Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




This study examines the institutional development of the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, whose evolution depended upon its community of monks, its patrons, and its response to the demands placed upon it by the society at large and the Church in general. It examines these factors as they were managed by its first eightabbots by tracing the development of their personal, social, political, and ecclesiastical networks in an effort to identify how those interactions took place and why they took the forms they did. This analysis rests on the examination of charters that were drawn up by the abbey and by its secular andecclesiastical advocates as well anon papal bulls generated in response to the abbey's needs and requests. This study follows three guiding principles that build on and contrast with existing studies (1) its focus on one particular foundation and its dependents; (2) its focus on the era of eleventh and twelfth century monastic reform; and (3) its geographical focus on a monastic community in southern France. The examination of external monastic relationships has until now been undertaken by scholars who focused primarily on communities in northern France. By shifting the geographical focal point south, to the Auvergne, this study provides an important point for comparative analysis.

This study offers a new perspective from which to evaluate the history of medieval monastic reform movements. La Chaise-Dieu, in contrast to northern monastic communities, initially depended for its survival upon local support and local protection primarily from strong episcopal advocates---themselves products of unique southern geopolitical conditions. As the community grew in size and influence, and established new foundations in other locations, its relationships with its benefactors changed. La Chaise-Dieu began to attract the attention of more diverse advocates, but the bishops in the Massif Central, who had assumed comital powers in the absence of any secular rulers of substance, remained its most important allies throughout this period.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access