The itinerant poet and hagiographer Venantius Fortunatus (c. 530-c. 600/609) has had, in his own time as in ours, a reputation for his literary acumen in building consensus and smoothing over conflict in 6th-century Gallic Christian communities. In edifying these communities, however, Fortunatus periodically demarcated the limits of Christian community through provocative depictions of non-Christian Others, most prominently Jews, heretics, and pagans. With special attention to Fortunatus’s little-studied corpus of prose hagiography, in this paper I will examine his narrative construction of these three groups in the context of contemporary pastoral care and lay piety. In particular, I will argue that these portrayals helped to define for his lay readers/hearers not only the limits of Christian community but also the bounds of proper Christian belief and behaviour.
Neither in the clerical nor in the secular worldview – the Beguines can’t be clustered into any scheme, not in the Middle Ages, not in current research, especially not in the Bavarian region Swabia, where there is almost no research at all. By using a three-phase model and the development, documentation, and analysis of approximately 300 sources from various Archives of Augsburg, the Vatican Secret Archives, and the Penitentiary Archive in Rome, the women communities of Augsburg are allocated in the context of the Beguines’ history. This is how new complex findings are being revealed, concerning the usage and impact of the term ‘Beguine’ in Augsburg, the everyday relationships with their citizens and the church, and the legal character of those women communities. The focus is a critical approach towards the source.