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Écritures de l’espace social

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Didier Boisseuil
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Pierre Chastang
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Laurent Feller
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2e section. La domination sociale

Peasant Saints

Paul Freedman

Texte intégral

The Scarcity of Peasant Saints

  • 1 P.A. Sorokin, Altruistic Love: A Study of American “Good Neighbors” and Christian Saints, Boston, (...)
  • 2 D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700, Chi (...)
  • 3 G. Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princes: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe, Cambridg (...)
  • 4 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Âge d’après les procès de canoni (...)
  • 5 Of course even if there were revered local figures of humble origins, the promotion of holy men to (...)

1Medieval saints came from aristocratic families. Although at first glance there would seem to be nothing about sanctity that required, or was even particularly compatible with high status in the world, the early Christian exaltation of the piety of the ordinary person gave way in the Middle Ages to a more extravagant sense of giving up the world that required, among other things, the possession of sufficient prestige for the renunciation to be dramatic. In the classic study of Pitirim Sorokin, undertaken for the entire history of the church, of 1180 Catholic saints whose status could be determined 62% came from families of royal or high noble rank while only 7,2% were of peasant origin (and these were preponderantly saints of the modern era).1 In a more sophisticated study by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell, 40% of some 864 saints from the eleventh through seventeenth centuries were from the aristocracy.2 Not all of this preponderance is to be attributed to the Middle Ages, a period that also favored the clergy, but among the distinct features of this era was its particular preference for saints of royal lineage.3 Fully 41,1% of the lay saints recognized by the Church between 1198 and 1431 were members of ruling families. The percentage of nobles doesn’t significantly change when official canonizations are set alongside less formal recognition of figures venerated by the common people.4 It does not appear as if even the most successful popular cults, those that compelled the assent of the popes to their claims, exalted saints of mediocre origins.5

  • 6 D. Piazzi, “Omobono di Cremona: le fonti agiografiche”, in Beatus vir et re et nomine Homobonus. L (...)
  • 7 See the Table in D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society..., op. cit., 197.
  • 8 G. Picasso, “La spiritualità dei laici”, in Sant’Omobono nel suo tempo: conversazione storiche, Co (...)
  • 9 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident..., op. cit., 187-197, 234-237.
  • 10 Ibid., 215-223.

2Beginning with Innocent III, the papacy took over and regularized the process of canonization thus producing some opening up of the criteria of candidature to urban saints of modest background. Merchants and artisans, especially from Italy, but not peasants joined the ranks of the sanctified. In 1199, the prosperous tailor and clothes merchant Saint Homobonus of Cremona was solemnly canonized, just one year after his death.6 While only 3,9% of the saints who died in the eleventh century had been members of the urban patriciate, the figure rises to 14,4% in the twelfth century and in a more papal controlled environment it attained 20,6% in the fourteenth century.7 Even before Homobonus lay saints had begun to appear in Italy. Their sanctity was not immediately or formally legitimated by Rome, but urban traders and artisans were revered in the twelfth century: the saddler Gualfardo of Verona (†1127), for example, or Saint Rainierius (†1161), patron of Pisa who renounced the privileges of his merchant family to devote himself to the poor.8 In the thirteenth century lay saints of Italian urban background came to be plentiful, many of them the founders of hospitals and other institutions for poor relief. They were often craftsmen rather than merchants, artisans rather than urban patricians. Raymond “Palmerio” (i.e. a pilgrim to Jerusalem, †1200), active in trying to combat prostitution and poverty in his native Piacenza, was a shoemaker; Gerard Tintori (†1207), who established a hospital, was a dyer in Monza.9 Italy had a preponderance of non-noble lay saints by reason of its precocious urbanization but also due to the relatively low prestige of its clergy. Eastern and northern Europe remained particularly dense in saints drawn from ruling families throughout the Middle Ages.10

3For female saints there is a similar class division, but with more delay in accepting urban laywomen as saints. The thirteenth century exalted the princesses Elizabeth of Thuringia (†1231), Margaret of Hungary (†1270) and Agnes of Bohemia (T1282). During the later Middle Ages holy women of modest background appear: mystics, Beguines and heroic practitioners of fasting such as Catherine of Siena (†1380) and Dorthea of Montau (†1394). The fourteenth century also, however, produced female saints from the high aristocratic ranks, Saint Bridget of Sweden notably (†1373).

  • 11 D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society..., op. cit., 197.

4Beginning with the twelfth century there was some movement to admit laymen, eventually even those of modest condition into sainthood. However, the representation of the peasantry among the saints was tiny until near the end of the Middle Ages. From the beginning of the eleventh to the end of the fourteenth century only between 2,3% and 4,7% of those canonized had rustic origins. Weinstein and Bell have found 47 peasant saints from 1000 to 1700. There was a kind of boomlet in peasant sanctity in the fifteenth century as over 13% of the saints canonized then were agricultural laborers. In the sixteenth century, the figure drops back to just under 7%.11

  • 12 Alvarus Pelagius, De planctu ecclesiae, Lyon, 1517, fol. 147.

5The rarity of medieval peasant saints is surprising given not only the demographic situation but the turning away from noble and royal martyrs, crusaders and contemplatives towards saints of a more humble background. There might be a greater number of urban saints by the late thirteenth century, but still few rustic saints. As suffering, self-mortification and poverty became more important, peasants were still regarded as grossly materialistic, incapable of any but the most passive spirituality, and as more often resistant to preaching and correction. As Alvaro Pelayo, Bishop of Silves remarked in the mid-fourteenth century, peasants are so devoted to cultivating the soil that they have become almost a part of the earth they till: «They speak of the earth; in the earth they have reposed all their hopes, nor do they care a jot for the heavenly substance that shall remain.»12 It is not just that peasants are indifferent to immaterial reality, they are often depicted as sub-human or at least as a lower order of humanity whose subordination is explicable and justified by unfitness for the dignity of autonomy. Their sole concern with subsistence is the result not of harsh circumstances, but of the peasants’ basic nature.

  • 13 P. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1999, 204-235.

6Peasants, it was widely agreed, were oppressed, but this did not necessarily give them the same spiritual merit accrued by those of better condition who voluntarily accepted poverty and social disdain. Intermittently, the degradation of the peasantry was deplored and was linked to a happier status in the world to come. This was often stated as a castigation and warning to their upper-class oppressors and intended more as a paradox to chastise the wealthy than as a promise to the peasants. Nevertheless, by the late Middle Ages and especially on the eve of the German Reformation, there was a widespread belief in the spiritual nobility of peasants through their productive labor and their unfair treatment. To arrive at this point where the peasant could be a symbol of Christian fortitude and acceptance required two breaks with the traditions of medieval social thought: a theory of human dignity that included peasants (the violation of such dignity was therefore a gross injustice), and a more positive evaluation of work (so that peasant labor and not just oppression had a positive spiritual valence). As long as peasants were seen as naturally lower in their nature and understanding, their exploitation could be deemed appropriate. Their toil might be necessary to the survival of the privileged orders, but then so was the labor of domesticated animals. The dignity of rustics as Christians, as fully human and as performing tasks that endowed them with moral and not merely productive worth, allowed them as a class to be regarded as virtuous, even holy in God’s eyes.13

  • 14 C. Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women Berkeley, (...)
  • 15 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident..., op. cit., 173-183.

