(D2-1) The Role of the Church in the Formation of Political Will in the Early and High Middle Ages

The project analyses the general conditions, norms and methods of counselling in the Early and High Middle Ages. For transmission reasons, the focus of interest is on the counselling of the royal unit of rule and on the negotiations of parts of this unit with the king or other groups in the event of conflicts. Particular attention will be paid to the informal forms of counselling on the one hand, as can be seen in interventions, advocacies, the confidential exertion of influence, and intercessions. On the other hand, the procedure and rules of communication of formal counselling will be dealt with to which the king bids “the big ones”, presenting them with a problem for their counsel. Another relevant issue here is whether these consultations were confidential or public and what consequences this had for the counselling itself.

Having since the 9th century deduced their biblical right to function as “guardians and supervisors” of the kings and aiming to establish it in political practice, the Christian church and its episcopal representatives played an important role in the enforcement of a right to counselling. Besides, there were also ‘court theology’ representatives who emphasised the doctrine of divine right and the king’s immediacy to God. The outcome of this was a long dispute between kingdom and the Church, carried out in miscellaneous forms, which has but insufficiently been resolved in previous research. In this dispute, instrumentalisations of the church by the kingship as well as the limitation of royal power by Christian norms can be observed.

The overall current state of research in this field is not at all satisfactory. This is above all due to the discretion of most of the sources, which do not deem themselves entitled to reveal the regalia mysteria or arcana imperii and thus say little about the methods of forming political will and the practices of creating consensus. Particularly from accounts of conflicts, however, insights can be generated that make the practices and rules of counselling accessible. This is to be clarified in a monograph with chronological and systematic chapters.