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Mapping a Monastic Network: Peter Damian and Fonte Avellana in the Eleventh Century


Mapping a Monastic Network examines a "grassroots" reform movement in the Italian Marches, the monastic congregation of Fonte Avellana, how it functioned as a communications network, and how interactions between individuals and with the landscape produced a compelling and politically potent vision of personal and institutional change. In a new take on "history from the bottom up," I have used two strategies to rewrite the prehistory of the papal revolution of the late eleventh century usually called the Gregorian Reform and the Investiture Conflict. One is, literally, to look at the ground: by mapping the spread of this monastic network with Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and site surveys, I have reconstructed relations among communities within the congregation and considered the impact of topography on religious ideals and political relations. Second, having discovered and utilized documentation from the daughter houses of Fonte Avellana, I have reconsidered the center from the periphery, recovering the contributions of those who collaborated with the congregation's charismatic prior, the theologian, cardinal, and papal polemicist, (Saint) Peter Damian (1007-1072). The result is a more dynamic and inclusive portrait of how and why ecclesiastical reform convulsed European society at the end of the eleventh century.

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