Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Medieval Abbey of the Farfa: Target of Papal and Imperial Ambitions

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Medieval Abbey of the Farfa: Target of Papal and Imperial Ambitions

Article excerpt

The Medieval Abbey Of Farfa.- Target of Papal and Imperial Ambitions, By Mary StrOll. [Brill's Studies in Intellectual History, Volume 74] (Leiden: Brill. 1997. Pp. xiii, 298.)

Mary Stroll has produced a welcome addition to the growing number of local studies on church reform in Italy. Her book presents a detailed analysis of the investiture controversy and the expansion of papal power from the point of view of a large central Italian monastery, the abbey of Farfa, examining the fight between regnum and sacerdotium through the eyes of a third party that was directly involved in the events. Stroll succeeds well in showing the complexities of the political dimension of church reform, and her book demonstrates just how important third parties such as Farfa were in the battle between pope and emperor. Throughout the book the author follows closely primary source materials found in Farfa, and although at times the book reads a bit like a summary of Gregory of Catino, the monk at the abbey responsible for the bulk of the documents, Stroll is also careful to note the possible biases and motives of Gregory and to place the documents within a larger historical context. Moreover, Stroll always keeps in mind that the reform movement was never monolithic but conceived in disparate ways by different players at different moments. She shows not only how the priorities of reform changed over time, but also traces well the development and transformation of ideas that individuals such as Gregory VII and Henry IV underwent during their lifetimes. The book contains good maps of the region which make finding obscure places easy, but unfortunately no genealogies, which would have been helpful, particularly in the case of the Ottaviani and the Crescenti, whose members are frequently mentioned. …

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