Session304
TitleBecoming the Bishop: Examinations of Episcopal Self-Fashioning, III - The Later Middle Ages
Date/TimeMonday 4 July 2022: 16.30-18.00
 
SponsorEPISCOPUS: Society for the Study of Bishops & Secular Clergy / PSALM Network (Politics, Society & Liturgy in the Middle Ages)
 
OrganiserEvan A. Gatti, Department of History & Geography, Elon University, North Carolina
 
Moderator/ChairPaweł Figurski, Instytut Sztuki, Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Warszawa
 
Paper 304-a The Bishop and the Beasts: Henry of Blois' Menagerie and the Construction of Episcopal Power
(Language: English)
Benjamin Bertrand, Department of History, Fordham University
Index Terms: Ecclesiastical History; Politics and Diplomacy; Religious Life
Paper 304-b Archbishop Geoffrey Plantagenet of York's Conception of His Archiepiscopal Office and Authority
(Language: English)
Kyly Walker, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index Terms: Ecclesiastical History; Religious Life; Theology
Paper 304-c English Bishops as Judges: Mutations in Legal Practice and Language in the 14th-15th Centuries
(Language: English)
Tomás Bado, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
Index Terms: Ecclesiastical History; Law; Religious Life
 
AbstractThis session will explore the many ways that medieval bishops responded to local, regional, and institutional influences in order to create effective, individualized identities. While the office of the medieval bishop outlines certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities, how one managed those rights, privileges, and responsibilities varies greatly. At times, this variation was in response to local needs, conflicts, or traditions, but in other cases, the actions of a bishop seemed to point towards ambition, piety, or some other notable characteristic of a historical individual. By examining how a bishop defined himself within and beyond the office, we gain a better understanding of which aspects of a historical bishop are defined by the legacy of the apostolic office and which might be unique to the men who occupied it.

'The Bishop and the Beasts: Henry of Blois' Menagerie and the Construction of Episcopal Power'
As bishop of Winchester, abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, papal legate, and brother to the king, Henry of Blois occupied a central place in 12th-century English history and politics. His position and his savvy management afforded him considerable wealth which magnified his standing. The surviving evidence for his career gives the impression of a bishop who was uniquely skilled at projecting episcopal power: from his personal appearance to his creation of lavish estates. According to Gerald of Wales, these estates featured parks, ponds, and menageries. This paper examines how Henry of Blois constructed such complex environments and how his interest in menageries and unusual creatures might have served to enhance his prestige and authority.

'Archbishop Geoffrey Plantagenet of York's Conception of His Archiepiscopal Office and Authority'
Archbishop Geoffrey Plantagenet of York (1191-1212) was a strong personality who had a far from easy episcopate. Appointed to fulfil the dying wish of his father, King Henry II of England, Geoffrey clashed with the canons of York, his suffragans, and the king, which meant he often struggled to carry out the duties of his office. In this paper I explore the language used in Geoffrey's acta. I especially focus on the acta relating to disputes, both those in which Geoffrey himself was a disputant and those where he negotiated or confirmed settlements. Through this exploration, I will show that Geoffrey's acta project a particular conception of his authority and office, with an emphasis on obedience.

'English Bishops as Judges: Mutations in Legal Practice and Language in the 14th-15th Century'
I am interested in analysing the role of the episcopacy in legal secular disputes. Solving these problems, so common and recurrent in late medieval times, illustrates the importance of bishops as political and social mediators. This kind of participation in the government of the Realm, has not been directly approached by historians, at least for the 15th century. In fact, in terms of legality and jurisdictional identity, scholars usually explain Church and Crown in opposite terms. In the following presentation, I will show that the reality dictated otherwise.