creed. A few years later Alcuin in his summa of dogmatic theology (De fide sanctae et individuae Trinitatis ) gave detailed treatment to the doctrine involved in the Filioque. Among several writers who answered an appeal of Pope Nicholas I to refute photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, ratramnus, monk of Corbie, stands out with his powerful four books Contra Graecorum opposita, the first three of which deal with the Filioque.
Ratramnus was involved in a controversy with his abbot, paschasius radbertus, concerning the Eucharist. The abbot had written De corpore et sanguine Christi, a presentation of the doctrine of transubstantiation. Ratramnus found fault with some points of this treatise, and as a result he himself has been accused of heterodoxy. The more common opinion at present holds that he was not heretical. Paschasius (d. 859) was perhaps the most learned theologian of the 9th century. He profited by the opportunity to use the rich library of his monastery to read deeply in classics and patristics. He is an important figure in the history of the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Strangely enough, he attributed some of his own writings on her to St. Jerome; others are found among the homilies attributed to St. Ildefonse.
The greatest theological controversy of Carolingian times arose over the question of predestination. Many of the important authors of the 9th century participated in it. Keen-witted and stubborn Gottschalk of Orbais, who had devoted much study to St. Augustine, started it. He was accused by his opponents of teaching absolute and complete predestination to eternal punishment. Rabanus Maurus and Hincmar wrote against him. He was condemned by synods and underwent severe punishment. Florus of Lyons dealt with Gottschalk's views in a rather ambiguous manner, whereas Archbishop Amolo of Lyons (d. 852) pointed out what he considered objectionable in Gottschalk's views and gently urged him to conform.
On the other hand, one of Gottschalk's former teachers, Ratramnus, as well as prudentius of troyes and Lupus of Ferrières, wrote in his favor. John Scotus Erigena, at the request of Hincmar, prepared a treatise attacking Gottschalk. Erigena was the philosopher of his day, his mind nurtured on the teaching of pseudo-dionysius, whom he translated into Latin. His Liber de predestinatione, with its philosophical approach, was attacked by both sides of the controversy over Gottschalk, notably by Florus. Scotus's De divisione naturae was better received, though it met condemnation in the 13th century for its pantheistic tendency. Some of Gottschalk's own writings have been discovered in recent times, and modern research is inclined to rescue him from the charge of heterodoxy.
Commentaries on Scripture were produced in great numbers by Carolingian theologians, all of them depending on patristic writers and almost all emphasizing allegorical interpretation. As exceptions, Paschasius Radbertus criticized his authorities, and christian of stablo (stavelot) preferred historical interpretation. Late in the 8th century, Ambrosius Autpertus (d. 784) in Italy and beatus of liÉbana in Spain compiled commentaries on the Apocalypse that had considerable influence. Rabanus Maurus and Claudius of Turin were the most prolific exegetes. Rabanus employed long excerpts from the Fathers and made his personal contribution by small additions and by blending his quotations into a coherent treatment. Teaching rather than original thinking characterized all that he did and earned him the title of pedagogue of his age. Claudius's many exegetical works were really scriptural glosses, the first of that genre in the Western Church, an imitation of the Greek catenae. Glosses were compiled from one or several early authors. They were much used by theological scholars as a ready source for citations. The most famous of them, the Glossa ordinaria, which cannot be attributed to Walafrid Strabo as such, was apparently started in the period. Much later it was developed by anselm of laon and was given its name by Stephen Lombard. In the 12th century, glosses ceased to be mere citations of ancient authors.
Liturgy. The reign of Pepin the Short had witnessed a great liturgical upheaval in Francia, with the replacing of the Gallican liturgy by the Roman. Bishops remigius of rouen and chrodegang of metz were especially active in this reform. In the next century amalarius of metz and of Lyons wrote extensively on the liturgy. His exaggerated use of allegorical interpretation in explaining the liturgy and some careless expressions that lent themselves to suspicion of heresy caused a great outburst against him on the part of Agobard and Florus. Nevertheless he retained his popularity and was much used by sub-sequent liturgists. Besides criticizing Amalarius, Florus compiled a work on the liturgy from the Fathers, and Walafrid Strabo left a brief but solid treatise on the historical origins of liturgical ceremonies and institutions.
Law. In Canon Law, penitentials continued to be produced. The false decretals came out of the vicinity of Le Mans about the middle of the 9th century. About the same time, that other forgery, the donation of constantine, came into existence. Its authorship is still a mystery. Without valid proof it has been attributed to anastasius the librarian, cardinal priest of St. Marcellus, who, as an intermediary between the Greek and Latin world, among numerous other writings, translated the acts of the seventh and eighth councils (nicaea ii and constantinople iv) into Latin. The most distinguished canonist of the century was Hincmar, for 40 years archbishop of Reims. Civil law witnessed a redaction of the Leges barbarorum, the production of the royal capitularies and efforts at codifying them, and the issuing of many royal diplomata.
Spain. Contemporary Spain showed little influence of the Carolingian renaissance, though it experienced its own revival of Latin letters. Invaded and conquered as it was, it could not fulfill the promise it had shown in literature during the Visigothic period. There were chronicles in the second half of the 8th century. One of them, the Chronicle of 754, written with some effort at style, has precious information on Spanish history during the Muslim invasions. Late in the next century two chronicles offer historical data on the Christian kingdom of the Asturias, the Chronicle of Roda (or of Alfonso III ) and that of Albelda. The latter is found with an addition called the Prophetic Chronicle, which underwent a revision in the late 10th century. It talks of the Muslims and prophesies their overthrow in Spain.
A number of letters concerning disciplinary matters in the Church and doctrinal errors supply scattered details for the history of the late 8th century. The most important heresy was Adoptionism, championed by Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel, and condemned as has been indicated above. Elipandus, a master of invective, wrote many letters concerning his beliefs. Beatus of Liébana and Eterius of Osma wrote a learned apologetic treatise (785) against him and his teachings. Thereafter written documents become scarce for a time. The acts of the Council of Córdoba (839) afford information on the current state of the Church.
The most distinguished and prolific writers of Spain in the 9th century were the Córdobans, Albar and his friend eulogius. Presumably a layman, Albar wrote freely of theological and ecclesiastical matters. He exchanged letters with five correspondents on religious questions, some of them his personal problems. One such exchange was with Bodo-Eleazar, a priest who had gone over to Judaism. Albar strove to prove to Bodo that Christ is the Messiah. Both correspondents indulged in harsh invective. Albar left some 500 lines of rather poor metrical verse, mostly hexameter, on nature and on the Bible, all of it deeply religious. He devoted some Asclepiadean verses to the martyr Eulogius. A small quantity of metrical verse by other contemporary writers in Spain has been preserved. Probably Albar is the author of the Indiculus luminosus, which chides compromising Christians, defends the ideals of the martyrs of Córdoba (850–859), and denounces Muḥammad as a precursor of Antichrist. The work concludes by deprecating the neglect of Latin and Latin studies in favor of Arabic learning on the part of Christian youth. A much more detailed account and defense of the Córdoban martyrs is to be found in the Memoriale sanctorum, the Apologeticus martyrum, and the Documentum martyriale of Eulogius. He himself died a martyr, and his life was written by Albar. They had studied together in the school of the learned Abbot Esperaindeo. Albar tells of a trip Eulogius made to monasteries around Pamplona, from which he brought back a number of classical and Christian writings. He praises Eulogius's virtue and zealous energy, as well as his learning, and pays ardent veneration to him as a saint in heaven. Probably Albar's final work was his Confessio, a long prayer of contrition. It has little in common with Augustine's Confession but is in the tradition especially of Isidore's Synonyma and several pseudo-Isidorian writings.
At a date not definitely known, but probably after the martyrdoms, a work on clerical discipline and dress was written by Leovigildus, presumably the otherwise well-known cleric of Córdoba of that name. In 864 Samson, abbot of the Basilica of St. Zoilus in Córdoba, wrote his Apologeticus. It treats of the Trinity and the Incarnation and gives an idea of the organization of the Church in Spain at the time. The most interesting part of the work is the attack on a bishop, Hostegesis, and a layman, Servandus, who were obsequious to the Muslim authorities and tyrannized over the Christians. Samson refutes their doctrinal errors and ridicules the bishop's bad Latin.
The 10th Century
The invasions of the Normans and Hungarians and the incursions of the Saracens in the Mediterranean regions discouraged the pursuit of letters in the 10th century. The organizational work of Charlemagne literally went to pieces. The period, not without reason, has been called an iron age, the dark ages, but even from the viewpoint of literature this should not be exaggerated. Remigius of Auxerre and Hucbald of St. Amand, as has been noted, passed on the torch of learning into the 10th century. Literary study was centered in the monasteries, among which that of St. Gall flourished in the period.
Sequence and Trope. notker balbulus, a monk of St. Gall, lived only until 912, but he has a place in the early development of the sequence, or prose, a new departure in liturgical texts. There is much disagreement among authors about the actual origin of these texts, but Notker composed some of them and established the tendency to depart from the exact melody of the alleluia and its prolongation, or jubilus. In France at the time the texts were made to follow the melody closely. At St. Gall assonance, rhyme, and rhythm gradually appeared in the Sequences, and with them a bold melodic development. From St. Gall this type of Sequence spread into Germany, where toward the middle of the 11th century, Wipo, chaplain to Emperors Conrad II and Henry III, composed the victimae paschali laudes, the Easter Sequence, which marks a step toward the completely versified Sequences that was characteristic of the 12th century.
With St. Gall in the time of Notker is associated the composition of tropes, i.e., texts interpolated into the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, and other parts of the Mass. Probably originating in France, troping was more common there and in England and Italy than in Germany. Tropes, eventually rejected from the liturgy, were the beginnings of medieval drama (see drama, medieval).
Notker has more definite claim to literary greatness. He wrote occasional verse of superior quality, a life of St. gall in mixed prose and verse, of which only fragments remain, and a martyrology. Best known of his works is, however, his Gesta Karoli, which laid the basis for the medieval legend of Charlemagne.
The Ottonian Renaissance. In the year Notker died, Otto, who in 936 became otto i of Germany, was born. The literary development in his reign and those of his two successors to the turn of the century is somewhat diffidently called a renaissance named after them (see ottonian renaissance). It can be looked upon as a further flowering of the Carolingian renaissance. The Ottonian court by no means furnished a center of culture comparable to that of Charlemagne. But the steadying influence of the Ottos as rulers and the resumption of the imperial title established a milieu in which letters could thrive.
A number of rather ambitious epic and historical poems came out of German monasteries. An anonymous monk, perhaps of tegernsee, using a Latin translation, put into leonine verse the old Greek romance Historia Apollonii, regis Tyri. He cast it into the form of a dialogue, or eclogue, and used many glossary terms and Greek words. The Waltharius, an epic of 1,456 hexameter lines with a setting in the time of the Hunnic invasions, is generally considered to have been written at St. Gall by ekkehard i (d. 973) and later revised by Ekke-hard IV (d. 1060). It is maintained by some, however, that it was written in Aquitaine a century earlier. The epic is built on popular Germanic legends and is similar to the Nibelungenlied. It is a gory tale, but it has literary merit. Another, less successful, poem, the Ecbasis captivi in 1,229 hexameter lines with leonine rhyme, was composed in a monastery of Lorraine, apparently Saint-Evre of Toul. It is the oldest Germanic beast-epic, dating from c. 940, or, as recent scholarship proposes, from the next century. It is an allegory that tells a tale of monastic life, quite unintelligible now, under the guise of an animal story. Many classical and Christian poets were pillaged by the author.
