Article

Honorius Augustodunensis

Karl Kinsella and Lesley Smith

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online April 2016 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0201
Honorius Augustodunensis

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
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Honorius Augustodunensis (b. c. 1080–c. 1140), also referred to as Honorius of Autun in some secondary literature, was a canon and monk, as well as a prolific writer with a strong corpus of didactic and liturgical works. He flourished during the reign of the German Emperor Henry V (b. 1086–d. 1125), but his life was probably spent in both England and southern Germany or Austria. Honorius has been described as one of the 12th century’s most enigmatic figures; but he is still recognized for the strong influence he exerted on subsequent writers. Despite this large corpus, now known to consist of approximately thirty texts (but almost certainly more), Honorius has received relatively little scholarly attention. Scholarship on Honorius’s life is dominated by three main questions: the place to which the epithet “Augustodunensis” applies, the location of extant manuscripts, and the few clues in his works that may identify his location at particular points during his life. Twenty-first-century speculation provides the following outline of his life; however, this is open to change depending on how the evidence is interpreted. Honorius was born in Germany or Savoy and joined the cathedral school at Augsburg; there he may have been known as “Heinricus” or “Henricus.” At the end of the 11th century, for reasons unknown, Honorius was transferred to Canterbury cathedral and joined a community of Benedictine monks, where Archbishop Anselm (b. c. 1033–d. 1109) would become a highly influential figure in Honorius’s early intellectual development. During his career in England, Honorius most likely spent time in Worcester, Winchester, and Rochester while keeping in contact with the monks at Canterbury. Following the death of Anselm, Honorius left England to return to Germany— most likely to Regensburg and the Alte Kappel there. In c. 1133, Honorius (or Heinricus as he was still known) left the Alte Kappel to join the Benedictine order at either Lambach in Austria or St. James in Regensburg, where he bequeathed to the order a large number of his own texts. It is at this point, late in his career, that Heinricus took the name of Honorius, although it is not clear why he made this decision. Honorius’s legacy was extensive, with manuscripts containing his works found in large numbers throughout Europe. The relatively easy Latin and accessible formats of his works ensured his immense popularity during the 12th century. This legacy suffered in the later Middle Ages, as his relatively simple works were superseded by more sophisticated writings on the same topics.

Article.  9179 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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