Jamie Wood on the Iberian Monks

On Thursday 6th April 2017 on the Late Antique Seminar Jamie Wood from the University of Lincoln will present a lecture entitled “Formative Spaces: Making monks in early medieval Iberia”.



Monastery of San Pedro de Montes, Spain


The abstract of the paper:

Formative Spaces addresses the relationship between physical spaces and normative texts such a monastic rules in the formation of ascetic communities in early medieval Iberia. Rulebooks for monastic life propose a complicated disciplinary regime that seems to have been designed to train monks to adopt specific beliefs and practices, while an increasing number of monastic sites – the spaces in which monks were presumably trained in such practices – have been excavated in Spain and Portugal over recent decades. However, minimal attention has been devoted to understanding how the physical organisation of monastic space related to the rules that regulated ascetic life. There are two strands to the Formative Spaces project: (1) a synthetic analysis of a sample of the extant monastic archaeological sites of early medieval Iberia (6th-7th century); (2) a comparison of such sites with contemporary Iberian monastic rules. This scoping study prepares the ground for a fuller examination of the spatiality of monastic formation in early medieval Iberia, and of the relationship between ascetic theory and practice more generally.

The seminar, as usual, will take place in the library of the Department of Papyrology in the building of the Faculty of Law (Collegium Iuridicum I) at 4.45 PM.

Presbyters on the IMC Leeds 2017

On the forthcoming International Medieval Congress in Leeds our project organises two sessions about the income and property of clerics in Late Antiquity.

Late antique clerics had diverse sources of income. Some of them were rich when they got ordained, but others had to earn their life. These sessions will seek to answer the following questions: How much did the clerics rely on church property and revenues? What were other sources of their income, either those linked with their religious expertise or unconnected with ecclesiastical activity? How were the frontiers fixed between not only private property and revenues of clerics and those of the church, but also between the resources of diverse groups of clergy?

The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, 5 July, 9.00-10.30

Income and Property of Clerics in Late Antiquity, I (session 1031)

chair: Ralph W. Mathisen, Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  1. David Hunter, Department of Modern & Classical Languages, Literatures & Cultures, University of Kentucky,  Ambrosiaster and the Problem of Clerical Profit
  2. David Natal Villazala, Departamento de Prehistoria, Historia Antigua y Arqueología, Universidad de Salamanca, Church and Private Property in Ambrose of Milan (d. 397)
  3. Marta Szada, Instytut Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski, The Workman Is Worthy of His Meat?: Economic Status of the Local Clergy in 7th-Century Spain

Wednesday, 5 July, 11.15-12.45

chair: Ralph Mathisen, Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  1. Isabelle Mossong, Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, München, Income and Property of Late Antique Clergy: Epigraphical Realities
  2. Claire Sotinel, Centre de recherche en histoire européenne comparée (CRHEC), Université Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne, Financial Issues Concerning Presbyters in Papal Correspondence
  3. Robert Wiśniewski, Instytut Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Not a Grand Scandal, but Little Embarrassment: Paying Clerics for Ritual Expertise in Late Antiquity

See also at the IMC website: session 1, session 2

David Natal on Ambrose of Milan

Today on the Late Antique Seminar of the Department of the Ancient History of the University of Warsaw David Natal from the University of Salamanca will present a paper “Building the metropolitan authority in the late fourth-century western church: the case of Ambrose of Milan (d. 397)”. 


The abstract of the paper:

Up until 1980s, Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) was regarded as one of the most powerful and influential bishops of the late fourth century. Although more recent research has fundamentally questioned Ambrose’s imperial-wide prominence, current historiography still considers him the first metropolitan bishop of the west. In this paper, however, I will argue that Ambrose’s capacity for imposing his agenda in the region was very limited, and will contend that Ambrose and his successors exaggerated his hold over his north Italian fellow bishops in an attempt to portray the late antique western church as a fully institutionalized organization.

The seminar, as usual, will take place in the library of the Department of Papyrology in the building of the Faculty of Law (Collegium Iuridicum I) at 4.45 PM.

New Book of Stanisław Adamiak already available!

The book “Carthage, Constantinople, and Rome.Imperial and Papal Interventions in the life of the Church in byzantine Africa (533-698)” is based on the doctoral dissertation defended at the Pontifical Gregorian Univeristy in Rome in 2011. Now it has been issued by the Gregorian and Biblical Press (Pontifical Biblical Institute) in the series Miscellanea Historiae Pontificae.


