The law of monastic exemption is seldom viewed through an early medieval lens. Overcoming this historiographical problem, this chapter defines the character and growth of monastic exemption in a period comparatively lacking in legal expression and rhetoric. It examines how it operated, how it was defined, and what it meant to contemporaries. In what ways did its early practice shape later canon law? What were the precedents which framed later legal developments? To advance our understanding further, the technical form of exemption is stripped down to its constitutive elements. This methodological approach offers a richer understanding of monastic exemption in the early Middle Ages, in turn revealing its inherent value to the papacy in making concessions to the law over many subsequent centuries.
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