Medieval and Renaissance political and ethical ideas
The transmission of classical and late antique thought
Late Antique, Medieval and Renaissance Historiography
My research and publications centre on the transmission and transformation of aspects of the classical tradition within medieval and early renaissance Europe. I am especially interested in the reception of Aristotle's ethical and political ideas, on the connections between Ciceronian rhetoric and medieval historiography, on the ideology of medieval kingship, and on the understanding of classical republicanism by scholastic theologians and early renaissance humanists. Most recently, I have published Rhetoric and the Writing of History (Manchester 2011).
Time and Space
HISTORY WORKING PAPER
The Language of the Common Good
The Utility of Peace in Dante
Rhetoric and the Writing of History, 400-1500
This book provides an analytical overview of the vast range of historiography which was produced in western Europe over a thousand-year period between c.400 and c.1500. Concentrating on the general principles of classical rhetoric central to the language of this writing, alongside the more familiar traditions of ancient history, biblical exegesis and patristic theology, this survey introduces the conceptual sophistication and semantic rigour with which medieval authors could approach their narratives of past and present events, and the diversity of ends to which this history could then be put. By providing a close reading of some of the historians who put these linguistic principles and strategies into practice (from Augustine and Orosius through Otto of Freising and William of Malmesbury to Machiavelli and Guicciardini), it traces and questions some of the key methodological changes that characterise the function and purpose of the western historiographical tradition in this formative period of its development.
The Virtues of Rhetoric: Alcuin's Disputatio de Rhetorica et de Virtutibus
Alcuin's Disputatio de rhetorica et de uirtutibus has traditionally posed problems of interpretation in terms of both form (its apparently bipartite structure) and content (as a digest of the rules of rhetoric combined with an exposition of the four cardinal virtues). However, a close reading of the sources from which Alcuin was drawing his argument (Cicero, Julius Victor, Fortunatianus, Marius Victorinus, Cassiodorus and, above all, Augustine and Quintilian) suggests why he should have chosen to emphasize the connection between rhetoric and the virtues in this particular way.
Accidental Perfection: Ecclesiology and Political Thought in Monarchia
The Rhetoric of Giles of Rome's De Regimine Principum
No Bishop, No King: The Ministerial Ideology of Kingship and Asser's Res Gestae Aelfredi
What did Pope Gregory the Great think of pagans? Were the monks of Battle compulsive forgers? Is temptation always a bad thing? These and many other fascinating questions are explored in this book.
Ecclesiology and Politics
This was the period which sowed the seeds of the divisions in the church which have persisted until today. Introduced with an editorial essay from G.R. Evans, this volume will appeal to theologians and historians.