Patterns of Episcopal Power: Bishops in Tenth and Eleventh Century Western Europe/Strukturen Bischöflicher Herrschaftsgewalt Im Westlichen Europa Des 10. Und 11. Jahrhunderts
Ott, John S., The Catholic Historical Review
Patterns of Episcopal Power: Bishops in Tenth and Eleventh Century Western Europe/ Strukturen bischöflicher Herrschaftsgewalt im westlichen Europa des 10. und 11. Jahrhunderts. Edited by Ludger Körntgen and Dominik Waßenhoven. [Prinz-Albert-Forschungen/Prince Albert Research Publications, Vol. 6.] (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 201 1 . Pp. 226. $1 35.00. ISBN 978-3-11-026202-5.)
This collection of essays opens with a now classic piece by Timothy Reuter, warmly canonized by the editors as a "patron saint of research on bishops, power and kingship in the tenth and eleventh centuries" (p. 12). Reuter published "Ein Europa der Bischöfe: Das Zeitalter Burchards von Worms" shortly before his untimely death in 2002, and it has become a standard point of reference for scholars of medieval ecclesiastical and political history in the central Middle Ages. Ludger Körntgen and Dominik Waßenhoven have made available Reuter's own English translation of his essay (pp. 17-38), updating it with additional references to recent scholarship. Anglophone readers will surely welcome their effort.
Körntgen andWaßenhoven's inclusion of ? Europe of Bishops" reminds us how effortlessly Reuter's work bridged England and the Continent. Reuter's spirit infuses this volume in another respect. Influenced by Benedict Anderson, several of Reuter's late essays urged scholars to think of medieval dioceses as "imagined communities," polities having both an institutional and, still more important, a conceptual existence that centered on the bishop's person and rituals connected with the episcopal office. Reuter argued that bishops across Europe's continental core shared by the year 1000 a standard range of experiences; they were rather like chess pieces possessing similar powers but operating independently of one another and of the other pieces on the board.
The editors' stated intention (p. 13) is to "compare political situations, actions, communications, individual protagonists, specific resources, rules of behavior and so on in order to get a better understanding of the practice and the construction of [episcopal] power" in the Anglo-Saxon and Ottoman kingdoms. Essays by Ernst-Dieter Hehl, Dominik Waßenhoven, and Catherine Cubitt do this by examining bishops' actions during monarchic succession crises- namely, that of 1035-42 in England, and those of 983/84, 1002, and 1024 in the Ottonian-Salian reichs. A fourth essay, by Pauline Stafford, explores the interventions of the royal women Emma and TElfgifu following the death of Cnut in 1035. These essays read best as pairs. Hehl's "Bedrängte und belohnte Bischöfe. Recht und Politik als Parameter bischöflichen Handelns bei Willigis von Mainz und anderen" (pp. 63-87), perhaps the most detailed study here, argues persuasively that succession crises, rather than providing opportunities for episcopal agency, entailed a great amount of risk that could just as easily limit bishops' options for action. …