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From Romanesque Darkness to Gothic Light: The Architectural and Artistic Ro...
Wed 22 March 2017, 13:00 – 14:00 GMT
The next Borders and Bodies research seminar will be led by Dr Angelo Silvestri, who teaches Italian language and history in the School of Modern Languages.
Please do drop in and feel free to bring your own lunch.
Bishops during the Middle Ages were among the most powerful lords in Europe enjoying political, religious and economic power. Nowhere was the connection and the overlapping between politics and religion more evident than in English bishops in the central centuries of the Middle Ages. Although the political aspect was certainly of paramount importance in bishops like Alexander of Lincoln (1123-1148), it became less important during the episcopate of Hugh of Avalon, (1186–1200) and it almost completely vanished in Robert Grosseteste’s period, between 1235-1253. Numerous documents of the period witness the social and economic changes from Bishop Alexander to Robert Grosseteste. However this article will not focus on the written documents, but will rather look at how this progression, evolution and transformation in the power of the bishop is reflected in the Lincoln cathedral’s architecture in the buildings of the period and in some of the works of art that the bishops left behind.
Indeed cathedrals in general and Lincoln’s in particular were (and are) a measure of the dignity and authority of the bishop and reflected the elaboration of the ritual and the growth of the religious cults from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. Churches and cathedrals expressed clearly also the mystical feeling that came from the permanent contact individuals thought to have with the divine presence of God. Finally cathedrals were places where great works of art were on display for the glory of God and, probably, also for that of the bishops ruling and administering the church. In this article, I am trying to demonstrate that the evolution of the bishop’s power from Alexander to Grosseteste is visible not only through documentary evidence, but can also be seen in visual art and in particular in Lincoln’s cathedral.
Angelo Silvestri teaches Italian language and Italian history in the School of Modern Languages. His personal interests lie in English and European Medieval history. Specifically he is studying the structure of the medieval church and its influence on the medieval society, with a focus on the authority and the role of the bishop in England and in Europe from the Norman Conquest to the middle of the fourteenth century.