(C5) Heresy and Politics: The Establishment of Norms and Forms of Procedure in Large-scale Ecclesiastical Controversies, 12th – 14th Centuries.
Since the twelfth century, religious conflicts and large-scale controversies shaped an emerging ecclesiastical public and influenced intellectual and institutional developments. High-impact conflicts which left visible traces in the normative order of ecclesiastical law and theology mainly developed in the power triangle between the papacy, the newly emerging religious orders and movements, and the universities. The project proposes to study the complex processes of normative change in this field, which witnessed tendencies of rationalization as well as countermovements of charismatic religious renewal.
Project focus: Politicized heresy trials
From the first clashes between scholastic theologians and their adversaries in the twelfth century onwards, competition and conflict reigned between various intellectual communities belonging to religious orders or universities. Even the otherwise heavily privileged mendicant orders were occasionally drawn into conflicts and heresy debates. The project treats various heresy trials against individual exponents of the new learning or the new religion, seeing them both as symptoms of underlying epistemological and institutional tensions and as catalysts which contributed to larger changes within the church: In the trials against early theologians, in the heated controversy between mendicant orders and secular clergy and finally in the escalating struggle between papacy and Spiritual Franciscans, the church was forced into a continuing discourse about its own authority and values. The project is interested in the conflict culture emerging from these struggles, and binds together a number of case studies concerning the construction of religious and intellectual authority, the staging of political consensus, and the fraught procedures of ecclesiastical decision-making.
Book project: The Conflict between Secular Clergy and Mendicant Orders in Medieval France, c. 1250-1300
My current book project is a new account of the bitter controversy between secular clergy and mendicants in 13th-century France. This conflict first escalated spectacularly in and around the University of Paris in the 1250s, but produced several smaller local conflicts over the next decades, thus feeding an ongoing theoretical debate about ecclesiastical office and its authority. In intellectual history especially, the role of this conflict as a backdrop for various rivalries and controversies has long been known. The planned book will attempt to provide a new coherent account, emphasizing the role the conflict dynamic itself played for the differentiation of legal and religious discourses, and the center-periphery dynamic of the papacy and local churches. The emerging Late Medieval sphere of religious debate and its overlapping cultures of legal, theological and charismatic authority form the core interest of the book.
Other events related to this project focus:
- Session at the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America in St. Louis, 22.-24. March 2012: „Branding Friars: new perspectives on mendicant identity in the medieval church“, with Prof. Neslihan Senocak (Columbia University), Prof. Guy Geltner (Amsterdam)
- Sessions of the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 11.-14. July 2011, thematic strand ‚Poor – Rich’: Session 1527: Conflicts as Catalysts: Conflict and Controversy between Mendicant Orders and Secular Clergy, I; Session 1627 Conflicts as Catalysts: Conflict and Controversy between Mendicant Orders and Secular Clergy, II
- International Workshop, 29.-30. April 2011, Humanities Center at Harvard, Cambridge, MA (USA): „The Making of Religion? Re-Describing Religious Change in Pre-Modern Europe“ (conference proceedings)
- International Workshop, 22-24. February 2011, Münster: „Ecclesia disputans. Die Konfliktpraxis vormoderner Synoden zwischen Religion und Politik“
- Sessions of the International Medieval Congress, Leeds UK, 2009, thematic strand 'Heresy and Orthodoxy': Session 109: Dangerous Doctrines, I: Heresy Trials as Fields of Negotiation; Session 209: Dangerous Doctrines, II: Heresy Trials and the Limits of Learning