7For most of the medieval centuries, however, such notions were subversive and not the predominant voices of social analysis. There were few peasant saints because peasant life did not provide preconditions for sanctity in the way that the monastic or generally clerical life might, nor did it pose, as it were, a counter-weight of moral difficulty of wealth or bloodshed whose rejection proved a convincing selflessness. Nobles and even reasonably well-situated townspeople could renounce wealth, power and privilege in ways that were obviously more impressive than any gestures made by those who didn’t have much to begin with. Knights might give up war, merchants the quest for wealth, even women from bourgeois families, deprived of political power or economic independence, could transform their relationship to food over which they had a socially accepted control.14 The peasant’s life, with its constant worries over subsistence, was far from the world of luxury versus ascetic renunciation that made a better story. Similarly, to the degree that unjust and violent suffering characterized the lives of most saints, they had to occupy positions of sufficient importance to be pressured into marriage with pagans or to be murdered by bandits or victimized by political clashes. Their martyrdom or at least suffering was part of an intriguing history, material for ballads as well as hagiographies. True, Saint Radegund of Wellenberg (near Augsburg) was a peasant woman eaten by wolves in 1330, but it required this kind of rare atrocity to make peasant life sufficiently dramatic to associate it with sainthood.15

  • 16 Francesc Eiximenis, Lo Crestià, Book 12, excerpted in La societat catalana al segle XIV, ed. J. We (...)

8Although the oppression of the peasants began to evoke more outrage and institutions such as serfdom were denounced as violating fundamental Christian equality, the peasant’s deprivation was not visible enough for sainthoad. Even when starving, peasants were associated with land, property and stability. They were not considered poor in the sense that beggars, vagabonds or the propertyless urban classes were. Poverty was defined by marginality rather than low nutritional intake so that in most cases peasants did not merit the sympathy of those, such as the mendicant orders, whose mission was to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. We have seen the attitude of Alvaro Pelayo, a Franciscan; the Franciscan moralist Francesc Eiximenis was even more contemptuous of peasants while simultaneously solicitous of the urban poor. He considered peasants to be fundamentally evil and uncooperative and so, like recalcitrant beasts, they have to be beaten and starved into submissive productivity.16

  • 17 Some of these appear in J.N. Besse, Les saints protecteurs du travail, Paris, Bloud, 1905, 9-15.

9What is more surprising than the scarcity of peasant saints is how few saints were depicted as patrons, examples or protectors of peasants. This is in contrast with the early modern and modern periods in which various saints, some of them peasants and some not, were offered up as subjects of preaching and as patrons of agricultural labor or as protectors against hail, drought or other crop dangers.17

10Medieval sermons addressed to rustics counseled them to accept their lot in life and to obey their lords, but whereas preaching would have been accompanied by examples of pious rural fortitude (as in seventeenth-century Poland or eighteenth-century France), the few peasant saints of the Middle Ages, or even well-born protectors of peasants were not assimilated into commonplaces of sermon literature. There were rustic saints in the Middle Ages, but they were not models of subservience brought out to bolster the legitimacy of the seigneurial regime.

11In what follows we will look at some exceptional holy figures who were at least associated with peasants and devote particular attention to Saint Isidore the Laborer, one of the few who not only was born into a humble rustic fam ily but managed to perform miracles while remaining in that state. A locally important figure in medieval Castile, Isidore would be transformed in the seventeenth century to become a patron of agricultural laborers in Catholic settings from the Andes to Poland.

Dubious and Temporary Peasant Saints

  • 18 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons des corporations et protecteurs spécialement invoqués da (...)
  • 19 Ibid., vol. 1, 217-218.

12Within the category of peasant saints one has to distinguish those who really were peasants by upbringing from those who were part-timers or amateurs or who had only a glancing, coincidental contact with the countryside. An example of the latter category is the famous Santa Lucia of Syracuse who was supposed to have been martyred in the Diocletianic persecution. Among the unsuccessful attempts to persuade her to change her mind about Christianity was to drag her off to a brothel, but even a team of cattle could not move her (or according to another version, the animals refused to do their job), so that among other things Lucia is considered the patroness of cowherds.18 Saint Armogast, the last Roman Count of North Africa (†c. 452) was reputed to have refused to renounce Catholicism for Arianism under Vandal rule and was put to plowing land and herding sheep as a humiliation.19

  • 20 Ibid., vol. 1, 442-445.
  • 21 G. Klaniczay, “The Paradoxes of Royal Sainthood as Illustrated by Central European Examples”, in K (...)
  • 22 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons..., op. cit., vol. 2, 370-371.

13More pertinent for the subject of this paper are saints who were not rustic by origin but who took up agricultural tasks. Thus Saint Médard of Noyon (†557) was of gentle birth but had an avocation for work in the fields and herding animals. While taking animals to a watering place Médard gave away a horse to a poor traveler. Fully expecting to be punished by his father, he was astonished when no horses were missing when he returned. Another boyhood miracle involved settling a boundary dispute between peasants.20 The best-known example of a high-born amateur is Duke Wenceslaus of Bohemia, murdered by his brother in either 929 or 935. Wenceslaus is both a royal and a peasant saint. He was accustomed to rise during the night and devoted himself particularly, according to his legend, to producing the elements of communion: reaping, threshing, milling and baking wheat and tending vineyards for the wine.21 Saint Wendelin (†1015), a Scottish saint of royal blood, traveled as a pilgrim, it was said, and established himself and a small monastic community in a forest near Trier. He was given a flock of sheep to herd by a local notable who also eventually gave him land at Tholey to become a hermit.22

  • 23 Acta Sanctorum Septembris, vol. 4, Antwerp, 1753, Sept. 12, 41-48; M. de Waha, ‘“Quidam mercator d (...)

14Once such upper-class patrons are discounted, the remaining dossier of peasant saints is quite small. Some who are often referred to as peasant saints don’t really belong in this category. Saint Guidon of Anderlecht (supposed to have died in 1012) has sometimes been regarded as a peasant entrepreneur or as the first merchant mentioned as being active in Brussels, but if he existed at all (which is doubtful) he was probably a canon of Anderlecht. His cult seems to have developed in the later period of the Investiture Controversy and formed part of an effort to reinforce the common life of church canons. The modern corpus of his miracles includes a story that angels once took his place guiding the plow while he prayed, a theme we will see associated also with St. Isidore. However, there is no evidence for this particular feat before 1595 so that it is not part of Guidon’s medieval image but is very likely borrowed for modern consumption from St. Isidore.23

  • 24 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons..., op. cit., vol. 1, 39, 255-256; 261-263; A. Vauchez, (...)

