Conference projects

Mendicants and Political Power(s) in the Middle Ages

International conference

With the emergence of the mendicant orders at the beginning of the thirteenth century, Europe’s religious landscape changed fundamentally. Soon these new orders had spread across the entire continent and beyond, founding convents in numerous cities, and quickly establishing themselves in the vicinity of political centres of power. There, the mendicants served not only as confessors and chaplains, but also as diplomats and advisors, as translators and spies. These positions allowed them to exert significant influence on political decision-making processes and also on the decisions themselves.

This international conference will assess these relationships between potentates and mendicant orders by bringing together internationally renowned scholars to explore this field of interaction between religion and politics in late medieval Europe from a comprehensive comparative perspective for the very first time. In addition to the actual connections between orders and rulers, representations and ideas of these links to power will also be examined. For this purpose, papers will draw on, for instance, sermons and visions, thus taking into consideration two important genres for the popular communication of knowledge, news, and ideas in the Middle Ages. With this conference, we hope to generate new insights into such diverse fields as the history of political ideas, of religious orders, of diplomacy, of piety, and of rulership more broadly.

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