In a letter to the people of Florence in the early part of 1067, the ardent reformer, Peter Damian, denounced a group of monks as locustae. These unnamed monks—whom it has long been accepted were the Vallombrosans—had been waging a campaign against their bishop, Peter Mezzabarba of Florence, whom they accused of obtaining his office by simony. Although Damian, who had been cardinalbishop of Ostia as well as prior of the eremitical community at Fonte Avellana, readily acknowledged that Mezzabarba might have a case to answer at Pope Alexander II's forthcoming council in Rome, he condemned their intrusion into matters of ecclesiastical politics that were none of their business. Yet it was clearly more than a matter of inappropriate activities. For he went on to dismiss in the bitterest of terms the dangerous pretensions of these monks to a superior holiness. Referring to their sanctity as odiosa, Damian concluded by saying that if monks like the Vallombrosans wanted to be holy they should not flaunt a spiritual arrogance in the face of weaker brethren. For Damian, the duty of monks was strictly defined by function: their calling was to weep for sins, not to announce them.
2. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, ed. Reindel, K., 4 vols., Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit, 5/1–4 (Munich: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1983–1993), 146, 3.532–42, here 541–42.
3. Ibid., 3.534–35. Ryan, Cf. J. J., Saint Peter Damiani and His Canonical Sources: A Preliminary Study in the Antecedents of the Gregorian Reform (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1956), 113, n. 227; Woody, K. M., “Damiani and the Radicals” (Ph.D. diss, Columbia University, 1966), 39 ff.; and Knox, R., “Accusing Higher Up,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung 108 (Weimar: H. Bolau, 1991), 1–31.
4. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, 146, 3.535.
5. Ibid., 542: “Reprimatur iam praesumptio tumida, exaequet se fratribus sanctitas onerosa. Qui vult esse sanctus, sit sibi coram Deo, nec per arrogantiam fratri praeferatur infirmo.“
6. Ibid., 540–41. Cf. 165, 4.223.
7. P. Golinelli, “Indiscreta sanctitas: Sull'uso polemico della santità nel contesto del movimento riformatore,” in Golinelli, , “Indiscreta sanctitas“: Studi sui rapporti tra culti, poteri e società nel pieno medioevo, Studi storici, fasc. 197–98 (Rome: Istituto storico italiano per il medio evo, 1988), 157–91, here, 161.
8. Jestice, P. G., Wayward Monks and the Religious Revolution of the Eleventh Century (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), esp. 217–24, 235, 236, 239. Cf. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, 44, 1.7–33, to Teuzo. On the dating, see Reindel, 2.7–8.
9. Golinelli, , “Indiscreta sanctitas: Sull'uso polemico della santità,” 159–60.
10. Ibid., esp. 165–68, 184.
11. On Lucca, see Schwarzmaier, H., Lucca und das Reich bis zum Ende des 11. Jahrhunderts (Tübingen: M. Niemeyer, 1972); Wickham, C., “Economia e società rurale nel territorio lucchese durante la seconda metà del secolo XI: inquadramenti aristocratici e strutture signorili,” in Sant' Anselmo, Mantova e la lotta per il investiture, ed. Golinelli, P. (Bologna: Patron, 1987), 391–422; Cushing, K. G., Papacy and Law in the Gregorian Revolution: The Canonistic Work of Anselm of Lucca (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998), 55–63. On the Pataria, see Violante, C., La pataria milanese e la riforma ecclesiastica (1048–57), Studi storici 11 (Rome: Istituto storico italiano per il medio evo, 1955), 15 ff.; Cowdrey, H. E. J., “The Papacy, the Patarenes and the Church of Milan,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 18 (1968): 25–48; Capitani, O., “Storiografia e riforma della chiesa in Italia: Arnolfo e Landolfo Seniore di Milano,” in La storiografia altomedioevale, Settimane di studio del centro Italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, 17 (Spoleto: Presso la sede del Centro, 1970), 2.557–629; and Stock, B., The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983), 174–214.
12. Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 210–47, esp. 210–17, 224–27.
