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The Transformation of the Irish Church in the Twelfth Century


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The twelfth century saw a wide-ranging transformation of the Irish church, a regional manifestation of a wider pan-European reform movement. This book, the first to offer a full account of this change, moves away from the previous concentration on the restructuring of Irish dioceses and episcopal authority, and the introduction of Continental monastic observances, to widen the discussion. It charts changes in the religious culture experienced by the laity as well as the clergy and takes account of the particular Irish experience within the wider European context.
The universal ideals that were defined with increasing clarity by Continental advocates of reform generated a series of initiatives from Irish churchmen aimed at disseminating reform ideology within clerical circles and transmitting it also to lay society, even if, as elsewhere, it often proved difficult to implement in practice. Whatever the obstacles faced by reformist clergy, their genuine concern to transform the Irish church and society cannot be doubted, and is attested in a range of hitherto unexploited sources this volume draws upon.

Marie Therese Flanagan is Professor of Medieval History at the Queen's University of Belfast.


[This] magisterial account [...] provides a long-overdue reassessment of this important period in Irish and European medieval history. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in medieval Irish history and in the Irish church's engagement with the wider European reform movement. THE CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

If the significance of a book is measured by its capacity to change how scholars view the subject, [this] is an important publication that will itself transform how the reform and the literature of reform are interpreted, by showing the extent to which European developments and models of ecclesiastical organisation influenced Ireland. aENACH
This excellent study [...] is a refreshing and comprehensive examination of the indigenous movements which sought to bring Irish Christianity into line with continental practice. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY


First Published: 18 Nov 2010
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843835974
Pages: 310
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Charting change in the twelfth-century Irish church: the problem of sources
  • 3  'Regulating the dioceses of the bishops of Ireland'
  • 4  'A mirror and model': exemplary bishops and episcopal culture
  • 5  'Restoring the monastic and canonical rules of the church in Ireland': St Malachy and monastic reform
  • 6  'Rules and good conduct': the re-formation of lay society
  • 7  'Right faith and good actions': lay piety and devotion
  • 8  Conclusion
  • 9  Bibliography

The Transformation of the Irish Church in the Twelfth Century

The Transformation of the Irish Church in the Twelfth Century