In 1067, St Peter Damian, cardinal-bishop of Ostia and a key member of the reform party in Rome, travelled to Florence, where the monks of the neighbouring monastery of Vallombrosa, under the leadership of Giovanni Gualberto, had accused Bishop Pietro Mezzabarba of simony, and had launched a very public campaign against him. Although he had no sympathy for simonists, Damian concluded that the Vallombrosans had not made their case against the bishop, but were themselves at fault for publicly preaching an erroneous sacramental theology and for employing tactics that represented a complete betrayal of the monastic ideal. When an ordeal organized by Gualberto was widely perceived as having proven Mezzabarba's guilt, Damian had to face the prospect of his having been wrong. Increasingly throughout the 1060s Damian found himself in the grip of contemptus mundi, a particularly dark vision according to which the world was sinking inexorably into a moral abyss that presaged the last times. It was accompanied by a deepening sense of disillusionment about the value of his efforts to serve the larger interests of the church, and it strengthened his resolve to withdraw from such service in favour of the consolations of the eremitic life. These were tendencies that the outcome of the Mezzabarba affair could only have reinforced.
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William (Bill) McCready is an Emeritus Professor of History at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He joined the Department of History as a lecturer in 1969, and apart from a brief period in academic administration, first as an Associate Dean and then as Dean of Arts and Science, spent his entire career there, until his retirement in 2003. In 1976 he married Valerie, a home-town girl from Guelph, Ontario. Both are now enjoying retirement in a new home north of Kingston. Bill's enduring interest over the years has been medieval intellectual history, various aspects of which, from late antiquity to the later Middle Ages, are represented in his published work. Major publications include three previous books published by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies: The Theory of Papal Monarchy in the Fourteenth Century (1982); Signs of Sanctity: Miracles in the Thought of Gregory the Great (1989); and Miracles and the Venerable Bede (1994).Review:
Thanks to his public career and prolific correspondence, Cardinal Peter Damian ought to be one of the best known characters of the eleventh century. But the old hermit who claimed that if Christ were to return to earth he would find neither law nor justice at the papal court was no predictable team player. Investigations of his sometimes stormy relationships with other reformers can shed light on the early stages of the Gregorian Reform. William McCready's Odiosa sanctitas investigates the Pietro Mezzobarba affair, the trial by unauthorized ordeal of an allegedly simoniacal bishop of Florence, a case that ultimately involved the whole Roman reform party. This is an enjoyable book for readers interested in the political and ecclesiastical turmoil of the eleventh century. McCready systematically assembles and skillfully wrestles with (sometimes obscure) sources to reveal conflicts of values and personalities as Peter and other reformers attempt to promote justice in a world they cannot control. - John M. Howe, Texas Tech University
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Book Description PIMS, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0888441770
Book Description PIMS, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110888441770