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«Matthew Zimmern A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of St. Andrews 2007 Full metadata for this item is available in ...»

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OF LIÈGE, C. 700-980

Matthew Zimmern

A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD

at the

University of St. Andrews


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This item is protected by original copyright Hagiography and the Cult of Saints in the diocese of Liège, c. 700-980 By Matthew Zimmern Submitted January 31st 2007 in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy I, Matthew Zimmern, hereby certify that this thesis, which is approximately 100, 000 words in length, has been written by me, that it is the record of work carried out by me and that it has not been submitted in any previous application for a higher degree.

Date signature of candidate I was admitted as a research student in September 2002 and as a candidate for the degree of PhD in September 2003; the higher study for which this is a record was carried out in the University of St Andrews between 2002 and 2007.

Date signature of candidate I hereby certify that the candidate has fulfilled the conditions of the Resolution and Regulations appropriate for the degree of PhD in the University of St Andrews and that the candidate is qualified to submit this thesis in application for that degree.

Date signature of supervisor In submitting this thesis to the University of St Andrews I understand that I am giving permission for it to be made available for use in accordance with the regulations of the University Library for the time being in force, subject to any copyright vested in the work not being affected thereby. I also understand that the title and


will be published, and that a copy of the work may be made and supplied to any bona fide library or research worker, that my thesis will be electronically accessible for personal or research use, and that the library has the right to migrate my thesis into new electronic forms as required to ensure continued access to the thesis. I have obtained any third party copyright permissions that may be required in order to allow such access and migration.

Date signature of candidate Contents Chapters Page Numbers Abstract Acknowledgements Abbreviations Maps

1. Introduction 1-8

Part I: The Episcopal Hagiography of the diocese of Liège

2. The episcopal hagiography of Liège to the end of the eighth century 9-52

3. The later Lives of Lambert and the school of Liège, 900-920 53-75 Part II: Reform and the cult of saints

–  –  –

This thesis takes the hagiographical texts written in the diocese of Liège between approximately 700 and 980 and examines them in their political, social and cultural context. It analyses the texts by paying particular attention to how the authors expressed their concerns about issues that were important to them through the medium of hagiography and the saints’ cults, the purposes for which the texts were employed and how these aims were reflected in the retelling of saints’ legends. By taking this approach, analysing a substantial body of valuable but under-studied source material over a period of three centuries, for an important region, it provides a new perspective on a range of issues, significant people and places. The regional approach helps to show the close interconnectedness between many of these people, places and texts, including those connections that exist over a period of centuries as well as those networks vital to early mediaeval society that existed between contemporaries. Close examination of the body of texts highlights the importance of the cult of saints at all levels of society and demonstrates the value and versatility of hagiography as a means of storytelling.


Firstly I would like to thank my supervisors, Julia Smith and Simon MacLean, Julia for getting me started on this topic and Simon for helping me bring it to a conclusion.

I should also thank everybody in the department of mediaeval history at St Andrews;

my examiners, Robert Bartlett and Paul Fouracre; the university libraries at St Andrews and Cambridge; Wolfert van Egmond, Marco Mostert and Katy Cubitt, for providing me with very useful advice and suggestions. Apologies to anybody I’ve missed. Finally, thanks to my family for all their support.

Abbreviations Due to reasons of space, all book and article titles in the footnotes have been abbreviated. They can all be found in the bibliography, but some of the most

important titles and series are abbreviated as follows:

–  –  –

The recent study of early mediaeval hagiography and the cult of saints The Liège region was a very significant one in the period from approximately 700 to the end of the first millennium. It held the ancestral lands of the Carolingian family, located around modern day Liège itself and stretching as far as Aachen, the place that became the empire’s symbolic and ritual centre. The region remained one of the family’s central places throughout their rise to dominance at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries, and the break-up of their empire at the end of the ninth century. After the fall of the last Carolingian emperor Charles the Fat in 887, the region was contested by locally influential aristocratic families until it was absorbed into the Ottonian Empire in the middle third of the tenth century. As well as being, both metaphorically and physically, central in the political development of Frankish Europe, the Liège region was one of the main centres of Frankish cultural activity. The imperial chapel and court at Aachen were starting points and centres for the wide range of developments and projects known as the Carolingian Renaissance by modern historians. Despite the political fragmentation of the region until the Ottonians extended their authority over it, and the threat of Viking and Hungarian raiders to its ecclesiastical centres, the diocese of Liège remained a vibrant region at the forefront of developments in monasticism, literature, philosophy, and theology.

This study will help to illuminate some of these developments, through the particular perspective of hagiography, a type of writing in which the authors of the diocese were particularly skilled and productive.

The study of hagiography and the cult of saints among historians has been transformed during the last 25 years, and the starting point for the methods used in the modern study of hagiography was the work of Peter Brown, primarily in his The Cult of the Saints.1 Brown provided a range of approaches and attitudes to the study of the cult of the saints that had previously not been considered, and which have since become central to the study of what is now recognised as one of the most important phenomena in mediaeval religious and cultural life. Of the many important points he

1 Brown, The Cult of the Saints.

1 made in his work, one of the most important was that the cult of saints should not be seen merely as a manifestation of the worst kind of popular superstition. He argued instead that it was a complex and sophisticated form of devotion that did not engage merely ‘the masses’, but was also developed by, and played a central part in the lives of, some of the most prominent individuals of the age considered in the book, which focussed on the fourth to sixth centuries.