At the convent of gandersheim in Saxony a nun, roswitha (Hrotswitha), wrote six dramas in rhymed prose on Christian themes. She meant them to replace the reading of Terence, but he remained a favorite, and she survived in only one manuscript. Futile attempts have been made to prove her plays a forgery of the 15th century. Roswitha wrote a long poem in rather graceful rhyming hexameters, the Gesta Othonis, on Otto I, and another, the Primordia coenobii Gandeshemensis, which traces the history of her abbey down to 919. Her style is rather good and shows the influence of Vergil, Prudentius, and Sedulius. Saxony also produced widukind of corvey (d. after 973), who wrote the history of Henry I and Otto I in prose, but with many poetic words and a patriotic approach that give his work qualities of an epic. Between 915 and 924 an anonymous poet in northern Italy wrote four books of hexameters on the battle-filled history of Berengar I. He is not careful about chronology and leans heavily upon classical writers. The author, a schoolmaster, equipped his poem with glosses explaining difficult passages.
Along with historical poems the Ottonian period produced some histories. One of the most celebrated authors of the century was the Italian liutprand, cleric, courtier, ambassador, and, eventually, bishop of Cremona (961). He was successively at the courts of Hugh and Berengar in Italy, and of Otto I in Germany. His attempt at writing a universal history failed to deal with Europe west of Germany. It was called Antapodosis (Tit-for-Tat) because he praised his friends and excoriated his enemies, especially Berengar, with whom he had quarreled, and Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas, whom he despised. He wrote a history of Otto I during the years 960 to 964 and an account of one of his own embassies to Constantinople. His works are filled with anecdotes; his style is affected and inter-larded with Greek, and verse of his own composition is introduced into his prose text. He writes with biting humor, and, though one cannot trust everything that he says, he is very interesting reading. A chronicle extending to 965 was written by Benedict, a monk of St. Andrew on the Soracte. In barbarous Latin he treats especially of the Lombards and of his own monastery. He is the first source for the legend of Charlemagne's expedition to the Holy Land. In better Latin the Chronicon Salernitanum, by a monk of St. Benedict of Salerno using archival material and oral tradition, gives the history of the Lombard dukedoms in southern Italy to 974.
In the north, in Lorraine, Abbot regino of prÜm (d.915), besides works on music and Canon Law, wrote a chronicle from the birth of Christ to 906. It is curious that he did not know the Carolingian chronicles. The work becomes more original after 814 as he makes use of local annals, some sources no longer extant, and oral information. An anonymous writer extended the chronicle to 967, giving valuable information on the Saxon dynasty.
flodoard, a cleric of Reims (d. 966), distinguished himself as an historian. He wrote annals probably from the year 894, though the extant text begins with 919 and extends to 966. His great work is the History of the Church of Reims in four books, which as archivist of Reims he was well fitted to write. A poetical work by him on the triumphs of the saints of Palestine, Antioch, and Italy, in 19 books and many different verse forms, proves that he was no mean poet. He visited Rome to gather material on the saints of Italy. In both his prose and poetry he is singularly independent of classical influence. Richer (d. after 998), a monk of Saint-Remy in Reims, at the behest hest of Archbishop Gerbert, set out to write the history of Charles the Simple and Louis IV, but he carried it through to 995. It is a valuable source for the late Carolingians and the Capetian revolution. Richer's pretension to rhetoric and classical imitation, together with errors in chronology, make him inferior to Flodoard as a historian. The original manuscript of his work was found in 1883. The Historia Francorum (before 1004) of Aimon of Fleury is merely a rewriting in better Latin of earlier sources. It extends only to the middle of the 7th century.
Biography and hagiography were not neglected in the period. Notable were the accounts of the lives of the abbots of Cluny, two of whom, odo (d. 942) and odilo (d. 1049), wrote on spiritual matters in prose and in verse, though cluny produced no significant writer until peter the venerable in the 12th century. It showed less enthusiasm for classical literature than did the great abbeys of the Carolingian period. Tenth-century abbots of several other monasteries received biographies. A number of good biographies of bishops were produced in the 10th and 11th centuries. In the valley of the Meuse, heriger, who became abbot of Lobbes (Laubach) in 995, under the influence of Notker, the great bishop of Liège, where the abbot had long been a teacher, wrote a history of the bishops of that see. It quotes ancient authors frequently and is better literature than history. First of the biographies in the time of the great Ottonian bishops was that of bruno, learned Archbishop of Cologne, brother of Otto I. It was written by Ruotger, a cleric, perhaps a monk, at the request of Folcmar, Bruno's successor (965–968). The author profited by Bruno's literary interests and rich library. He modeled his work after Sallust, as Widukind had done, and was influenced by Augustine and Sulpicius Severus. The life of ulric (d. 973), distinguished bishop of Augsburg, was written by Gerhard, provost of the cathedral chapter, his contemporary. There are biographies of the first bishop of Prague, the martyr St. adalbert, and of adalbero ii, Bishop of Metz. Among the best biographies of the Middle Ages was that of Bishop bern-ward of hildesheim (992–1022) by thangmar, his teacher, and later dean of his chapter, librarian, and notary. Completed by 1023, the vita treats not only of St. Bernward and his see, a great art center, but also affords much information on the history of the time. There were two attempts at a biography of Mathilda, mother of Otto I, a biography of King Robert II of France by Helgaud, monk of Fleury, two accounts of the martyred Duke wenceslaus of bohemia, and one of the writer on Canon Law, Bishop burchard of worms.
Gerbert, born in Auvergne and educated in the monastery of Aurillac, who became Pope Silvester II, is reputed to have been the most learned man of his age. In 967 he went into Spain to study mathematics and the natural sciences. Because of his scientific learning he was even thought to be a magician. His interest was especially the quadrivium, and he wrote on mathematics and on the use of the abacus. As scholasticus of the cathedral school of Reims (970–982) he had great influence on education. Gerbert was elected archbishop of Reims and named abbot of Bobbio and archbishop of Ravenna before he became pope (999–1003). Written in classical style, a sheaf of letters left by him throws light on his humanistic ideals and the history of the times. Another distinguished teacher, abbo of fleury (d. 1004), wrote works on logic and the calendar. adso, Abbot of Montier-en-Der and later of St. Benignus in Dijon (d. 992), a careful stylist, wrote De Antichristo, an eschatological work, for Gerberga, daughter of Henry the Fowler, as well as several saints' lives.
ratherius, tempestuous ecclesiastic, born in Liège, bishop of Verona, which see he took up and laid down three times, spending most of his incumbency in prison, wielded an extremely facile pen. He used it, dipped in irony, to make charges against king, bishops, priests, and all classes of society and to urge his reforms. Thus he was a sort of mirror of his times. His chief work, in five books, he called Praeloquia. He likewise at times wrote introspectively, confessing with bitterness his own failings, always in a style that showed his command of the classics. He continued his cantankerous ways back in the region of the Meuse until he died (974).
A calmer spirit was Bishop atto of vercelli (d.961), who wrote against lay oppression of the Church in his De pressuris ecclesiasticis and preached against superstition. A work entitled Polypticum, attributed to him, discussed the disturbing political situation in Italy in the most obscure language, very unlike Atto's usual style. No one, however, seems to doubt its authenticity. In Rome earlier in the century eugenius vulgarius wrote a defense in rhymed prose of Pope Formosus after his death. He also wrote carmina figurata of the worst kind, e.g., in the form of a pyramid and of a triangle, in praise of the Pope and the Emperor. In Naples, with somewhat less rhetoric, auxilius wrote in defense of Formosus, as did also an anonymous writer (928). Archpriest Leo of Naples translated into Latin the Alexander romance (951–969), which enjoyed great vogue in the Middle Ages.
The 11th Century
Writers in the 11th century continued to be monastic. They produced writings intended for pedagogical use, much verse of various genres, chronicles and biographies, and some theological works, culminating in those of St. Anselm of Canterbury.
Writings on the Trivium. In St. Gall notker labeo translated into German a number of Latin authors used in the schools. Thus St. Gall became the cradle of German literature in the 11th century. Papias, an Italian cleric, in the middle of the century composed a lexicon and a simple grammar based on Priscian. Aimeric of Angoulême, also a cleric, in his Ars lectoris (1086), which treated the accentuation of words, cited verses from many authors, including some otherwise unknown verses of Luxorius. He attempted, with judgment somewhat less than unerring, to group ancient and medieval authors into classes according to their excellence. Conrad of Hirschau, in an early 12th-century dialogue, discussed and evaluated a number of authors. He insisted that the study of the Bible and theology were superior to the pursuit of profane learning.
Verse. Ekkehard IV of St. Gall composed a Liber benedictionum containing 60 hymns for the feasts of the liturgical year, written by students and revised by himself, and a number of formulas for blessing various objects. His Casus sancti Galli gives a glimpse into the monastery and its schools, though as history it is inaccurate.
The school of tegernsee owed much to the teacher Froumund, who at the end of the 10th century succeeded in making good poetry out of themes for school exercises. In rather poor Latin, Ruodlieb, a romantic epic concerning the adventures of a German knight, was composed by a monk of Tegernsee c. 1050. The end of the poem is not extant, but the 2,400 verses in leonine hexameter that remain offer a mixture of Oriental wisdom, German saga, and history.
One of the fullest medieval autobiographers, othlo, Abbot of St. Emmeram in Regensburg (d. 1070), was trained in the monastic schools of Tegernsee and hersfeld. His personality appears vividly in all his writings, and he gives precious information concerning his own education. Despite a vow to enter a monastery, he for some years remained a cleric in the world. In 1032 he entered St. Emmeram and soon became master of the school there. His first work, De doctrina spirituali, was a lengthy poem in 39 sections; the poet's introspective nature caused him to present an account of his temptations for the guidance of others. In the work he incidentally listed his writings and told of his calligraphic skill. In De visionibus he related visions of his own as well as some reported by other authors and by his contemporaries. Among Othloh's other writings are several hagiographical accounts of little historical value. All his writings, in a style pleasingly simple, were for the edification of others. Though he was versed in the classics himself and quoted from them in his Proverbia, he did not approve of their use in education. In theology, he felt, dialectics could be dangerous.
Somewhat earlier in the century Egbert of Liège had put together a collection of proverbs in some 2,000 verses of his Fecunda ratis, in which he drew from German tradition, the Bible, and patristic and pagan authors. At the same time wipo, court chaplain to Conrad II, composed his Proverbia, with rhymes of two and three syllables, for Conrad's son Henry. Wipo carried over his love for proverbs into his history of Conrad II and Henry III, which is written in admirably correct Latin.
