French Michael, Religious depictions: written representations of Anglo-Norman churchmen (1066-1135)

French Michael, Religious depictions: written representations of Anglo-Norman churchmen (1066-1135), thèse soutenue en 2015, (dir. J. Hudson, University of St Andrews)

Résumé/abstract :

This thesis explores the depiction of ecclesiastical restorers in narrative sources in England between c.1070 and 1130. It examines the way in which contemporaries wrote about churchmen who were engaged in restoring the English Church, particularly the actions which were attributed to them. While a great deal has been written about ideas of Church reform from the time, little has been done to set out who might actually be considered a restorer. Narrative sources offer a window through which to assess the themes which most concerned writers of the time. The thesis focuses upon chronicles and saints’ Lives to delve into these themes, as it seeks to identify the criteria by which writers assessed churchmen who attempted to restore the Church. Certain common trends will be identified. However, it will also be argued that different contexts and commentators honed the image of the restorer so that the needs of communities and their particular members shaped ideas of the figures under discussion. The examination is split between four chapters, each addressing an important aspect in the depiction of the restorer. Chapter One looks at the importance of material restoration, through the recovery of lost lands and the rebuilding of churches. Chapter Two looks at how writers depicted restorers correcting morals in England and improving monastic customs, particularly saints’ cults. Chapter Three explores the notion of ‘right order’ and how it was important for churchmen to ensure that the correct hierarchy was restored. The fourth and final chapter examines the personal characteristics expected of a restorer, such as industry, prudence and learning, as well as descriptions of saintly restorers. Finally, the conclusion tests its findings against writing from different times and places, namely other European writing from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries and tenth-century England.

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