15Among saints who can be shown to have had peasant origins, a significant number gave up agricultural tasks upon turning to pious or miraculous works. Saint Engelmar (†1125), the son of a Bavarian peasant, was said to have been learned and devout from an early age, so there could not have been many years during which he actually toiled in the fields before becoming a hermit in the vicinity of Passau. Saint Bénezet (†1184) was a shepherd who was especially skilled at encouraging lambs to nurse, but at the age of 12 he left his sheep in answer to a vision of Christ and went to Avignon to tell the bishop to build the bridge over the Rhone that would become the great symbol of the city. Saint Joan of Signa (†1307) was also of peasant origin but became a recluse. Saint Drogon (or Druon, T1189) was a shepherd for six years and, as in the legend of St. Guidon, he received angelic help in tending his animals. He was, however, a pilgrim and then a recluse for most of his life.24

  • 25 Goswin of Villers, Vita Arnulfi, in Acta Sanctorum Junii, vol. 5, Antwerp, 1709, June 30, 606-631. (...)

16The twelfth-century Cistercian lay brother Arnulf of Villers (T1228) was born to a peasant family and worked as a monastic conversus, serving as a farm laborer and cart driver. He practiced self-mortification, prayer and charity and was credited with many posthumous miracles. As his reputation for holiness grew, he was relieved of most of his secular obligations. He became more of a monk and less of a farmer once his spiritual gifts were recognized.25

  • 26 A. Foglia, “La diffusione delle ‘vite’ a stampa dal XVI al xx secolo”, in Beatus vir..., op. cit.,(...)
  • 27 Examples in J. Neubner, Die heiligen Handwerker in der Darstellung der Acta Sanctorum: Ein Beitrag (...)

17Of course saints did not have to remain in their worldly occupations once they answered a call that tended, at the very least, to encourage turning one’s back on glory, profit or routine survival. This is evident in the reputations of the early Italian urban saints. Homobonus of Cremona was depicted in his vita and in early devotional works as having given up his mercantile interests to devote himself to charity. The fact that he remained married and continued throughout his life to live with his wife was not openly acknowledged in the official pontifical act of canonization. In later biographical and liturgical traditions he was said to have fled the world, repudiating his profession, and his marriage was presented as an additional occasion for penance. Later he became a saint identified with charity whose opportunities for relieving suffering are to some degree related to his earlier ability to accumulate money (his symbol is a large purse).26 Eventually artisans would be regarded not merely as patrons of the crafts they had abandoned but admired as workers, their sanctity expressed in part through their trade.27 Earlier, however, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Italian lay saints were revered for their charity and ascetic practices and attitudes towards their marriages and occupations were ambiguous and evasive.

18Thus although there were some lay saints of humble background, especially in Italy, and the overall trend was to diminish the tremendous over-representation of clerics and nobles in hagiography, there were few peasant saints. Most of these already small number were either men of higher origin who practiced agriculture as a gesture of penance or peasants whose special piety relieved them of rustic obligations. Within this rather small field St. Isidore the Laborer is unusual as he remained engaged in ordinary rustic activities for his entire life.

19The changes in his cult show both the adaptability and limitations of this peasant saint. Between the twelfth and the seventeenth century what had previously been a restricted local cult was taken up by the rulers of Spain and spread successfully to the rest of the Catholic world. St. Isidore proved to be malleable as he became a model for pious and obedient peasants, but these qualities were not what he was initially revered for and investigating the shifts from medieval to early modern periods demonstrate how limited the use of peasant saints as exemplars actually was throughout the Middle Ages.

The Cult of Saint Isidore the Laborer in Spain28

  • 28 This section expands material presented in a paper entitled “Serfs as a Medieval Minority”, in Min (...)
  • 29 On the cult of Isidore in Spain, its origins and development, see M. Fernandez Montes, “Isidro, el (...)

20St. Isidore the Laborer was a tenant farmer who probably lived during the mid and late twelfth century in the vicinity of Madrid shortly after its conquest from the Muslims by the king of Castile. He was said to have performed miracles while alive and posthumously specialized in miracles of healing and finding sources of water.29 Although in his lifetime he appears to have developed a local reputation for sanctity and miraculous power, he remained content with the subordinate position of an agricultural laborer.

  • 30 Los milagros de San Isidro (s. XIII), ed. F. Fita, revised by Q. Aldea, Madrid, Academia de Arte e (...)

21There is only one medieval account of his life, the Legenda Sancii Isidori, often known as the Códice de juan Diácono, composed in the last third of the thirteenth century and preserved in the Cathedral of Saint Isidore in Madrid. It consists of a brief vita followed by an account of the discovery of the intact corpse of Isidore and his translation from the church yard to the interior of the church of Saint Andrew in Madrid. The rest of the Legenda concerns the posthumous miracles of the saint. The supposed author “Juan Diácono” has sometimes been identified as the learned Franciscan Gil de Zamora (1250-1318), but there is reason to question both the date (usually given as 1271) and the single authorship of a composition that bears marks of having been written over many decades of the thirteenth century by multiple contributors.30

  • 31 M. Fernández Montes, “Isidro, el varón de Dios”, op. cit., 21-31.

22Elements of this Legenda of St. Isidore, especially the early miracles of the vita, resemble stories of Islamic popular saints. It is possible that the shadowy figure of a farm laborer in the era of the Christian take-over of New Castile was originally a Berber saint in a tradition of simple, uneducated holy men. Some of Isidore’s qualities such as his good nature, helpfulness to his neighbors and a determination to live off the labor of his own hands resemble the attributes of revered Andalusian figures such as Abu Ya’far al-Uryani, Abu-l Hayyay, Abu-l Abbas Ahmad or Aben Chueco. Like Isidore, the Andalusian and Moroccan saints were often workers or artisans and they tended not to renounce secular life in favor of one of contemplation. They were married and had children whom, contrary to Christian traditions, they didn’t set aside once they started on the path of singular righteousness. It is therefore quite possible that Muslim and Christian stories of sanctity were combined around the time of the transfer of power over Madrid into Christian hands.31

  • 32 Los milagros..., op. cit., 70-73 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 104-107).

23Unlike Arnulf of Villers, Isidore never withdrew from farm labor but rather incorporated a life of prayer and unusually scrupulous religious observance into his agricultural routine. To the extent that these were in conflict, prayer tending to take time away from labor, Isidore was resourceful, quietly clever, and presented in the text as a somewhat playful saint. His master was unduly influenced by the jealous complaints of the other dependents who accused Isidore of avoiding work. In one of his most famous miracles Isidore took time away from his work to pray at several churches around Madrid. His master, alerted by Isidore’s invidious co-workers, was furious at him for neglecting his obligations, but his anger turned to astonishment when he saw a team of oxen ploughing by themselves near the praying laborer (the story was later amended so that angels provided the guidance to the animals).32

  • 33 Los milagros..., op. cit, 69-70, 73-76 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 103,107-110).