Intellectually highly gifted but physically maimed by paralysis, so that he could not move and could use his voice and fingers only with difficulty, Hermannus the Lame (Contractus ), monk of reichenau, was called in contemporary annals the "marvel of his age." He wrote much on mathematics and astronomy. His chronicle of world history to 1054, the year of his death, is the earliest extant work of this kind written east of the Rhine. Its latter part is valuable for the history of southern Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. Herman is the author of a long poem, De contemptu mundi, addressed to nuns; the versification, in a variety of meters, is correct. The text and music of several Sequences and a little treatise on music are by Herman, but the antiphons alma redemptoris mater and salve regina cannot be attributed to him. The latter emanated from Le Puy in the 11th century, probably the work of Bishop Aimar. The ave maris stella existed in the 9th century, and the ave regina coelorum and the regina caeli are of the 12th century. The eclogue Conflictus ovis et lini, on the merits of the sheep and of flax, at one time attributed to Herman, is apparently the work of Winrich of Trier.
About the middle of the century Warnerius of Basel, perhaps of French origin, wrote two poems with smooth leonine rhyme: Synodicus and Paraclitus. The former is an imitation of the 9th-century Eclogue of Theodulus, a contest to demonstrate the superiority of the Old Testament over ancient mythology. Warnerius parallels persons and episodes of the Old Testament with some in the New Testament and in the history of the Church. The Paraclitus is a dialogue between a sinner and grace.
A shadowy figure of the middle Rhine region, a monk under the pseudonym Sextus Amaricius Piosistratus, composed his satirical Sermones, four books of verse in the form of dialogue and monologue. Writing in the reign of Henry III, in 1046 at the earliest, he castigated the vices of the time and presented the virtues as their cure. The Sermones are the first extant medieval satirical work of importance, though it has come down in only one manuscript.
Several historical poems in leonine hexameter were written by German ecclesiastics during the 11th century. Purchard of Reichenau in narrating the life of Abbot Witigowo described the coronation of Otto III in Rome. Abbot Gerard of Seeon wrote a historical poem in 54 hexameters on the church of Bamberg and its school, comparing it with ancient Athens. Bishop thietmar of merseburg interspersed his chronicle of the history of Saxony with dull leonine verses. The anonymous Carmen de bello Saxonico sings the praises of Henry IV in his victory over the Saxons from 1073 to 1075. Critics argue about its historical value.
In Italy, monte cassino, with its scriptorium and rich library, was a center of culture. There constantine the african made translations of medical works from Arabic and Greek that were to be the fundamental texts in schools of medicine until the 15th century. Guaiferius and alphanus were accomplished poets. The former wrote religious poetry for edification; the latter, more skilled, wrote odes in the lyrical measures of Horace, notably one on Monte Cassino and one dedicated to Arch-deacon Hildebrand. leo of vercelli, episcopus imperii, wrote verse in praise of Gregory V and Otto III and an elegy on Otto. Rangerius, Bishop of Lucca, in a poem, De anulo et baculo, attacked lay investiture.
St. peter damian (1007–72), unworldly ascetic called to be a cardinal and thrust into the fight against the evils of the age, was well schooled in the arts and gifted as a writer both in prose and verse. He was the author of much poetry, mostly metrical: majestic verses in trochaic tetrameter on judgment day and paradise, a rhythmical poem on the Song of Songs, and many hymns to Mary, the Apostles, martyrs, and other saints in a variety of meters. He was a skilled writer of epigrams. His rhymed prose could soar with poetical feeling. His prose works against simony and clerical incontinence played a significant role in the Gregorian reform. His many letters are of great value as historical sources. He was a master of the spiritual life, gentler in his asceticism and piety than many writers have made him out to be. Though he inveighed against pagan authors, he used them in his writing. He was especially fond of drawing some of his examples from the physiologus.
In France the center of study was passing from the older monasteries to new schools, the cathedral school of chartres and the monastery of bec. But the significant poets began to flourish only at the turn of the century. With fulbert, Bishop of Chartres (d. 1029), pupil of Gerbert, the reputation of the school of Chartres began. He wrote many religious poems in meter and rhythm, prose treatises, saints' lives, and sermons. He was versed in medicine, but his greatest fame was as a churchman. His pupil berengarius of tours, whose writings on the Eucharist raised a storm of polemical works against him, was the author of a rhyming accentual poem in which he prayed for himself. The devious politician who in 977 became bishop of Laon, Adalbero, wrote satirical verse (1017) attacking monks and deploring the state of the kingdom in the reign of Robert the Pious. He knew the Roman satirists. Godfrey (d. 1095), scholasticus and chancellor of Reims, wrote letters in verse, patently school exercises, and a poem in honor of another poet, Odo of Orléans and Cambrai, which was cast in the form of a dream.
In the middle of the 11th century a collection of medieval lyrical verse made by an unknown German throws light on the development of such poetry. From the manuscript of Cambridge University in which it is found the collection is known as the Cambridge Songs. It contains a number of Sequences, profane as well as sacred, intended to be sung. A number of the poems show progress in the mastery of accentual verse in connection with romantic stories, love themes, and description of nature. One of the poems of the collection, in rhythmical dactylic tetrameter, O admirabile Veneris idolum, came out of Verona, probably in the 10th century. Its subject is perverted love, but it gives a key to the provenience of the beautiful poem in the same meter, o roma nobilis, orbis et domina, which sings of the Rome of virgins and martyrs, of SS. Peter and Paul. A lengthy love poem in elegiacs with leonine rhyme, found among other poems in a Psalter belonging to the cathedral of Ivrea, appears to be of the late 11th century. Its theme indicates that St. Peter Damian was not fighting imaginary evils in the Church.
Three gifted 11th-century poets lived well into the 12th century: marbod, Bishop of Rennes (d. 1123), Baudry of Bourgueil (d. 1130), and hildebert of lavardin (d. 1133). Marbod, a product of the cathedral school of angers and its master, wrote a poem on figures of words, illustrating them in his verse. His best-known work is a poem on the virtues of precious stones, Liber lapidum. He put Bible stories and saints' lives, as well as many of his letters, into verse. A poetical work of his old age, Liber decem capitulorum, shows him repenting of frivolous verse of his youth and lamenting the unbridled freedom and too secular training of the cathedral schools. He was overly fond of the leonine hexameter and little skilled in composing rhythmical verse.
Baudry, a gracious and clever writer, after study at Angers became a monk at Bourgueil, its abbot (1089), and archbishop of Dol (1107). His verse is, however, for the most part secular in spirit. Ovid was his master; and he was an ardent humanist, showing in his beautifully wrought metrical verse the secularizing effect of his education in a cathedral school. His prose writings and some of his verse are religious but without great depth of feeling. He carried on a wide correspondence.
Hildebert, more profound than Marbod and Baudry and a better churchman, may have been a pupil of Berengar of Tours. After serving successively as scholasticus, archdeacon, and bishop (1096) of Le Mans, he became archbishop of tours (1125). Though a distinguished humanist, he preferred to choose themes for his poetry from Scripture, liturgy, and hagiography. Two fine poems have Rome as their subject. Hildebert wrote in a variety of classical meters but likewise used rhythmical verse in masterly fashion. His many letters reveal him as an earnest prelate concerned with law and reform. They were used as models in the schools.
History. The writing of chronicles and history made progress in the 11th century, not in France with its feudal division, nor in Spain, but along the Rhine and in Germany. marianus scotus (d. c. 1082), a recluse who lived in several German monasteries, used various ancient and medieval sources in writing his world chronicle and made many corrections in chronology. He showed little interest in the history of his own times, but gave scattered data on kings, bishops, and his fellow Scoti. Thietmar, bishop of Merseburg, wrote a history of Saxony and adjacent Slavic regions up to 1018. The indication of his sources in the margin of his manuscript gives evidence of vast research. He strove to imitate ancient authors, and his style is somewhat affected. On the other hand, Lambert of Hersfeld (d. 1077) wrote his chronicle in a good style, dealing after 1046 with matters of which he had personal knowledge. A prolific writer, author of 15 treatises on the side of the papacy in the investiture struggle, in which he displays good judgment and considerable moderation, bernold of constance (or of St. Blaise or Schaffhausen) composed a universal chronicle. Original from 1074 to his death in 1100, it is too much restricted to ecclesiastical matters and unimportant daily happenings. Bernold left a valuable work on the liturgy. The History of the Bishops of Hamburg, extending to 1075, in good, concise Latin, by Adam of Bremen is the best diocesan history of the period, with much information on northern Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Somewhat earlier several good monastic and diocesan histories were written: an account of the abbots of saint-trond by Rudolph of that monastery; a history of the bishops of Tongres and liÈge by Anselm of Liège; and one concerning the bishops of cambrai by an anonymous writer. In Italy the Abbey of Monte Cassino had its chroniclers. The Belgian monk sigebert of gembloux (1030–1112) was the greatest chronicler of his time. His world chronicle is independent from 1024 to 1111. Sigebert, who sided with the Emperor against the Pope in the struggle over investiture, was also the author of saints' lives and of a De viris illustribus.
In France Radulfus Glaber (d. c. 1050) wrote a life of St. william, Abbot of St. Benignus in Dijon, and a rather poor history of his times, limited for the most part to Burgundy and France. Adhémar of Chabannes (d.1034), preacher, poet, scribe, and historian, wrote a history of the abbots of St. Martial in Limoges, a letter defending the apostolicity of the Church of Limoges, and a chronicle that is especially useful for the history of Aquitaine. There were several chroniclers of the conquest of England by the Normans and of their history in Italy.
Toward the end of the period, from the pontificate of Gregory VII (1073–85) to that of Pascal II (1099–1118), Europe was deluged with polemical literature emanating from both sides in the struggle over lay investiture. Aside from letters, which were numerous, and canonical collections, there were more than 130 polemical works, most of them edited in the Libelli de lite of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. They emanated especially from Germany and Italy but also from France, England, and Spain, and were written almost entirely by ecclesiastics, mostly monks, and only a few bishops. Of great value as historical sources, they also throw light on the literary culture in the various parts of Europe. Some were in verse; irony was much employed. Simony was frequently the topic of the papal defenders.
There were many biographies written in the period, usually of great churchmen. The life of Henry IV was an exception. Saints' lives were written largely in a stereo-typed pattern with disregard for the facts of individual lives. Some apocryphal lives were written to satisfy vanity. Following an effort to put earlier biographies into good Latin there was a reversion of sentiment in favor of simplicity. But in both the 10th and 11th centuries there were no few saints' lives written that brought out the details and personal qualities of their heroes and thus have real historical value.
The chronicles of the First Crusade were written in the early 12th century, but their authors were really men of the 11th. These writings and those on the succeeding Crusades are of varied literary quality. They are available in good editions and modern translations and are among the better known texts of the Middle Ages.
