The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Abstract

Accusations of heresy and error in the twelfth-century schools: the witness of Gerhoch of Reichersberg and Otto of Freising
The distinction between orthodoxy and heresy is always much less stable than heresy hunters and historians sometimes imagine. In the twelfth-century, Bernard of Clairvaux and Geoffrey of Auxerre were very influential in shaping definitions of heresy that would still be invoked in the seventeenth century. This paper considers the contribution of two very different German figures in the twelfth-century, both of whom were concerned with the definition of heresy, but in different ways. One, Gerhoch of Reichersberg, saw himself as a German Bernard of Clairvaux. His treatise, Letter to Pope Hadrian on the novelties of his day, codifies an attitude that suspected many Parisian educated students of being influenced by pernicious intellectuals, the most dangerous of whom included Gilbert of Poitiers and Peter Abelard (whose ideas he knew more by hearsay than specific knowledge). Otto of Freising presents a very different view of heresy from both Gerhoch and Bernard of Clairvaux in his Deeds of Frederick I, in which he takes care to explain that Gilbert had a quite different understanding of theology from Abelard and adopts a much more nuanced understanding of heresy. Otto's perspectives articulate an alternative account of heresy within history. His account of Roscelin and Abelard influenced that of Aventinus in the early sixteenth century, and thus indirectly shaped the historiography of scholastic philosophy in the early modern period, although for ends very different from those intended by Otto of Freising.

Biographical Sketch

Constant Mews is Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology, School of Historical Studies , Monash University . He has published widely on intellectual and religious history within the twelfth century, with particular reference to Abelard and Heloise, and to Hildegard of Bingen. His publications include The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard. Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century (New York: Palgrave, 1999) and a volume of edited papers, Listen Daughter: the Speculum Virginum and the Formation of Religious Women in the Twelfth Century ( New York : Palgrave, 2001).

On this site