24Other miracles from the Legenda involve similar commitments to prayer (Isidore refuses to leave the church to protect his donkey from a wolf), and the multiplication of food to feed the poor. These themes are combined when Isidore is late to a confraternity banquet and arrives accompanied by poor people he had picked up outside a church. Only Isidore’s portion has been set aside, but once more, it grows mysteriously and proves sufficient to feed even additional poor people who flocked to the place. In another miracle Isidore uses a portion of the grain ground at the mill to feed some hungry birds, provoking the contemptuous comments of a neighbor until it is discovered that the sacks seem to contain more than they had when they left the mill.33

  • 34 Los milagros..., op. cit., 70-71 (=F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 104): Cum enim divine indicio (...)
  • 35 K.B. Wolf, “The Life and Afterlife...”, op. cit., 135-136.

25There is a natural tension between secular obligations and dedication to prayer, but the basis of Isidore’s fame was as a model laborer who expressed his sanctity in the course of a normal secular existence. In the Legenda attributed to Juan Diácono, Isidore is said to have desired no other manner of life than that of gaining his living by the work of his own hands, following God’s commands to Adam and Eve.34 The author of the vita emphasizes that Isidore chose this way of life, and that he deliberately made himself an agricultural tenant.35 He was married and had a son, according the vita, a further example of his almost uncannily normal, secular life. Isidore’s wife would also come to be revered and eventually canonized as Santa Maria de la Cabeza, although unlike her husband, her cult never spread beyond the Iberian Peninsula. She would repeatedly prove her chastity, according to her legend, in a number of slightly comical ways, showing again the mistrust and jealousy of the peasant community.

26The Castilian Isidore was a humble farm worker, but he was not an exemplar of unthinking obedience to his lord. He appears in the early stories as gentle but assertive, instructing his lord and quietly defying the organization of the estate’s economy. His first miracles are in aid of the poor and of other peasants. The first datable miracle in the collection of 49 that follow those in the vita is from 1232. The largest portion of these involves cures for illness. In the stories that date from after the Legenda, thus after 1300, Isidore’s miracles benefit the clergy more than the poor, or they tend to underscore his own sanctity, or are performed for the general good of the population (he becomes especially identified with locating sources of water).

  • 36 Los milagros..., op. cit., 81-82 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 117-118).

27In the Legenda he is a tenant farmer, but in later stories he becomes more clearly a serf. Whatever his legal status, his social condition was lowly, yet there was surprisingly little reluctance on the part of nobles or the Spanish monarchs to exalt Isidore and his cult. There is one account in the Legenda of a tax collector for King Ferdinand of Castile staying at an inn who was told about the miracles of the holy peasant. His response was incredulous and scoffing and he observed that while he could imagine the son of a prince or noble becoming a saint, he did not believe this was possible for a mere rustic (set virum laboricii seu ruricolam non credo ullatenus fore sanctum). After a night of dreadful anxiety and wakefulness, the royal servant publicly confessed his error and was released from his psychological torment.36

  • 37 M. Fernández Montes, “San Isidro, de labrador medieval...”, op. cit., 41-95.

28In the late Middle Ages and especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth century Isidore would be transformed into the protector of the city of Madrid as it grew from frontier settlement to great Castilian town and ultimately to the site of the court and the capital of Spain.37 Isidore remained a peasant in personality and attributes, but was now an urban patron. Ironically, then, a holy peasant of the Middle Ages would become identified with the royal court. Phillip II was especially fond of Isidore and credited him with curing his son Don Carlos in the happier days of their relationship. Isidore was intimately connected with the life of Madrileños as depicted in the plays of Lope de Vega and the paintings of his festival by Goya. Although Isidore was not officially canonized until 1622, for centuries before that he was one of the chief saints of Castile. The effect of his canonization was to export the cult all over Europe and to the New World, especially to Paraguay (following the Jesuits) and Peru.

Saint Isidore in Poland38

  • 38 I am grateful to Agnieszka Rec and Maria Blackwood for their help with research and translation of (...)
  • 39 Although the Burgundian royal saint Sigismund was successfully transplanted to Bohemia as an impor (...)

29It is well known that Spanish saints migrated to the New World and that their personalities and attributes were modified in the process. That saints’ cults moved from one European region to another has usually been seen in terms of deliberate institutions established on new frontiers, so that relics were brought to new sites such as Corvey or Magdeburg from more established places in the Carolingian or Ottonian Empires. It was more unusual for a fully established church, such as that of Baroque Poland, to adapt a foreign saint, especially with such immediate yet long-lasting enthusiasm.39 The rarity of other peasant saints (or saints who had remained peasants all their lives) and the possibility of making an exemplar to peasants provided the opportunity to make this transformation.

  • 40 G. Schreiber, “Spanische Motive in der deutschen Volksreligiosität”, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultu (...)
  • 41 On the social uses of Polish devotion to Isidore see J. Tazbir, “The Cult of St. Isidore the Farme (...)

30Isidore had a large following in rural Germany and the Tyrol in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,40 but it is in early-modern Poland and as the patron of serfs that his cult flourished on a truly national level. Within just a few years of papal recognition of his sanctity in 1622, Isidore became an emblem of servile deference in Poland, a model of Christian obedience.41

  • 42 On the medieval seigneurial regime see P. Górecki, “Viator to Ascriptitius: Rural Economy, Lordshi (...)

31Social conditions in early-modern Poland were in part responsible for the development of this transplanted cult of St. Isidore. Beginning in the fifteenth century a regime of legally defined and enforced servitude was imposed on peasant tenants, but this was not an abrupt process. A seigneurial regime had been established in the Polish countryside since the twelfth century. Peasants owed customary dues and services to the king, but they could move from one tenancy to another and could bring suit in royal courts against those who attempted to dispossess or restrict them. Despite these guarantees (as was the case elsewhere in the medieval Europe), peasant tenants came under their lord’s extra-economic power and even judicial sway, and already in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there were tenants described in the seigneurial records as tied to their holdings. Beginning with the late twelfth century there was an increasing differentiation of the peasantry based on degree of dependence on seigneurial jurisdiction with those termed ascriptitii (derived from Roman law) most subordinated to their lords’ jurisdiction.42

  • 43 L. Makkai, “Neo-Serfdom: Its Origin and Nature in East Central Europe”, Slavic Review, 34 (1975), (...)
  • 44 On the late-medieval imposition of serfdom see M. Dygo, “Zur Genese der sogennanten ‘zweiten Leibe (...)

32Despite these anticipations of the more elaborately defined and enforced servitude of the late-medieval and early-modern period, it remains unclear whether one can speak of an earlier period of serfdom so that the developments of the late Middle Ages might represent a “second servitude”. The late Middle Ages, however, saw the expansion of servitude to encompass the mass of Polish peasants. The end of the Middle Ages represents the beginning of a divergence between Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe on the one hand, where rural serfdom became nearly universal, and Western Europe on the other, where servile condition fell into desuetude.43 In 1423 the so-called Warta Law defined a class of servi illiberi who were now to be subject to their lords’ jurisdiction without recourse to royal authority. This law also confirmed and strengthened earlier measures that virtually prohibited peasants from departing from their lords’ estates.44

  • 45 I. Wallerstein, The Modern World System, I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European (...)
  • 46 R. Brenner, “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe”, Past & P (...)

