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Rome and the Invention of the Papacy
The Liber Pontificalis

$19.99 (P)

Part of The James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture

  • Date Published: March 2023
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108819237

$ 19.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • The remarkable, and permanently influential, papal history known as the Liber pontificalis shaped perceptions and the memory of Rome, the popes, and the many-layered past of both city and papacy within western Europe. Rosamond McKitterick offers a new analysis of this extraordinary combination of historical reconstruction, deliberate selection and political use of fiction, to illuminate the history of the early popes and their relationship with Rome. She examines the content, context, and transmission of the text, and the complex relationships between the reality, representation, and reception of authority that it reflects. The Liber pontificalis presented Rome as a holy city of Christian saints and martyrs, as the bishops of Rome established their visible power in buildings, and it articulated the popes' spiritual and ministerial role, accommodated within their Roman imperial inheritance. Drawing on wide-ranging and interdisciplinary international research, Rome and the Invention of the Papacy offers pioneering insights into the evolution of this extraordinary source, and its significance for the history of early medieval Europe.

    • Offers a new perspective on the early medieval popes and the history of Rome
    • Explains how the Liber pontificalis was the fundamental building block of papal ideology rather than just an occasional source of information
    • Situates the theme of papal authority in a Roman context, showing how the text reflects the changing conditions of the city
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'With this book, Rosamond McKitterick makes a powerful contribution to medieval history. Her thorough study demonstrates the construction of the papacy through the act of collective biography embodied in the Liber Pontificalis, enabling us to look with new eyes at the city of Rome during its momentous transition from imperial capital to centre of western Christianity.’ Marios Costambeys, University of Liverpool

    ‘McKitterick shows how the Liber pontificalis, never objective or neutral, both chronicled and was itself an instrument in the transformation of Rome from imperial city to Christian capital, a capital in which the popes replaced the Emperor as its master.’ Patrick J. Geary, Institute for Advanced Study

    ‘A key narrative on the authority of papal Rome, the Liber pontificalis still carries so much weight that many historians take it for granted. This is no longer possible with Rosamond McKitterick’s book at hand. It is an absorbing enquiry into the creation and dissemination of a powerful text.’ Mayke de Jong, Utrecht University

    ‘McKitterick’s masterful book offers a novel approach to the Liber pontificalis, showing how diligently it shaped medieval views of Christian Rome, of the papacy and of the Church as an institution. She combines careful manuscript scholarship with a thorough explanation of the changing historical context and a broad sweep of ideas. This is a highly rewarding read for anyone interested in medieval Rome, in the formation of the Western Church and in the cultural transformation of post-classical Europe.’ Walter Pohl, University of Vienna

    ‘This is the kind of book whose every page makes the reader sit back and think.’ Thomas F. X. Noble, Early Medieval Europe

    ‘Beginners will benefit from reading her stimulating book just as much as specialists.’ Kordula Wolf, Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken

    ‘It is through the Liber Pontificalis that we, historians of the 21st century, with all the necessary critical attention of which Rosamond McKitterrick gives a masterful demonstration, still tend to read and understand the history of Rome becoming Christian and of its bishops becoming popes and therefore of the Church, at least in the West.’ Michel Sot

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2023
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108819237
    • length: 289 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Liber pontificalis: text and context
    2. The Liber pontificalis and the city of Rome
    3. Apostolic succession
    4. Establishing visible power
    5. Bishop and pope
    6. Transmission, reception and audiences: the early medieval manuscripts of the Liber pontificalis and their implications
    Conclusion: the power of a text

  • Author

    Rosamond McKitterick, University of Cambridge
    Rosamond McKitterick is Professor Emerita of Medieval History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, and Chair of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters of the British School at Rome. She was awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken International Prize in History in 2010. Her previous publications include History and Memory in the Carolingian World (2004), Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (2006), Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (2008), and two co-edited volumes on medieval Rome, Rome Across Time and Space: Cultural Transmission and the Exchange of Ideas (2011), and Old Saint Peter's, Rome (2013).

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