October 16, 2020 at 5:45 pm

Uhalde Publishes Chapter on Penance in Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World

Dr. Kevin Uhalde, in Iceland, which serves as one of the key filming areas for the series.

Dr. Kevin Uhalde

Dr. Kevin Uhalde, Associate Professor of History and faculty affiliate at the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, recently authored the chapter “The Life of Penance” published in The Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World (Oxford University Press, October 2020).

Abstract: This chapter explores the relationship between memory, narrative, and penance in Merovingian literature. Penitential memory was a key component of the philosophical understanding of repentance that persisted throughout late-antique and early medieval Christianity. Remembering the emotions associated with past errors was critically important to the penitential process, as a brief survey of the literature from the second through the sixth centuries demonstrates. This tradition provides a context for identifying and understanding the function of penitential memory in Merovingian texts.

By way of example, Uhalde’s chapter interprets particular moments from Gregory of Tours’s Histories, Passion of Praeiectus, Life of Columbanus, and Life of Eligius.

At the same time, there were social, ecclesiastical, and even political consequences to memorializing repentance and the failures that made repenting necessary. While attention to the philosophical understanding of penance enriches our understanding of saints’ lives and other sources, therefore, the literary act of commemoration also affected the representation of penance.

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