33The divergence between the agrarian social systems of eastern and western Europe in the modern era constitutes one of the great and much-debated historical problems of European history. In Poland the weakness of the royal authority in comparison with the nobility certainly strengthened the servile regime in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, but the Polish kings were still fairly powerful in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when serfdom first became extensive and there are other examples, notably Russia, of the spread of serfdom accompanied by a strong monarchy. In the comparative history of servitude economic explanations have had more success than political ones. The growth of an Eastern European (and especially Polish) grain export economy to feed the modernizing states of Western Europe has been seen as the cause of a split between the prosperous and dynamic center (France, Britain, Western Germany, the Low Countries) and a neo-colonial periphery given over to a form of plantation economy in which unfree labor produced at minimal cost a basic agricultural commodity, in this case wheat.45 This argument runs up against the fact that the structure of the regime of serfdom was in place before this export economy really became important in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.46 Nevertheless, the differentiation between eastern and western European economies and societies was striking by the seventeenth century. The servile regime lasted well into the nineteenth century and has been considered the cause of what historians have been inclined to call Eastern European “backwardness”.

  • 47 Andrzej Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwych żywotów s'. Isidora rolnika z Madryki, s. Igna (...)
  • 48 Andrzej Goidonowski, Krótkie zebraníe świątobliwych żywotów s. Isidora Rolnika z Madryki [A Short (...)

34For our present purpose the cause of this disparity is less important than the relative novelty of an almost completely enserfed Polish peasantry and the consequent need to justify or explain the obedience of unfree peasants to their masters. The Paulist father Andrzej Goidonowski (1596-1660) published a series of brief lives of Isidore, Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Fillipo Neri and Theresa of Avila, all of whom had been canonized in that same year 1622.47 Gołdonowski followed this up in 1629 with a more extensive biography of St. Isidore and appended to it observations on the duties of serfs and lords.48

  • 49 J.M.E. Morawski, “Espagne et Pologne: coup d’œil sur les relations des deux pays dans le passé et (...)
  • 50 J. Związek, “Poglądy o. Andrzeja Gołdonowskiego...”, op. cit., 209. The first indication of the Or (...)
  • 51 Some examples: K. Antoniewicz, Święty Izydor (Oracz): Podarek dla szkółek ludu naszego [St. Isidor (...)

35Gołdonowski’s information about Isidore came from the canonization process and subsequent publicity. It is not so remarkable that a Polish spiritual writer should have had knowledge of a Spanish saint. At this time there was already an active Polish interest in Spanish religious texts and figures, especially Saint Theresa of Avila, so that the creation of a Polish St. Isidore was neither accidental nor devoid of context.49 What was exceptional is the speed with which the cult was successfully transplanted to Poland. By the time of Gołdonowski’s 1629 account of Isidore there was already a confraternity devoted to the saint at Kłobuck, just north of Częstochowa and officially recognized by Pope Urban VIII.50 The cult of Isidore in Poland was substantially advanced by Gołdonowski but not created by him ex nihilo. It’s worth noting that veneration of Isidore has persisted in Poland, especially in the south, to the present day. Even after the abolition of serfdom in the various partitioned parts of Poland during the nineteenth century, Isidore was the object of popular devotion and the subject of several works of hagiography that continued to stress obedience to landlords while expanding the image of Isidore as a representative of rural piety and even the Polish nation generally.51

  • 52 A. Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwego żywota s. Isidora..., op. cit., A3.
  • 53 Ibid., E3V.

36Gołdonowski adapted Isidore to Polish circumstances by depicting him as a dutiful tenant farmer. In this early-modern incarnation Isidore was the exemplum of the poor but contented ploughman who fears, respects and obeys “feudal authority”.52 According to Gołdonowski, even bad lords must be obeyed, for not only is this the just ordinance of an inscrutable divine purpose, but the serf might find himself with an even worse master if he resists or flees from the present one who seems to oppress him.53

  • 54 Earlier examples: J. Tazbir, Arianie i katolicy..., op. cit., 217.
  • 55 A. Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwego zywota s. Isidora..., op. cit., A1v, A3V.

37Preaching obedience even to bad lords was a common theme throughout medieval Europe and so long antedates the arrival of St. Isidore in Poland,54 but the diffusion of the cult in the seventeenth century offers an almost stereotypically perfect case of religion as the “opiate of the masses”: the explicit promise of heavenly rewards for earthly acceptance of exploitation. In heaven the rustics, treated with derision on earth, will be admired for their works and merit and receive an eternal reward.55 It is not only that God favors the peasant who has suffered piously and uncomplainingly in this life, but that obedience to seigneurial authority is constantly reiterated as a primary duty of the peasant and that St. Isidore is represented as an example of deference to the social hierarchy of the countryside.

  • 56 Ibid., A3V-A4; J. Tazbir, Arianie i katolicy..., op. cit., 219-230.
  • 57 A. Gostomski, Gospodarstwo [The Estate], originally printed in Cracow, 1588, ed. S. Inglot, Wstęp (...)

38The possibility that peasants might prove less than tractable was acknowledged by Gołdonowski who reverts to the medieval commonplace of condemning rebellious peasants as animals who become disobedient when not disciplined. He calls for harsh measures to make them work well and even allows lords to kill their serfs when, under exceptional circumstances, it proves necessary.56 Although conceding virtually unlimited sway for lords over their serfs, Gołdonowski is more cautious in the actual implementation this power than Anzelm Gostomski, an earlier lay writer (a substantial landlord and grain merchant) whose work on the administration of estates was published in 1588, so before the introduction of the cult of St. Isidore. Gostomski had described in some detail beatings, fines, stocks and hanging as possible options, so that it can’t be said that Gołdonowski invented the genre of instructions to lords and peasants in Poland, nor that deploying St. Isidore as an exemplar made such counsel harsher.57

  • 58 Isidore as a model for servile peasants is continued after Goldonowski in works such as W. Proński (...)

39Gołdonowski preserves the earliest legends of St. Isidore and his amusing defiance of his lord and his neighbors’ expectations (praying rather than plowing; feeding the birds) Isidore is not, therefore entirely meek or servile. What is most significant in the adaptation of Isidore’s cult in seventeenth-century Poland is the explicit justification of serfdom (as compared with general rule over tenants), and acceptance of lordship not merely as something to be endured but as a positive social good. The saint becomes a model of obedience to the landlord, church and state.58

  • 59 A. Wielogłowski, Święty Izydor (Oracz)..., op. cit., 12.
  • 60 Ibid., 15: “Wreszcie wiem, iz pierwsze jest posłuszeństwo od nabożeństwa” [I know now that obedien (...)
  • 61 Ibid., 48: “Módlicie się pracucjąc, a modląc się pracujcie!” [Work while praying, and pray while w (...)