13. See Cushing, K. G., Reform and the Papacy in the Eleventh Century: Spirituality and Social Change (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2005), 35–36, 111–33.
14. For the support of Leo IX, Humbert—who consecrated the new church at Vallombrosa in 1058, and Beatrice, who apparently sought to bring John to Lombardy “causa sanctitatis,” see Andreas of Strumi, Vita sancti lohannis Gualberti, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, vol. 30, parts 1 and 2 [hereafter MGH, SS] (Hannover: Hahn, 1926–34), 30:2, 1080–1104; 28, 1087; 38, 1088. John's prayers brought about a storm that prevented Beatrice's soldiers from coming to seize him. For Gregory VII's support, see The Epistolae vagantes of Pope Gregory VII, ed. Cowdrey, H. E. J., ep. 2, 4–7; and lohannis Gualberti auctore discipulo eius anonymo (MGH, SS, 30/2: 1104–11), 5, 1107. Cf. Milo, Y., “Dissonance Between Papal and Local Reform Interests in Pre-Gregorian Tuscany,” Studi Medievali, 3rd ser., 20 (1979): 69–86; and the fundamental study of Boesch-Gajano, S., “Storia e tradizione vallombrosane,” Bullettino dell'Istituto Storico Italiano per il medio evo e Archivio Muratoriano, 76 (1964): 99–215, here 170–73; and Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 231–32, 240–41, though Hildebrand's status as a monk has recently been questioned by Blumenthal, U.-R., Gregor VII: Papst zwischen Canossa und Kirchenreform (Darmstadt: Primus, 2001).
15. Andreas of Strumi, Vita sancti lohannis Gualberti (as in n. 14; hereafter Andreas, Vita G.); Vita lohannis Gualberti auctore discipulo eius anonymo (as in n. 14; hereafter Anon., Vita G.). Andreas's Life is extant in only one contemporary manuscript, Florence, Archivio di Stato, Conventi soppressi 260, n. 259. It is in a late-eleventh-or early-twelfth-century hand and is missing folios 1, 2, 7, 9, and 16, which are rewritten probably in a sixteenth-century hand. The text is supplemented, as in the MGH edition, by the twelfth-century Life by Atto of Pistoia, which will not be considered here. The letter to Alexander II from the Florentines, included as c. 75, had a much wider diffusion: see Miccoli, G., “La lettera dei fiorentini ad Alessandro II e la sua tradizione manoscritta,” in Miccoli, Pietro Igneo: Studi sull'età gregoriana (Rome: Nella sede dell' instituto, 1960), 139–57. The anonymous Life also is extant in just one contemporary manuscript, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale, Conventi sopressi, C. 4.1791, written in a twelfth-century hand at fols. 178–84v.
16. Writing in the context of the contentious case of the irregular and simoniacal election of Bishop Daimbert of Pisa, Andreas was reticent about the Vallombrosans' actual position on the validity of the sacraments of simonists and nicholaists, a reflection of the Church's refutation of more radical positions, whereas the Anonymous clearly underlined their opposition. See the letter of Urban II in Vedovato, G., Camaldoli e la sua congregazione delle origini al'1184: Storia e documentazione, Italia Benedettina 13 (Cesena: Badia di S. Maria del Monte, 1998), 3.3, 178–80.
17. Andreas, , Vita G., 8, 1081. Cf. Anon., Vita G., 1, 1105. The Anonymous then goes on to justify this man's unusual existence as a city-dwelling hermit: “quamvis in civitate manerat plena populo, tamen, quia nullus locus est remotus compunctae menti, separatus erat a populo et ad Dei servitium solus manebat in cella ieiuniis, vigiliis et orationibus vacans.”
