A monastery’s relationship with Rome raises fundamental questions about its origins and nature. Exemption privileges form an important part of this story – a connecting link between the centre in Rome and the Christian periphery. This chapter questions the monastery’s impetus for seeking special exemption from Rome by examining the practice’s development from the papal perspective. It seeks to understand the gravitational pull of ‘Rome’s orbit’, which reveals the precedent, pragmatism, and vision of early medieval popes in the organization and governance of religious life. Formulating the popes’ attitude towards, and involvement in, western monasteries, this chapter explains why the granting of monastic exemptions became so pronounced a feature of papal government in the early Middle Ages.
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