40The emphasis on reverence for secular authority would persist beyond the era of serfdom. In Walery Wielogłowski’s work of 1863, Saint Isidore Given as a Model to Peasants, Isidore tells his mother that it is good to live in submission to a master, suffering humiliation as an offering to God and a benefit to others.59 So important is deference to the orders of one’s lord that in Wielgołowski the relation between prayer and work found in the first Spanish legends is reversed. When Isidore is denied permission to attend church on weekdays he states that he now realizes that obedience is more important than devotion.60 Work and prayer should not be contradictory but rather accompany one another.61

  • 62 M. Fernández Montes, “San Isidro, de labrador medieval...”, op. cit., 75-79.

41Over the centuries stories about Isidore portrayed him as less defiant of his master, or at least as less paradoxical and ironic in his sanctity. Rather than feeding birds or indulging in off-hours prayer, the late-medieval Isidore in Spain is a tireless worker who finds water and augments crop yields. Any vestigial tendencies toward independence are kept in line by his saintly wife. The landlord is now a member of the important noble Vargas family, and he becomes wiser, less the temperamental taskmaster.62 Nevertheless, even if the late-medieval St. Isidore was more dutiful and deferential, he never in Spain became the paragon of servile docility he was to symbolize in early-modern Poland.

Conclusion

42There was no widespread medieval figure of peasant saintliness exemplifying submission to the seigneurial regime. There weren’t many even quasi-peasant saints in the first place, and the exceptional case of Isidore took root in New Castile, where servitude among Christian peasants was never well-established. In early modern Poland Isidore would play the role of patron of serfs, but the changing interpretation of his life highlights the lack of such a saint in the Middle Ages.

43Given the medieval elaboration of regulation and repression of dissent and difference, this absence of a saint who could serve as a lesson in peasant obedience is surprising. There is certainly a sermon literature addressed to peasants counseling them against resentment, but there is also a rather extensive group of sermons that denounce the lords in quite bitter terms for their oppressive conduct. One would have thought that if serfs were not exactly a minority, or at least not marginal as regards religion, they might have been treated to a more aggressive hagiographic propaganda, but then again no one ever said medieval thought was always completely predictable.

  • 63 Jacques de Vitry, The Exempla or Illustrative Stories from the ‘Sermones vulgares’ of Jacques de V (...)

44It may be that the Middle Ages found the idea of saints from the lower social orders generally distasteful. Saints were supposed to come from noble or at least affluent families. Renunciation of privilege was more worthy and praise than simply continuing a condition of deprivation at birth. It is true that poverty implied relative proximity to God, as in an exemplum of Jacques de Vitry in which a peasant, shivering with cold, reminds himself that in heaven he will be able to warm his feet merely by toasting them over the pit of hell below where those who were rich and at ease on earth will be consumed in fire.63 Nevertheless, voluntary destitution was regarded as more virtuous than being numbered among the masses of the routinely impoverished.

45In the modern period these obstacles to the reverence of peasant or other lower-class saints were overcome. New saints of humble birth were recognized, or saints who had not had anything to do with rural life became retrospectively transformed into peasants (Guidon of Anderlecht, for example). Isidore remained a peasant, but in moving from Castile to Poland he became a serf and the exemplar of servile acceptance of the social order. Medieval social and religious commentaries assumed that serfdom was bad and agreed that it flagrantly violated original human equality. The low nature of servile peasants or some Biblical or historical crime had to be deployed to explain why oppression and deprivation of freedom were even licit, let alone useful.

  • 64 J. Matuszewski, Z. Rymaszewski, Geneza Polskiego Chama (Studium semazjologiczne) [The Origins of t (...)

46Such ideas continued in the early modern period especially with regard to slavery in which Africans or Native Americans were portrayed as inferior or as members of races expiating a Biblical curse. Within Europe, however, inferiority was accompanied by counsels to acceptance of servitude as an appropriate and productive discipline. Poland provides a particularly interesting example because along with the figure of Saint Isidore, in case its counsels of obedience didn’t work, was the ingrained association of Polish peasants with the offspring of Noah’s son Ham.64 Medieval serfs had no patron saint, but the oscillation between the serf as bestial and as sanctified by his oppression is found across the European world from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries.

Notes

1 P.A. Sorokin, Altruistic Love: A Study of American “Good Neighbors” and Christian Saints, Boston, Beacon Press, 1950, 122-125.

2 D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982,196.

3 G. Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princes: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002; R. Folz, Les saints rois du Moyen Âge en Occident, vie-xiie siècles, Bruxelles, Société des Bollandistes, 1984.

4 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Âge d’après les procès de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques, Paris, De Boccard, 1981, 324-325.

5 Of course even if there were revered local figures of humble origins, the promotion of holy men to a more generally recognized status of widely adored saints required family connections and influence. See, for example, F. Mazel, “Affaire de foi et affaire de famille en haute Provence au xive siècle: Autour de saint Elzéar (†1323) et de sainte Dauphine (†1360)”, in De Provence et d’ailleurs. Mélanges offerts à Noël Coulet, J.-P. Boyer, F.-X. Emmanuelli ed., Marseille, Fédération historique de Provence (= Provence historique, 49) 1999, 354-366.

6 D. Piazzi, “Omobono di Cremona: le fonti agiografiche”, in Beatus vir et re et nomine Homobonus. La figura di Sant’Omobono ad ottocento anni dalla morte (1197-1997), A. Foglia ed., Cremona, Linograf, 1998, 13-30; A. Vauchez, Omobono di Cremona (+1197), laico e santo: profilo storico, Cremona, Nuova Editrice Cremonese, 2001, 15-36.

7 See the Table in D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society..., op. cit., 197.

8 G. Picasso, “La spiritualità dei laici”, in Sant’Omobono nel suo tempo: conversazione storiche, Comitato per l'Anno di Sanf Omobono ed., Cremona, Nuova Editrice Cremonese, 1999, 18-20.

9 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident..., op. cit., 187-197, 234-237.

10 Ibid., 215-223.

11 D. Weinstein, R.M. Bell, Saints and Society..., op. cit., 197.

12 Alvarus Pelagius, De planctu ecclesiae, Lyon, 1517, fol. 147.

13 P. Freedman, Images of the Medieval Peasant, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1999, 204-235.

14 C. Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987.

15 A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident..., op. cit., 173-183.

16 Francesc Eiximenis, Lo Crestià, Book 12, excerpted in La societat catalana al segle XIV, ed. J. Webster, Barcelona, Edicions 62,1967, 59.

17 Some of these appear in J.N. Besse, Les saints protecteurs du travail, Paris, Bloud, 1905, 9-15.

18 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons des corporations et protecteurs spécialement invoqués dans les malades et dans les circonstances critiques de la vie, Paris, s.d. [1887], vol. 2, 542-546.

19 Ibid., vol. 1, 217-218.

20 Ibid., vol. 1, 442-445.

21 G. Klaniczay, “The Paradoxes of Royal Sainthood as Illustrated by Central European Examples”, in Kings and Kingship in Medieval Europe, A.J. Duggan ed., London, King’s College, 1993, 366.

22 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons..., op. cit., vol. 2, 370-371.

