The period 550 to 750 was one in which monastic culture became more firmly entrenched in Western Europe. The role of monasteries and their relationship to the social world around them was transformed during this period as monastic institutions became more integrated in social and political power networks. This collected volume of essays focuses on one of the central figures in this process, the Irish ascetic exile and monastic founder, Columbanus (c. 550-615), his travels on the Continent, and the monastic network he and his Frankish disciples established in Merovingian Gaul and Lombard Italy.
The post-Roman kingdoms through which Columbanus travelled and established his monastic foundations were made up of many different communities of peoples. As an outsider and immigrant, how did Columbanus and his communities interact with these peoples? How did they negotiate differences and what emerged from these encounters? How societies interact with outsiders can reveal the inner workings and social norms of that culture. This volume aims to explore further the strands of this vibrant contact and to consider all of the geographical spheres in which Columbanus and his monastic communities operated (Ireland, Merovingian Gaul, Alamannia, Lombard Italy) and the varieties of communities he and his successors came in contact with - whether they be royal, ecclesiastic, aristocratic, or grass-roots.