Playing with fire: conflicting bishops in Late Roman Spain and Gaul

Wood, Jamie and Natal, David (2016) Playing with fire: conflicting bishops in Late Roman Spain and Gaul. In: Making Early Medieval Societies: Conflict and Belonging in the Latin West, 300–1200. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 33-57. ISBN 9781107138803, 9781316483497, 9781316503607

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In this chapter we seek to explain this process of institutionalization through two case studies of late Roman episcopal conflicts in the West. First, we will examine the Priscillianist controversy of the late 370s and early 380s. Traditionally, this has been seen as a conflict that escalated from the local to the imperial level, culminating in Priscillian’s execution by the government of the usurper Magnus Maximus. We will suggest, however, that there were significant extra-local elements in play from the beginnings of the controversy. This has important implications for under- standing the course and resolution of a controversy that proved both divisive and integrative for the emergence of a trans-regional church organisation.

If Priscillianism has been understood as a ‘bottom-up’ process, our second case study, the interventions of Pope Zosimus in Gaul in 417, has often been understood as the imposition of a pope’s authority ‘down- wards’ onto the regions and cities of Gaul. In our view, such an inter- pretation fails to take account of the fact that Zosimus could not simply project his authority into Gaul. Rather, any intervention depended on appeals for intervention from competing parties within Gaul. Papal inter- vention in early fifth-century Gaul was thus largely a response to the initiatives of bishops in the province.

Keywords:history, ancient history, late antiquity, early medieval history, religion
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V110 Ancient History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V330 History of Religions
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:22247
Deposited On:12 Feb 2016 12:00

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