Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Reform of the Frankish Church: Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula Canonicorum in the Eighth Century

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Reform of the Frankish Church: Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula Canonicorum in the Eighth Century

Article excerpt

The Reform of the Frankish Church: Chrodegang of Metz and the Regula canonicorum in the Eighth Century. By M.A. Claussen. [Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought-Fourth Series, Vol. 61.] (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2005. Pp. xiv, 342. $80.00.)

This is an extremely welcome book. It fills what has been a significant gap in our knowledge of the eighth-century Church, and it puts Chrodegang firmly on the map as bishop, reformer, founder of Gorze, and patron of Lorsch. It draws attention to the importance of the councils of Ver, Verberie, and Attigny dominated by Chrodegang, and it analyzes the Rule for canons in scrupulous detail. The analysis of the Rule takes up a good third of the book. Claussen examines the relationship between Chrodegang's instructions for canons and Benedict's for monks, showing exactly how they differ-though here (and indeed elsewhere) it is perhaps a pity that no translation is provided for lengthy passages in Latin: the effect will be to put off students, who could learn a great deal from the discussion. Claussen goes on to look at Chrodegang's dependence on Gregory the Great, Caesarius of Aries, and also Pomerius, author of De vita contemplativa. The discussion of Pomerius is particularly useful; it provides a full description and evaluation of an important but understudied work. All this analysis Claussen achieves with a keen sense of the value of intertextuality which allows him not only to note where Chrodegang departs from or disagrees with his sources, but also where he appears to be pushing his own clergy further than the basic text of his Rule implies. In the final third of the book Claussen opens up his discussion to look at Chrodegang's ideas for the community of Metz as a whole-to be thought of as a new hagiopolis, comparable in certain respects with Rome. For this he draws attention to the evidence for the bishop's involvement in liturgical reform in his own city, which involves both archaeological and art-historical material (notably the chancel of St. Pierre-aux-Nonnains) and also those liturgical manuscripts which have been associated in one way or another with Chrodegang or Metz. Claussen's reading of the Rule and of Chrodegang more generally is totally convincing, and provides us with a fixed point, to put alongside Boniface, for understanding the Frankish Church in the generation before Charlemagne. Perhaps inevitably, in doing so Claussen leaves us with questions which need more consideration-though some may well prove to be insoluble. …

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