Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hugh of Amiens and the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hugh of Amiens and the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

Article excerpt

Hugh of Amiens and the Twelfth-Century Renaissance. By Ryan P. Freeburn. [Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West.] (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 201 1. Pp. xiv, 276. $1 19.95. ISBN 978-1-4094-2734-6.)

Hugh of Amiens does not figure prominently among the intellectuals associated with the "Twelfth-Century Renaissance." Born c. 1085, monk of Cluny from 1112 and prior of Cluniac houses at Limoges and Lewes before his appointment as abbot of Reading in 1123, he served as archbishop of Rouen from 1129/30 until his death in 1164 and was somewhat on the sidelines of the intellectual ferment of his times. He participated in some of the church councils where theological disputes were played out and challenging ideas put under scrutiny. He also wrote, leaving a range of texts that reflect the contemporary debates and academic developments, even if at something of a distance from the energy of the schools.

Hugh has not attracted much previous academic attention, yet Ryan P. Freeburn considers him worthy of a monograph- "he played a much more central role in the twelfth century than many people realize, especially in the early development of systematic theology" (p. 2). It is a striking claim; whether it is substantiated is a matter of opinion.

The writings provide the core for Freeburn's treatment. There is a first, short chapter outlining Hugh's life and career; thereafter, the remaining chapters deal with his works. The book is not a full biography. Most noticeably, it offers no real examination of Hugh's career within the church and activities as archbishop. Others have dealt with these, and Freeburn is largely content simply to mention their theses and publications and then focus on his own priorities. This does mean, however, that the works seem to float a bit, detached from their author as a career ecclesiastic deeply involved in the real world.

Essentially, chapters 2 to 10 work through the corpus, in something like chronological order. …

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