Rudolf of Fulda (d. March 8, 865) was a monk of the Benedictine order during the Carolingian period in the ninth century. Rudolf devoted his life-work to the monastery of Fulda which is located in the present day German state of Hesse. Many of the works composed by Rudolf of Fulda have not withstood the test of time. However, we are fortunate enough to have surviving copies of Rudolf's Annals of Fulda and Vita Leobae, (The Life of St. Leoba). These works document his contribution to the monastery, to history, and establishes Rudolf of Fulda as one of the most well-learned scholars of his time. (citation)
It is uncertain when Rudolf of Fulda was born. There exists no surviving record of his early ecclesiastical life. Furthermore, there exists no record of his familia lineage. Only the date of his death is known from a reference made to the late monk of Fulda in a passage from the Annals of Fulda dated 865. He was a monk of the Benedictine monastery of Fulda. By the year 821, Rudolf was made subdeacon of the monastery. A position which is recognized as, "... a cleric in the lowest of the former major orders of the Roman Catholic Church". Rudolf was a devoted theologian, historian, poet and, "...a most notable practitioner of all the arts". Rudolf of Fulda was a pupil of Rhabanus Maurus and together they would oversee a collection of two-thousand manuscripts which signified the monastery's importance as not only a place of worship, but also a highly important library in which they also had in their possession a copy of Tacitus' Germania. The monastery of Fulda also required such works as the Res Gestae by the fourth century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus and the Codex Fuldensis. The Monastery of Fulda also had in its possession works composed by Cicero, Servius, Bede and Supicius Severus.
Rudolf is considered to be one of the most important writers of his time and has written several works:
The study of Rudolf of Fulda's surviving work provides modern day scholars an insight into his personal beliefs and opinions. Through careful textual analysis, scholars, such as Margaret Cotter-Lynch, have provided a deeper rooted insight into his work. Textual analysis begins with two of his most prominent works: The Life of Leoba, (composed in 836), and the Annals of Fulda, (for which Rudalf of Fulda contributed to between 836 until his death in 865). Under the orders of Rhabanus Maurus, Rudolf of Fulda was given the task of compsing the hagiography of St. Leoba (b.710 - d. 28 September 782), a Saxon nun whom achieved sainthood. This textual record represents a step in a new direction during the Carolingian period in which led to hagiography. This textual source provides us with a glimpse into the mindset of Rudolf of Fulda.
Scholars such as Margaret Cotter-Lynch, author of Reading Leoba, or Hagiography as a Compromise and Valerie L. Garver, author of Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World have pointed to the agenda interwoven within Rudolf of Fulda's Life of Leoba. The Life of St. Leoba was completed by Rudolf of Fulda at the request of Hrabanus. Most apparent in this text are the gender stereotypes of the ninth-century. In the Life of Leoba, Rudolf of Fulda clearly addresses what he believes to be the appropriate role of women in the ninth century. As Margaret Cotter-Lynch, author of Reading Leoba, or Hagiography as Compromise, states, "Rudolf's ideals concerning religious women's behavior seem to align with the official positions of the ninth-century Carolingian church after the Benedictine reforms: religious women are to be strictly cloistered, focused on internal piety and prayer, with very limited if any engagement with either the ecclesiastical or secular worlds beyond the covent's walls". Rudolf of Leoba's opinions coincide with a period in which "large male communities dominated local religious, and also social, economical and political life"