Marriage, Motherhood and Woman in Carolingian Edifying Literature
11 INTRODUCTION I. Definition It has yet to be determined whether the Carolingian era should be seen as a real cultural "renaissance"1, nor has a date been established for the beginning of this rebirth, since as early as the 7th century various introductory trends were apparenf. However, it is certainly regarded as a "period of reformation" during which intellectual reforms were subservient to religious ones3. The Church, supported by the secular authorities, not only tried to restore (sexual-moral) discipline within its own ranks, but also made special efforts to christianize the religious and moral life of the laity, especially with regard to their attitude towards marriage and sexuality4 • In the late seventies Pierre Toubert wrote an article on the view of marriage in the so-called specula coniugatorum, i.e. the Carolingian moral treatises, specifically addressing lay persons of noble birth, with the intention of turning them into an order, an ordo of "decently" married people. He found the approach of these to be more positive than is usually the case with male religious authors. The present study was undertaken mainly owing to the suggestion that his findings be checked against hagiographical sources5 • Toubert also argues that the positive attitude towards marriage, which goes together with the ambition to introduce the Christian marriage model of the nuclear family, should normally imply a positive approach to woman and motherhood6 . I 1McKitterick, Church, XVII; Trompf, 8 and 25. 2Patzelt, 109-112. See also Riche, Les Foyers, 317; id., Ecoles, 49-64; Van Uytfanghe, Renaissance, 273-274;...
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