Bishops in the ‘Century of Iron’.
Episcopal Authorities in France and in Lotharingia, 900-1050

Ghent-Bruges (KULeuven Campus Bladelin), 24-25 November 2016

Recent years have witnessed strong academic interest in bishops of the tenth and early eleventh centuries. Long considered morally weak, deeply embroiled in worldly affairs, and culturally insignificant, these prelates of the ‘pre-Gregorian age’ are now undergoing reassessment via analysis of well-known sources and previously neglected ones. The objective of these studies is to understand bishops’ identities and agency in the context of their own time – an age marked by close entanglement of the ecclesiastical and secular spheres – instead of contrasting them with their ‘Gregorian’ successors. From this recent scholarship emerges a complex and varied understanding of episcopal office, and of the different ways in which its holders expressed their claims to political and religious authority.

The aim of this conference is to present state-of-the-art scholarship on tenth- and early- eleventh century bishops in France and Lotharingia, to consider the above developments, and to explore new paths for future research on episcopal authorities in the Post-Carolingian world. It situates itself at the intersection of different fields of medieval scholarship, including the study of institutions, reform, discourse, ritual and symbolic modes of (self-)representation, historiographical production, iconography, and material culture.

The conference is a joint organization of Steven Vanderputten (Ghent University) and Brigitte Meijns (Catholic University of Leuven), with support from the Research-Foundation Flanders (FWO) and in association with Episcopus ( Keynote lectures will be delivered by John S. Ott (Portland University), Charles West (University of Sheffield), and Julia Barrow (University of Leeds).