Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Formation of a Medieval Church: Ecclesiastical Change in Verona, 950-1150

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Formation of a Medieval Church: Ecclesiastical Change in Verona, 950-1150

Article excerpt

The Formation of a Medieval Church: Ecclesiastical Change in Verona, 9501150. By Maureen C. Miller. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. 1993. Pp. xx, 216. $35.00.)

This tidy book offers a clear description of the evolution of ecclesiastical institutions in a major diocese of the Veneto in the central Middle Ages. The work grew from a Harvard dissertation, of which it still bears some traces (the definitions on pp. 1, 2, 62, 97 of basic concepts are superfluous for a scholarly audience). Beyond the introduction, six crisply written chapters and a telegraphic conclusion support the thesis that "profound," rapid," and "important" change took place in the Veronese church during the two centuries upon which Miller focuses (A.D. 950-1150). Veronese archival and published sources enable Miller to show that after about 1000 Verona's bishops increased their control over the diocese, and especially over the many new" parish churches appearing in these two hundred years (chap. 6). As imperial involvement in diocesan affairs slackened and a comune emerged, new ecclesiastical forms developed: the secular clergy was reorganized and its pastoral duties increased (chap. 2); the cathedral chapter lost authority (chap. 5); and non-Benedictine pious foundations proliferated (but not only because of the patronage of the new classes of people this period produced: chaps. 3-4). Miller identifies the cause of all this ferment: demographic growth.

Miller seldom leaves the shadow of Verona's campanili in her study. Both this narrow geographical focus, and the concern for a famously decisive period of "reform" in western Christendom, make The Formation of a Medieval Church stolidly traditional. But the institutional history of Verona's church in the Gregorian era is admirably situated by Miller in its social context, which renders this book different from much church history. One example of the results of this choice are the minibiographies (pp. 157-163,165-174) of Bishop Rather (d. 972) and of the surprisingly human, embattled Bishop Tebaldus (d. 1157). These sketches successfully link the evolution of the bishopric to specific circumstances in the two men's lifetimes. Miller's navigation of the breakwaters between institutional and religious history imparts nuance and strength to her book. …

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