18. Andreas, , Vita G., 8, 1082: “sub simoniaco patre vivere timeo valde.”
19. Ibid., 8, 1082: “Qui eius [Teuzo] monita complens, ad forum dies, quo sciebat omnes adesse, veniens episcopum et abbatem appellavit simoniacos.” Cf. Anon., Vita G., 1, 1105: “Quern cum venerabilis Iohannis pro certo comperisset per pecuniam prelationis arripuisse dignitatem, detestabilem perhorrescens heresem meditari cepit, qualiter hanc vitando posset effugere.” Here, Teuzo's role is subdued, and there is no mention of a public denunciation. While both hagiographers described the simoniacal election of Ubertus as John's motive for leaving, it is clear that there was some real problem at St. Miniato around 1035–37, as a number of other monks seem also to have left the monastery: see Spinelli, G. and Rossi, G., Alle origini di Vallombrosa: Giovanni Gualberto nella società dell'XI secolo (Novara: Europa, 1984), 36.
20. Andreas, , Vita G., 10, 1082. There is no mention of John's peregrinations or the sojourn at Camaldoli in the anonymous Life, which gives the impression that John went straight to Vallombrosa after leaving Florence.
21. Andreas, , Vita G., 10, 1083: “et ut stabilitatem daret, renuit quia eius fervor nonnisi in cenobitali vita erat, ut beati Benedicti regula indicat.” In the anonymous Life (3, 1105), a quasi-role for Gualbertus's settling at Vallombrosa is given to Abbot Guarinus of Settimo, whose prominence in the text is probably due to the anonymous author's having been a monk there at one time. The author is careful, however, to emphasize that two monks from Settimo who were living at the site were not living “together” in a community, and thus that John truly was the founder of a community at Vallombrosa. On the foundation charter, see Boesch-Gajano, , “Storia e tradizione vallombrosane,” 167–68, n.l.
22. Andreas, , Vita G., 15–21, 1084–86 (for “rule” and new converts); cf. Anon., Vita G., 3, 1106. John, however, often mitigated corporal mortifications after numerous fasts and vigils ended in severely debilitating his own health: 17, 1084. A miraculous example of the Vallombrosan antipathy for wealth is seen in the case of the Vallombrosan dependency, St. Peter in Moscheta, founded ca. 1050 and headed by one of John's most important disciples Rudolf, who would succeed him as head of the Congregation. St. Peter's was miraculously destroyed on two occasions, apparently on account of its wealth and ostentatious buildings: see Andreas, , Vita G., 43–44, 1089. This wealth, however, was apparently no impediment to Rudolf's promotion. Cf. Boesch-Gajano, 101 ff.
23. Andreas, , Vita G., 19, 1085: “quod aliquando a monachis regi deberent; canonicorum, non monachorum hoc esse officium dicebat.”
24. Ibid., 21, 1085–86 (conversi); 14–15, 1083 (manual labor). For instance, one of John's early disciples, Peter, who was the first abbot of St. Michael in Passignano, then abbot of St. Salvatore in Fuecchio, and later Cardinal-bishop of Albano, was the cowherd at Vallombrosa. The conversi followed almost as strict a regime as the monks, though they were exempted from the vow of silence and were permitted to wear linen in the summer.
25. See Boesch-Gajano, 171–73; Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 231–34. Cf. Cushing, K. G., Reform and the Papacy in the Eleventh Century, 130–33.
26. Bonizo of Sutri, Liber ad amicum, 5 (MGH, Libelli de Lite, 1:568–620), 589: “Haec synodus gladium in viscera mersit inimici. Nam non solum Romae incontinentes sacerdotes et levitae ab altaris prohibeantur officio, sed etiam per vicinas circumquaque regiones et per omnem Tusciam, adiuvantibus monachis, viris religiosis et verbo praedicationis insudantibus.” Cf. Boesch-Gajano, 115 ff. See also Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 217–18.
27. Between 1040 and 1046, at the request of Count William Bulgarellus, John reluctantly undertook to reform St. Salvatore in Settimo, even though he was loathe to undertake existing houses because of the difficulties of imposing a new observance: 33, 1088: “Erat nimis inflexibilis ad sumenda vetera sub suo regimine monasteria, sed accepta constans nimis ad retinenda erat, etiamsi dura acciderent adversa.” Other early foundations included: St. Salvi (1048), St. Peter in Moscheta (ca.1050), St. Paul in Razzuolo (1047), and St. Cassian in Montescalari (1040). John also assumed headship of the existing houses of St. Michael in Passignano and St. Reparata in Marradi. Cf. Milo, Y., “Dissonance Between Papal and Local Reform Interests,” 69–86.
