Colloque – Bishops’ Identities, Careers and Networks

Bishops were powerful individuals who had considerable spiritual, economic and political power. To be a bishop was to be a leader who might crown kings or foment rebellion. So who became bishops? What were their family backgrounds, educational attainment, social networks? What was the impact of international Church events such as the Great Schism or the Council of Basle on the types of bishop appointed in individual dioceses? This conference brings together scholars studying medieval bishops and their networks from across Europe, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Poland, the British Isles and Scandinavia.

The aim of this two-day conference, funded by an AHRC Early Career Research Grant, is to stimulate discussion on how individuals achieved a bishopric in Europe, including Scandinavia and the British Isles. An edited volume is the planned outcome for the conference.

Keynote speakers include Professor Steinar Imsen (NTNU), Professor Sverrir Jaboksson (University of Iceland), Professor Kirsi Salonen (University of Turku) and Dr Katherine Harvey (Birkbeck)


Programme :

9.00 – 10.00 – FIRST KEYNOTE LECTURE – Steinar Imsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology – The Nidaros Church and the insular parts of its province
10.00-10.30 COFFEE

10.30-12.00 SESSION A ‘Tenth and Eleventh Century Networks’

Fraser McNair – Ottonians in Miniature?: A Post-Carolingian Reichskirchentendenz in France, c.950-990
Sally Vaughn – Herluin’s Dream: Lanfranc of Canterbury and Anselm of Bec’s Creation of a Bec Network of Ecclesiastical Rulers Spread Over Normandy, France, and England
Andrew Smith – Pope Leo IX (1049-1054): Bishop of Rome or Pope for Europe

10.30-12.00 SESSION B ‘Episcopal Networks in Central Europe’

Jacek Maciejewski – Premeditation and Determination on the Way to Episcopacy in Medieval Poland (12th-14th C)
Mišo Petrović – The Episcopal Authority and Power of the Archbishops of Split during the ecclesiastical and political instability in the Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia (c.1378-c.1420)
Alexandra Laliberté De Gagné – Greek Bishops (metropolitan) in Roumelia in the 16th-17th centuries: between Latins and Orthodox
12.00-1.00 LUNCH

1.00-2.00 SECOND KEYNOTE LECTURE – Sverrir Jakobsson, University of Iceland – An Enjoyable Profession? Icelandic Bishops in a Time of Troubles
2.00 – 2.30 COFFEE

2.30-4.00 SESSION C Familial and Royal Connections in Portugal and Italy

Herminia Vasconcelos Vilar – How to become a bishop in medieval Portugal? Kings, popes and family ties in the 14th century
Stefano G. Magni – Bishops, Nepotism and Social Mobility in Italy in the 13th and 14th century
Fabrizio Pagnoni – Guelphs, jurists, curiales: the appointment of bishops in Northern Italy in the first half of the fourteenth century

2.30-4.00 SESSION D Portraits of Individual Bishops

Hester Ross – Portrait of a Scottish Renaissance man: Bishop Elphinstone of Aberdeen
Bridget Riley – A Prudent Archbishop: Richard FitzRalph, Archbishop of Armagh (1300-1360)
Sarah Thomas – John Donkan: A Manx Bishop caught between England and Scotland



9.00 – 10.00 – THIRD KEYNOTE LECTURE – Katherine Harvey, Birkbeck, University of London – The Perfect Prelate, or How to Become a Bishop in Medieval England
10.00-10.30 COFFEE

10.30-12.00 – SESSION E Eleventh and Twelfth Century Networks

Ryan Kemp – Bishops, kings, and their careers in twelfth-century England and the Empire
Ian Styler – From Isolation to Domination: Who Created the bishopric of Ely, and how they did it.
Wojciech Sawicki – Appointment of Bohemian bishops as presented by Cosmas of Prague and his followers

10.30-12.00 – SESSION F Spanish and Italian Bishops of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Fernando Gutiérrez Baños – Pedro Pérez de Monroy (1310-24): a new bishop for a new era in Salamanca
Susana Guijarro – Power, Culture and Ecclesiastical Reform in Late Medieval Castile: The Bishop of Burgos Luis de Acuña (1456-1495)
Alessandro Di Bari – Relations between Venice and Alexander of Masovia, Bishop of Trento
12.0 – 1.00 – LUNCH

1.00 – 2.00 – FOURTH KEYNOTE LECTURE – Kirsi Salonen, University of Turku – Between Uppsala and Rome: Swedish bishops’ contacts with the papal curia
2.00 – 2.30 COFFEE

2.30-4.00 SESSION G Northern and Southern Networks

Michael Gelting and Mia Munster-Swendsen – Magister, Abbot, Bishop: the Life of Bishop Gunner of Viborg (d.1251)
Jacopo Paganelli – «Pro se et amicis de domo de Scolaribus». Alberto Scolari bishop of Volterra and the Ghibelline network in Tuscany (1261-1269).
Michael Frost – Between Rome, Avignon and Nidaros: Bishops of Kirkjubøur during the Western Schism

2.30-4.00 SESSION H From Meaux to York

Aída Portilla González – Social networks and academic education of Castilian cathedral clergy in the late Middle Ages
Claudia Minett – Yorkist Chancellors – Pre-Episcopal Careers and Networks 1461-1483
Christine Barralis – The bishops of Meaux (France, Champagne), 1195-1510 : from chapter’s men to king’s men

Informations pratiques :

Standard registration costs £40, students and senior delegates £15

Please register here:


Please register by 12 April 2017.


Please direct any queries to Sarah Thomas and Michael Frost:

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