Summary: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Location: 3.16 Michael Sadler Building
Current Research Project
Reform and Clerical Authority in the 11th Century: a Comparative Perspective
This study will provide the first in-depth analysis of the authority which clerics wielded over the laity in East and West through a comparative examination of Byzantium, England, and Northern France. The lives of clerics across these areas varied markedly. Differences in marital status, educational standards, living arrangements, and social standing affected their authority vis-à-vis their flocks. Despite such differences, clerics were central to the social functioning of medieval society in both Eastern and Western Christendom. My key question, therefore, is where clerical authority came from and why it remained universally acknowledged across medieval Christian Europe. More specifically, I examine three key aspects which conditioned the relationship between clergy and laity: the use of knowledge as power; the exploitation of spiritual capital attached to liturgical and pastoral roles; and the restriction of authority along gendered lines.
Clerical Marriage in Comparison: Twelfth-Century England and Byzantium
My PhD thesis, completed at the University of Nottingham, explains why clerical marriage was considered an abomination in the post-Gregorian West, while it maintained a sanctifying nature in the East. I conclude that the two factors that rendered it problematic in England were missing in Byzantium: sex within marriage was not considered impure, and clerics below the episcopate did not have enough access to ecclesiastical resources to put the Church at financial risk.
- Entertainment in the twelfth-century canonical commentaries: were standards the same forByzantine clerics and laymen?, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 38:2 (2014), 185200.
- Should We Abstain? Spousal Equality in Twelfth-Century Byzantine Canon Law, Gender & History, 28:2 (2016), 422437.
- Was there a marital debt in Byzantium?, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 68:3 (2017), 119.