Conference: ‘In the hands of God’s servants’ The Power of the Bishop in Western Europe (1000-1300)

In the hands of God’s servants’ The Power of the Bishop in Western Europe (1000-1300)

Cardiff University
23-24 May 2013

Cardiff University is pleased to announce that it will be hosting a major international conference on the power of the bishop in Europe during the High Middle Ages on 23 and 24 May 2013. Bishops occupied a prominent place in the hierarchy of the medieval church, but they were also able to exercise power in a secular context as judges, warriors, advisors to princes and as lords who exploited a broad range of rights over land and people. Although the careers of the most famous of their number have attracted much interest in modern historiography, the nature, extent and significance of episcopal power at a local level, which formed the basis for the bishop’s pre-eminence in medieval society, has not been fully considered.

Therefore the aim of this conference is to gain a clearer understanding of the construction, enhancement and expression of episcopal power at a local level in Western Europe. Since a bishop’s local power was intimately connected to the episcopal office and the duties it entailed, the conference will be focused in particular on these activities, such as a bishop’s pastoral responsibilities and his role in the liturgy, and their role in the formation and development of episcopal power. However, the effect on episcopal power of other aspects of a bishop’s role in local society will also be considered, such as his relationship with aristocratic families. Therefore we welcome contributions dealing with any aspect of the bishop’s activities and interactions at a local level.

Potential topics include representations of power in architecture and literature, episcopal power and local saints’ cults, episcopal jurisdiction, the episcopal household and the relationship between a bishop and his cathedral chapter.

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words for papers in English of approximately twenty minutes in length to:

Angelo Silvestri (
Melissa Julian-Jones ( )
Chris Dennis (
Hannah Buckingham (

Deadline for Submissions: 28 February, 2013.

Click here to register to attend the conference at the University of Cardiff

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