Shepherds of the Lord: Priests and Episcopal Statutes in the Carolingian Period (Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Book 6)

October 30, 2020
Shepherds of the Lord: Priests and Episcopal Statutes in the Carolingian Period (Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Book 6)

This book seeks to trace and explain the rise and emergence inthe Carolingian period of both local priests and episcopal statutesthat aimed at steering their behaviour. It was in the context ofCarolingian ideals of reform, formulated in court-centred circlesfrom the late eighth century onwards, that local priestsincreasingly came to be seen as those that held the key to turningthe local Frankish population into ideal Christians by their wordand living example. First of all, however, these educators neededto be educated themselves, hence the emergence of the Episcopalstatutes, a new tool to direct the local diocesan clergy intobecoming the ideal 'Shepherds of the Lord' that they needed to be.Smooth as this process of empire-wide reform theoretically was,however, obstacles lurked, both from a top-down (episcopal) and agrass-roots (local) perspective on the status, role, and functionof priests. Nevertheless, the ninth century saw the emergence ofthe priesthood and the development of their role as an importantgroup that connected bishops with the lay inhabitants of theirdioceses and, from a higher-up perspective, those who opened up thevast Carolingian country-side to the implementation of the idealsociety in the minds of contemporary reformers.