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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1306: Texts and Identities, XI: Religious Alterity and Textual Control

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 16.30-18.00

Organisers:Gerda Heydemann, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien
Rob Meens, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Moderator/Chair:Philippe Depreux, Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, Université de Limoges / Institut Universitaire de France
Paper 1306-aQuae enim societas luci ad tenebras?: The Papal Charge of Heresy against Others in the 8th and 9th Centuries
(Language: English)
Clemens Gantner, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Paper 1306-bThunder over Lyons: Agobard, the tempestarii, and Christianity
(Language: English)
Rob Meens, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Paper 1306-cPossessing Power: Unauthorised Miracles at Dijon, c. 842
(Language: English)
Charles West, Department of History, University of Sheffield

This session will open with a discussion of accusations of heresy as a literary strategy in papal texts of the 8th and 9th century. For the papacy trying to re-gain ecclesiastical supremacy in the Latin West, such an accusation was an ever more powerful instrument to be used against political and ecclesiastical enemies alike. (Clemens Gantner). From a different angle, the remaining papers are concerned with religious alterity in 9th-century Lyons.
In the 9th century Agobard of Lyons preached a sermon against tempestarii, people who, it was presumed, were able to conjure up storms and to control the weather. This text has attracted considerable attention the last couple of years and various interesting interpretations of it have been put forward, among others by Monica Blöcker and Paul Dutton. All authors seem to agree, however, on one thing and that is that these stormmakers were pagan. Now, it not only seems hard to believe that in Lyons, one of the cradles of Christianity in Gaul, there were still pagans, or even pagan priests, around in the 9th century. There are also clear signs that such tempestarii were Christians, even priests. Agobard's thundering sermon seems therefore better interpreted as part of the Carolingian call for control of the Christian priesthood, than as a reaction to pagan practices (Rob Meens). As the political uncertainty surrounding the succession to Louis the Pious reached its peak, there was disconcerting news from Dijon: mysterious relics were provoking fits and convulsions amongst pilgrims to the tomb of St Benigne - and worse still, exclusively amongst female pilgrims. The episode reveals how themes of secrecy, gender, and institutional co-ordination were central to the well-known Carolingian control of the cult of the saints. The paper will explore these themes, consider the evidence for female devotional practice in the region, and consider the significance of the event in the longer history of changing relic-oriented piety in the region.