The First Feudal Age

  • David Herlihy
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


One of the most remarkable incidents of the ninth century, which illustrates both the havoc wrought by the Viking incursions and the instability of the population, is the wanderings of a community of monks who sought a refuge not only for themselves but for the holy body of their patron, St. Philibert. In the opening decades of the ninth century, the monks were established on the island of Noirmoutier at the mouth of the Loire River in France, near Nantes. But the ever more destructive raids of the Vikings led them in 836 to seek a safer home in the hinterland and to initiate a long trek which would take them through the heartland of France. From Noirmoutier they fled up the Loire Valley to Saumur, then to a place called Cunauld still farther inland, then south to Poitou, then to the Massif Central, and after another intervening stop to a refuge near Tournus, more than 300 miles from their original home. The following description of the first phases only of their travels and tribulations was written in 863 by a monk named Ermentarius, who included in his account an older description of miracles written in 837 and 839. The source is Ex Ermentarii miraculis sancti Filiberti, ed. O. Holder-Egger (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores XV; Hanover, 1888), pp. 298–303.


Human Race Ninth Century Divine Power Roman World Holy Place 
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Recommended Readings

  1. Marc Bloch, French Rural History: An Essay on Its Basic Characteristics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966).Google Scholar
  2. Cambridge Economic History of Europe (3 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1941–67).Google Scholar
  3. Marshall Clagett, Gaines Post, and Robert Reynolds (eds.), Twelfth-Century Europe and the Foundations of Modern Society (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1961).Google Scholar
  4. Georges Duby. The Making of the Christian West, 980–1140 (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1967).Google Scholar
  5. Georges Duby. Rural Economy and Country Life in the Medieval West (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968).Google Scholar
  6. C. H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927).Google Scholar
  7. J. C. Russell, British Medieval Population (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948).Google Scholar
  8. J. C. Russell, Late Ancient and Medieval Population (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1958).Google Scholar
  9. B. H. Slicher van Bath, The Agrarian History of Western Europe, A.D. 500–1850 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1963).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Herlihy 1970

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  • David Herlihy

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