Theological Writings. There was a decline in the production of theological literature after the Carolingian period. Toward the middle of the 11th century, however, theological controversy gave new impetus to the writing of theology. The controversy concerning the Eucharist and the struggle over lay investiture have been mentioned. Both were marked by a wider recourse to dialectic. Its use was deprecated by some authors, but it was on its way to triumph in the next century. Those who fought over investiture still preferred the citation of authorities, especially legal texts, St. Cyprian, and St. Augustine.
The influence of Augustine made itself strongly felt in 11th-century works on the spiritual life, some of which actually circulated under his name. Abbot John of Fé-camp (1028–78), only recently recognized as the author of a number of spiritual writings, was one of the first to introduce affective devotion into his meditations. The prayer for each day of the week in the Preparation for Mass in the Missal, which was formerly attributed to St. Ambrose, has been vindicated for Abbot John. St. Peter Damian wrote similar prayers, as did St. Anselm.
Glory of the Benedictine Middle Ages, anselm, born in Aosta in northern Italy, successively abbot of Bec and archbishop of Canterbury, at the end of the 11th century (d. 1109) far outdistanced his age in power of thought and literary expression. He was taught at Bec by the Italian lanfranc, himself no mean scholar and author, chief literary opponent of Berengar of Tours. Bent always on his principle of fides quaerens intellectum, Anselm meditated lovingly on the truth he studied, whether he wrote his philosophical and theological treatises or composed his prayers. His ontological argument for the existence of God, often repudiated, has charmed philosophers of all ages. His more than 400 letters deal with many problems of his time and often amount to treatises. The memory of Anselm's life and conversation is faithfully preserved in the biography by his companion and secretary eadmer, monk of Canterbury.
Abbot guibert of nogent (d. 1121), at the suggestion of Anselm, composed his Moralia in Genesim in imitation of the Moralia of Gregory the Great. Besides other exegetical works, Guibert wrote on relics, decrying veneration paid to relics that were not authenticated; on the Incarnation, against arguments of the Jews; in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary; on virginity; and on the construction of sermons. He is best known for his Gesta Dei per Francos, a history of the First Crusade, and for his autobiography. He ornamented his prose writings with verses in diverse meters.
Bruno of Asti (c. 1040–1123), abbot of Monte Cassino, was a prolific author. His works include treatises on the Trinity and the Incarnation, liturgical and polemical writings, commentaries on Scripture, sermons, and letters, all composed in good Latin style.
Law. The period witnessed a renaissance of civil law brought about by the discovery, after centuries of neglect, of Justinian's Digest, which became the object of intensive study resulting in glosses. Bologna, with its famous master irnerius, became the center for this study. The investiture struggle stirred up increased interest in Canon Law. Outstanding names among the canonists were burchard of worms, anselm of lucca, bonizo (bonitho) of sutri, and ivo of chartres.
The 12th-Century Renaissance
The impetus in Latin literature connected with what is known as the 12th-century renaissance had its beginnings in the last quarter of the 11th century and extended through the first quarter of the 13th. The renaissance developed in the milieu of the rising towns with their business and prosperity. Its intellectual aspects were centered in France, in the schools in and around Paris. Chartres, Laon, Reims, Tours, Anvers, and Poitiers, along with Tournai and Liège in Belgium, had schools that flourished more or less for a time, but Paris took and kept an undisputed ascendancy.
Schools and Scholars. The schools occupied themselves primarily with philosophy and theology. But their scholars in many cases did not limit their writings to those fields. After St. anselm, the outstanding figure to arise in the scholarly world was abelard (1079–1142), certainly one of the best known of medieval personalities. He had studied under anselm of laon (d. 1117), whom he later sought to discredit but who had made a contribution to the systematizing of theology and the organizing of scriptural glosses.
Brilliant, but combative, Abelard moved about France discussing dialectic and theology before large audiences. His teaching on the Trinity, faith, and grace brought condemnations upon him and antagonism from Bernard of Clairvaux. He wrote much on dialectic and used it in his theology, not limiting himself, as has been averred, to the problem of universals. Most of his works were concerned with theology and Scripture. His Sic et non brought together contradictory texts on theology culled from patristic writings. It was not, as was held by some, an evidence of skepticism on the part of Abelard but a challenge to his pupils to reconcile conflicting opinions. The introduction is a pioneer treatment on the theory of semantics. His disciples, to whom he was Master Peter, were numerous, and many of their writings have been identified as belonging to the school of Abelard. Other writings of Abelard belong more strictly to the field of literature: metrical and rhythmical hymns, sermons, his autobiographical Historia calamitatum, and letters. His correspondence includes the exchange of letters with hÉloÏse, the authenticity of which on both sides seems now to be established.
The first great name in the school of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine at the Abbey of Saint-Victor in Paris was hugh of saint-victor (d. 1141). Attractive in character and versatile with his pen, he wrote theological treatises, commentaries on Scripture, a chronicle, and his widely circulated Didascalion, on education. He quoted Plato and Aristotle (as known through Latin translations), ancient Latin authors, grammarians, and poets, but most of all, St. Augustine. Medieval and modern writers have paid tribute to him, and his memory was flattered by the assignment to him of many works that are not actually his. Among other Victorine authors were andrew, who favored literal, historical interpretation of Scripture in his commentaries; richard, distinguished for his mystical works; and Adam, whose Sequences mark the high point of that medieval genre.
The school of Chartres was a center of the cult of Platonic realism, but also, eventually, of the study of Aristotle. It was strongly devoted to humanism as against the rising tyranny of dialectic. bernard of chartres, a light of the school for 20 years or more after 1114, commanded great respect as a humanist, but his writings are not extant. His brother, thierry, strove to reconcile Platonic teachings and the Bible in his work on the six days of creation and left a valuable source for knowledge of the trivium and quadrivium in the 12th century in his Heptateuchon. bernard silvestris wrote in mixed verse and prose a work based on pagan authors concerning nature, De mundi universitate. clarenbaud (clarenbaldus) is considered to have written the best commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius up to the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. william of conches in his De philosophia mundi shows himself a Christian Platonist. The Moralium dogma philosophorum, best known of the writings attributed to him, is almost certainly the work of another author. It is a mélange of well-chosen texts from Scripture, the Fathers, and Roman philosophers. gilbert de la porÉe, professor and chancellor of Chartres, and from 1142 to 1154 bishop of Poitiers, had great scholarly influence, though he was not a prolific writer. Besides glosses on Scripture, he also composed a commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius. His treatment of the Trinity and his use of dialectic in theology brought criticism from St. Bernard and others, though he escaped condemnation at the Council of Reims in 1148. His teachings were handed down in the collections of auctoritates of the Middle Ages, and he had followers identified as members of his school.
The Englishman john of salisbury began his studies at Chartres and ended his days (1180) as bishop there. In the meantime he had studied under many masters at Paris and had been secretary to Thomas Becket, whose biography he wrote. Though he never taught in the schools, he was one of the greatest humanists and authors of his century. His many letters are a rich source for history, as is his Historia pontificalis, though the last years of it (1153–62) are not extant. His best-known works present his political thought. The Entheticus is a long poem of philosophical and Christian counsel ending with a picture of the evils among churchmen and in the government of England. This latter part was developed in his Policraticus sive de nugis et vestigiis curialium, a brave attempt at a philosophy of government that fitted in well with the renaissance of canon and civil law of the century. His Metalogicon is a defense of logic in which he foretold the triumph of Aristotle in the schools. He was steeped in a knowledge of ancient authors, and his writings are permeated with classical quotations and allusions.
Akin to writers of Chartres because of his interest in nature though not of that school himself was another Englishman, adelard of bath, who appears to have lived until the middle of the 12th century. After travel, even into the Islamic East, he wrote and translated works on mathematics and astronomy. His Quaestiones naturales, in the form of a dialogue, tells of scientific matters he learned from the Arabs and of his own scientific observations. His De eodem et diverso states the case for philosophy and the liberal arts against the attractions of the world.
Monastic Authors. Away from the urban centers, monasteries continued to produce writers. The greatest personage of his age, St. bernard of clairvaux (1090–1153), came from this milieu. Second founder and soul of the Cistercian movement, he brought about its phenomenal spread through western Christendom. His activities on behalf of the papacy, against heresy, and in the organizing of the Crusades add an important page to history. Mystic that he was, his writings all bear the mark of his contemplation. His sermons are an heirloom of the Christian world. They gave great impetus to the affective devotion that began to characterize piety in the Middle Ages. His letters, a record of his zeal, are a rich source for the history of the first half of the 12th century. He left 15 treatises, some of them dogmatic, some ascetical and mystical. The De consideratione was written as a guide to his protégé Pope Eugene III, and he wrote likewise on the duties of bishops and the reform of the clergy. His life of St. Malachy is a masterly piece of hagiography. Bernard's Latin style was unsurpassed in the Middle Ages, the prose of his sermons often attaining lyrical beauty. The Bible was the chief source of inspiration in his writing, and he drew much on the Fathers, whereas he almost never cited classical authors.
History was enriched by good biographies of St. Bernard, one of them, incomplete, by william of saint-thierry, his friend and adviser, well read in the classics and familiar with certain works of the Greek Fathers. He wrote brilliantly on faith, on monastic life, on contemplation, and on the dignity and nature of love as against Ovid's idea of love.
In England aelred of rievaulx (d. 1166) became a Cistercian and came to know Bernard. He was a gifted writer, reflecting the affective quality of his own spirituality in his Speculum caritatis, his De Jesu puero duodenni, and his De spirituali amicitia. The work on friendship was based on Cicero but sublimated. It was one of about a score of treatises on the subject written in the course of a century, along with about as many commentaries on the Song of Songs. Aelred wrote also history and saints' lives.
isaac of stella, near Poitiers, was a Cistercian abbot who left exegetical works, a mystical explanation of the Canon of the Mass, and a De anima. Two other Cistercians, guerric of igny and adam of perseigne, left collections of sermons composed in the manner of St. Bernard.
peter the venerable (1090–1156), Abbot of Cluny, was second only to Bernard as a public figure in European ecclesiastical affairs. His collection of letters tells about the administering of the vast Cluniac congregation and gives interesting details concerning his relations with Bernard and Abelard. Some of the letters are theological in nature. His style is ordinarily very simple, but it rises to elegance on occasion. He had a translation of the Qur’ān made in Spain at considerable expense. Subsequently he wrote his work against the religion of Islam. Earlier he wrote works against the Petrobrusian heretics and against the Jews. His severity in these works was not in keeping with the general suavity of his character. He cared for the broken Abelard, who ended his days at Cluny. Under him the monastery possessed a remarkably fine collection of 500 manuscripts, 100 of them texts of the classics.
peter of celle (d. 1187) was another Cluniac monk and abbot who took active part in the affairs of the time. His collection of more than 225 letters shows that he was in correspondence with many important people, lay and ecclesiastic. His sermons and ascetical treatises are marred by an excessive use of allegory. He deplored the rising influence of Aristotelianism in the schools. hugh of amiens (d. 1164), Abbot of Reading and (1130) Archbishop of Rouen, wrote against heresy and simony and on Scripture.
