Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Matthew B. Gillis

Committee Members

Robert Bast, Jacob Latham


This thesis examines the curious depictions of demons found in the biography of Charlemagne written by Notker the Stammerer in the late ninth-century. The demons appeared in tales that were unrelated to the biography’s subject matter. Historians of earlier generations dismissed the biography altogether as uninformative to a historical understanding of the late Carolingian empire. More recent historians, however, have revived Notker’s text to show that it has much to offer modern readers in understanding the ninth-century. This study shows that the demon stories are informative for a historical understanding of the period as well. They illustrate a special relationship between the author and his patron, Charles the Fat, the Carolingian emperor who himself was reported to have suffered demonic assault. Written at Charles’ request, Notker seems to have inserted the tales as enjoyable horror stories which served to instruct and entertain simultaneously. This thesis analyzes the Latin terminology used by Notker and applies the philosophical theories of phenomenology and horror in order to recreate the experience that these tales might have had on their intended audience.

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