Artemio Martínez Tejera

Monasticism in Late Antique Iberia: Between Rome and Carthage (pdf)

(*En Portugués aquí; En Español aquí; En français ici)


Throughout the eleventh century, Iberian monasticism became ‘regularized’ and embraced, albeit often by royal imposition, Benedictine monastic customs. Since its origins in the fourth and fifth centuries, the nature of monastic life in the Iberian Peninsula continually evolved and developed an identity of its own. The sixth and seventh centuries represent a key moment in that evolution, with figures of the stature of Saint Martin de Dumio, Saint Isidore of Seville and Saint Fructuosus de Braga. According to Saint Braulio of Zaragoza, though, it was the north African monk Donatus who introduced into Iberia, in the last quarter of the sixth century, the custom of following a defined rule, and who also founded the monasterium Servitanum. It seems that until this point, the monastic situation in the peninsula was rather ‘anarchic,’ leading to ambiguities between dis-/honest hermits, and monasteries and coenobia. In this sixth and seventh centuries, in the midst of this confusion over monastic and Christian identities, in part fueled by elites, ecclesiastical authorities became increasingly alarmed by the seeming ‘paganization’ of customs. Taking as a starting point the affirmation of Braulio, this essay addresses the questions: what documents were transferred from the North African and Eastern Christian world into the Iberian at the origin and diffusion of the monastic movement there in the sixth and seventh centuries? How did the presence of North African and Eastern ecclesiastical authorities and monastic communities in the diocese hispaniarum (thinking, for example, of the case of the bishops of Augusta Emerita in the sixth century) and elicit Iberian monastic identities and forge unique monastic environments?

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