No peace for the wicked: Conflicting visions of peacemaking in an eleventh-century monastic narrative
The Miracula sancti Ursmari recounts an eleventh-century tour of relics during which monks from Lobbes brought peace to squabbling Flemish knights. While it could be assumed that the monks mediated between antagonists or organized reconciliation ceremonies, peacemaking in this text is not the arbitration of disputes but rather a conveyance of transformative grace; it is a sacrament offered to Flemish communities whose ethos of fighting reflects the region's need for religious reform. Methods of arbitration or compromise undertaken in the absence of the saint are parodies of peace: any tranquility they bring is illusory and consequently betrayed by renewed conflict. This text prompts us to reexamine conflict narratives for theological understandings of pax that structure the depiction of a dispute resolution. The descriptions should not be taken as prima facie evidence of medieval social ordering but treated as guides to monastic aspirations during a period of church reform.
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