Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




For the Carolingians, preaching was the best manner in which to teach good, Christian behavior orally to the largely illiterate masses. Studying early medieval sermon collections then can provide historians with a great amount of information on, for example, the intended audience and current moral instruction, who wrote the sermons, and the intended impact of the reform requirements. Too often however these early collections are grouped into a rather generalized classification of being little more than an exposition of Scripture composed with little or no originality. Some scholars claim we have no evidence for sermons produced for popular preaching prior to the eleventh century. This, however, is not the case. One example is The Italian Homiliary, a ninth-century collection of 112 sermons, written in Latin, covering the entire liturgical year.

The main contribution of this dissertation will be to the genre of Carolingian homilies. By studying smaller, independent collections, such as The Italian Homiliary, we may in fact discover the true Carolingian sennonary genre. The first part of my work will involve transcribing one of the surviving manuscript copies into a readable type format. I will then identify the scriptural texts used and the patristic and medieval sources that the author employed. A commentary on all the sermons in the collection, and the general historical context, will then establish the cultural, intellectual, and religious milieu surrounding these sermons, their presentation and influence, and discussion of possible authorship.

One of the major themes o f the Carolingian period is that of a combination of originality with tradition. The Italian Homiliary is an example of this theme in that it had an author, not a compiler, who combined original material with sources. The sermons discuss themes central to the reform of religion by the Carolingians. It is precisely this sort of collection (Carolingian sermons), rather than patristic compilations, which should be regarded as becoming typical of the period. Through establishing a working text and analyzing these sermons, I hope to sustain this thesis in my dissertation, and thus contribute in an original way a better understanding of Carolingian religious, cultural and social ideas. Reproduced

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access