"C. Stephen Jaeger has produced a fulsome study of a largely unknown era in the history of ideas and higher learning in the Middle Ages. . . . His bold claims and his willingness to conjecture about figures and questions where little is known mark this study as a departure from much of the literature on medieval learning."
--American Historical Review
In The Envy of Angels, C. Stephen Jaeger studies the German and French cathedral schools, the major centers of secular learning in Europe until the rise of the universities in the twelfth century. Jaeger argues that cathedral schools revived the learning of classical antiquity, shaped the codes of civility and courtesy, and ultimately transformed the social and intellectual life of Europe. The story of the rise and fall of the cathedral schools from 950 to 1200 is also the story of the transition in Europe from a charismatic world based on orality, memory, and personal authority to an intellectual culture based on literacy, texts, and written records.
Jaeger is particularly concerned with this notion of charismatic culture. The essential feature of charismatic culture is that it makes the body and the physical presence into the medium that transmits cultural values. The controlled body with all its attributes--grace, posture, charm, sensuality, beauty--is the work of art of the eleventh century.
"The array of scholarship in characterizing five beacons of twelfth century intellectual history--the new charisma--skirts no skirmish yet wins laurels for ingenious and precise analyses to bolster the arguments."
"His theme in this book is the figure of the schoolmaster, whom he persuasively argues should be seen as a charismatic model of dignity, manners, and morality rather than more conventionally as the conveyer of technical and narrowly conceived disciplinary instruction. . . .It is utterly convincing on his main points, especially his analysis of eleventh-century materials, where he successfully moves beyond the analysis of literary genre and image to the description of a living educational environment that until now has been difficult to grasp fully. The importance and value of this accomplishment can scarcely be admired enough."
--History of Education Quarterly
"This book is concerned with the shaping of the scholarly tradition in the West, and as such it is a brilliant exposition of the charismatic ideals and the intellectual aspirations of the masters and scholars who brought it into being, and whose influence was to linger on almost down to our own time and place."
--The Journal of Religious History
C. Stephen Jaeger is Professor of Germanics and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Origins of Courtliness: Civilizing Trends and the Formation of Courtly Ideals, 939-1210, also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.