We can read in the Chronicle of Greater Poland about mysterious king Bolesław who was supposed to be excluded from Polish history because of his cruelty and idolatry. Even though there are hardly any possibilities of his actual existence, this mention could serve as a profitable notion about beliefs concerning the condemnation of memory in 13th-century Poland. Through the following paper, the ambiguous connection between excommunication used by ecclesiastical authority and the story of Bolesław the Forgotten will serve as a background for a comprehensive analysis. Based on legal sources of Polish particular canon law, historiographical accounts, and contemporary methodologies, we will survey the propaganda which supported Gregorian Reform on the eastern periphery of medieval Europe.
The failed Roman Revolution of 1143-1155 was in many ways extraordinary. Not only did it initiate the greatest sustained democratic experiment of the Middle Ages, but the rebels’ opposition to both the pope and the Holy Roman Empire fused anti-clerical theology with radical politics in a way never seen before. One of the revolution’s more startling aspects, however, was its claimed fidelity to the memory of the ancient Roman Republic. According to John of Salisbury’s Historia Pontificalis (c.1170), after the revolutionaries banished the pope and overthrew his Justiciar they declared themselves the ‘revived Roman senate’. Instituting the democratic election of 56 senators, renewable every November, they insisted that their new republican protocols were resurrecting those used in Antiquity. For the first time in over 600 years the initials SPQR began to reappear in civic documents and municipal sculpture. Meanwhile the revolution’s leader, Arnold of Brescia (d.1155), sent a bold letter to Emperor Conrad, inviting him to come to the city to receive the imperial crown ‘in the same custom’ as his ‘ancient predecessors’. Investigating the intellectual and political roots of communal Rome’s appeal to the past, this paper will explore the impact of classical democratic ideas on medieval political action. Taking Arnold of Brescia’s letters as a starting point, I will begin by outlining the heritage of classical democracy in medieval political philosophy. While this necessarily involves a wide range of political thinkers, for the purposes of the paper I will particularly focus on the work of Matilda of Tuscany (d.1118) and John of Salisbury (d.1180). Moving on to practical examples, I will further contextualise the Roman Revolution by considering the rhetorical justifications of a range of early 12th-century popular uprisings, from the urban rebellions in Flanders in the late 1120s to the communal revolts in 12th-century Venice, Pisa, and Bologna. While interrogating precisely how ancient democratic ideas came to legitimise radical medieval political reform, ultimately I will address the wider issue of nostalgia in the 12th-century political imagination. As they competed to be considered the true inheritors of Ancient Rome, I will argue, Arnold of Brescia and his radical contemporaries essentially participated in an intensifying culture of political classicism.
The 12th century witnessed several schisms of the Holy See. The longest and the one which influenced society most was the schism of 1159, when the papal chancellor Roland Bandinelli, known as Alexander III, and the cardinal priest Octavian, known as Victor IV, were simultaneously elected. Both had their supporters and opponents, who have left their testimonies about the schism and the popes’ personalities. This paper aims to highlight how these rival popes were remembered in contemporary sources, to re-examine the schism of 1159, and to draw attention to a hitherto unknown letter.
Medieval Livonia (modern Latvia and Estonia) was not a secular kingdom; it had two power holders – Teutonic Order and the Church of Riga (the archbishop and his cathedral chapter). The two groups were in a permanent conflict since the late 13th century until the late 15th century and it intensified on numerous occasions. The struggle intensified multiple times during the 15th century (in 1431 and 1469) and the conflict influenced memory cultures of the Teutonic Order and the Church of Riga. The two memory cultures focused on remembering and interpreting historical events and also commemorating of those clergymen and brethren of the Order who were killed or persecuted during the conflict. This paper will analyse how these conflicting memories were used to create identities of the both groups during the 15th century.