Rodulfus Glaber  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Rodulfus (or Ralph) Glaber (which means "the Smooth" or "the Bald") (985–1047) was a monk and chronicler of the years around 1000 and is one of the chief sources for the history of France in that period.

He should not be confused with the author of the Historia de Nemine.


Glaber was born in 985 in Burgundy.

At the age of 12, his uncle, a monk at Saint-Léger-de-Champeaux, found him a place in the monastery, but he was expelled for bad behaviour. In one of his own writings, he tells us that by pride, he resisted and disobeyed his superiors, and quarreled with his brothers.

Later he joined the monastery of St. Benignus near Dijon where he met reforming Piedmontese cleric William of Volpiano in about 1010. In 1031, he moved to the Abbey of Cluny, headed by Abbot Odilon de Mercœur, and finally to the Abbey of Saint-Germain en Auxerre in 1039, where he remained until his death.


His works include a hagiography of William of Volpiano, the Vita Sancti Guillelmi Abbatis Divionensis, but it is for his history that he is best known.

The history, entitled the Historiarum libri quinque ab anno incarnationis DCCCC usque ad annum MXLIV (History in five books from 900 AD to 1044 AD), was begun at the Abbey of Cluny, probably around 1026 and no later than 1027, and completed at Abbey of Saint-Germain en Auxerre.

Initially intended to be an ecclesiastical history (universal), Glaber's histories cover events in the center of France, but occasionally range as far as Scotland and Southern Italy. Especially significant is his treatment of the end of the first millennium. He is the primary source for claims of widespread fear and divine omens (famines and eclipses) anticipating the end of the world. 19th century historians relying too heavily on this one monk of ill repute popularised the notion that the people of the late 10th century lived in superstitious fear of apocalyptic non-events.

Glaber is also the source for the phrase "white mantle of churches" describing the ubiquity of religious architecture in his age.

Large extracts from his works are cited and discussed in the book The Year 1000 (1974) by Georges Duby.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rodulfus Glaber" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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