Handbooks for Carolingian priests III

 An international workshop

Utrecht, November 4th, 9.00 – 17.00, Janskerkhof 15A, room 0.04

On Friday, November 4th, a small international group of experts gathered in Utrecht to discuss a fascinating and little studied corpus of Carolingian manuscripts: those once used by ninth-century priests as handbooks for their daily ministry. Earlier workshops have discussed the surprising wealth of this material, which sheds new light on the Carolingian efforts of reform and correctio, but also on our ideas of early medieval Christianity, on distribution and communication of knowledge, on the role of bishops as ‘managers’ of their diocese and of priests as corridors through which knowledge and ideas were communicated to the lay population of the Frankish empire.

In the course of the past years, an increasing number of manuscripts have come to the light that may well qualify as ‘priest manuscripts’. At the same time, it has turned out that the clear division in ‘instruction-readers’ (used as handbooks) and ‘schoolbooks’ (used for educational purposes) devised by Susan Keefe may be over-schematic. In this workshop, we will first of all discuss this problem, and see whether we can find any clear criteria to recognise handbooks for local priests, and if not, how we should deal with the sliding scale between Keefe’s two categories. Secondly, since we have two foreign experts on the cult of the saints in our midst, we will tackle another problem: one element conspicuously absent in this material is the cult of the saints, with the possible exception of (fragments of) martyrologies in a few manuscripts, a very puzzling issue.

The programme :

9.00 – 11.00:

– Steffen Patzold and Carine van Rhijn, Introduction

– Rob Meens: Does size matter? About some material characteristics of manuscripts for priests as a distinguishing factor


– Els Rose: Does language matter? About the Latin(ity) of manuscripts for priests


11.00 – 12.30:   

– Monika Wenz: Do contents matter? Can we distinguish ‘typical contents’ by which we can recognise a manuscript intended for a priest?


– Bastiaan Waagmeester: Why clm 14508 is, without a shadow of a doubt, a manuscript for a local priests


Lunch and a little walk for those who do not know Utrecht/need fresh air


– Sarah Hamilton: What do martyrologies tell us about the use and users of manuscripts? or: did priests have martyrologies, and if so, why (not)?

– Hedwig Röckelein: Why do we have no saints in manuscripts for local priests?

16.00-17.00 coffee and final discussion


Our special guests of the day are the following (in alphabetical order):

Sarah Hamilton is professor of medieval history at the university of Exeter, and especially interested in early medieval liturgy, herresy, clerical culture, the relations between clerics and laity, especially in the period between 900 and 1100, all of which feature in het publications. More here: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/staff/hamilton/publications/

Steffen Patzold is professor of medieval history at the university of Tübingen, and one of the founding fathers of this series of workshops. He has written about many facets of early and high medieval religious and political history, amongst many other things about Carolingian priests, their knowledge and their manuscripts. More here: http://www.mittelalter.uni-tuebingen.de/?q=personen/patzold/patzold.htm

Hedwig Röckelein is professor of medieval history at the university of Göttingen, who published widely on early medieval religion, relics, saints’ veneration, manuscripts, monastic culture (to mention just a few of her many interests). At the moment she leads a project about the transfer of non-religious knowledge from Late Antiquity into early medieval Christian contexts. More at https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/74108.html

Monika Wenz is finishing her PhD about Carolingian priests’ manuscripts at the university of Tübingen, with a special emphasis on the types of knowledge contained in these books. She is interested in the education of local priests, and more in general in ‘religious knowledge’ in the Carolingian world. More here: https://www.uni-tuebingen.de/forschung/forschungsschwerpunkte/graduiertenkollegs/gk-religioeses-wissen/kollegiaten-postdocs-ab-2014/monika-wenz.html