The Scandals of God’s Servant
Gottschalk of Orbais was an exceptional religious dissenter and heretic in the Carolingian Empire, whose Christianity required cooperation with ecclesiastical superiors and willing participation in religious correction. The Introduction surveys the book’s approaches in relation to historiography on Gottschalk and on the Carolingian Empire, emphasizing how this study interprets his literary and spiritual self-representations, his Augustinian-based theology of predestination, his modes of argument, his prophetic claims to martyrdom and miraculous powers, and his shocking defiance to bishops as strategies for influencing contemporaries in changing political circumstances. In the larger history of medieval heresy and dissent, Gottschalk’s case reveals how the Carolingian Empire preserved order within the church through coercive reform. The hierarchy compelled Christians to accept correction of perceived sins and errors, while punishing as sources of spiritual corruption those rare dissenters who resisted its authority.
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