In Germany the enigmatic figure who concealed his identity under the name Honorius Augustodunensis (not of Autun) wrote his voluminous works in the first half of the 12th century. Perhaps an Irishman, he calls himself solitarius, scholasticus, presbyter. In his continuation of the De viris illustribus he lists 22 works of his own—non spernenda opuscula. He wrote on Scripture, theology, catechetics, homiletics, liturgy, history, moral and politico-religious problems of his day, and natural science. In philosophy he was a Christian Platonist, in theology mainly Augustinian, but he preferred the dialectical method to citing authorities.
Firmly opposed to the use of dialectic, overly fond of allegory, rupert, abbot of deutz (d. 1130), wrote much in the various fields of theology and many poems in classical meters. He revealed a wide knowledge of ancient authors, whom he cited even in his theological works. In indignation he made a special trip into France to argue with Anselm of Laon and william of cham peaux against the use of dialectic. One of the most detailed apologetic treatises of the 12th century against Judaism came from his pen.
The most prolific writer of the century was the Bavarian gerhoh of reichersberg (d. 1169), a Canon Regular of St. Augustine. He was a man of great vehemence, irreproachable in his own character, except for his exaggerated severity, who incessantly attacked the evils of his time. His writings, many of which are still unedited, deal with the relations of Church and State, reform in the Church, and current theological controversies. Abelard, Gilbert de la Porée, and the school of Paris were attacked by him. He approved of St. Bernard. Though he shows a knowledge of the classics in his writings, he generally preferred to cite Christian authors.
Two German nuns made their mark in literature in the second half of the 12th century. St. hildegard of bingen (1179), who had only a very elementary education, dictated works on medicine and theology, knowledge of which she acquired in visions, and many letters. Her tomb was the scene of numerous miracles. herrad of landsberg (d. 1195), as abbess, had her Hortus deliciarum prepared for the instruction of her nuns. It consisted of extracts from Christian writers, ancient and medieval, on various religious subjects along with elaborate illustrations in color demonstrating truths of religion. The pictures imposed the garb and usages of the 12th century on scenes from Scripture. The original manuscript perished in the destruction of the library of Strassburg in 1870. Just what share the abbess had in the compilation of the book cannot be determined.
There were a number of writers among the followers of St. Norbert in his flourishing order of Prémontré. philip of harvengt (d. 1183) wrote learnedly on dogmatic and ascetical subjects and on the Bible with an effort at elegance in his style. Adam Scotus, Abbot of Dryburgh (d.c. 1210), wrote sermons in highly rhetorical style, which he preached to his religious, and works of ascetical and mystical nature. herman of scheda, a convert from Judaism, wrote (1137) a good Latin account of his conversion.
The Augustinian Canon hugh, Abbot of Fouilloy (near Corbie), wrote on the seven abuses of the cloister and against marriage. Among the Carthusians, two abbots general, guigo i (d. 1137) and guigo ii (d. 1188), composed beautiful meditations, and the latter left other works of piety.
The strange figure of joachim of fiore, founder of an order in Italy (1192), presents problems. He had a great reputation for sanctity in his lifetime, but his writings contained heresy and unfounded revelations concerning the future of the Church. As he was dying, however, he charged his brethren to submit his writings to the judgment of the Holy See. Some of his misguided followers adopted and further perverted his errors, causing great harm in the Church.
Paris and Theology. In the meantime, interest in theology continued to develop in Paris. Aside from the Victorines, walter of mortagne, opponent of Abelard, held forth in Paris, Reims, and Laon and wrote well on questions of philosophy and theology. robert of melun, of English birth, was associated with Peter Lombard in opposition to the teachings of Gilbert de la Porée. He wrote exegetical works and theological sententiae. From Italy peter lombard, to be known in the future as Magister Sententiarum, came to Paris, becoming its bishop in 1159. He wrote scriptural commentaries, but his fame is connected with his Libri IV Sententiarum (Sentences ). Based heavily on an earlier anonymous Summa Sententiarum, it is a systematic presentation of theology with prudent conclusions, but it is colorless and impersonal. These latter qualities masked its intrinsic greatness but ensured its future fame, because it was admirably suited to the needs of the many theologians who, next to the Bible, the sacra pagina, used it as their textbook and wrote commentaries on it. Among the commentators were Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure. The doctrine of the Lombard did not escape attacks. They came from John of Cornwall, and more bitterly from walter of saint-victor, Gerhoh of Reichersberg, and the heretical Joachim of Fiore, but the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) gave solemn approval to Peter's teaching. In Paris, peter of poitiers (d. 1205), professor and chancellor of the school of Notre Dame of Paris for 38 years, was the Lombard's faithful disciple and expositor. Other followers were peter cantor, who sprinkled his smooth Latin with references to the classics, and Cardinal robert of courÇon. Subsequent great names in philosophy and theology at Paris up to the 1230s were Nicholas of Amiens; alan of lille, who wrote poetry and a De arte predicatoria, as well as theology; simon of tournai; stephen langton; praepositinus of cremona; william of auxerre, who began the extensive use of the new Aristotle; and philip the chancellor (not philip of grÈve, whose writings are unknown), distinguished preacher and poet, as well as metaphysician and psychologist, author of the Summa de bono.
Canon Law. What Paris was for theology, Bologna was for Canon Law. The great canonist of the 12th century is the monk gratian, who somewhat as Abelard did for theology in his Sic et non, brought together (1139–41) Church law into his Concordantia discordantium canonum. Known also as the Decretum Gratiani, it contained, in addition to previous legislation, a commentary by Gratian himself, which, like Peter Lombard's Sentences for theology, became the textbook for canonists and the object of their commentaries. Among the commentators were three future popes, Alexander III, Gregory VIII, and Innocent III, as well as many other important ecclesiastical figures. The pursuit of Church law became more popular than the study of theology and was more lucrative. St. Dominic noted this as he directed his followers to the study of theology.
Letters in Britain. There had been a lull in the production of Latin writings in Britain for the long period of the Danish invasions. King alfred had kept the torch of knowledge burning through his interest in Latin and his translations into Old English. His biography attributed to Asser appears to be a later forgery, but the example he gave was an inspiration to writers, mostly bishops and abbots, of the 10th and 11th centuries, who kept patristic learning alive with their translations into the vernacular. The Norman invasions brought a renaissance of Latin in England, as has been seen, with scholars coming from abroad and Englishmen participating in the intellectual movement on the Continent.
A number of other 12th-century writers in Britain deserve mention. Eadmer (d. 1128?), monk of Christchurch in Canterbury, secretary and later biographer of St. Anselm, wrote, among other works on the Blessed Virgin, the first treatise in Latin on her Immaculate Conception. His Historia novorum is a valuable history of his time. The Welsh ecclesiastic geoffrey of monmouth (d. 1155?), in the guise of history, wrote down legends and stories of ancient Breton history, adding much of his own invention. His influence on English literature and that of all Europe has been enormous, whereas he did disservice to the cause of history. Gerald of Wales (giraldus cambrensis, or de Barri; c. 1147–1223), son of a Norman father and Welsh mother, educated in Paris, became one of the most prolific writers of his time. An ambitious ecclesiastic, a servitor of the English king, vain and egotistical but learned and of vast experience, he reveals himself as he writes on Wales and its clergy, on the English conquest of Ireland and of Irish topography, on the right of the See of St. Davids as against Canterbury, and in criticism of the Church, especially its wealth, of religious orders, and of the Roman Curia. Some school exercises of his in verse also have been preserved. Gerald's compatriot and friend walter map (1140–1210) was rather like him in character and manner of living. Walter's Nugae curialium, a title borrowed from John of Salisbury, brings his invective to bear on a multiplicity of things in varying style.
Peter of Blois (1135–c. 1204), well traveled, secretary to Henry II of England, archdeacon of Bath, chancellor of Abp. Richard of Canterbury, left sermons, many letters written with a classical touch, and a number of religious treatises. alexander neckham (1154–1217) left a De nominibus utensilium, an encyclopedia listing things used in daily life; a De naturis rerum; and a De laudibus sapientiae divinae (a versification of De naturis ), which reveal knowledge of ancient authors.
Historians. The 12th century produced some universal chronicles, such as those of florence of worcester, Hugh of Flavigny, robert of torigny, ordericus vitalis (Historia ecclesiastica ), Gui of Bazoches, and otto of freising, the last the most original historian of his century. The chronicling of the Crusades continued, and each country produced its chronicles, some of which have been mentioned. England stood out by its number of historians, the greatest of whom was the learned william of malmesbury. In Spain the Historia Compostellana, produced by several authors under the auspices of Abp. Diego Gelmirez, was a significant piece of biography and local history.
Latin Translations from Arabic and Greek. Spain was the center of many translations of Arabic work—philosophical, scientific, and pseudo-scientific. It was an indirect way of tapping Greek learning. Other centers of translation, especially of Greek texts, were northern Italy and Sicily. As a result of the labors of the translators, scholars of the 13th century had access to Greek and Arabic philosophy and science. Of a literary nature, though by no means elegantly written, were two translations from Oriental sources—the Historia septem sapientum, a tale that probably originated in India and came into Latin through Hebrew, and the Disciplina clericalis, a collection of Oriental maxims and stories presented in Latin by the Jewish convert to Christianity Peter Alfonsi.
Poetry. Versifiers multiplied in the 12th century, and among them there were many good poets. Rhythmical verse now prevailed and reached perfection. The gifted poets who wrote at the turn of the century have already been treated. Among many who made verse on ancient themes, Walter of Châtillon won fame for his Alexandreis (1182), a long epic on Alexander the Great. The De bello Troiano of Joseph of Exeter shows him to have been a consummate rhetorician, an emulator of Lucan. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote a pseudo-historical epic on Merlin. Better source material was found by poets in the history of their own times. Henry of Pisa wrote of the conquest of Majorca (1114–15) from the Saracens by his fellow townsmen. William of Apulia in 1111 composed an epic on the deeds of Robert Guiscard and his successors. An anonymous poet of Bergamo was one of several to write (1162–66) of the deeds of Frederick Barbarossa. Godfrey of Viterbo and Peter of Eboli, both admirers of Emperor Henry VI, found their themes in imperial history. The crusades stirred the imagination of many poets. Fulco and Gilo, both Frenchmen, wrote on the First Crusade. It is unfortunate that the epic of Joseph of Exeter on the crusading exploits of Richard I, the Lion-Hearted, is not extant except for fragments. Among the epics of the Crusades perhaps the best is that of the Florentine monk, bishop in the Latin East, who recounted the history of the Third Crusade in his De recuperatione Ptolemaide. Most of these epics were written in hexameters, but the bishop presented his in the accentual 13-syllable goliardic verse in rhyming stanzas. It is distinguished in both form and content. German poets wrote the lives of bishops and several epics on Frederick Barbarossa. The anonymous authors of the imperial accounts reveal their patriotism and no mean knowledge of classical poets.
