The bishops of King Stephen's reign

Marritt, Stephen Peter (2002) The bishops of King Stephen's reign. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Traditionally, the bishops who held office during the civil war which dominated King Stephen's reign (1135-1154) have been considered weak and ineffective, able neither to bring peace between the two sides or among warring local barons nor to protect their flocks or even themselves from the so-called 'Anarchy'. The explanation for this has been found in the bishops' lack of spiritual calibre. Bishops have also been seen as withdrawing their support from the king and ending their involvement in royal government, partly because of increasing general ecclesiastical desire for separation between Church and State and partly because of specific disputes with Stephen. As a consequence of all this, bishops are allowed little importance in modern histories of Stephen's reign.

This thesis shows that modern historiographical consensus is based in flawed interpretive frameworks which have led to misinterpretation of the nature of the episcopate and its importance in Stephen's reign. It offers more valid alternatives and then re-examines, the royal, ecclesiastical and, especially, the local evidence in light of them to show that, in fact, the bishops were crucially important figures in regional politics, religion and society during the civil war. It proves as well, that they could possess considerable spiritual authority and continued to be committed to the king and active in the government of the kingdom throughout the period. Additionally, each of these also has consequences for how the episcopacy and Anglo-Norman history in general are understood. This is, therefore, a reassessment of the bishops of King Stephen's reign.

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
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Bates, Prof. David
Date of Award: 2002
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2002-1481
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:40

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