Religion in the History of the Medieval West: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Religion in the History of the Medieval West

1st Edition

By John Van Engen


344 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789406
pub: 2004-06-21

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These ten essays by John Van Engen situate religion in the history of medieval Western Europe: as an unavoidable presence in everyday life, as a conceptual framework for social and political life, as a force integral to its historical dynamics. Four of the essays are bibliographical and retrospective in nature, reviewing the field broadly, but also pointing toward a more dialectical approach to understanding the interaction of religion and society in the European middle ages. Other studies deal with large topics usually subsumed under the abstract term 'Christianization'. They grapple with learned sources as well as those associated with 'popular' religion, and show what can be gained from an imaginative use of all that lawyers and theologians said about religion in their society. The essays, finally, look for the quality and dynamic of change, even inventiveness, released by religious action and conviction in medieval European society.


'The pieces reprinted here […] are filled with good judgement, display a breadth of learning, and will manage to fascinate their readers through the many intriguing human details and anecdotes they contain.' The Medieval Review 'One of the benefits of reviewing a volume in the Variorum Collected Studies Series is that it can provide the opportunity to reread stimulating and formative work which had such an impact when originally produced that the ideas have since become almost taken for granted among academics… a significant collection of stimulating scholarship, which it is certainly worthwhile and rewarding to have brought together and republished in this way.' Heythrop Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Approaches to Medieval Culture and Religion: The Christian Middle Ages as an historiographical problem; The future of medieval Church history; The 'crisis of cenobitism' reconsidered: Benedictine monasticism in the years 1050-1150; An afterword on medieval studies, or the future of Abelard and Heloise. Christening the Social Order: Christening the Romans; Faith as a concept of order in medieval Christendom; Theophilus Presbyter and Rupert of Deutz: the manual arts and Benedictine theology in the early 12th century; 'God is no respecter of persons': sacred texts and social realities. Re-inventing Religious Life in Medieval Society: Dominic and the brothers: Vitae as life-forming exempla in the Order of Preachers; Friar Johannes Nyder on laypeople living as religious in the world; Index.

About the Author

John Van Engen is the Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General