28. See Golinelli, , “Indiscreta sanctitas: Sull'uso polemico della santità,” 186–91. For Beatrice's apparent personal regard for Gualbertus, see Andreas, , Vita G., 38, 1088.
29. Jaffe, P., ed., Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, 2nd ed., ed. Loewenfeld, S., Kaltenbrunner, F., and Ewald, P., 2 vols. (Berlin: Lipsiae, Veit, 1885–1989), JL 4552.
30. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, 146, 3.533 ff. Damian of course had taken the Augustinian position (against Humbert) in his Liber gratissitnus (40, 1.384–509), arguing that sacraments freely received were valid for an untainted recipient. See below.
31. It is difficult to be precise about the chronology of these events, especially as to whether the burning of St. Salvi took place before or after Damian's visit and letter, though likely before. Andreas, for obvious reasons, ignores Damian's legation. The Anonymous's use of “locustae” in his account of the Council of 1067 might suggest that he, at least, knew of Damian's letter to the Florentines: Anon., Vita G., 5, 1106–7: “‘domine pater, isti sunt locustae quae depascuntur viriditatem sanctae ecclesiae’”; Cf. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, 146, 3.332, on the dating of the letter.
32. The place of Settimo in the Vallombrosan congregation is unclear. It appears to have been only temporarily affiliated during John's lifetime as the later charter of Urban II (April 6, 1090) does not include it as being among the Congregation: see Italia Pontificia sine Repertorium privilegiorum et litterarum a Romanis pontificibus ante annum 1197, ed. Kehr, P. (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1908), 3:88, n. 6.
33. Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 238–42.
34. See Andreas, , Vita G., 42, 1089; 57, 1091; 84, 1102, where witnesses are noted, though this was a common hagiographical topos.
35. This may be a reflection of Andreas's desire to depict Gualbertus as a simple holy man, whom on one occasion he described as inscius litterarum et quasi idiota before illness constrained the saint to bed where he had an opportunity to read holy books, thereby becoming peritissimus: 32, 1087.
36. Andreas, , Vita G., 28, 1087. For other feeding miracles: 27, 1086–87; 36–37, 1088; 53, 1091. Occasionally, there is an interesting social element to these feeding miracles: on one occasion (52, 1091), John's presence caused cows in the field to drop dead, thereby providing for the poor, until the owners requested that he return and stay inside the monastery. On another, a bear eating the cows of the poor was miraculously killed by John's order: 55, 1091.
37. Anon., Vita G., 6, 1107: “quia non est michi nunc intentio proprias eius narrare virtutes, sed locis communionibus laudare defunctum.”
38. For example, Andreas, , Vita G., 17, 1084; 22, 1086: “Erat Iohannes pater tantae austeritatis et increpationis contra delinquentes, ut, cui irascebatur, sibi irasci terra et celum, immo ipse Deus videretur. Sed post paululum tanta benignitate et tanta tranquillitate ad increpatum et correptum convertebatur, ut non nisi materna habere videretur viscera”; and 26, 1086: “Quae vero corrigenda erant, sollicite corriebat, et quae ordinanda, caute et provide ordinabat.”
39. Ibid., 8–9, 1081–82.
40. Ibid., 24, 1086.
41. Ibid., 66–67, 1093–94; here 67, 1093: “Unde oportet vestram vigilare sollicitudinem”; 1094: “Taliter enim episcopo faciente populus cum clero apud Deum salvabitur et idem eiscopus a Deo renumerabitur. Si autem contra haec fecerit vel pecuniam requisierit symoniacus hereticus iudicabitur atque dampnabitur.”
