Research project:

Bishops as Guarantors of Continuity?
A comparative study of Ottonian-Salian and Anglo-Saxon Kings' Transitions

In the conviction that the menacing danger could not be averted better and swifter, the named bishops, dukes and other men strived painstakingly and with a remarkable persistence for letting the empire in its adversity no longer without a ruler—that is Wipo's comment on the kingless time after the death of Henry II (1024). Even more dramatic sounds the narrative of a Ramsey monk about the death of King Edgar (975): The illustrious king died on 8 July, and by his death the state of the whole kingdom was thrown into confusion, the bishops were agitated, the noblemen stirred up, the monks shaken with fear, the people terrified […]. The transition of kings could induce a period of incertitude, adversity, and struggle. In such times those people were of respective importance who could ensure continuity—this was, apart from the nobility, particularly the episcopate. The study of rulers' transitions in the late Ottonian and early Salian period is to show in what sense the bishops guaranteed continuity and how they could exert their influence in the first years of the new king's reign. The situation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom is contrasted in order to evince differences and conformities. This could lead to a pattern which could have been valid beyond the boundaries of kingdoms. The perspective of the bishops facilitates a change in the point of view when analysing the structures of the church in England and in the eastern Frankish kingdom, for up to now research mostly took the king's perspective.

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