Late antiquity was a period of immense change in Europe. The Roman Empire, which up until the fourth century stretched from modern-day Scotland to Iraq, was divided into two parts in 395. Soon after, different peoples started settling in the western half, and by the end of the fifth century Roman rule had disappeared in this territory, substituted by new independent kingdoms.
This context of fragmentation affected the incipient Catholic Church. Clerics from different regions often enacted different ecclesiastical laws, held different ideas about the nature and organization of the church, and used different strategies to advance their power over their fellow churchmen. And yet, despite this internal diversity, western clerics still portrayed themselves as representatives of a ‘universal’ institution, frequently resorted to common ecclesiastical laws to defend their positions, and appealed to the Pope or other distant bishops to resolve their conflicts.
How did late antique clerics build a supra-regional Church in such a context of political fragmentation?
This ERC-funded project will adapt existing network analysis and GIS software to explore how connections among distant clerics contributed to disseminating common ecclesiastical laws, visions of the church, and patterns of clerical behaviour, which ultimately strengthened shared ecclesiastical institutions.
Post Doctoral Researcher