42. Ibid., 78, 1100: “Venerunt clerici catholici per idem tempus et fideles laici de civitate Mediolanensi ad senem parrem, illius terrae referentes miseriam, scilicet per multos retros annos innumerabilis multitudo tam virorum quam mulierem illius civitatis pro timore symonicae heresis nee penitentiam nee communionem ab aliqua sumpserat persona mortali. A quibus se profitebantur esse missos ad pietatem senis patris, ut pro caritate, qua isdem in ceteris flagrabat, animabus eorum auxilium pro posse impenderet.” Andreas is the only source for this. Cf. Jestice, , Wayward Monks, 244–45.
43. Anon., Vita G., 4, 1106: “Sed cum hoc tempore certamen monachorum ceterorumque catholicorum cepisset contra symoniacos exurgere, cuius pugnae venerabilis Iohannis princeps videbatur existere, videns predictum locum [Settimo] satis ad hac rem utilem fore, cepit flectere animum ad consentiendum postulationi eorum.”
44. Ibid., 2, 1105.
45. Ibid., 5, 1107. Cf. Boesch-Gajano, , “Storia e tradizione,” 175–76.
46. Anon., Vita G., 6, 1107: “qualiter etiam per ignis examen hereticorum audacia confusa, catholicorum vero pars adepta fuerit palmam.”
47. Andreas, , Vita G., 68, 1094.
48. Ibid., 69, 1094. Cf. Desiderius, Dialogi de miraculis sancti Benedicti (MGH, SS, 30/2), 3.4, 1147.
49. See Vita G., 70, 1094–95, where Andreas notes that John was expected to be at St. Salvi.
50. Ibid., 71, 1095. Andreas conveniently fails to note that no monk died in the attack.
51. Ibid., 72, 1095: “Felicem se quisque credebat, si aliquem monachorum videre valebat vel ex eorum sacro sanguine ex terra, lapidibus et lignis suis pannis possent extergere, volentes ilium pro magnis reliquiis habere.”
52. Ibid., 73, 1095: “‘Nunc vere monachi estis; sed cur sine me haec perferre voluisris?’ Valde enim doluit, quod praefatae persecution! defuit, in qua tamen ipse martiri obtinuit bravium.”
53. Ibid., 75, 1096–99.
54. Boesch-Gajano, 179–81. Cf. Spinelli, , Alle Origini, 35–36.
55. See above, n. 32.
56. See Miccoli, G., “La lettera dei fiorentini ad Alessandro II,” in Pietro Igneo: Studi sull'età gregoriana, 140–41. Cf. Dialogi de miraculis s. Benedicti, 3.4, 1147.
57. Andreas, , Vita G., 76, 1100: “Ostendimus itaque, quam ferventissimam Iohannes pater habuerit fidem et quam indefessam contra symoniacam heresim sumpserit pugnam, immo quam obedientes et in fide ferventes educaverit discipulos.”
58. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, 40, 1.418: “Aliud namque ex vitae meritis sanctum esse, aliud ex ministerio conditionis dici.”
59. Die Briefe, 44, 2.21: “quae sane vita satis utilius ad aedificationem vivis operibus praedicat.” Eng. trans. Blum, O. J., The Letters of Peter Damian, 5 vols. (Washington, D.C.: The Fathers of the Church, Medieval Continuation, 1989–2004), 2.231.
60. Vita venerabilis viri Dominici Loricati, Die Briefe, 109, 3.200–223, here 217: “quia uberiorem fructum praebet audientibus sanctorum virorum mirabilis vita quam ostensa miracula. Illa siquidem exigit imitationem, ista solam ingerunt ammirationem.” On the reserved use of miracles in “reformist circles,” see Toubert, P., Les structures du Latium médiéval: Le Latium meridional et la Sabine du IXe siècle à la fin du Xlle siècle, 2 vols., Bibliothèque des éecoles françhises d'Athènes et de Rome 221 (Rome: École française de Rome, 1973), 2.823–35; and Murray, A., “The Temptation of Hugh of Grenoble,” in Intellectual Life in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Margaret Gibson, ed. Smith, L. and Ward, B. (London: Hambledon, 1992), 81–101, here 87–89.