Much satirical verse was composed attacking simony, the cupidity of chanceries and the Roman Curia, the morals of prelates and monks, and the evils of the time in general. Among the authors were Serlo of Bayeux, John of Salisbury, Nigel Wireker, Nivard of Ghent, peter the painter of Saint-Omer, Henry of Settimello, and Philip the Chancellor. The Architrenius (Archmourner) of John of Hauteville (Auville) mixes allegory with sympathetic descriptions of the indigent students of Paris and satire on the gluttony of the rich, the ambition of courtiers, and the vices of clergy and people. Best known of such verse is the pious De contemptu mundi of bernard of cluny, or Morlas. Composed in accentual dactylic hexameters with rhyme, it contains the lines from which Jerusalem the Golden was translated.
Comedy, which really amounted to versified tales with incidental dialogue, forerunners of the vernacular fabliaux, was composed in the 12th century in France and England. The Amphitryo, or Geta, was taken from Plautus by its author, Vitalis of Blois, who claimed the same source for his Aulularia, whereas it merely reproduced a work of the 4th century a.d. Other similar pieces were produced in France. English comedy was obviously modeled after the French.
Religious drama continued to develop out of the liturgy. In the 12th century it remained for the most part conservative and pious. But already there appeared the tendency to secularize it. Condemnations came from various sources, especially Pope Innocent III, which seem to have been directed at the feast of fools. The vernacular was beginning to displace Latin in the plays. The developing city life and the guilds were to take them over. In the 12th century the name of Hilary, a follower of Abelard, is connected with the authorship of plays on St. Nicholas, the raising of Lazarus, and the Prophets. Anonymous plays are contained in the collection Carmina burana of Benediktbeuern and in collections of Fleury and Klosterneuburg.
The broad term didactic may be used to characterize much of 12th-century verse. Proverbs, epigrams, and ancient fables were put into Latin verse, as were Biblical narratives and saints' lives. Much of the verse of Matthew of Vendôme was for the schools, e.g., his Synonyma, Equivoca, Ars versificatoria, and his art of writing versified letters, besides several poems that point a moral. Geoffrey of Vinsauf composed (c. 1210) his handbook on hexameter verse, Poetria nova, which amounts to a technical manual on the art of poetry. Eberhard of Bethune (d. c. 1212) was the author in part of a work in verse called Graecismus. He treated of Latin grammar, and sections on rhetorical ornaments were added by his pupils. The most important versified grammar of the Middle Ages was the Doctrinale (1199) of Alexander of Villa Dei. It was part of a vast encyclopedia that he was compiling. Another section of his research for the encyclopedia appeared as his versified Ecclesiale. It dealt with the ecclesiastical calendar and Canon Law. Alexander Neckham put much of his encyclopedia of popular science, De naturis rerum, into a composition in elegiac verse: De laudibus divinae sapientiae. The pedagogue John of Garland, who lived until c. 1258, wrote in prose and verse on grammar and rhetoric and some religious topics.
Some of the 12th-century philosophers used verse as a vehicle for their teaching. Bernard Silvestris of Tours and Chartres presented his allegorical treatment of cosmology, De mundi universitate, in mixed prose and verse. It is Neoplatonic rather than Christian in tone. godfrey of saint-victor (d. c. 1194) composed his Fons philosophiae in goliardic verse. It treats of the liberal arts, ancient and contemporary philosophy, and theology. The De mundi philosophia of a certain Milo, perhaps Milo Crispinus of Bec, consists of two books of verse on cosmology, especially astronomy. Alan of Lille was the author of a long allegorical poem, entirely in hexameters, on the creation of the soul by God. It moves from philosophy to theology, has beautiful lines on the Blessed Virgin, and ascends with Faith to the court of the Trinity. Another work of his, the De planctu naturae, is a mixture of prose and verse in several different meters. It amounts to a deification of Nature, who is made to deplore unnatural vice. A few shorter poems of Alan show his skill in accentual verse.
Theology and ecclesiastical subjects were often treated in verse. Sometime after 1083 fulcoius of beauvais composed versified letters, epigrams, epitaphs, saints' lives, and his long De nuptiis Christi et Ecclesiae. Some of his verse has only recently been edited. Richer of Metz wrote (c. 1135) a life of St. Martin of Tours in iambic and trochaic dimeters. The contents were based closely upon Sulpicius Severus. Between 1150 and 1160 Metellus, a monk of Tegernsee, composed a large number of odes in the manner of Horace on the life and miracles of St. Quirinus.
A monk of the monastery of St. Augustine in Canterbury, but a native of France, reginald, who was still alive in 1109, composed an epic of some 4,000 verses on St. Malchus, as well as verses on the saints buried or venerated in his monastery. He addressed three poems to St. Anselm during the saint's second exile. lawrence, monk of Durham (d. 1154), versified narratives from Scripture along with hagiographical stories in his Hypognosticon. He wrote poems on the history of his monastery, not forgetting to include spiritual lessons. peter riga, canon of Reims (d. c. 1209), composed his very long Aurora, mostly in distichs, on persons and things of the Old Testament. He collected his verse and added new poems, including some saints' lives, in his Floridus aspectus.
Lyric Poetry. The best known and most popularly appreciated genre among the 12th-century writings, and the part that deserves especially to be called literature in the strict sense, is the lyric verse. It is abundant and varied in theme and form. Some of it is secular, and some religious. Both meter and rhythm are employed in its composition. Both types of verse made increasing use of rhyme. The fact is worthy of note that in this century, just as skill in the use of many of the classical meters reached a high degree of proficiency, quantitative meter, depending on long and short syllables, should have yielded in popularity to rhythm, verse construction based on word accent. Accentual verse was not new in the 12th century, but it was then that it reached perfection and popularity.
It appears that accentual verse for the most part modeled itself on quantitative verse by substituting an accented syllable for the quantitative ictus and an unaccented syllable for one not having an ictus. This is most readily seen in iambic and trochaic verse. Sometimes accentual verse merely imitated the number of syllables of a metrical line or stanza, e.g., the sapphic strophe. The most interesting development in rhythmical poetry was the 13-syllable goliardic verse or line of the so-called wandering scholars. There existed no quantitative model for it in classical literature, but the form is found in the refrain of a hymn by Marius Victorinus (c. 350), in Mozarabic prayers, and in Middle High German. This verse has been described in various ways. Trochaic in nature, it divides into seven and six syllables with the accent on the antepenult (proparoxytone) at the end of the first part and on the penult (paroxytone) at the end of the second part. German scholars prefer to consider the first seven syllables as ascending to an accent (secondary) on the last, and the second six as falling, with the final syllable unaccented. English readers readily understand if the first part of the verse is considered to be seven-syllable trochaic dimeter catalectic, and the second, six-syllable trochaic. At times three goliardic rhyming lines were put together to form a strophe along with a fourth line in hexameter or pentameter taken from a classical or medieval author. The fourth line might rhyme with the others or not. The strophe has been called the goliardic strophe cum auctoritate. The goliardic line was used both for profane writings, serious as well as frivolous, and for religious subjects.
The Profane Lyric. In the 12th century, three authors stand out for their skill and productivity in the field of the secular lyric: Hugh of Orléans, known as Primas; the anonymous Archpoet; and walter of chÂtillon. They all wrote satirical pieces as well as lyrics. Walter, the most versatile of the three, made contributions in the field of religious poetry in addition to his secular verse. Hugh Primas was truly a wandering scholar in France; he was small in stature, dissolute, cynical, malicious, and far from handsome. He wrote (mostly occasional verse on his woes and animosities) in both metrical and accentual verse and was a master of rhyme. He was admired by his contemporaries for his skill. Fifty poems have been identified as coming from him. The German Archpoet was of a gentler character, grateful to German bishops for patronage, though bitter toward those who refused it. He wrote accentual verse by preference. His best known piece is his Confessio, in goliardic verse, an unabashed avowal of his life as a roué, for which he declares his penitence.
Walter of Châtillon also wrote both metrical and accentual verse. His epic, the Alexandreis, has been mentioned above. He was a master of satire, for which he used the goliardic strophe cum auctoritate very adroitly, as well as the trochaic Sequence-measure. He wrote lyrically of spring and love, and his frank eroticism contrasts with poems of his that are devoutly religious. A number of poems, mostly in goliardic verse, have been identified as the product of the "school of Walter of Châtillon." Serlo of Wilton, an English contemporary of Primas, the Archpoet, and Walter, wrote metrical verse of erotic character in his early life but underwent a conversion and as a Cistercian wrote religious poetry. Chancellor Philip of Paris (d. 1236) showed great skill in composing accentual verse, some of it religious, but the greater part of it satirical.
Collections of lyrical verse became common in the 13th century, and a number of manuscripts of these have been preserved. The most important such manuscript was found at the Abbey of benediktbeuern and is now in Munich. The collection was given the name Carmina Burana by its first editor. Its content is chiefly profane: themes of wine, women, and song, parodies on Biblical subjects and the liturgy, satire on the clergy and especially on the Papal Curia. Other collections of poems of lesser scope than that of Benediktbeuern are contained in an Arundel manuscript of the British Museum; a Vaticanus Latinus manuscript; a manuscript that belonged to the monastery of Ripoll; and one belonging to the University of Basel. The form of this verse in many cases is highly refined as regards the use of meter, rhythm, and rhyme. The influence of the classics is strong. Some of the verse is by authors who can be identified, but most of it is anonymous. Obviously it was the product of the schools and of ecclesiastics; it was circulated and appreciated in all lands of the West because the scholarly and ecclesiastical groups were international and their language was Latin. English readers have access to many specimens of secular Latin lyric verse with penetrating comment in the two volumes of F. J. E. Raby, and to translations along with the Latin in the works of Helen Waddell.
Poetical Debates. With the secular lyric may be mentioned the poetical debates, of which there were many. They reached back to classical rhetoric, but the medieval themes were frequently of a popular nature. Thus, winter and summer were made to debate, as were wine and water, wine and beer. A contest between the violet and the rose was written in goliardic verse. The debate about love supposed to be carried on at a council of the nuns of Remiremont appears to be the product of the mordant humor of a cleric. A similar debate in a different setting is attributed to Henry of Avranches, author of many poems. The treatise De amore of Andreas Capellanus, the most ambitious work on courtly love, seems to be a piece of lumbering humor and not a true picture of a medieval aberration in morals.
The Religious Lyric. As was the case with the profane, the religious lyric reached perfection of form in rhythmical verse during the 12th century. But, whereas the secular poetry depended for its success on its form, its naughtiness, its sharp satire, and biting humor, the religious, in equally impeccable form, conveyed solid spiritual and theological thought. Most of the religious authors remained anonymous. The volumes of the Analecta hymnica and the incipit 's of hymns listed by Chevalier bear testimony to their industry.
