Strand Definitions: Church History and Canon Law

This strand welcomes proposals on the broadest possible range of activities undertaken by the Western Church from Late Antiquity to the end of the medieval period. Organized sessions or individual papers are equally encouraged and may address any aspect of Church history-the papacy and the Curia, the activities of individual popes, anti-popes and cardinals; papal offices such as the Chamber, Chancery or Chapel, general, legatine and local councils of the Church, and the impact of ecclesiastical legislation throughout Christendom. A profitable local focus of recent years has been directed towards bishops and parish priests, to pastoral care or diocesan politics, to founders and benefactors.

An ever-expanding field of interest is that of Canon Law, by which the public obligation of the laity to each other and to the Church was defined, most commonly in disputes involving marriage or tithe payments. Of considerable concern to the Church was its regulation of clerical behaviour and recent sessions have tended to concentrate on evidence from the newly opened penitentiary records in the Vatican Archive.

This strand, perhaps more than any other, given the over-arching influence of the Church throughout medieval society, overlaps with many other fields, monasticism, religious life, liturgy, music, theology and art, and strong interdisciplinary links are encouraged.