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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 153: Authority and Consent in Religious Communities, I: The Benedictine Tradition, 6th-12th Centuries

Monday 6 July 2020, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG), Technische Universität Dresden / Department of Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb
Organiser:Daniela Bianca Hoffmann, Historisches Institut, Universität Mannheim
Moderator/Chair:Emilia Jamroziak, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 153-aAuthority and Consent in Benedictine Communities: From St Benedict to St Bernard
(Language: English)
Mirko Breitenstein, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig / Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG), Technische Universität Dresden
Index terms: Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 153-bAuthorities and 'Consensus Building' in the Carolingian Monastic World
(Language: English)
Shigeto Kikuchi, Historisches Seminar, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München / Program for Evolving Humanities & Sociology, University of Tokyo
Index terms: Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 153-cNegotiated Consent: Monastic Communities between the Rule and the Autocracy of the Abbot in the 10th and 11th Centuries
(Language: English)
Nicolangelo D'Acunto, Dipartimento di Studi Medievali, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Brescia
Index terms: Monasticism, Religious Life

Benedictine monasteries are based on two complementary principles: the abbot's authority and the Rule of St Benedict. On the one hand, the abbot's authority is founded in the Rule and also finds its corrective in it; on the other hand, the abbot has the authority to interpret and implement the text, which is formulated openly in several chapters. The Rule states that he should seek the advice of the brethren in all important matters (RB 3), but the final decision and thus also the responsibility lies solely with him, the representative of Christ. In ideal communities a consensus as we understand it today is not needed, because the abbot abides by the Rule and the brothers practice the virtue of obedience. But the reality of the monasteries shows that the superior could not rule without the consent of the monks that controlled and limited the abbot's power. The papers of this session take a look on the interpretation, perception and practice of the abbot's authority and the consent of the community from the Benedictine beginnings until the 12th century.