Hymns, Sequences, tropes, and rhythmical Offices formed the main body of this literature. In the early part of the century Hildebert of Lavardin surpassed his contemporaries in the quality of his religious verse. His long poem in accentual iambics, Lamentatio peccatricis animae, is a forerunner of the Dies irae. His Alpha et Omega is sublime praise of the Trinity. Abelard somewhat later composed a collection of hymns for use in the liturgical year. Prepared at the request of Héloïse for her nuns, it suffers because it was produced at one time and not gradually, as inspiration came. adam of saint-victor, with about 45 Sequences attributed to him, was the outstanding master of that genre in his century. His preferred verse form was the regular Sequence strophe: two to four accentual trochaic lines of eight syllables followed by a trochaic line of seven syllables, together with the use of a two-syllable rhyme and a regular caesura occurring at the end of a word. The restraint imposed by the requirements of the liturgy prevented Adam from injecting personal emotion into his Sequences. The highest level of inspired verse in the century was reached in the jesu, dulcis memoria, a hymn of affective devotion that came out of the milieu of St. Bernard's followers. It is filled with the spirit of Bernard's devotion, but it is not of his own composition. Hymn writing was to continue, and some of the greatest masterpieces among hymns and Sequences were produced in the next century.
The liturgical form known as the rhythmical Office began to develop as early as the 9th century. The genre was in vogue for six centuries thereafter. These Offices consist of the canonical hours of the Divine Office, with the exception of the Psalms and Lessons, put into meter, rhythm, or rhyming prose. About 600 such Offices are known, mostly in honor of patronal saints. The century of their greatest development was the 13th, and the most renowned among their authors was julian of speyer, a German Franciscan who became a choirmaster in Paris. In use in all the countries of Europe, these Offices brought large numbers of ecclesiastics into contact with verse.
Ars Dictaminis. The 12th and 13th centuries suffered from a discipline imposed upon them as regards the art of composition. Manuals called artes dictandi were put together in great numbers. The verb dictare and its derivatives had been used since antiquity to designate the composing of a piece of writing. There was need for rules of literary composition, but the treatises of the ars dictaminis became conventionalized and served to put literary writing into a straitjacket. The predecessors of these treatises in early medieval times were the collections of formulae intended to aid in the preparation of documents and letters. Beginning with the end of the 11th century, the production of the artes dictandi continued through the next two centuries. Their purpose was largely to serve the need of chanceries in composing documents correctly and elegantly. The first such treatises were connected with Italy and the name of Alberic of Monte Cassino (d.1108), though the extent of his work is not definitely established. Subsequently many others were composed in Italy, France, Germany, and England. They began to encompass all literary composition. Instead of adhering to good classical traditions they were inclined to insist too much on cadenced prose, the use of cursus, and tasteless rhetorical ornament. Under the influence of Cicero's De inventione and the Rhetorica ad Herennium, they imposed the rules of oratory on the writing of letters, so that spontaneity was sacrificed. Sermons were adversely affected because of the same techniques. A particularly illconceived trend was the attempt to moralize Ovid through allegorical interpretation. This movement, which came out of Orléans, was wisely repudiated by most contemporaries.
After the artes dictandi, Latin arts of poetry emerged in the course of the 12th century. Important names in their composition were Matthew of Vendôme, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Gervaise of Merkley, Evrardus the German, Alexander of Villedieu, and John of Garland. The arts poétiques have been admirably studied by E. Faral. The treatises are inclined to devote themselves to the beginning and conclusion of poetical writings and to give scant attention to the rest. They lose themselves in detail and are too much concerned with mechanical points. Thus they treat of amplificatio in an uninspiring way, not as a means of presenting ideas more vividly, but simply as a means of lengthening, and abbreviatio is for them only a means of shortening. Figures of speech are treated extensively but chiefly under the influence of the Rhetorica ad Herennium. These artes are helpful to modern scholars inasmuch as they give an idea of the literary taste of their age.
From the 13th Century to the End of the Middle Ages
The surveys of Latin literature published down to 1965 do not extend into the later Middle Ages, and for that period one must pursue the study of it in monographs, encyclopedias, periodicals, and specialized works on philosophy, theology, and the history of science. By the 13th century, philosophy and theology had taken over the dominant position in the scholarly world, and interest in literary works in Latin declined. Vernacular literature was developing rapidly, appealing as it did to a wide public, whereas Latin writings, limited as they were to scholarly circles, became more and more bookish. Works in philosophy and theology became abundant and reached a great perfection in the technical use of Latin and effectiveness of presentation.
Religious Poetry. Some of the theological writers made contributions to religious poetry. In fact the best, or at least the most loved, hymns and Sequences came in this period. The Golden Sequence, the veni sancte spiritus et emitte coelitus, attributed to stephen langton (d. 1223) rather than to Pope Innocent III, probably came out of the late 12th century in the days when Langton was a student or master in Paris, though it could have been composed at Pontigny during the years he waited there to take over his See of Canterbury. It is used as the Sequence of Pentecost Sunday. St. thomas aquinas wrote the Sequence and hymns for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The Sequence lauda sion salvatorem presents the theology of the Eucharist with the utmost precision in perfect Sequence rhythm and rhyme, with the controlled lyrical emotion that befits the liturgy and Aquinas's own intellectual approach to the mysteries of faith. The Tantum ergo is part of his pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium. Though the affective hymn adoro tedevote is commonly attributed to him, there are reasons for considering it the work of another author. A. Wilmart, through a study of the manuscripts, has restored the text of this beautiful hymn to its original form.
Franciscan piety produced much verse charged with religious emotion. St. bonaventure wrote verses on the Passion of Christ. john peckham, an English Franciscan who became archbishop of Canterbury, is the author of Philomena (Nightingale), one of the most appealing spiritual poems of the Middle Ages. Its theme is the Passion, and its form the rhythmical goliardic four-line strophe. Peckham wrote verses on the Blessed Virgin, as did the English canon john of hoveden, his contemporary. The latter wrote also much verse on the Passion. His Philomena is filled with pathos, but it is less attractive than that of Peckham. About the middle of the 13th century a Cistercian abbot, Arnulf of Louvain, wrote a rhythmical poem, De Passione Domini, full of effective devotion, in honor of the wounds of Christ. The famous Sequence commemorating Mary's sorrow at the foot of the Cross, stabat mater, is attributed to the Italian Franciscan jacopone da todi (d. 1306). He wrote many laude in Italian for popular devotion, including the Donna del Paradiso, which is more replete with emotion than the Stabat Mater, but is of the same inspiration. Both in the vernaculars and in Latin, poems in imitation of the hours of the Divine Office were made to depict scenes of the Passion. St. catherine of bologna (d. 1463) composed a poem of 5,610 verses, all ending in is, on the mysteries of the life of Christ and of Mary. The autobiography of her interior struggles composed by her in Italian was translated into Latin.
From the hands of the Franciscan biographer thomas of celano (d. c. 1260) appears to have come the diesirae, which eventually was introduced as the Sequence in Masses for the dead, though it was rather a sermon for the living. Both in form and content its inspiration goes back to Carolingian times and to the 12th century. Its theme, the Last Judgment, was frequently depicted on the tympanums of medieval cathedral portals. It is written in accentual trochaic dimeters in rhyming stropes of three lines. Magnificent musical accompaniments have been composed for it. A companion piece by an anonymous author is the Mater Misericordiae, a plea for Mary's help on Judgment Day.
Devotional Works in Prose. In connection with devotional poetry, prose works of similar inspiration should be considered. There were many of these on the life and suffering of Christ. St. bonaventure presents material for meditation on phases of Christ's life in his Lignum vitae. david of augsburg (d. 1272), a Franciscan, looked to Christ as the model of spiritual life in his writings. In his De contemplatione the Carthusian guigo deponte (d. 1297) presented a method of meditating on the life of Christ. The Speculum humanae salvationis, written no earlier than 1309, an anonymous work in 42 chapters of 100 lines each in rhyming prose, consists of meditations on Christ's life. Of very great influence in stimulating affective devotion to Christ and His Passion were the Meditationes in vita Christi. They were written before 1330 and have been incorrectly attributed to St. Bonaventure.
Dominican authors as well as Franciscan wrote on the life of Christ. Some of them, such as Hugh of Strassburg (d. 1268), are speculative; but the Horologium sapientiae of Bl. Henry Suso (d. 1366), a dialogue between himself and the Incarnate Word, is affective and lyrical, if not emotional. Simone Fidati (d. 1348), an Italian belonging to the Hermits of St. Augustine, used the Gospels to draw lessons, topically and not chronologically arranged, from the life of Christ. He repudiated scholastic argumentation and the parading of citations from pagan authors.
Most of these works on Christ were used by ludolph of saxony (d. 1377), a Carthusian, as he skillfully compiled and composed his elaborate Vita Christi, the most detailed chronological account of Christ's life attempted up to that time. Its affective spirituality had great appeal, and the influence of Ludolph on later authors is marked. Adolph of Essen (d. 1439) reflects the Vita Christi in his Meditations on the Life of Christ and His Mother; as did henry of herp (d. 1477), in his Theologia mystica; Jerome of Mondsee, in his De profectu religiosorum (c. 1458); and John Monbaer (d. 1501), in his Rosetum spirituale. Beyond the medieval period, Ludolph was used by St. Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Osuna, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, and Suitbert Moeden (d.1705).
Devotio Moderna and the German Mystics. The second half of the 14th century witnessed the rise of the devotio moderna. It was fruitful in writings from the time of its founder, Gerard groote (d. 1384). The great masterpiece of the movement was the De imitatione Christi, which apparently took final form at the hands of thomas À kempis, author of many spiritual treatises.
Out of Majorca came the zealous missionary and prolific author (more than 300 works) Raymond lull (d. c. 1316). His chief mystical works are in Catalan. A number of his writings exist in both the vernacular and in Latin. His Liber natalis pueri parvuli Jesu Christi was presented to King Philip the Fair. In the form of a vision, it presents six maidens personifying virtues who praise the Divine Child and then ask Philip to further Lull's program for converting the Muslims and Jews to Christianity. Lull's Ars generalis presented a method for the work of conversion. His purely literary works are in Catalan.
A group of German mystics of the Dominican Order flourished in the 14th century. Meister eckhart (d. c. 1327), founder of this movement, preached in German and left writings in both German and Latin. Impetuous and imprudent in his expression, he revealed a tinge of pantheism in his writings, which after his death brought about a condemnation of errors attributed to him. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in his writings. Johannes tauler (d. 1361), to whom several sermons and works are attributed, continued to voice the teachings of mysticism in more orthodox language. henry suso, with affective writings in both Latin and German, was of this group. In the next century Johann nider, op (d.1438), wrote practical works on moral theology, on how to live a good life and prepare for death, and on aspects of the religious life. His Formicarius uses ants as an example of how to live virtuously.
Spiritual Writers in France and Italy. In France Peter d'Ailly (d. 1420) and John gerson (d. 1429), outstanding figures in the scholarly world and in the conciliar movement, which they embraced in their efforts to settle the western schism, both wrote extensively on theology—175 works are attributed to D'Ailly, and 400 to Gerson—especially mysticism. The most profound philosopher and theologian of his age, Cardinal nicholas of cusa in the Diocese of Trier (d. 1464), who was active in the effort to bring about the reconciliation of the Greek Church with the Holy See, is especially celebrated for his teaching and his treatise De docta ignorantia.
