Research Project


Prophecy and Propaganda – Eschatology, Apocalypticism and Millenarianism in the Struggle between regnum and sacerdotium (1075 – 1250)

Philip Jany, MA

No controversy has occupied medieval historical research more than the conflict between empire and papacy, between regnum and sacerdotium. It is well known that both sides made full use of spiritual and secular law in this conflict, but the fact that they also reverted to eschatological-chiliastic arguments has hitherto been far too less reflected in modern research. Studies that do look at the role of apocalyptic ideas in this struggle are primarily concerned with historiography, and only occasionally touch upon diplomatic sources as well. For the time period between 1075 and 1250 no systematic survey of these sources has been done so far. The aim of my research is to work out the similarities and differences between the eschatological-millenarian claims made by the respective parties and, ideally, to elucidate the underlying motivation of the individual historical figures and institutions. In doing so, particular attention is given to the conflicts that the papacy had with Henry IV and Frederic II, respectively. Although there is more than a century between these two conflicts, there are significant similarities concerning their nature and extent. This project will try to establish whether and how the use of apocalyptic arguments is similar as well, and whether the dispute between Henry IV and the sacerdotium in this respect had any influence on the later conflict between Frederic II and the papacy. The expectation is that the results thus obtained will allow a deeper insight not only into the formal use of eschatological-chiliastic claims in royal and papal charters of the period under investigation, but also into the motivations, worldview, and beliefs of the actors and their contemporaries.

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