Bishops and the Politics of Patronage in Merovingian Gaul, Gregory I.Halfond
Gregory I.Halfond

Bishops and the Politics of Patronage in Merovingian Gaul

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Following the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, local Christian leaders were confronted with the problem of how to conceptualize and administer their regional churches. As Gregory Halfond shows, the bishops of post-Roman Gaul oversaw a transformation in the relationship between church and state. He shows that by constituting themselves as a corporate body, the Gallic episcopate was able to wield significant political influence on local, regional, and kingdom-wide scales.
Gallo-Frankish bishops were conscious of their corporate membership in an exclusive order, the rights and responsibilities of which were consistently being redefined and subsequently expressed through liturgy, dress, physical space, preaching, and association with cults of sanctity. But as Halfond demonstrates, individual bishops, motivated by the promise of royal patronage to provide various forms of service to the court, often struggled, sometimes unsuccessfully, to balance their competing loyalties. However, even the resulting conflicts between individual bishops did not, he shows, fundamentally undermine the Gallo-Frankish episcopate's corporate identity or integrity. Ultimately, Halfond provides a far more subtle and sophisticated understanding of church-state relations across the early medieval period.
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400 printed pages
Original publication
2019

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