Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Church Reform and Social Change in Eleventh-Century Italy: Dominic of Sora and His Patrons

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Church Reform and Social Change in Eleventh-Century Italy: Dominic of Sora and His Patrons

Article excerpt

John Howe, Church Reform and Social Change in Eleventh-Centuty Italy: Dominic of Sora and his Patrons (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997). xxiii + 220 pp. ISBN 0-8122-3412-X. L35.00.

There is a fairly strong and revealing hagiographical tradition about St Dominic of Sora (?c.96o-1031/2), who exemplifies a kind of itinerant preaching allied to eremitism which was current in parts of Italy well before the papally directed reforms of the later eleventh century. John Howe traces his itinerary. He trained to be a priest in a monastery near his native Foligno but became a monk and then a hermit in the vicinity of Farfa. From there, he crossed to the Abruzzi and eventually returned westwards to the region of the upper Liri. His travels were punctuated by monastic foundations, until he settled during his last years near Sora. There, a centre of pilgrimage was established after his death. Howe well sets Dominic's work against the social background of the incastellamento which concentrated populations upon hilltop sites and facilitated seignorial exploitation. His most valuable chapters deal with the consequences of, and changes in, monastic patronage; during his lifetime, Dominic was assisted by such patrons as the counts of Marsia and Valva, but after his death a 'great patronage shift' operated to the advantage of major abbeys like Montecassino and Farfa. The links between Dominic's monasteries were in any case personal rather than institutional and, with somewhat varying fortunes, they passed gradually into the possession of greater houses. …

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