Haskins Society Conference – Session 2: Historiography in the Salian Age

Haskins Society Conference – Session 2: Historiography in the Salian Age

Fruitolf Michelsberg’s Chronicle, the Schools of Bamberg and the Preservation of Imperial Polemic

T.J.H. McCarthy (New College of Florida)


Frutolf of Michelsberg’s chronicle is a good universal history example and a good source of 11th century German history. His chronicle of world history was completed in 1099 in Bamberg (Michelsberg). The text provides a valuable account of struggle between empire and papacy during this period as King Henry IV and Gregory the VII loom large in Frutolf’s writing.

Gregory appears frequently in the text, 12 times which is more than any other pope. Most popes were only only given 1 or 2 mentions – their papal ascension and their death. Frutolf was decidedly suspicious of Gregory VII. In the annals of 1074, Frutolf presents introductory synopsis of Gregory’s ascension and McCarthy sites, there is ‘measured hostility’ in the tone of Frutolf’s writing towards Gregory. Gregory was portrayed as the standard bearer of schism, someone who had usurped the papacy. Frutolf structured his presentation of the later 11th century around Gregory VII. His reservations with Gregory were not expressed through open invective but he highlighted Gregory’s perceived weaknesses. McCarthy suggests that Frutolf’s picture of Gregory was formed by ‘tacit comparisons of other popes’. Frutolf’s was selective in his writing and quoted only the salient points of his documents.

Documents cited by Frutolf point to royalist links. Bamberg was a royalist centre and public polemic circulated in royalist circles. Frutolf was possibly friends with Meinhardt of Bamberg. Meinhardt was appointed to the Bishopric and elevated at the Synod of Mainz in 1065. He was rewarded for faithfully serving the King and was favourably described in Frutolf’s texts.

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