HIST 203 Lecture Outline (Fall 2016 – Week 4)

Week 4: Tuesday


Vexilla regis (“Banner of the King,” hymn written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) for Queen Radegund, to celebrate the arrival of a relic of the True Cross sent by the emperor and empress for Radegund’s new convent at Poitiers; 3:41 min.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ3YO7Cw3fI


After Roman imperial power collapsed in the West in the later 5th century, a patchwork of kingdoms and lordships developed (e.g., the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, Merovingian Gaul, Visigothic Iberia, etc.).

Early medieval Western society was a blend of Roman, Celtic, and Germanic peoples and cultures, with Latin Christianity as its most unifying feature.

Christianity began as an urban-based religion, and it retained an urban focus (cathedrals, the headquarters of bishops and archbishops, were always in cities), even as urban life was fading in the West.

Some important people and sources:

St. Radegund (d. 587), Merovingian queen who abandoned the court for monastic life.
The Life of St. Radegund, by Venantius Fortunatus (d. 609), is a reverent biography, written by a close associate.
(Click here to see Radegund’s tomb in Poitiers and her writing desk)

Gregory, bishop of Tours (d. 594), History of the Franks

Some important terms:


Monastery or convent

Monastic rule (e.g., the Rule of St. Benedict)

Regular clergy (Latin regula = rule)

Abbot (or abbess)

Monk (or nun)


Click here to see a Byzantine reliquary (relic-container) of the True Cross, and a foot reliquary of St. James from Namur, France


Pope (=bishop of Rome)

Archdiocese or province or see

Diocese or see

Cathedral (=church containing the cathedra or throne of a bishop or archbishop)


Secular clergy (not living under a Rule)


St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – c. 550), Benedictine Rule:



Triple vows (obedience, stability, conversion of manners)

Opus dei (= “work of God”) — worship service before dawn (vigils), plus 7 daytime worship services (Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline)

Parts of a monastery include:


Habit: gown, cowl, scapular: St. Benedict presenting his Rule to his monks; modern drawing of nun

Some important people and sources:

Pope Gregory I “the Great” (590-604), 4th Doctor of the Latin Church, Pastoral Care, Life of St. Benedict

Isidore, bishop of Seville (d. 636), Etymologies

St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – c. 550), Benedictine Rule

The Venerable Bede (d. 735), Ecclesiastical History of the English People: Descriptions of Italian missionaries in England in the early 600s.

St. Augustine of Canterbury (mission to England, 597-604)

King Ethelbert (r. 560-616) and Queen Bertha of Kent (died c. 612)

King Edwin (d. 632) and Queen Ethelburga of Northumbria

Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (King Edwin’s great-niece, 614-680), hosted Synod of Whitby (664)

Map of Anglo-Saxon England

Click on the following to see some important surviving artifacts:

Skellig Michael (Tiny island off SW coast of Ireland, where small monastic community was founded in 7th century) Skellig Michael: monks’ cells

Book of Durrow (c. 650-700) and Book of Kells (c. 800) . Illustrated Gospels, written in monasteries in Northumbria (N. England), Scotland, or Ireland See also: Book of Kells (detail1) and Book of Kells detail2)

Codex Amiatinus Illustrated Bible, written at the monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow in Northumbria, early 8th century. Abbot Ceolfrith died while on his way to Rome to present these volumes to the pope in 716.