Call for Papers: Power of the Bishop in Western Europe 1000-1300: Episcopal Personalities

Bishop Hugh Northwold of Ely, d.1254
Bishop Hugh Northwold of Ely, d.1254

Cardiff University is pleased to announce the up-coming symposium on the episcopal office in the Middle Ages, to be held 10-12 June 2015.

There is tendency in modern historiography to approach the episcopal office, its associated duties, and episcopal power and authority abstractedly, detaching the office from the personalities which brought it to life.  The conference aims to cast light on the extent to which the personalities of the men appointed to bishoprics shaped the episcopal office as it developed in Europe between c.1000 and c.1300.  How was personality expressed through the episcopal office and its associated duties?  Bishops were not divorced from the social context and political milieu in which they lived and operated.  How did the personal relationships of an individual bishop with kings, princes, archbishops or popes, or the position of a bishop in an extended kin network, affect not only the development of the office, its functions and its societal status, but also the practice of episcopal duties?  Can a personality be reconstructed in the first place – if so, then how accurately, and where might we begin? To answer such questions, we must draw on expertise from across the disciplines, and we are confident that many more issues will be raised as the conference progresses.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

Episcopal personalities and the restoration of the secular church;

The impact of monastic personalities on the episcopal office;

Episcopal personalities and the development of monasticism or communities of secular canons;

The relationship between the topography of a city and an episcopal personality;

Ecclesiastical architecture as reflections of episcopal personalities;

Episcopal personalities and friendship networks;

The influence of episcopal personalities over secular rulers;

Episcopal personalities as causes of conflict or tools of peace-making.

Papers set in the context of the Eastern Church are particularly welcome for comparative purposes. Deadline March 8th 2015


Published by James Alexander Cameron

I am an art historian working primarily on medieval parish church architecture. I completed my doctorate on sedilia in medieval England in 2015 at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

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