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this confuses me

24 June, 2010

This confuses me

SO I’m in the British Library, more falling asleep than working (I only got here yesterday morning, and had only three hours’ sleep Tuesday night), and read something I’ve read over and over for years… basically, an author states that lay elites and ecclesiastical elites had similar interests. In this case, we’re talking about charters. But really, is this supposed to be a surprise? Because I thought it was pretty clear by now that we are talking about the same people, by and large. Yes, ecclesiastics do have additional interests, because their allegiance is, or should be, somewhat divided.* But hasn’t there been enough work done, at least for the Franks, that we can now assume that the two groups are generally related to each other by kinship, and that, especially in the cases of proprietary churches and monasteries (or royal ones), the holders of ecclesiastical office are doing it precisely because they are connected by blood to the lay elites?

Or am I missing something important?

*should be in the sense that they are supposed to be looking out for the church’s property and interests, whoever their relatives.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 June, 2010 10:04 am

    Gah! I have a paper which demonstrates this point with a specific case where we have two brothers, one a bishop and one a viscount. I can't get it published precisely because the reviewers all say, "well, this is nothing new, we've known this for years" and yet still stuff like this that you mention gets through. I'll have to ask you where this piece was and then send my one there… (I actually think mine does make some new points about exactly how the ecclesiastic differentiates himself, and about family strategies, but evidently these points weren't loud enough in the last revision.)

  2. 25 June, 2010 11:25 am

    First chapter of a CUP book — Alice Rio's thesis book. Looks to be very useful, and I don't *think* she'll belabor the point, yet it's the presentation that irks me. I think we need to start moving from statements that imply a bit of surprise to statements akin to,"there is increasingly more evidence that the lines between the interests of high-ranking ecclesiastics and leading men were blurry, and here's how/why.". Off to post something on this now, I think.

  3. 28 June, 2010 3:01 pm

    Ah, I see, that makes more sense, partly because it wasn't her main point I assume, and also because it means it's probably lurking there from the thesis and therefore a rather younger perspective. She's not coming to Leeds, alas, or I'd introduce you; she's one of the cooler medievalists (and would be completely surprised that I say so, too).

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