The transformation of the papacy, ninth to eleventh centuries
I am an ecclesiastical historian and my interests predominantly focus on the history of the late antique and early medieval papacy. My DPhil looks at the rhetoric of legitimation of papal authotity in the early middle ages, and the methods popes used to justify their claims to be the head of the Christian Church. It argues that between the ninth and eleventh centuries, the papacy fundamentally shifted its emphasis of legitimation, from a 'personal', 'traditional' rhetoric of authority to one more grounded in laws and institutional frameworks. This, I argue, is the fundamental significance of the 'reform movement' of the eleventh century, and of its main proponent, Pope Gregory VII.
I am also interested in the history of conversion, and have worked on the conversions of various Slavic groups to Christianity in the ninth and tenth centuries, especially the conversions of what are now Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia. I am also interested in questions of non-legal authority throughout history, and am working with colleagues in the Classics Faculty on a co-edited volume on 'Authority Beyond the Law: Charismatic and Traditional Authority in Antiquity and the Middle Ages', which seeks to apply Max Weber's theories on legitimate domination to pre-modern periods of history.