In Italy, Bl. John dominici (d. 1419) wrote works of spiritual guidance in Italian, and scriptural commentaries in Latin, as well as his apology for a Christian renaissance in Lucula noctis. He formed in the Dominican way of life the future archbishop of Florence, St. antoninus (d. 1459), who, besides guiding religious life in the flourishing city of Florence, wrote his famous Summa moralis and his chronicle, the latter also with the purpose of teaching men how to live and hope and attain salvation. St. vincent ferrer, OP (d. 1419), native of Valencia, one of the greatest of medieval preachers, composed a De vita spirituali that was widely used as a manual. Four of his Latin sermons are the basis of his meditations on the life of Christ that were put into Spanish. His younger contemporary St. bernardine of siena (d. 1444), a Franciscan, emulated him in his vernacular sermons but was less effective in his Latin writings. Cardinal Juan de torque-mada, OP (d. 1468), renowned for his Summa de Ecclesia, wrote meditations on the life of Christ in Latin and a defense of the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden. The fiery preacher savonarola (d. 1498) has about 90 works in Latin and Italian attributed to him—on the spiritual life, the love of Christ, and the Passion.
Historians. History continued to be written in Latin, but before the end of the Middle Ages the vernacular had taken over to a great extent. matthew paris (D. 1279), Benedictine of St. Albans, is considered to be the greatest medieval historian of England, though numerous other Latin chronicles were written there. In France, Saint-Denis became the center of historiography for the kingdom. Beginning with Abbot suger on the reigns of Louis VI and VII, continuing with Rigord on Philip II, with the anonymous Gesta of Louis VIII and those of Louis IX and Philip III by William de Nangis, the chronicle reached almost to the 14th century in Latin. Then a French translation of chronicles was made that reached back to sources from the very beginning of Francia, and the Grandes chroniques de France continued to record French history in the vernacular. Latin was not, however, completely abandoned by French historians. Late in the 15th century it was used by Thomas Basin, Bishop of Lisieux, exiled by Louis XI, in his history of that king and his predecessor, Charles VII.
From a literary viewpoint the most interesting of medieval chronicles is that of the Franciscan salimbene (1221–c. 1289). His work, extending from 1167 to 1287, presents a history of the Franciscans and his own personal memoirs rather than universal history. It is full of digressions and anecdotes, with accounts of his wide travels and the many important personages he met. The Italian vernacular is visible in his style, beneath his Latin. Many other chronicles were written in Italy in the late Middle Ages.
Akin to history, and more or less serving its purpose, is historical and political verse. William the Breton was the author of a hexameter poem in 12 books, completed in 1224, on Philip Augustus of France. An unknown author, perhaps a Franciscan, wrote the Song of Lewes, a Latin poem written after the battle (1264). It shows considerable political wisdom on the author's part. A poem under the name of john of bridlington deals with the history of Edward III of England. John gower (d. 1408) wrote Latin verse on Henry IV, and against Richard II and the Lollards. His Vox clamantis dealing with the causes of the peasant uprising in 1381 describes the conditions of society and decries the evils existing among all its classes. In Germany, Jordan of Paderborn wrote in hexameter verse an allegorical satire, Pavo de natura saeculi (1291), in which he defended the rights of the emperor and the pope. The various participants are pictured as birds and animals. Bishop Leopold of Bamberg (d.1363) lamented in verse the passing of German power in Italy. In France a Latin poem in two books tells of the taking of Orléans by Joan of Arc.
In hagiography the period produced the Legenda aurea, stories of the saints arranged according to the sanctoral cycle of the liturgical year. The author, james of voragine, OP, archbishop of Genoa (d. 1298), wrote for the edification of the people. caesarius of heister-bach (d. 1245), a Cistercian, likewise wrote his Dialogus miraculorum, in 12 books, to edify. His life of St. Engelbert, Archbishop of Cologne (d. 1225), is one of the best hagiographical accounts by a medieval author. The numerous collections of exempla for the use of preachers, which often turn to hagiography for their material, are well represented by that of Cardinal jacques de vitry (d. 1240), Canon Regular of St. Augustine. His letters sent from the scene of the Fifth Crusade constitute a valuable historical source. Several biographies of saints came from the pen of the Belgian Dominican thomas of cantimprÉ, who died between 1263 and 1272. He made a study of bees, from which he drew lessons for Christian living, and composed an encyclopedia of natural science, Opus de natura rerum.
Epistolography. The art of writing letters in the later Middle Ages came under the influence of the artes dictaminis, and naturalness was sacrificed to mechanical phraseology. By the early 13th century chanceries had begun to preserve in registers copies of their letters and documents. Pope Innocent III, strong personality that he was, avoided the rigidity of dictamen in his own writings. Archbishop John Peckham of Canterbury composed his many letters according to its rules without seriously bad effect. The learned Franciscan scholar and gifted administrator robert grosseteste (d. 1253), Bishop of Lincoln, wrote his letters in good classical style.
Politico-Canonical Writings. Writings on government and Church-State relations became numerous in the period. The oldest of legal classics of England, the Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae, was composed by Rannulf de Glanville (d. 1190) or, perhaps, by his nephew, Bp. hubert walter. The greatest medieval work on law written in England was Henry de bracton's (d. 1268) De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae libri quinque. In France and Germany law books were being written in the vernacular. Even in the 15th century, Sir John Fortescue wrote in Latin on natural law and in praise of English law, though his greatest work is his Governance of England.
The additions to Canon Law were from time to time published in collections. Pope Gregory IX delegated to St. raymond of peÑafort, OP, the task of putting together the laws enacted since the Decretum Gratiani had been completed. Promulgated as the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234), this collection gave rise to many commentaries. Pope boniface viii added a book of Decretals (1298), and Pope john xxii published (1317) a collection made by Clement V.
The great authority of Innocent III in Christendom, his appeal to the indirect power of the papacy to justify his interference in matters of civil government, and his direct feudal suzerainty over vassal states (Aragon, Portugal, Sicily, and England) helped greatly to shape the theory of the numerous writers who championed the right of the papacy to the "two swords," the spiritual and the material. As St. Bernard had taught long before, the sovereign pontiff was to use the former and hand the latter over to secular rulers to be used for the Church. Pope Innocent IV had formulated the theory more emphatically in his struggle with Emperor Frederick II, who claimed sovereignty over both Church and State and expressed his claims in the writings of his legist, Peter of Vinea. The distinguished canonists hostiensis and William duranti the elder in the late 13th century wrote to advance proof for the temporal authority of the papacy. St. Thomas Aquinas was much more conservative than these canonists in his opinion of papal secular power. He adhered to the theory of Pope gelasius i and at most conceded an indirect power over secular government ratione peccati. Ptolemy of Lucca, who continued the De regimine principium of Thomas, agreed with Hostiensis and Duranti. On the other hand, a number of canonists of the same period held rather closely to the teaching of St. Gelasius.
Writings on Church-State Controversies and the Conciliar Movement. In the controversy between boniface viii and philip iv, the letters of Boniface are among the best known pieces of medieval writing. They claim nothing that had not been claimed before by the papacy, but after each letter Boniface had been obliged to retract his demands. The anonymous Disputatio inter clerum et militem emanating from Philip's camp repudiated all claims of the papacy to authority in secular affairs. Pamphleteers came to the defense of papal authority in temporal matters: Henry of Cremona, giles of rome, james of viterbo, and augustine triumphus. The last three were Augustinians. Somewhat later the Spanish Franciscan alvaro pelayo (d. 1349) wrote in the same vein.
On the side of the king the anticlerical Pierre Dubois, one of Philip's legists, is thought to have been the author of a Deliberatio, which accused Boniface of heresy and maintained that if the popes had ever possessed temporal authority over the kingdom of France they had lost it through prescription. Besides other polemical works of this nature, Dubois wrote an abbreviatio on how France could conquer Europe; tracts against the Templars; a De pace et bello; and a De recuperatione terrae sanctae, which dealt little with the Crusade but put together his ideas of reform. Also in the camp of the king, though more moderate, was the capable Dominican writer John of Paris (Quidort, who denied that the pope held the supreme temporal power and anticipated the conciliar theory by affirming that a council is greater than the pope. Outside of this controversy dante wrote his De monarchia to show the need of a universal monarchy and to defend the empire under Henry VI, which Dante looked upon as ideal, against encroachment by the Church. Dante also wrote his De vulgari eloquentia in Latin.
In the 14th century the controversy between Pope John XXII and Emperor Louis of Bavaria concerning the latter's election without papal approval gave rise to further antipapal writing. The nominalist philosopher william of ockham (d. 1349), an English Franciscan, wrote to support the independence of the State in relation to the Church. He rejected papal absolutism even in spiritual matters and advocated the general council as a check upon papal authority. In the same feud against the Avignon papacy marsilius of padua (d. 1342), professor at Paris, wrote his Defensor pacis, which began with the accepted medieval idea that monarchical authority is delegated by the people, but in its second part places the Church under the control of the State. He denied the divine institution of the papacy and insisted that even the decisions of a general council needed to be ratified by the civil legislator. john of jandun (d. 1328) of the faculty of arts in the University of Paris, an Averroist, held views similar to those of Marsilius and collaborated with him.
The movement for a general council as a solution for the Western Schism occasioned much writing. Gerson and D'Ailly have been mentioned as favoring the movement, which they supported with their pens. Ockham, Marsilius and John of Paris had previously insisted on the holding of councils as a means of controlling the papacy. A number of canonists pleaded for a council to cope with the exceptional problems arising from the Schism. This was the attitude of conrad of gelnhausen and Henry Heinbuche of Langenstein in the early days of the Schism. Later on, the leading canonist of his generation, Francisco zabarella, in his zeal for the conciliar theory, declared that the pope was only the first servant of the Church. From Spain came two staunch opponents of the conciliar movement who, after the Schism was ended, wrote vigorously in behalf of the papacy and against any further holding of councils at the time: Juan de Torque-mada and Rodrigo Sánchez de Arávalo (d. 1470).
Scientific and Encyclopedic Writing. There were no few writers on natural science in the later Middle Ages, as the studies of Lynn Thorndike and George Sarton attest. It must suffice here to mention the Franciscan roger bacon and the Dominican albert the great.
The best-known encyclopedist and compiler of the age was the Dominican vincent of beauvais (d. 1264?). He wrote a treatise on the education of the young men of noble families (De eruditione filiorum regalium ). His Speculum maius is a large work in three parts: doctrinale, historiale, and naturale. A Speculum morale that had been attributed to him is the work of another author. The Speculum doctrinale treats not only of theology but of all fields of learning. The Speculum historiale consists of passages taken from earlier historical accounts pieced together in chronological order down to c. 1264. The Speculum naturale takes excerpts concerning nature from previous authors, to secure which he had access to a good library. He himself made little contribution to scientific knowledge. There is a notable tendency on his part to make religious application of the lore he presents.
The demarcation between writers of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance is necessarily vague. Some of the authors treated in this article lived after the Renaissance could be considered to have started, and they have been included here because they seem to be medieval in spirit.
See Also: annals and chronicles; ars-praedicandi; cursus; hymnology; latin (in the church); spirituality, christian (history of).
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[a. k. ziegler]