The céli Dé and ecclesiastical government in Ireland in the eighth and ninth centuries

Haggart, Craig (2003) The céli Dé and ecclesiastical government in Ireland in the eighth and ninth centuries. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines the céli Dé, individual ecclesiastics who constituted the intellectual and spiritual elite in the early medieval Irish church. The period covered by the thesis is restricted in A.D. 700-900 and focusses most fully on the late eighth and early ninth centuries. A distinction is drawn between those individuals referred to as céli Dé during this period under study and those ‘communities within communities’, concerned for the welfare of the sick and the poor, to whom the name is later attested. The thesis examines the primary source material, considers past and present theories regarding these ecclesiastics and refutes the consensus of opinion that the céli Dé were a reform movement who emerged in reaction to a degenerate clergy in a church under secular influence. It discusses what was intended by the designation céli Dé and proffers the opinion that the céli Dé were instead concerned with advancing all aspects of the duties and responsibilities of the church. Particular developments in ecclesiastical organisation during the period under study are discussed and the extent of the role of individual céli Dé in these are examined, but will conclude that it should not be assumed that these developments, or concern for their introduction, was wholly restricted to the céli Dé.

There was a change in the basis of the source of royal authority from popular to divine sanction, during the course of the eighth century, and the political repercussions of this more abstract concept of kingship would ultimately culminate in the emergence of Irish national identity. The potential extent of céli Dé involvement in the promulgation of ecclesiastical law, a contributory factor in establishing centralised ecclesiastical authority, is discussed and an examination of attempts by kings of Tara to control the appointment of the abbots of Armagh is provided in an effort to indicate how they sought to establish a centralised secular authority on the basis of the acknowledged authority of Armagh.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Supervisor's Name: Clancy, Prof. Thomas
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-1114
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:33

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