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Raoul Glaber

Benedictine chronicler; b.before 1000; d. about 1050

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Glaber, RAOUL, Benedictine chronicler; b. in Burgundy before 1000; d. at Cluny about 1050. In early boyhood he was so wayward and mischievous that his uncle, a monk, to safeguard him, forced him to enter the monastery of St-Leger de Champeaux at the age of twenty. However, he adopted only the monastic habit. He tells us that through pride he resisted and disobeyed his superiors, and quarreled with his brethren. Finally he was expelled. He then entered the monasteries of Notre-Dame du Moutier and St-Benignus at Dijon. Abbot William of Dijon, who appreciated Raoul’s literary talents, became his warm friend and took him in 1028 as his companion on a journey to Suza in Italy. Yielding again to his roving disposition, Glaber quietly ran away and entered the monastery of St-Germain d’Auxerre. Thanks to his learning, he was sure of a refuge, as he tells us, wherever he chose to go. Judging, then, by the mediocre talent displayed in his writings, this fact alone shows us to what depths literary culture had sunk in his time. The monks at St-Germain got him to restore or compose the inscriptions on the numerous altars in their church, and on the tombs of the saints who were buried in it. When this was done his wanderings began again, and he tried the religious life at Beza, and at Cluny under St. Odilo. He seems at this time to have acquired with increasing years a disposition more in keeping with his profession, and he died at Cluny about 1050. His was a proud, indocile, restless spirit. From his writings we learn that he always had a lively faith, but was extraordinarily superstitious. Of his works there remain: “Wilhelmi abbatis gestorum liber”, the life of his superior at Dijon, printed in Acta SS., January 1, 57 sqq.; and his “Chronicle”, for which he is chiefly remembered. This is a history of the world, as he knew it, from the year 900 till 1045. It was written in Latin, partly at Cluny and partly at St-Germain. Glaber is quite devoid of literary style; and critical spirit he has none, the most trivial events and tales being put on exactly the same plane as the most important facts. His chronology and geography are quite deficient; yet, despite all its faults, the work is interesting and useful, as it gives us an insight into the customs and morals of an age when Christianity on the continent had reached a very low ebb.



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