61. Vita beati Romualdi, ed. Tabacco, G., Fonti per la storia d'ltalia 94 (Rome: Fonti per la storia d'ltalia, 1957), 37, 78: “Tantus namque in sancti viri pectore faciendi fructus ardor incanduerat, ut effectis numquam contentus, dum alia faceret, ad facienda mox alia properaret: adeo ut putaretur totum mundum in heremum velle convertere et monachico ordini omnem populi multitudinem sotiare.” Cf. 35, 75; 43, 85.
62. See Leyser, H., Hermits and the New Monasticism (London: Macmillan, 1984); Baker, D., “‘The Whole World a Hermitage’: Ascetic Renewal and the Crisis of Western Monasticism,” in The Culture of Christendom: Essays in Medieval History in Commemoration of Denis L. T. Bethell, ed. Meyer, M. A. (London: Hambledon, 1993), 207–23; Phipps, C., “Romuald—Model Hermit: Eremitical Theory in St. Peter Damian's ‘Vita beati Romualdi,’ cc. 16–27,” in Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition, ed. Shiels, W. J. (Oxford: B. Blackwell for the Ecclesiastical History Society, 1985), 65–77; and Howe, J., “The Awesome Hermit: The Symbolic Significance of the Hermit as a Possible Research Perspective,” Numen, 30 (1983): 106–19.
63. Vita Romualdi, 35, 75: “Inter caeteros, autem, precipue seculares clericos qui per pecuniam ordinati fuerant, durissima severitate corripiebat, et eos, nisi ordinem sponte desererent, omnino damnabiles et hereticos asserebat. Qui novam rem audientes, occidere ilium moliti sunt.” Damian was, however, forced to concede Romuald's failure with bishops, grudgingly admitting that it would have been easier to convert a Jew to the faith than a simonist bishop: 35, 76.
64. Ibid., 50, 92. Having been accused of sodomy by a disciple at Sitria, Romuald had freely submitted to the penance of not saying mass for some six months until, by divine order, he put away such indiscreet simplicitas. Cf. P. Golinelli, “Indiscreta sanctitas: Sull'uso polemico della santità nel contesto del movimento riformatore,” in Indiscreta sanctitas (as n. 7), 157–91.
65. For example, Damian, ca.1065/66 to Rodulf, Vital, Ariald, and Erlembald in Milan, encouraging action: Die Briefe, 129, 3.431–34. These were of course clerics and laymen rather than monks.
66. Anon, Vita G., 4, 1107: “Domne pater isti sunt locustae quae depascuntur viriditatem sanctae ecclesiae.” Compare with Alexander's more moderate response: “quia boni homines sunt, et ea quae dicunt, simpliciter et bona intentione locuntur.”
67. Die Briefe, 40, 1.441: “non denique locustarum laesura fruges pestis aliqua remaneret.”
68. Die Briefe, 78, 2.394–95.
69. Ibid., 395; trans, from Blum, 3.178.
70. Urban II would curtly order them in 1091 back into the cloister: see Kehr, , Italia Pontificia, 3.1, 35, and Vedovato, G., Camaldoli e la sua congregazione, 3.3, 178–80.
71. Anon., Vita G., 5, 1107: “defendit monachos contra omnium opinionem.” See also Epistolae Vagantes, 6, n. 2: “Vos itaque dilectissimi in quantum humana possibilitas permittit vitam illius sequentes et vere filios et heredes simili vos conversatione probantes.”
72. Dialogi de miraculis s. Benedicti, 3.4, 1146–47.
73. See Miller, M. C., “Masculinity, Reform and Clerical Culture: Narratives of Episcopal Holiness in the Gregorian Era,” Church History 72:1 (2003): 25–52; and Cushing, K. G., “Events that Led to Sainthood: Sanctity and the Reformers in the Eleventh Century,” in Belief and Culture in the Middle Ages, ed. Gameson, R. and Leyser, H. (Oxford: Oxford University Pres, 2001), 187–96.
1 This article is dedicated to Alexander Murray in recognition of the tremendous breadth and quality of his scholarship, both of which never stood in the way of his willingness to engage at length in conversation about medieval church history and the reformers with young researchers.
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