Dr Sophia Moesch

  • The Carolingian Empire
  • The Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian Dynasty
  • Late Antique and Early Christian Political Thought

My previous research, in particular my doctoral project “Augustine of Hippo and the Art of Ruling in Alcuin of York and Hincmar of Reims”, has focused on the history of Western political thought from c. 400–c. 900 AD. The work has been interdisciplinary, considering its historical and political components, and its philological orientation. In my postdoctoral project “Developing Principles of Good Governance: Latin and Greek Political Advice during the Carolingian and Macedonian Reforms” the focus of the interdisciplinary and trans-epochal research is expanded to include an intercultural comparison.

The research that is currently underway compares Hincmar’s Collectio de ecclesiis et capellis with Photios’s contribution to the Εἰσαγωγὴ τοῦ νόμου, and the divorce of King Lothar II with the fourth marriage of Emperor Leo VI, in an attempt to understand the interaction between secular and religious power. I am particularly interested in exploring the main factors and actors that need careful defining (in the West and East) in order to be able to pronounce on these ‘state’-‘church’ relations. An important part of the enquiry may concern Western-Eastern differences in the composition of the secular and ecclesiastical elites that launched and determined the outcomes of these debates and disputes.

The political thought I explore in the selected Carolingian and Byzantine texts will remain undefined throughout my work, which is a particular contribution of my research to the field. Late antique and early medieval thinkers (including the Church Father Augustine) were hardly systematic philosophers in regard to their political thought. I therefore support a modular and situational thinking about moral instruction and ‘state’-‘church’ relations.


Publications in Peer-reviewed Journals

Moesch, Sophia: Augustinian Thought in Alcuin’s Writing: A Philological-Historical Approach. History of Political Thought 39 (1), 2018, 33-53.

Moesch, Sophia: Les Annales Mettenses Priores et Alcuin d'York. Le discours politique sur l'accession de Charlemagne au pouvoir, in: Presses universitaires de Nancy – Editions Universitaires de Lorraine (eds.): Charlemagne, les Carolingiens et Metz: Représentation, recomposition et instrumentalisation du passé du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle: actes de la journée d’études, 8 novembre 2014. Nancy 2018, 65-81.


Contributions to Books

Moesch, Sophia: What NANSO Posters from Cape Town Reveal, in: Miescher, G., Rizzo, L., Silvester, J. (ed.): Posters in Action: Visuality in the Making of an African Nation. Basel 2009, 75-86.

Featured Publication

Augustine and the Art of Ruling in the Carolingian Imperial Period: Political Discourse in Alcuin of York and Hincmar of Rheims. Abingdon and New York: Routledge 2019



This volume is an investigation of how Augustine was received in the Carolingian period, and the elements of his thought which had an impact on Carolingian ideas of ‘state’, rulership and ethics. It focuses on Alcuin of York and Hincmar of Rheims, authors and political advisers to Charlemagne and to Charles the Bald, respectively. It examines how they used Augustinian political thought and ethics, as manifested in the De civitate Dei, to give more weight to their advice. A comparative approach sheds light on the differences between Charlemagne’s reign and that of his grandson. It scrutinizes Alcuin’s and Hincmar’s discussions of empire, rulership and the moral conduct of political agents during which both drew on the De civitate Dei, although each came away with a different understanding. By means of a philological–historical approach, the book offers a deeper reading and treats the Latin texts as political discourses defined by content and language.