IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 103: Medieval Canon Law, I: Law and History in the Age of Reform

Monday 7 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Church, Law & Society in the Middle Ages (CLASMA) Research Network
Organiser:Kathleen Cushing, Department of History, Keele University
Moderator/Chair:Kathleen Cushing, Department of History, Keele University
Paper 103-aAiming the Canons: Bonizo of Sutri's Liber de vita christiana and Matilda of Canossa
(Language: English)
David Hay, Department of History, University of Lethbridge
Index terms: Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History
Paper 103-bHugh of Die and Gregory VII: A Case Study on Reform and Law in 11th-Century France
(Language: English)
Kriston Rennie, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, University of Queensland
Index terms: Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History
Paper 103-cAnselm of Lucca and the Ambitions of 11th-Century Canon Law
(Language: English)
Louis Hamilton, Department of Religious Studies, Drew University, New Jersey
Index terms: Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History

Bonizo of Sutri’s Liber de vita christiana VII.29 is less a canon than a miniature polemical tract aimed squarely at a former patron: Countess Matilda of Canossa. The stormy relationship between Bonizo and Matilda was first explored by Paul Fournier nearly a century ago, but more recent research now enables us to flesh out the bare bones of Fournier’s narrative. This paper argues that history and canon law can work in tandem to reveal how Bonizo took deliberate (and quite radical) steps to aim his canon at a contemporary historical figure and how, in so doing, he produced the most explicit extant condemnation of women’s military authority in the high medieval canonical tradition.
Active as legate in France (Gallia) from 1075 to 1085, Bishop Hugh of Die (later archbishop of Lyons) proved instrumental in disseminating Gregory VII’s reform ideology by the most effective (and canonical) means possible: the council arena. Taking into account his early ecclesiastical career as bishop and legate, Hugh’s tireless devotion to reform appears almost indistinguishable from Gregory’s, though some methodological distinctions exist in their reaching of legal objectives. By no means a jurist (or canonist) to the extent of the 12th-century lawyer popes, Gregory’s treatment of individual (legal) cases in late 11th-century France discloses his juristic ideology and temperament, which treatment of the law often stood in contrast to the legalist approach favoured by his legate, Hugh of Die – though not always in complete opposition. Acting in the name of aequitas and iustitia, as this paper suggests, Gregory was (at times) forced to trump the legalistic views of his legates, which administrative action brings to light some fine distinctions in the contemporary treatment, understanding, and application of law and practice in the age of reform.
This paper examines the Collectio canonum of Anselm of Lucca (d. 1086). In particular it will consider his chapter concerning the dedication of churches. When this material is compared to contemporary practice, it reveals an enormous gap between the reform ambitions of the Collection and a) actual episcopal precedent and b) the ability of the papacy to administer its own law. The Collection is better read as a legal brief arguing in favour of the reformers’ ideal of the episcopacy and for their ecclesiology. That this suggests the ambitions of the reformers for an imperial papacy seems less likely; rather, as a rhetorical document, and like many legal texts, it overstates its case in order to effect a more moderate change.