Brown demonstrated the central importance of the saint as patron, showing how men such as Paulinus of Nola, Ambrose of Milan and Gregory of Tours conceived of their saints, and developed their cults, in a fashion that reflected the world of late antique social conventions, in which the patron (patronus) played a central part. The patron saint was a reflection of earthly patrons, a guide, guardian and intercessor with God.

In this and in many other areas, The Cult of the Saints demonstrated the value of taking social, cultural, intellectual and political contexts into account in the study of its subject, proving how such factors could shape cults and texts, and how the cults could provide a fruitful and fascinating window with which to study the world that formed them.

Although The Cult of the Saints began in the age of St Augustine and ended with Gregory of Tours, the ideas outlined above, along with others from the work, soon became incorporated into the study of the cults of saints throughout the early middle ages. Other studies published at approximately the same time as The Cult of Saints, such as Patrick Geary’s Furta Sacra, focussed upon one aspect of the cult of saints, in this case the thefts of relics, their implications in terms of social and religious history, the mentality of the thieves, and the texts associated with the thefts. This approach contributed to the new approaches to the study of hagiography also inspired by Peter Brown that became prevalent from this point.2 A large part of the most recent work done on the subject has taken the form of detailed studies of the hagiography from one area or monastery, by one author, or concerning one particular saint. The results of this focus have been extremely fruitful.

It has demonstrated how the cult of the saints in different areas, including Francia,

2 Geary, Furta Sacra.

2 Ireland, England and Brittany, worked in different ways. It has also allowed historians to analyse the circumstances and contexts of the production of each text in detail, showing how these specifics played a part in their creation, whilst also allowing exploration of the development of cults over a relatively long duration. Significant studies of this type on the hagiography of the Frankish kingdom include Thomas Head’s study of the hagiography of the diocese of Orléans over 4 centuries. 3 Paul Fouracre’s work on seventh and early eighth century Merovingian hagiography represents a different approach that has also become more popular in recent times.4 It deals with the vitae of controversial saints who were deeply involved in politics during their lifetimes, with many of those lifetimes ending in murder. For the earlier Frankish period, Gregory of Tours has received a great deal of attention, with all his major works translated and numerous studies written concerning him and his world.

Other works that deal with general trends in early mediaeval monasticism, such as Mayke de Jong’s contribution to the New Cambridge Medieval History, are useful.5 The focussed approach to studying hagiography is an extremely valuable and profitable one, but it also means that some places, saints and authors miss out entirely on becoming subjects of study, and this has remained the case despite the aforementioned expansion of interest in the subject. An area which has been neglected in this fashion is the diocese of Liège, which has received very little attention in English language scholarship, and not a particularly large amount from continental historians of hagiography. My aim in this dissertation is not to argue a case against any other historian who has studied the region or the subject, but to examine the hagiography of Liège from a viewpoint that has not been taken before using this group of texts. This approach has been taken with the hope that it will provide further insights into the workings of the cult of saints and hagiography both in general terms and relating specifically to this area that was so important culturally. In showing the importance of hagiography by setting it in the relevant contexts it can also add new insights into those important areas in which it played a vital part, such as politics and monastic reform, in which the study of the cult of saints has previously been often considered only as a side issue.

3 Head, Hagiography.

4 Fouracre, ‘Merovingian history and Merovingian hagiography’; Fouracre & Gerberding, Late Merovingian France.

5 M. de Jong, ‘Carolingian Monasticism’.

3 The cult in this area that has received the most recent attention, largely due to its associations with the rise of the Carolingian family, is the career, early hagiography and cult of St Lambert. Lambert’s cult has not been the central subject of study by any English-speaking historian, but it has had fairly full sections devoted to it by Ian Wood in his recent article on Pippinid genealogies and by Richard Gerberding in more than one study.6 Paul Fouracre’s work on Merovingian hagiography noted above is important when considering Lambert’s career and death. Lambert has also received attention from continental historians, with Jean-Louis Kupper’s article on the hagiography of the saint still the best work on the subject.7 Although Lambert has received some recent historical attention, the other two bishops of Liège who became saints during this period, Hubert and Servatius, have been two of the most neglected of all the saints of the diocese. There has been almost no work done on Hubert before the translation of his relics to Andage in the south of the diocese in 825, and the work concerned with the post-Liège period has focussed upon the reform of Andage and the translation as part of the bishops’ efforts to develop formal church structure in that rural area of their diocese.8 The hagiography of Servatius received some attention in the late nineteenth century, being the subject of a study by Godefroid Kurth, and the saint’s earliest vitae were edited a year later in the first edition of the Analecta Bollandiana.9 From that point, Servatius’s cult at Maastricht has only been studied since the beginning of the new millennium, in the context of interest in the role of the town in the region.10 Hagiography is also closely linked to the reform of monastic life in many instances, and this was the case in the Liège area during this period. The development of Hubert’s cult at Andage, the nature of the cult of saints at Benedict of Aniane’s model monastery of Inden, and the tenth century reform movement of Gerard of Brogne have been studied because they were, in different ways, associated with reform. The 6 I. Wood, ‘Genealogy defined by women’; R. Gerberding, The Rise of the Carolingians; idem, ‘716’.

7 J-L Kupper, ‘Saint Lambert’.

8 See below, footnote 15.

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