23 Acta Sanctorum Septembris, vol. 4, Antwerp, 1753, Sept. 12, 41-48; M. de Waha, ‘“Quidam mercator de Bruxella’: la signification économique de la ‘Vita Guidonis’”, in Congrès de Comines, 28-31 août 1980 (Actes du xlve Congrès de la Federation des Cercles d’Archéologie et d’Histoire de Belgique), vol. 3: Actes-Handelingen-Akten, Comines, [no publisher indicated], 1983, 45-60. I am grateful to Prof. de Waha for his advice and information about the cult of St. Guidon.

24 L. du Broc de Segange, Les saints patrons..., op. cit., vol. 1, 39, 255-256; 261-263; A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident..., op. cit., 230.

25 Goswin of Villers, Vita Arnulfi, in Acta Sanctorum Junii, vol. 5, Antwerp, 1709, June 30, 606-631. In the 1886 reprint he is under Junii, vol. 7, 556-579. See also B.P. McGuire, “Self Denial and Self-Assertion in Arnulfof Villers”, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, 28(1993), 241-259; B. Noell, “Expectation and Unrest Among Cistercian Lay Brothers in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”, Journal of Medieval History 32 (2006), 253-274.

26 A. Foglia, “La diffusione delle ‘vite’ a stampa dal XVI al xx secolo”, in Beatus vir..., op. cit., 41-44.

27 Examples in J. Neubner, Die heiligen Handwerker in der Darstellung der Acta Sanctorum: Ein Beitrag zur christlichen Sozialgeschichte aus hagiographischen Quellen, Münster, 1929.

28 This section expands material presented in a paper entitled “Serfs as a Medieval Minority”, in Minorités et régulations sociales en Mediterranée médiévale, S. Boissellier et al. (eds.), Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010,107-122.

29 On the cult of Isidore in Spain, its origins and development, see M. Fernandez Montes, “Isidro, el varón de Dios, como modelo de sincretismo religioso en la Edad Media”, Revista de Dialectología y tradiciones populares, 54 (1999), 7-51; id., “San Isidro, de labrador medieval a patrón renacentista y barroco de la Villa y Corte”, ibid., 56 (2001), 41-95; K.B. Wolf, “The Life and Afterlife of St. Isidro ‘The Farmer’”, in Church, State, Vellum, and Stone: Essays on Medieval Spain in Honor of John Williams, T. Martin, J.A. Harris ed., Leiden, Brill. 2005, 131-143; Z. García Villada, San Isidro Labrador en la historia y en la literatura, Madrid, 1922; J.L. Mingote Calderóm, “Un milagro de San Isidro relacionado con ritos de protección del grano durante la siembra” Revista de Dialectología y tradiciones populares, 48 (1993), 135-152.

30 Los milagros de San Isidro (s. XIII), ed. F. Fita, revised by Q. Aldea, Madrid, Academia de Arte e Historia de San Dámaso, 1993 (the text of the Legenda is more accessible in F. Fita, “Leyenda de San Isidro por Juan Diácono”, Boletín de Ια Real Academia de la Historia, 9 (1886), 102-152, although there are many faults in Fita’s transcription). On the nature and significance of the document, N. Sanz Martínez, “El Códice de Juan Diácono”, in San Isidro Labrador, Patrono de la Villa y Corte, IX Centenario de su nacimiento, Madrid, Academia de Arte e Historia de San Dámaso, 1983, 49-69. On questions about this dating see K.B. Wolf, “The Life and Afterlife...”, op. cit., 140-142.

31 M. Fernández Montes, “Isidro, el varón de Dios”, op. cit., 21-31.

32 Los milagros..., op. cit., 70-73 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 104-107).

33 Los milagros..., op. cit, 69-70, 73-76 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 103,107-110).

34 Los milagros..., op. cit., 70-71 (=F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 104): Cum enim divine indicio providencie, iuxta illud quod dictum est primo parenti humani generis: “In labore manuum et sudore vultus pane uto vesceris”, in semetipso iuste rectificans, non aliter vitam ducere quam de labore manuum suarum victum acquirere preelegit; unde factus obediens in primo parente dominice iussioni, cuius[dam] maieritensis de plebe militis factus est sub mercede annua humilis inquilinus. Igitur cum sub hoc statu, in rure ville proximo positus vitam cum labore duceret uxoratus, reddebat deo que dei erant, et fraterna proximis que debebat.

35 K.B. Wolf, “The Life and Afterlife...”, op. cit., 135-136.

36 Los milagros..., op. cit., 81-82 (= F. Fita, “Leyenda...”, op. cit., 117-118).

37 M. Fernández Montes, “San Isidro, de labrador medieval...”, op. cit., 41-95.

38 I am grateful to Agnieszka Rec and Maria Blackwood for their help with research and translation of material on St. Isidore written in Polish.

39 Although the Burgundian royal saint Sigismund was successfully transplanted to Bohemia as an important cult by the Emperor Charles IV and the Angevin rulers of Naples and Hungary circulated French, Italian and Hungarian saints throughout their domains. See D.C. Mengel, “A Holy and Faithful Fellowship: Royal Saints in Fourteenth-Century Prague”, in Europa a Čechy na konci středověku. Sbornii příspěvku věnovaných Frantisku Šmahelovi, E. Doležalová et al. ed., Prague, Centrum medievistickych studii, 2004, 145-158; G. Klaniczay, Holy Rulers..., op. cit., 295-331.

40 G. Schreiber, “Spanische Motive in der deutschen Volksreligiosität”, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kulturgeschidite Spaniens, 5 (1935), 57-58; H. Hochenegg, “St. Isidor und seine Verehrung in Tirol”, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kulturgeschidite Spaniens, 20 (1962), 214-224.

41 On the social uses of Polish devotion to Isidore see J. Tazbir, “The Cult of St. Isidore the Farmer in Europe”, in Poland at the 14th International Congress of Historical Sciences in San Francisco: Studies in Comparative History, Wrocłow/Warsaw/etc., Zaklad Narodowy imienia Ossolińskich Wydanwnictwo Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 1975, 99-111; with more details, id., Arianie i katolicy [Arians and Catholics], Warsaw, Ksiạżka i Wiedza, 1971, 205-237, and id., “Kult sw. Izydora w XII i XVIII wieku” [The Cult of St. Isidore in the 17th and 18th Centuries], in Janusz Tazbir: Prace Wybrane, tom 4. Studia nad kulturą staropolską [Janusz Tazbir: Selected Works, vol. 4. Studies on Old Polish Culture], Cracow, Wydawców Prac Nauk, 2000, 46-81.

42 On the medieval seigneurial regime see P. Górecki, “Viator to Ascriptitius: Rural Economy, Lordship, and the Origins of Serfdom in Medieval Poland”, Slavic Review, 42 (1983), 14-35; id., Economy and Lordship in Medieval Poland, 1100-1250, New York, Holmes & Meier, 1992; id., A Local Society in Transition: The Henryków Book and Related Documents, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2007.

