Rhaban Maurus IRHT_061884-p

The Resources of the Past in Early Medieval Europe

Who we are is a question, which cannot be answered without reference to where we come from and where we are going. Asking these questions, though, is not enough. We depend on resources in order to work it out. This book tells us about how people in Early medieval Europe went about reflecting upon and shaping their ethic, social and cultural identities


The Resources of the Past in Early Medieval Europe
Ed. by Clemens Gantner, WienRosamond McKitterick  and Sven Meeder,
Cambridge University Press 2015Resources of the Past in Early Medieval Europe Cover
ISBN: 9781107091719

This volume analyses the importance of history, the textual resources of the past and the integration of Christian and imperial Rome into the cultural memory of early medieval Europe within the wider question of identity formation. The case studies in this book shed new light on the process of codification and modification of cultural heritage in the light of the transmission of texts and the extant manuscript evidence from the early middle ages. The authors demonstrate how particular texts and their early medieval manuscript representatives in Italy, Francia, Saxony and Bavaria not only reflect ethnic, social and cultural identities but themselves contributed to the creation of identities, gave meaning to social practice, and were often intended to inspire, guide, change, or prevent action, directly or indirectly. These texts are shown to be part of a cultural effort to shape the present by restructuring the past.

  • Investigates the role played by the resources of the past in forming the identities of communities in early medieval western Europe
  • Includes analysis of the transmission of texts and of manuscript evidence and makes new primary source material available for the first time
  • Offers a new perspective on the notion of ‘cultural memory’ by considering how particular texts and their early medieval manuscript representatives reflect and shape ethnic, social and cultural identities

Table of Contents:

Introduction: cultural memory and the resources of the past Walter Pohl and Ian Wood

Part I. Learning Empire:

  • Creating cultural resources for Carolingian rule: historians of the Christian empire Walter Pohl
  • Cassiodorus’s Historia tripartita before the earliest extant manuscripts Desirée Scholten
  • Politics and penance: transformations in the Carolingian perception of the conversion of Carloman (747) Erik Goosman
  • Lessons in leadership: Constantine and Theodosius in Frechulf of Lisieux’s Histories Graeme Ward

Part II. The Biblical Past:

  • Carolingian political discourse and the biblical past: Hraban, Dhuoda, Radbert Mayke de Jong
  • Biblical past and canonical present: the case of the Collectio 400 capitulorum Sven Meeder
  • Divine law and imperial rule: the Carolingian reception of Junilius Africanus Marianne Pollheimer
  • Framing Ambrose in the resources of the past: the late antique and early medieval sources for a Carolingian portrait of Ambrose Giorgia Vicino

Part III. Changing Senses of the Other from the Fourth to the Eleventh Centuries:

  • Pagans, rebels and Merovingians: otherness in the early Carolingian world Richard Broome
  • Who are the Philistines? Bede’s readings of Old Testament peoples Ian Wood
  • Gens perfida or populus Christianus? Saxon (in)fidelity in Frankish historical writing Robert Flierman
  • Fragmented identities: otherness and authority in Adam of Bremen’s History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen Timothy Barnwell

Part IV. The Migration of Cultural Traditions in Early Medieval Europe:

  • Transformations of the Roman past and Roman identity in the early Middle Ages Rosamond McKitterick
  • The eighth-century papacy as cultural broker Clemens Gantner
  • Transformations of Late Antiquity: the writing and re-writing of church history at the monastery of Lorsch, c.800 Helmut Reimitz
  • Conclusion Mayke de Jong and Rosamond McKitterick
  • Bibliography



Clemens Gantner, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien

Clemens Gantner works and teaches at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Austrian Institute of Historical Research. He is the author of the forthcoming book on the perception of Others in early medieval papal Rome, Freunde Roms und Völker der Finsternis, and co-editor of the acclaimed volume Visions of Community in the Post-Roman World (2012, with Walter Pohl and Richard Payne). His main research area is the history of the papacy in the early Middle Ages, and more generally Italy from 600–1000. He has also published on early medieval apocalyptic texts and on the contacts of the Latin West with Byzantium and the Islamic world.

Rosamond McKitterick, University of Cambridge

Rosamond McKitterick holds the Chair in Medieval History in the University of Cambridge and is Vice-Master of Sidney Sussex College. Her books include The Carolingians and the Written Word (1989), History and Memory in the Carolingian World (2004), Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (2006), Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (2008) and Old Saint Peter’s, Rome (edited with J. Osborne, C. Richardson and J. Story, 2013), and she has lectured and given seminars in many universities in Britain, Continental Europe, North America and Australia. She is a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and in 2010 she was awarded the Dr A. H. Heineken International Prize for History. Her current work within the field of the early medieval history of Europe focuses on a people’s (re)construction, knowledge and use of the past, especially the Roman past. Latterly this has also taken her into study of the historical and cultural context and implications of early medieval glossaries.

Sven Meeder, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Sven Meeder is Lecturer in Medieval History at Radboud University Nijmegen. His work focuses on the intellectual history of early medieval Europe, in particular the mechanics of the spread and transmission of texts, books and ideas. He has published on the religious, intellectual and social history of early medieval Ireland as well as the connections between the British Isles and the Continent through the dissemination of Hiberno-Latin texts, notably liturgical texts and works of canon law. Recently, he has been awarded a prestigious NOW research grant for the project ‘Networks of Knowledge’ into intellectual networks in the Carolingian period.


Walter Pohl, Ian Wood, Desirée Scholten, Erik Goosman, Graeme Ward, Mayke de Jong, Sven Meeder, Marianne Pollheimer, Giorgia Vicino, Richard Broome, Robert Flierman, Timothy Barnwell, Rosamond McKitterick, Clemens Gantner, Helmut Reimitz


Laudibus sanctae Crucis
Amiens – BM – ms. 0223 f. 033v
Raban Maur adores the Cross ca. 850