The Pious Knight in Medieval Hagiography, c. 930–1058

Sofia Fagiolo

Abstract


Composed by Odo of Cluny (930–942), the Vita Geraldi is the earliest hagiographic work that proposes a layman as a model of sanctity, the Frankish count Gerald of Aurillac (d. 909). The importance and originality of this text lie in the fact that warfare is presented as an instrument for restoring order and protecting the defenceless. About a century later, the Vita of another pious arm-bearer was composed, the lesser-known Vita Burcardi. This short biography recounts the life of a powerful knight, Count Burchard of Vendôme (d. 1007), who is said to have been marked by piety and eagerness to defend the Church. Both Vita Geraldi and Vita Burcardi are interesting cases in the panorama of medieval hagiography as they reflect churchmen’s attempts to promote a new role for warriors as protectors of the weak and defenders of the Church during the Central Middle Ages. By focusing on these two vitae, this paper explores the ways in which the figure of the pious knight emerged and evolved in monastic hagiography between the tenth and eleventh centuries, in conjunction with the rise of the chivalrous ideals.

Keywords


miles Christi; Vitae; Latin Lives; hagiography;

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References


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Hebr. 11:32-34

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