Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Paul E. Szarmach

Second Advisor

Dr. Deborah Deliyannis

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Amos

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


The collection of fifteen ninth-century sermons attributed to Saint Boniface provides insight into the instruction of newly baptized Christians brought into the fold of the Carolingian realm. This collection, which most likely served as a manual for preachers, contains basic instruction in Christian faith and behavior and supplies written evidence of the preaching prescribed in Carolingian legislation.

The relationship between the sermon collection and Carolingian legislation, however, extends beyond the fulfillment of prescribed preaching. The themes of salvation history and the implications of baptism serve as a backdrop for a demonstration of the present state of mankind and an explanation of how man may be saved. Lists of the commandments of God and works of the devil, the sources of which range from Scripture and the Church Fathers to Carolingian legislation, outline the requirements for partaking in eternal blessedness. In the setting of the sermon collection, these lists reflect the form and content of secular and religious legislation. A comparison of the lists contained within the sermon collection to a variety of legislation, including royal admonitions, capitularia missorum, edicts from the Reform Councils of 813, and episcopal statutes, demonstrates that the sermon collection functioned both as religious instruction and as a body of law for the common Christian outside the sphere of government and administration. The sermon collection attributed to Saint Boniface, therefore, provides not only a source for ninth-century religious instruction, but also evidence for the extent and effectiveness of the Carolingian reform effort.

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