Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

Conrad Leyser focussed primarily on developing his book, The Age of the Faith: the Making of the Medieval Church, 200-1200 (to be published by Princeton University Press). This is a study of the development of the church in western Europe as an institution: I track the relationship between institutional identity, cultural memory, and professional mobility across the late ancient and early medieval period. I follow the emergence--slow and late--of a professional, celibate clerical hierarchy.

The book proposes a new view of the tenth-century as a critical moment in the process of institutionalization. I am testing the hypothesis that this was an era in which bishops took advantage of the confusion occasioned by the end of the Carolingian Empire to achieve an unprecedented degree of institutional autonomy and self-definition. By marshalling (and sometimes actively forging) the authority of the early Church, late ninth- and tenth-century clerics succeeded in making of the episcopacy a career, with its own code of conduct, and the possibility of advancement. A key index of this is the willingness to allow bishops to change jobs, in particular to become bishop of Rome. At the beginning of the tenth century, this was highly controversial: by the turn of the millennium, it had become the norm.

This work has developed in dialogue with Tuebingen colleagues, in particular Steffen Patzold, Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner, and Annette Grabowsky; it was equally sustained through discussion with other Research Fellows, in particular Carine van Rhijn and Ian Wood, and at the weekly meetings of all colleagues in the Research Group.

For more information about Conrad Leyser, please click here.