Description of the book:

The Byzantine period in North Africa was a point of convergence for three different conceptions of Church governance: the imperial administration was aiming to exercise full control over the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the popes were intent on treating African bishops as suffragans, whereas the bishops, them selves, were most eager to preserve the autonomous and conciliar character of their Church. Conflicts were also always in the offing as a result of deep theological differences: the African clergy was Latin speaking and very determined to defend strict Chalcedonian orthodoxy, whereas the emperors sometimes proposed more compromising solutions in the many Christological debates.

Dramatic events, such as the Vandal and Berber wars, the Three Chapters quarrel, the Monothelete crisis and the Arab invasions, inevitably have been more prominent in the annals of history, however, the history of the Church in Byzantine Africa was written not only in the dust of galloping cavalry squadrons and in the clamor of mutual anathemas in Christological quarrels. The proceedings and canons of the councils, the exchange of and canons of the concils, the exange of letters with Rome and Constantinople, and imperial rescripts have provided us with some valuable insights into the everyday problems of the African Church, and especially into the concerns that preoccupied her higher clergy. We saw long disputes over episcopal precedence and arguments over the issue of clerical appeals. Questions concerning matters of ecclesiastical propriety and the admittance of former heretics and schismatics into the clergy have been examined.


Stavroula Constantinou on the Collections of Miracles in the Byzantine Hagiography


Tomorrow, on Thursday (15 December) on the Late Antique seminar of the Department of the Ancient History of the Institute of History of University of Warsaw Stavroula Constantinou from the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of University of Cyprus will present a paper “The Miracle Story Collection.An Introduction to the Sociology of a Byzantine Hagiographical Genre”.

Below the abstract of the paper:

The present paper will provide a short introduction to the sociology of a Byzantine genre, the Miracle Story Collection (5 th -14 th c.), by briefly examining the social context of its appearance and production in the early Byzantine period (5 th -7 th c.), as well as some aspects of its function and reception. As it will be shown, the Miracle Story Collection comes into being, develops and is fashioned according to the interrelationships and interconnected expectations of its practitioners and their audiences. The discussion undertaken here will, therefore, focus on certain facets of the social dimension of the triangle Author-Genre-Audience in an attempt to address the following questions: What kind of phenomenon is the Miracle Story Collection? What are its social origins? What is the social status of its authors? How are Miracle Story Collections shaped through the hagiographers’ own socio-religious purposes and their awareness of the audience and its needs?

The seminar will take place in the library of the Department of Papyrology in the building of the Faculty of Law (Collegium Iuridicum I) at 4.45 PM.

Phil Booth on the Sassanians

On Thursday 1 December 2016 Phil Booth from University of Oxford will present a paper “The Sasanians in Egypt (619-629): Continuity, Stability, and Tolerance?” on the Late Antique Seminar of the Department of Ancient History in the Institute of History of University of Warsaw. The seminar will take place in the library of the Department of Papyrology in the building of the Faculty of Law (Collegium Iuridicum I) at 4.45 PM.

Abstract of the paper:

Recent research on Sasanian Egypt (619-629) has corrected an older historiographical model which cast the Persians as the agents of destruction and depression. But this has been replaced with a model of ‘stability, continuity, and tolerance’ which makes various unstated assumptions. Using Greek, Coptic, and Pahlavi texts, this paper revisits the evidence for the Sasanian conquest and occupation of Egypt, and argues for a more nuanced interpretation which moves beyond the polarised choice between continuity and discontinuity.

Early hagiography workshop at Durham

On 11-12 November 2016 Robert Wiśniewski took part in a workshop on late-antique hagiography at the University of Durham. In his paper Robert argued that, unlike monastic vitae, the lives of holy bishops and presbyters showed a sanctity, but rarely a model of life which could be proposed specifically to clergy. This resulted mostly from the conviction that, unlike monasticism, priesthood was not really a way to sanctity. One could become a saint by choosing the life of an eremite, but not by becoming cleric. The relation between priesthood and sanctity was opposite. Ideally, one was made a priest because he was a saint, and not the other way round. Consequently, a complete and specific hagiographical model of clerical life did not develop.