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Authority And Piety

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Chapter Summary

This chapter surveys the chronology of the use of penance and confession as elements of religious jurisprudence and examines the larger context of popular piety?insofar as it can be perceived?in order to determine what sort of precedents for penitential orientation might have been present before the programme of religious education developed during Charlemagne?s reign. Such enquiries require attention not only to clerical instruction but also to popular appropriation and elaboration of received doctrine, again, either before imperial intervention or in regions governed by bishops seemingly less well connected to the imperial court. The chapter examines two episcopal legal actions that were conceived as protecting Christians from the dangers that unorthodox ideas might pose to their salvation. The patterns in juridical and pastoral change in the Carolingian era have been masked by a dominant historiographical account of the development of penance in the medieval West.

Keywords: Carolingian era; Charlemagne?s reign; imperial court; religious jurisprudence



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