Imperial Ideologies and Ecclesiastical Reforms in the Carolingian World


In the late eighth and early ninth century, the Carolingian Empire was marked by a series of far-reaching ecclesiastical and social reforms. Charlemagne continued earlier efforts to improve the state of the Frankish Church – efforts which were given a renewed impetus upon his imperial coronation in 800. His heir, Louis the Pious, picked up where his father left off, starting from his own coronation by Charlemagne in 813. Louis and his court profited from the momentum generated by their predecessors, but gave their own spin to the reforms as well, and widened their scope ever further.

This project takes a fresh look at the key sources and players in these optimistic decades, when the legacy of the Merovingians gave way to Charlemagne's empire-building and Louis’ the Pious idealism. It offers new interpretations of the movements behind the ecclesiastical correctio-movement, and reflect on the self-awareness of the main actors and authors contributing to these reforms. From the massive compilation known as the Institutio Canonicorum to the work by individual intellectuals such as Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel and Benedict of Aniane, this project treats the correctio-movement as something that was greater than the sum of its parts.

In doing so, it aims to demonstrate that the development of imperial authority under the Carolingians was driven, firstly, by a high degree of interdependence between monastic communities and the court, and secondly, by a profoundly diverse discourse about the responsibilities that came with being a good Christian in a good Christian empire.

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