Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Transformation of a Religious Landscape. Medieval Southern Italy, 850-1150

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Transformation of a Religious Landscape. Medieval Southern Italy, 850-1150

Article excerpt

The Transformation of a Religious Landscape. Medieval Southern Italy, 850-1150. By Valerie Ramseyer. [Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past.] (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 2006. Pp. xviii, 222. $42.50.)

In the second half of the twelth century the office of the archbishop of Salerno was held by two imposing figures: Romuald II of Salerno (1 153-1 181), medical expert, possible author of a world chronicle, diplomat, and at varying points royal adviser, and Nicholas (1 182-1222), son of the royal vice-chancellor and himself a leading figure in the highest political circles of Southern Italy. Both these men added to the prestige of the Salernitan church and at the same time enhanced their own standing through their position at the head of what seemed a well-organized and lucrative archdiocese. Valerie Ramseyer's clear and well-informed survey demonstrates the extent to which this more efficient and structured archiepiscopal system found in Salerno after 1150 was a relatively recent development. The work actually focuses primarily on the Church in the Principality of Salerno in the period 850 to 1150, but the author's ability to draw repeatedly comparisons and contrasts with other regions of Southern Italy justifies the study's wider title. Ramseyer traces in detail the long and uneven process in which the archdiocese of Salerno was reorganized, reformed, and centralized under the archbishop's rule: a development which only seemed to take shape from around 1000 and was far from complete by 1100. The work also covers the emergence, over a similar period, of the abbey of Cava, just outside Salerno, into a highly organized religious complex, under a more structured Benedictine monastic rule. Cava acquired a host of religious foundations, governed them centrally, and wielded territorial power, all of which was done autonomously from the archbishop of Salerno, through papal approval.

Before the rise of these two religious networks in the eleventh century, the ecclesiastical map of the Principality of Salerno consisted of a patchwork of religious houses built by local families and consortia (associations). …

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