43 L. Makkai, “Neo-Serfdom: Its Origin and Nature in East Central Europe”, Slavic Review, 34 (1975), 225-238; The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern Europe: Economies and Politics from the Middle Ages Until the Early Twentieth Century, D. Chirot ed., Berkeley, University of California, 1989.

44 On the late-medieval imposition of serfdom see M. Dygo, “Zur Genese der sogennanten ‘zweiten Leibeigenschaft’ in Polen (15.-16. Jahrhundert)”, in Forms of Servitude in Northern and Central Europe: Decline, Resistance, and Expansion, P. Freedman, M. Bourin ed., Turnhout, Brepols, 2005, 403-418. On modern Poland, Jacek Kochanowicz, “The Polish Economy and the Evolution of Dependency”, in The Origins of Backwardness..., op. cit., 92-130.

45 I. Wallerstein, The Modern World System, I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, New York, Academic Press, 1974, 304; W. Rusiński, “Über die Entwicklungsetappen der Fronwirtschaft im Mittel-und Osteuropa”, Studia Historiae Oeconomica 9 (1974), 27-45; M. Małowist, “L’inégalité du développement économique en Europe au bas Moyen Âge”, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 19 (1966), 15-28.

46 R. Brenner, “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe”, Past & Present, 70 (1976), 30-75.

47 Andrzej Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwych żywotów s'. Isidora rolnika z Madryki, s. Ignacego Loiola, fundatora Societatis Iesu, s. Franciszka Xaviera, wyznawcę tegoz zakonu, s. Teresy, fundatorld ojców karmelitów bosych i panien tegoz zakonu, s. Philippa Neri, fundatora congregationis oratori Romani [A Short Collection of the Saintly Lives of St. Isidore the Laborer of Madrid, St. Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, a Member of that Order, St. Theresa, Founder of the Barefoot Carmelites and also a Member of that Order, St. Phillip Neri, Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory] (Jarosław, 1622 and Poznan, 1625). On Goidonowski see the works of J. Tazbir cited in note 41 as well as J. Związek, “Zycie religijne i społeczne ludu wiejskiego w swietle nauk O. Andrzeja Gołdonowskiego” [Religious and Social Life of the Peasants According to Father Andrzej Goidonowski], Studia Claromontana, 6 (1985), 194-222; J. Związek, “Poglądy o. Andrzeja Goldonowskiego o obowiązkach chłopów polskich” [Father Andrzej Gołdonowski’s Views of the Duties of Polish Peasants], Częstochowskie Studia Teologiczne, 15 (1991), 205-216. Związek has a more favorable opinion of Goidonowski than does Tazbir, seeing him as a defender of the peasants rather than as an apologist for serfdom.

48 Andrzej Goidonowski, Krótkie zebraníe świątobliwych żywotów s. Isidora Rolnika z Madryki [A Short Collection on the Holy Life of Saint Isidore the Laborer of Madrid], Cracow, 1629.

49 J.M.E. Morawski, “Espagne et Pologne: coup d’œil sur les relations des deux pays dans le passé et le présent”, Revue de littérature comparée, 16 (1936), 225-246.

50 J. Związek, “Poglądy o. Andrzeja Gołdonowskiego...”, op. cit., 209. The first indication of the Order’s practices comes with Ustawy, powinnosci y porządki bractwa sw). Isidora oracza [Orders, Duties and Rules of the Brotherhood of St. Isidore the Laborer]. No date or place is indicated, but it must have appeared before a Lithuanian translation of 1639. A second edition was published in 1645. The regulations require obedience to authority and require prayers for lords or leaseholders set above the members of this order (pages 2-3) so that those constituting the devotional circle are assumed to be of fairly humble status.

51 Some examples: K. Antoniewicz, Święty Izydor (Oracz): Podarek dla szkółek ludu naszego [St. Isidore the Laborer: A Gift to the Nurseries of our People], Leszno, 1849; anonymous, Święty Izydor Oracz wszystkim rolnikom ut życiu swojem i nabożeństwie za przyklad do naśladowania przedstawiony... [St. Isidore the Laborer Presented as a Model to Peasants for Their Lives and Devotion...], Cracow, 1851; W. Wielogłowski, Święty Izydor (Oracz) za wzór życia rolnikom podany [St. Isidore the Laborer Given as a Model to Peasants], Cracow, 1863; anonymous, Godzinki ku czci sw. Izydora Patrona Rolników [Hours in Honorof St. Isidore, Patron of Peasants], Wadowice, 1879; J. Szymt, Św. Izydor (oracz) [St. Isidore the Laborer], Tarnów, 1911. For the cult in the nineteenth century see C. Deptuła, “Legenda i kult sw Izydora oracza a problemy Polskiej wsi pod zaborami” [The Legend and Cult of St. Isidore the Laborer in Relation to the Problems of the Polish Villages Under the Partitions], Zeszyty Naukowe Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego, 39 (1996), 127-147.

52 A. Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwego żywota s. Isidora..., op. cit., A3.

53 Ibid., E3V.

54 Earlier examples: J. Tazbir, Arianie i katolicy..., op. cit., 217.

55 A. Gołdonowski, Krótkie zebranie świątobliwego zywota s. Isidora..., op. cit., A1v, A3V.

56 Ibid., A3V-A4; J. Tazbir, Arianie i katolicy..., op. cit., 219-230.

57 A. Gostomski, Gospodarstwo [The Estate], originally printed in Cracow, 1588, ed. S. Inglot, Wstęp do Gospodarstwa A. Gostomiskiego [Introduction to “The Estate” by A. Gostomski], Wroclow, Wydawnictwo Zakladu Narodowego im. Ossolińskich, 1951, v17, 23-24, 33-43, discussed in J. Związek, “Zycie religijne...”, op. cit., 201-202.

58 Isidore as a model for servile peasants is continued after Goldonowski in works such as W. Proński, Święta prostata albo nabozne prostactwo niebu mile... [Holy Simplicity or Pious Rusticity Agreeable to Heaven...], Kalisz, 1690, and W. Ostrowski, Praca Świętego Izydora rolnika dla Boga i bliźniego szczera... [The Work of St. Isidore the Laborer, Honest Towards God and his Neighbor...], s.l., 1754 (much ofwhich is based on Proński).

59 A. Wielogłowski, Święty Izydor (Oracz)..., op. cit., 12.

60 Ibid., 15: “Wreszcie wiem, iz pierwsze jest posłuszeństwo od nabożeństwa” [I know now that obedience comes before devotion].

61 Ibid., 48: “Módlicie się pracucjąc, a modląc się pracujcie!” [Work while praying, and pray while working!].

62 M. Fernández Montes, “San Isidro, de labrador medieval...”, op. cit., 75-79.

63 Jacques de Vitry, The Exempla or Illustrative Stories from the ‘Sermones vulgares’ of Jacques de Vitry, ed. T.F. Crane, London, 1890, 50, No. 108.

64 J. Matuszewski, Z. Rymaszewski, Geneza Polskiego Chama (Studium semazjologiczne) [The Origins of the Polish “Cham”: A Semiologogical Study], Lodz, Universytet Łódzki, 1982.

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