IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 522: Studies in Memory of James M. Powell, I: Innocent III and Honorius III - The Popes and Theology

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 09.00-10.30

Organiser:Brenda M. Bolton, University of London
Moderator/Chair:Frances Andrews, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of St Andrews
Paper 522-aInnocent III: The Theologian Revisited
(Language: English)
Christoph Egger, Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, Universität Wien
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Theology
Paper 522-bPope Honorius III's Theology in the Arengae of His Letters
(Language: English)
Thomas William Smith, Department of History, Royal Holloway / Institute of Historical Research, University of London
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Theology

James Powell was one of the first scholars to devote serious academic attention to Pope Honorius III, and through the comparative study of Honorius with his immediate predecessor, Innocent III, Powell demonstrated in a number of works that Honorius’s pontificate was not the mere echo of Innocent’s that some had claimed, and revealed a tantalising glimpse of Honorius’s radical originality of thinking. Thispaper follows Powell’s approach by seeking to learn more about Honorius by comparing him with Innocent. Innocent is often considered as the greatest medieval pope who possessed the clearest conception of the papal office and his authority. Through a comparison of the arengae sections of Honorius’s papal letters with Innocent’s (which are essentially mini sermons expressing the pope’s theological stance), this paper aims to reveal Honorius’s theological positioning when engaged in diplomacy with the most challenging lay powers, namely Frederick II, to discover how Honorius conceived of the papal office: did he merely followed in Innocent’s wake, or was he – as Powell suggested – more of an original thinker than we realise?